England await promising Mehta

Mehta, who first gained entry to the extremely demanding professional league in 2009 by virtue of his silver medal show in the 2008 Asian snooker championship, won an automatic ticket for the second time after finishing runner-up to Thailand’s Passakorn Suwannawat in the continental bash last week in Indore.

“I am really thrilled about going back to England,” a delighted Mehta told Deccan Herald over phone. “I actually came to know of it a day before I was to play the final of the Asian championship. Year 2009 was my debut season and I went in there without any major expectations. The main focus was to qualify for the third round, from where I could make money.

“The opening two rounds were in itself very difficult. On most occasions, you are up against a top-60 player in the second round. It’s really difficult and with tournaments happening almost every other week, it’s tough to regroup. It was just a fight for survival. However, having played a lot of tournaments in 2009 and a few last year, I am really confident of a good show. I hope to make the cut more often and probably try retaining my place next season,” added Mehta.

The 23-year-old Maharashtrian, who won a silver and bronze medal at the Guangzhou Asian Games, will once again stay at Sheffield after having struck a deal with Star Snooker Academy. The youngster, who hails from a family of diamond merchants and is a certified diamond grader himself, will depart in early June for what looks like a rigorous seven-month journey.

“Yes, the league is very expensive,” said Mehta when asked about the financial part. “I am hoping to find a sponsor. To do it by yourself is a very difficult proposition. Thanks to my dad, I was able to sustain two seasons.”

Mehta won’t be alone this time, with the Billiards and Snooker Federation of India (BSFI) being allowed nominate another cueist on the pro-circuit.

Meanwhile, it was decided at a meeting between BSFI and Asian Confederation of Billiards Sports that India will host one leg of a world-ranking event in February/March 2012 while also gaining an entry to the World Team snooker championship.  Mehta will team up with ace Pankaj Advani in the event at Thailand this July.

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