Manan Chandra is an internationally acclaimed Indian amateur snooker
How does it feel to be a National Champion?
It feels great. The last couple of years have not been my best, so this title gives me back the confidence and belief to do even better now.
Is this your maiden crown?
This is my 2nd National Snooker title. I won my first in 2006. I have also won 5 National 9-Ball pool titles, two 8-Ball pool and 4 junior Nationals which take my tally of National titles to 13.
How do you prepare yourself before a match?
I don’t do anything in particular. I just try giving my eyes rest by not reading anything or watching TV. I listen to music, just converse with someone or if I have time, then sleep. Basically anything to relax the eyes, mind and body so I’m totally fresh for the match. Meditating for a bit also helps.
Who was the toughest opponent you faced in this nationals?
I think every opponent is tough in the knockout stages of Nationals, as you are not only competing with your opponent, but yourself with all kinds of pressures, expectations from others as well as yourself. For example, on paper, my toughest opponents were in the pre-quarters and semi finals, but the match which I could’ve almost lost was in the quarters and it took all my mental strength and some luck to come out of it victorious.
What keeps you motivated even now?
I have been playing this game since the last 17 years and been consistently doing well at the National level. The love for the game as well as the desire to win medals and titles for the country is what really drives me to strive harder. My wife is a great motivator especially when I’m going through a rough patch. Also the support from my family and friends, and my employers BPCL is very encouraging for me to keep working towards my goal.
Your wife is India’s best women’s snooker player. Has she ever defeated you in practice?
We practice together all the time, and although I win more often, she does manage to beat me at times (with a handicap of course!)
What measure would you suggest to raise the popularity of cue sports in India?
With the number of World and Asian titles, and the medals at the Asian games and Asian indoor games, this sport definitely deserves to be right up there in terms of popularity. It needs to be marketed better in a way that more corporate sponsors get involved with the game on a regular basis. There has to be much better media coverage in all forms. Television is a must. The game also needs to be taken to the grassroots level and be made more accessible to the masses.
What is next for you as far as tournaments are concerned?
I will be representing India at the Asian Snooker championship to be held in Karachi in April. There’s also the Asian Indoor games in Jun/Jul at Korea and the World Snooker Championship later this year at Riga, Latvia. I finished no.3 in the World championships back in 2006 at Jordan, and my best performance at the Asians has been reaching the quarters, so I would definitely hope to do better this year.
Pankaj Advani and Aditya Mehta are currently training in Sheffield. Do you have any plans to go and train with them?
I played the pro circuit in 2002-03 season and have also been there for coaching and training many times. UK is the hub of Snooker and has the best infrastructure for practising, coaching and tournaments. Therefore, I would definitely like to go there and train for a week to 10 days just before a major event like the World Championship, if I qualify for it.