Shrikrishna, a natural player

“Aggression is a strong point of Shrikrishna. He plays an attacking game, is very intuitive and comes out as a natural player.”

Age: 18

From: Chennai, Tamil Nadu

Education: Standard XII, National Public School, Gopalapuram

Discipline: Billiards & Snooker

The beginning: Shrikrishna, as a five-year-old, started with a formal coaching in tennis. He dabbled in various sports like badminton, table tennis and snooker apart from receiving focused tennis coaching.

Shanmugham, a marker, initiated Shrikrishna into cue sport, teaching him the bridge, the grip and potting, unknown to many. Shrikrishna then surprised the members-in charge of the Mylapore Club with his accuracy and potting as a 10-year-old. The club then discarded the height to determine the minimum-age rule.

At a summer coaching camp at the Mylapore Club, Shrikrishna’s father observed that he was ahead of the rest. “By the sixth session, I knew Shrikrishna was gifted. His performance was very promising in tennis as well, but I had to take a call as to where he will progress further.”

Father: N. Suryanarayanan (Suri) has been in the Information Technology and Software industry for over 25 years. In February 2014, he decided to choose his son’s career ahead of his own and began to focus on Shrikrishna.

“Much against the wishes of my wife, and many others in the (Mylapore) Club, as well as the TNBSA (Tamil Nadu Billiards and Snooker Association), I chose to coach Shrikrishna myself. My approach to the game was more scientific, more of applied geometry and physics. I created my own patterns to help him practise.

“One day, Mr. Nadeem Ahmed, the then member-in-charge of the club, observed Shrikrishna making a break of 42 in billiards and offered to coach him if I was fine with it. Nadeem would tell me the routines and I would make Shrikrishna practise.

“Thanks to Mr. Devendra Joshi of BPCL, who has taken Shrikrishna into his team as a sports scholar. Thanks also to Mr. S.S. Gopalarathnam, the MD of Chola Insurance who has encouraged Shrikrishna in many ways.

“We received excellent support from the Chairman of Shrikrishna’s school, without whom he could not have gone this far. The Chairman waived Shrikrishna’s two-year fees for Plus-2 and also gave him a cash award when he won the IBSF World Billiards U-21 Championship in 2015.”

It’s all in the family: Shrikrishna with his parents, N. Suryanarayanan and S. Gayathri. Shrikrishna’s father was his coach to start with, while his mother, a home-maker, also plays billiards and snooker.

 

Mother: S. Gayathri, a home-maker, also plays billiards and snooker. “As a custom, either I or my husband, or both, would join in any activity we put Shrikrishna in, outside of schooling. We joined tennis along with him, and we also started playing billiards and snooker seriously along with Shrikrishna, though we used to play at parlours when we were living in Bangalore. We faced a lot of problems and discouragements during Shrikrishna’s growth.

“My husband sacrificed his career and we spent our savings to encourage Shrikrishna realise his dream. We were very clear in our focus. We let him decide the subjects of his choice. We work with him to balance sport and education. He has taken baby steps towards his dream.”

Mentor: Suryanarayanan and his wife pursued M.Sc, M.Phil in Psychology to help mentor their son. They also went through NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming). Suryanarayanan said: “In addition, I have also done a Sports Psychology short-term programme. In addition, my friend, K. Narayanan, who is also into NLP and EFT (Emotion Focused Therapy), spends quality time with Shrikrishna. My wife and I — either of us or together — make it a point to be with Shrikrishna for all his tournaments, including international events.

Achievements: 2017: Quarterfinalist, World Under-21 Billiards Championship, Beijing, China.

2016: Quarterfinalist, IBSF World Billiards Championship, Bangalore.

Quarterfinalist, IBSF-World Under-18 Snooker Championship, Mol, Belgium.

2015: Gold, IBSF-World Under-21 Billiards Championship, Adelaide, Australia.

Quarterfinalist, IBSF-World Under-18 Snooker Championship, St. Petersburg, Russia 2015.

In the Tamil Nadu State Ranking events, Shrikrishna has won 25 gold, 8 silver and 2 bronze medals overall. Six of his gold medals have come in the senior billiards and senior snooker tournaments in the last three years, which is an Indian record.

Strong points: According to Suryanarayanan, ‘No Fear’ has been ingrained in Shrikrishna. “Win or lose play and enjoy the game. Aggression is another strong point. He plays an attacking game, is very intuitive and comes out as a natural player.”

Shrikrishna on fitness: “I was casual with my fitness during the State Ranking tournament and one fine morning, when I got up, I could not raise my right hand to brush my teeth.

Thanks to Dr. Kannan Pugazhendi of SPARRC, I could make it to the semifinals of the 6-Red Snooker with short-term treatment. He then finally fixed the problem after the event. Ever since, I make it a point to perform my fitness exercises regularly.”

Aim: “I want to focus my energies on the IBSF World U-18 and U-21 snooker championship, to be held sometime in June/July, after my CBSE Standard XII Board exams. My Long-time goal is to enter snooker pro circuit and excel in it.