Last month, Anupama Ramachandran made heads turn as she became the first cueist from Tamil Nadu to win a medal at the International Billiards and Snooker Federation’s (IBSF) World Junior Snooker Championships in Bucharest, Romania.
Anupama lost to Thailand’s Panchaya Channoi 1-4 in the summit clash of the championship and settled for a silver. Looking back at her performance in the tournament, she says, “I consider these slumps as a stepping stone to my next objective. I usually just analyse what went wrong and work on it and that is what matters the most.”
The 20-year-old cueist started her snooker journey coincidentally. “I regularly participate in the summer camps that happen during my schooling days and one of those camps was for snooker. Snooker was the only sport that I wanted to carry on even after I completed the camp.”
Ranked India No.1, Anupama started practising at the Mylapore club, initially without a mentor. She presently trains under former India No. 2 S.A. Saleem at his facility in Chennai.
“When I was 14, I started going to snooker classes at the Mylapore club with zero knowledge about the sport. That is where I got acquainted with my current coach Saleem. After the second covid lockdown, he started his own academy and I’ve been playing here ever since” she adds.
Last year, Anupama topped the women’s round-robin league of the GSC World Snooker Qualifiers. She has won 10 plus state championships and has also been a constant performer in national and international events.
“Anupama is currently performing brilliantly. But her book is still incomplete and I expect her to bring a lot more laurels in the coming years. Her transition as a player is there for everyone to see, she’s playing one tournament after the other and is on her way to becoming a snooker sensation,” says her coach Saleem, who was at one point the No.1 cueist of Tamil Nadu for nine consecutive years.
“She’s ticking all the boxes and is doing everything that a hardcore snooker player would do.”
“The sport has come a long way, during my time we obviously didn’t have the top-of-the-line infrastructure but now the tables are slowly turning. Taking my academy as an example, the conditions that I provide are of international standards. And with the incentives that the government is providing, I believe that the quality of players will increase,” he adds.
The 2017 world women U16 gold medallist, who recently completed her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, had to constantly juggle between her studies and the sport that she loves. “The balance between my studies and playing snooker was made possible only because I had a set of very understanding teachers and professors.”
“Both my school and college have been very supportive, during my 12th board exams they even rescheduled my practical exams so that I can participate in a tournament, “says Anupama.
Anupama, like most other cueist in India, draws inspiration from 23-time IBSF World Champion Pankaj Advani, “The sportsperson that I look up to is obviously Pankaj Advani, the most decorated Indian cueist. The 2018 Asian Snooker champion Amee Kamani is another player that I closely follow”
Her long-term goal within the snooker arena is to “stay relevant to the sport” and she hopes to play as long as she can.
Anupama’s next immediate destination is Malaysia where she is set to participate in the 6-Red world championship in October and the 15-red women’s World Championships happening in Turkey later in November.