At 16, Suryanarayanan Shrikrishna is still a boy cue sport player, but he has been hitting the headlines in recent times when pitted against seasoned campaigners among men. Last month he shocked B. Bhaskar 752-721 in the pre-quarterfinals of the IBSF World Billiards Championship in Bengaluru before going down to Rupesh Shah in the quarterfinals.
Those who frequent the Mylapore Club and the Tamil Nadu Nadu Billiards Association (TNBA) facility in Chennai would easily identify with him. Shrikrishna is a big fellow: "It's cold and he has not been able to go for a swim for two months; he's bloating," said his father Suryanarayanan, in jest, at half past six on a Saturday morning, a few minutes before the father and son duo were ready to hit the jogging track at the PYC Gymkhana.
It’s been a little over 10 days since Shrikrishna arrived here with his parents for the Manisha National Billiards and Snooker Championship and he has already pocketed the sub-junior boy’s billiards and snooker titles and also the junior boys' billiards title. The discerning expected him to make a clean sweep of the junior events, and hence his loss to Madhya Pradesh’s Hritik Jain in the pre-quarterfinals was regarded as a big upset. He failed to make the semifinal round-robin league and the junior title was won by Odhisha’s Ashutosh Padhy.
"It’s quite disappointing for me; I don’t know what happened to me that day. I was probably not in the mindset of playing. I did not know what was happening around me. My opponent played well. I am disappointed because there are two to three world snooker tournaments coming up. I am going to play the under-18 and the World under-21 is also happening at the same time in China in July. I may get a wild card entry, I guess. India is allowed four entries, but it can be stretched to six depending on the number of players entering that tournament. I am going for the under-18, but I am not sure about the wild card for under-21," said Shrikrishna who plays billiards and snooker with same the passion and intensity. He’s coached by Nadeem Ahmed and his father.
Shrikrishna played his first Nationals in Chennai in 2011. He has been in the main draw of six events — billiards and snooker (sub-juniors, juniors and men) in last year's Nationals in Indore. "He’s a very fine player; he’s been a BPCL scholarship player for one year," said Devendra Joshi, former National champion in billiards and snooker.
The Tamil Nadu youngster got hooked on to the sport in 2010 after seeing his parents play the sport as a hobby at the Mylapore Club. "I found it interesting with a cue and ball sets. Those days the under-12s were not allowed inside the club’s billiards room, because some players drink. I convinced the member-in-charge by potting the first two shots and I was allowed to play and they changed the criteria saying that anybody who’s of Shrikrishna’s height can play. Then my father felt I was a gifted player in this sport and so he quit his job to encourage me, seven years ago. When I ask him how he can manage my expenses, he says: "That’s should not be my concern at all and that I should only play."
The Bangalore-born Shrikrishna loved to play tennis, but quit the sport because he had to run a lot. "I am still a big foodie. You can see how I am. I realise I have to be fit to play cue sport. I have not decided about my future; once I finish my Class XII exams, I may go to London or some other place."
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