Saniya Arif has had been following twin dreams ever since she stepped into the world of cuesports seven years ago: first is to represent India at the highest level; second, to be the best female player in the country one day.
Saniya recently lived up her first dream of sporting the tricolour badge. The 19-year-old was part of the seven-member squad that took part in the U-21 World Snooker Championship held in Dubai earlier this month.
“I had never thought about participating in the event. Because at the 2012 junior (U-21) national meet in Gwalior, which was used to select the top three girls for the Dubai event, I had finished fourth,” shared Chandigarh’s reigning snooker and billiards champion.
But as luck would have it, Indore’s Amee Kamani, who had finished third ahead of Saniya in the national meet, had already crossed the stipulated age-limit for the World Championship.
“Two months ago, I learnt about my inclusion in the Indian squad and straight away started preparing by practising five to six hours at my home. My college helped the cause by allowing me to skip classes,” added Saniya, an aspiring architect who is studying at the Chandigarh College of Architecture.
Sharing the experiences of the Dubai tournament, Saniya stated, “With players from around globe participating in the event, the competition was tough. I am confident that the experience of competing in such high quality contests will stand me in good stead in future,” said the youngster, who finished among the top-eight.
“I personally feel a top-six finish would have been better. But I gave my best shot,” stated Saniya, who first picked up the cue stick seven years ago when her father Arif Akhtar, himself a national-level player, introduced her to the game.
Since then Saniya has made some strong finishes in subjunior and junior national snooker and billiards events. She has also been competing in the senior women’s section since 2011.
“Whatever I have been able to achieve today is due to the support of my parents, especially my father who doubles up as my coach,” said Saniya.
On her plans for the current year, Saniya said, “I am planning to take part in the 6-Red National Snooker Meet and some invitational events. But nothing has been finalised yet. ”
She is also looking forward to watching Asian Billiards and U-21 Asian Snooker Meet to be held in city from Saturday. “Although I have my fourth semester exams, I will try to take out time and watch top players in action, including World champion Peter Gilchrist and the Indian World number No 2 Alok Kumar.”