Former World women's billiards champion M Chitra finally won her maiden national title after years of toil, defeating Neena Praveen of Tamil Nadu 3-1 in the final of the snooker event at Manisha-National Billiards and Snooker championship in Pune on Sunday.
Starting her game tentatively, Bangalore cueist Chitra opened up good lead against Neena, also a first time finalist, before taking the first frame 58-43.
She then wrapped up the second frame 57-28 to give herself a good cushion to bank on. Neena resorted to safety play in the third frame and won it over the black ball 35-32, but Chitra was ready to start afresh in the fourth frame as she raced to a comfortable lead before wrapping up the frame 44-9 to emerge a worthy winner.
Meanwhile, defending champion Aditya Mehta starts as favourite from a huge field that, for the first time, will have a 32-player knockout draw after 80 cueists began the league phase in 16 groups, in the men's snooker championship.
2009 Asian Indoor Games gold medalist Mehta, the first Indian to play in the pro Tour in England since Yasin Merchant played in the 1990s, is the top seed and heads Group A while 2011 runner-up Alok Kumar, a five-time winner, is in Group B.
Also in fray is four-time national snooker champion Pankaj Advani, who retained his billiards crown a few days ago. The 2003 IBSF world champion had finished sixth at the last nationals in Chennai.
Advani head Group F, while other major contenders are also parked in the first 10 groups. Sourav Kothari, Manan Chandra, Rupesh Shah, Kamal Chawla and Neeraj Kumar also have capability to upset the applecart of the best.