New Delhi: His long-standing wish fulfilled, newly-crowned national snooker champion Aditya Mehta now aims to become the highest ranked Indian on the world professional circuit.

Mehta won his maiden national title on Tuesday, upstaging five-time champion Alok Kumar 6-2 in the best of 11 format final in Chennai and the 27-year-old Mumbaikar now hopes to surpass two-time Asian champion cueist Yasin Merchant on the pro circuit.

Merchant was the highest ranked Indian at 65 in the 1990s. In the past, only Geet Sethi, Merchant and Manan Chandra have managed to qualify for the pro circuit.

The Asian Games silver and bronze medallist had made the headlines when he broke into the professional tour in 2009. However, Mehta failed to make the cut of 64 and could not
qualify last year.

"My next target is to better the record of Yasin Merchant on the professional circuit. I want to surpass his record as the highest ranked Indian at 65 on the circuit. I have set myself certain targets and I am working hard towards achieving those. Just to qualify on the circuit is not good enough," Mehta said.

"It was always my dream to play in the highly-demanding professional circuit. Only the cream of world snooker makes it to the professional tour and to play at the highest level just excites me. I will be leaving for London shortly where I presently stay and for the next few weeks, I will be busy participating in the pro circuit tournaments in UK, Germany, Belgium, Poland and Ireland," added the runner-up of the Asian snooker tournament, held at Indore recently.

Mehta wants to cash in on the national experience and make it count in the professional tour, which started on June 20. A professional tour consists of 20 main ranking circuit events.

"The level of competition is much much higher on the pro circuit as compared to the nationals. You need to be at your best every time. I hope that the national title win will hold me in good stead on the circuit.

"I have been playing well at the moment but still needs to be psychologically strong. I have to work much harder to succeed on the circuit," he said.

Talking about the National snooker title win, Mehta said, "I have been dreaming of this day for many years now. I was runner-up in 2007, and then lost in the semifinals last year, so it has been at the back of my mind that I have never won the national title. This time I was determined to win."

Mehta felt that the turning point was in the early frames when Alok had a chance to go 3-1 up, but ended in former taking a two frame lead to widen it to 4-1.

Mehta took the third frame on a re-spotted black, the fourth on a yellow-to-pink clearance and the next on the back of a 40 clearance.

"The scoreline won't suggest it but if you look at the frames, they were quite dramatic. I did play better than Alok.

This win is an achievement for me or you can say milestone," he said.

(Agencies)