Phil Haigh ✍️
Himanshu Jain earned himself a two-year professional tour card at the Asia-Oceania Q School last week and is aiming to make a big impact on the circuit.
The 30-year-old is one of four men to come through the first ever Q School hosted in Asia, with Thai pair Dechawat Poomjaeng and Thanawat Thirapongpaiboon and Pakistan’s Muhammad Asif joining the Indian in victory in Bangkok.
The two Thai players are returning to the tour, while Asif and Jain are turning pro for the first time and the Indian talent hopes to make a big impression.
He has had a crack at Q School in the UK before, reaching a quarter-final in 2018, and now he wants to go a lot further and pick up some silverware.
‘As they say, it is a dream come true for me,’ Jain told SportStar. ‘The biggest challenge was against Indonesian Pochawat Pomjaeng in the final round. I had to counter his amazing break-building ability with safety play which has always been my strength.
‘Getting the better of Asjad Iqbal of Pakistan in the pre-quarterfinal. He was tipped as one of the favourites and I am glad that I could play my best snooker under pressure.
‘I had attempted this [Q School] for the first time in 2018 and 2019. This time around, I got a bye in the first round and won the next four matches to remain unbeaten.
‘Now, I am looking forward to winning at least a couple of World Pro Tour titles.’
Poomjaeng is the most recognisable name to come through the first ever Asia-Oceania Q School, having become something of a cult hero during his first spell on tour.
The 43-year-old, known as Mr Poombastic, memorably beat Stephen Maguire 10-9 in the first round of the 2013 World Championship after he stormed through qualifying, beating Anthony Hamilton 10-4 and Jamie Cope 10-3.
He was then walloped 13-3 by Michael White in the last 16, partly thanks to giving away a frame due to the three-miss rule, which baffled the Sheffield crowd.
5,000 miles away in Shengjin, Albania, Ben Mertens also picked up a tour card for the first time as the impressive Belgian won the EBSA European Under-21 Snooker Championship.
The 17-year-old has been knocking on the door for some years already and will get a crack at the pro tour for the first time after beating Austria’s Florian Nuessle 5-1 in the final.
‘I’m over the moon!’ Mertens told EBSA. ‘It’s a dream come true. I feel really happy and want to thank the support of all my family and friends here and at home.
‘I hope I can provide some more joy to snooker fans, it has always been my passion.’
Belgium’s contingent in the pro ranks has now grown from one (Luca Brecel) to three, with 19-year-old Julien Leclercq winning the Q Tour Play-Off in May.
There are two more tour cards to be handed out ahead of the upcoming season, with the EBSA European Championship played this week and the African Snooker Championship played later this month, both events offering a two-year card to the winners.
That will take the number of professionals for the new season to 131.
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