Snooker champion returns to the big league

Top Australian snooker player Tammy Cantoni. Photo: AJN file/Peter Haskin

Top Australian snooker player Tammy Cantoni. Photo: AJN file/Peter Haskin

DAVID WEINER

WORLD championship pool and snooker have taken Tammy Cantoni from Spain, Austria and Sweden to Taiwan and Japan over a career spanning 15 years.

After a three-year hiatus, the former Australian number-one has received confirmation of her qualification to the 2009 World Championships in Shenyeang, China, to be held next month.

Cantoni claimed the Australian national title in her comeback event in June, and after nine previous attempts at the world title across pool and snooker, her experience has her well positioned for another crack at the elite level.

Cantoni has returned to the circuit after a three-year break feeling fresh and excited about playing again, winning her maiden state and national titles at her first attempt.

‚ÄúIt‚Äôs a passion … but I needed to take some time off because I was losing that passion,‚Äù she reflected.

“I practise every day and the thing I most look forward to is playing at that level again,” Cantoni said.

Before her break, the 2005 Victorian Sportswoman of the Year enjoyed a glittering career, which included representing Australia five times in Trans-Tasman Cups, while filling the trophy cabinet en route to becoming Australia’s number-one ranked player.

Her imminent return to the elite circuit in Asia evokes memories of a playing culture that bears no comparison to the sport in Australia.

Of her experiences in Asian competition, Cantoni recalls: “There were massive stadiums in Taiwan, and you had to go up and do signings. In my very first world title, a young boy came up and asked for a photo. When I went back five years later, I was doing a signing and the same boy returned with the photo and asked me to sign it again. That shows how big it is over there.”

To finetune her preparations, Cantoni will contest the Kings Cup at Kings in Dingley Village in Melbourne. Her other training venue is the Legends poolroom in Epping.

They are two of her loyal sponsors, but Cantoni is still looking for other sponsors to help her take on the world’s best.

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