When Rudy Fernandez got married nearly 12 years ago he gave up one of his favorite pastimes.
Fernandez, who is a Sunnyside native but now resides in Yakima, gave up touring as a dart player.
"I didn't play for 11 years," he said. "I just got back into it five months ago."
Now, Fernandez is back and he most recently qualified for the World Finals in Chicago in May 2009 after placing third in the men's single cricket division out of 150 players at the Best of the Northwest Dart Tournament held in Spokane the weekend of Nov. 7-9.
Fernandez competed in three events at the Spokane tournament and had to finish in the top three to advance to Chicago. He finished 7th in the men's double 501 game and 5th in men's single 501.
In the 22 years Fernandez has been throwing darts he spent four and a half years touring the world on the professional circuit.
He not only traveled the United States, flying to different tournaments around the states, but he also traveled to Europe where he competed in both the British Open and the World Masters in 1990 and 1991.
Fernandez, a boiler technician by day, said he was encouraged to get back into throwing darts by family and friends. He has brought himself back into the game slowly, practicing six hours a day and getting his feet wet at some area dart tournaments.
His goal is to get back into playing shape so he can resume his career he gave up on 11 years ago.
"I feel my confidence coming back, "he said. "I feel I'm physically fit to this and mentally fit as well."
In the last five months Fernandez says he has finished with first place honors at eight dart tournaments in Washington.
"I'm just getting my feet wet again," he said.
In his most recent tournament, where he took third in Spokane, Fernandez said he played cricket for 14 hours. It's this reason why he spends so much time practicing.
Fernandez will continue to play at tournaments before the World Finals in Chicago. He plans on participating in one in the Tri-Cities Dec. 6 and will continue to play some in Oregon and California before next May.
"I want to keep sharp before the World Championships," he added.