Review on 2019 All Island Inter-Schools Tennis Tournament by Kavinka Fernando

On the back of a rain-stricken period, the under 15 Boys and Under 19 All Island Inter-Schools Tennis Tournament commenced on the 30th of September and came to an end on the 02nd of October and was held at the Sri Lanka Tennis Association Courts. The Under 19 boys tournament saw the likes of Royal College, St. Peter’s College, Colombo 4 and Ananda College, Colombo 10 and St. Thomas’, Mount Lavinia offer what would otherwise be expected from the senior-most players from each of their schools. However, it was Royal’s tournament to remember. The defending champions proved too strong for St. Thomas’ in the semi-finals as they made their way into the final where they were to face the winner of the other semi which was played out between Ananda and St. Peter’s and it was the latter that was to play it out against the blue and golds for the coveted Under-19 title.
Having beaten St. Peter’s already in their group clash earlier in the tournament, the boys from Reid Avenue were looking to mimic just that in the final.

The champions knew it was never going to be a cakewalk. St. Peter’s boasted a strong side which featured three Junior National players but Royal had two of their own and in the first match between Ashen Silva and Thehan Wijemanne, both whom have represented the country in the Junior Davis Cup, it was Thehan who drew first blood in favour of the Royalists 9-8(4). St. Peter’s knew they had to win the following match in order to keep any hope alive. St. Peter’s had fielded a strong first doubles in the form of Isuru Pieris and Nenuka Jayatilake- who had also represented Sri Lanka. On the other side of the court were Janith Munasinghe and Januda Jayasekara. On paper, it looked like the Peterites had this match in the bag but everyone knows never to underestimate your opponent. With the Peterites making a handful of costly errors and the Royalists capitalising on them, the champions had emerged victorious beating their rivals 9-8(1) and securing a 2-0 lead in the tie. However, as the Peterite camp had key players who had not reached optimal fitness, the tie was handed to Royal College and in doing so, retained the Inter-Schools Under 19 crown.

Speaking to the captain of the Royal College Tennis Team, Kavisha Ratnayake, mentioned that St. Peter’s was the team to beat coming into the tournament. The former Junior Davis Cup player also said that the key ingredient to the team’s success was the togetherness they had. “We had a seven day training camp in which the boys’ morale, as well as the team spirit and unity, was boosted”, Ratnayake said.

Questioned about the team’s preparations going into the Schools’ National Tennis Tournament in Kandy, he reiterated that St. Peter’s would yet again be a formidable opponent but if his team could replicate events in Colombo then they would stand a chance head home with another piece of silverware. The team comprised of Kavisha Ratnayake (Captain), Thehan Wijemanne, Dhilwan Herath, Janudha Jayasekara, Janith Munasinghe, Manish De Silva, Avika Kelagama, Bilal sabry, Ismail Azeez & Akeed Makan Macar
The team was coached by Mr. Prasanna Athauda and they wanted to thank their sponsors who supported them such as Reborn, Hayleys Advantis and Colombo International Container Terminal Pvt. (Ltd).

The Girls tournament delivered its fair share of surprises as Bishop’s College ended a 15 year long wait to clinch the under 19 Inter-Schools title. However, they did not have it easy as tough opponents stood in their way.

The group stage saw them overcome Ladies’ College comfortably and in the semi-final, Bishop’s had a minor scare against Visakha Vidyalaya, who looked to be favourites for the title where the tie was decided on the third singles. The other semi-final saw a shock victory claimed by Newstead Girls College, Negombo over defending champions, Ladies’ College. Newstead possessed a group of consistent young players and powered their way to see it to the school’s first ever final in this age group. Come Wednesday morning, the draw seemed to be favouring Bishop’s but it wasn’t an easy task to win the final altogether.  Speaking to the captain of the Bishop’s team Senithi Weerasekara, she stated that the tie was a ‘50/50’ in the context of how the teams looked on paper. She also mentioned that Senuthi Mahadewan couldn’t settle for nothing but a win as it was the ‘decider’ in their eyes it was duly delivered. The girls from Negombo fielded a strong first doubles pair and it did the trick against Bishop’s after they lost their opening game. With the tie at one a piece, Savini Jayasuriya- who has played for Sri Lanka at an International level, drew a crunch matchup  against Natasha Munaweera, the captain of Newstead. The match ended 9-2 in favour of the Colombo school and it was upto Isuni Dharmasiriwardana and Senithi Weerasekara to seal the deal. With the ball called out against Newstead at 40-15 at 8-1, the Bishop’s team rushed over to the pair of players who had confirmed that they were the 2019 Under-19 Girls’ champions. “Going to Kandy for the Nationals championships, I would say that Visakha Vidyalaya would be our main rivals but we will do our best to win as a team”, Weerasekara stated. The team comprised of Senithi Weerasekara (captain), Savini Jayasuriya (vice captain), Roshintha Perera, Isuni Dharmasiriwardana, Vitini De Alwis, Seranya Karunaratne & Sangavi Sabesan. While the team was coached by Mr P. Thizant, the Teacher-In-Charge was Mrs. Raviraj.

Also in action in the relatively new format, Methodist College beat Holy Family Convent, Bambalapitiya to stamp their name as Under 19 girl’s Plate Champions meaning that they would be the first school to have their hands on this trophy. The final tie ended with a comfortable 3-2 victory to Methodist College. The team consisted of Janani Dias (captain), Vonara De Alwis, Tuvini De Alwis, Ambisha Varatharasan, Amanda Siriwardena, Prabuddhi Perera, Yuvini Subasinghe, Akshara Mutateesa & Najila Siraj. The team was coached by Mr. Jayashanth Thevaraj.

Tuesday also saw the conclusion of the under 15 boys Inter-School All Island Tennis Championship with Royal College facing long time rivals Ananda College. The draws seemed to be showcasing a close tussle between the two sides but it was the Royalists who had the last laugh. With emerging and promising young talents proving their worth on court and with the support of their home crowd, Royal College earned a well deserved victory and put themselves in pole position to win an Overall Title for the first time since 2006. On that note, Royal would become champions if they reach the under-17 finals for the fact that they would have more overall points than their opponents.  The team members were Methvan Wijemanne (captain), Tharuk Munasinghe, Amrik Wettimuny, Thevinu Weligepola, Jamal Sabry, Ryan Sugathadasa, Imaadh Meezan, Saahil Fazlin, Tarik De silva & Nicol Nagashena.

The tournament was organised by the Sri Lanka Schools Tennis Association and the Tournament referees were Mr. Dinusha Wijesooriya and Mr. Manoj Fonseka.

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