By a Special Sports Correspondent
Women’s tennis in Sri Lanka is a glamour sport and players like Anika Seneviratne, Janali Manampperi, Neyara Weerawansa, Oneli Perera and Savini Jayasuriya have made it more than exciting.
However during this year’s restricted tennis calendar, troubled due to the present pandemic, one player who has come up fast and gained so much attention is 18-year-old schoolgirl Savini Jayasuriya. She has won the Women’s singles events in the SSC Open and the HNB-Hutch Clay Court Nationals this year apart from winning the Under 18 Girls’ Singles at the Junior National Tennis Championships.
She started playing tennis at the age of four and didn’t taste instant success. She was losing more games than winning and by age 11 she made it known to her loved ones at home that she wanted to try a new sport. But a change of mind coupled with more focus and determination to remain in the racket sport saw her finding the art of winning.
Soon she was making it to tours abroad with the national age group teams. She of course had her most challenging moment in the sport at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia. She was down with dengue and had to play a separate trial to make it to the national team. Her participation at the games was made possible after a court case and the intervention of the country’s sports minister. But despite Savini travelling all the way to Indonesia she had to remain a mere spectator. Her late entry was not accepted by the games’ organisers.
She had her initial schooling at Bishop’s College Colombo where her life was more or less centred around tennis. However, the year 2019 was a special year for Savini and her teammates. The schoolgirls clad in purple t-shirts saw their efforts giving them the under 19 All Island Championships.
Apart from all what she has achieved there are many lessons that the sport has taught her. As much as hard work tops the list she once told during an online interview that it’s equally important to enjoy the game and make progress step by step. Her parents and her brother, who influenced her to take to the sport, probably have had the patience and wait till Savini started blooming as a flower. She has cherished her small wins and learned well from her losses. She has said often that her losses have made her a true sportswoman.
This year it all started happening for Savini. She beat Janali 6/1, 6/4 at the SSC Open. She got the better of Janali again at the HNB-Hutch Clay Court Nationals in the women’s singles 6/1, 3/6, 6/1. The latter marked her maiden Clay Court Nationals win too. At the Junior National Tennis Championships, representing her new school Gateway College, she beat Oneli Perera 6/1, 6/0. She made it to the finals of the 105 Colombo Tennis Championships, but lost to reigning women’s singles championships Anika Senewiratne 7/5, 3/6, 6/3.
She has also won many doubles events partnering Janali Manampperi. Her latest success at the doubles event was when she won the 105th National Women’s Doubles Championships of Sri Lanka partnering Janali. She is also a South Asian Games (2019) Silver medallist and represented Sri Lanka at multiple International tournaments including Asian Games 2018, Fed Cup and is a former Jr. Fed Cup player.
Tennis calls for an early start and hours of slogging at both the tennis courts and the gymnasium. She started training early and has been committed to the game, on and off the court. The women’s segment in the Sri Lankan tennis scene is so competitive and Savini knows that truly well. This season we didn’t see Anjalika Kurera (Probably due to school exams) and little of Rushika Wijesuriya (who has had overseas training exposure). Still the women’s segment produced the sparks and much of it was created by Savini.
Tennis analysts have already predicted that Savini would go great guns in the future. Her power player and the short-ball initiative she takes at matches have been noticed by tennis commentators who have aired their views during online tennis coverages. But overall Savini’s tennis story is one of highs and lows and also underscores the efforts of a teenager who wants to reach her potential and leave her signature in the tennis annals of Sri Lanka. All that was possible due to the support she received from her parents, coaches, the SLTA and close associates in her tennis circle.
She has had her share of foreign tours and represented Sri Lanka. She is in a sport where participants manage both their education and sport quite well. Savini knows that education and sport go hand in hand; a combination which promises to release to the world a well-balanced person. When the attention is on a sportsman or a sportswoman during present times spectators or your followers are looking beyond tennis to relate to you. This is true when a sportstar is selected as a brand ambassador and has to relate to an audience by speaking. She was chosen to answer questions at the Sri Lanka Tennis Association conducted ‘Tennis Talk’ (live Q & A Session-Episode 19) in March this year.
More than all what she has earned in tennis she says that the sport has given her the ability to believe in herself.
My best knock for Sri Lanka – Asalanka
By Rex Clementine
If you had no idea why Roy Dias identified Charith Asalanka as a Test captain in the waiting some seven years ago, there was proof for his claims at Pallekele on Wednesday as the diminutive left-hander from Elpitiya pulled off a stunning run chase against Afghanistan.Sri Lanka chased down a target of 314 in the last over with Asalanka finishing things off in style with a pulled six. What’s so special with the win is that it is Sri Lanka’s highest successful run chase ever at home.
“I was struggling with cramps. The heat was too much in the afternoon.
Once Dunith came in, I told him not to do too much running and target the gaps. There was a good partnership with Dasun too before that and that helped us to get back into the game,” Asalanka noted.
Most players when they get into the Sri Lankan cricket set up they get themselves tattooed and buy fancy cars and luxury apartments. Asalanka has remained grounded and he is very much close to his roots at Elpitiya.
In fact, he married his childhood sweetheart, whom he fell in love with at the age of 15. The pair met at the school bus when Asalanka was playing under-17 cricket and despite money and fame the captain in waiting hasn’t forgotten his past. Asalanka took a break middle of the series to get married on the 28th of November, the day of their tenth anniversary of falling in love. However, there was no honeymoon as Asalanka had to return to Pallekele for the rest of the series.
His wife is an English teacher and that gives us hope that press conferences are going to be interesting again although the good old days of Sanga will never come.Asalanka received a scholarship to Richmond College after passing the Grade Five scholarship and he is known as a sharp thinker of the game.
“First game the ball swung a lot. It was a grassy pitch. We knew this wicket was not going to do much for the bowlers. The main thing we wanted was to bat 50 overs. Everyone contributed from top to the lower middle order, and it was great to watch.”
Sri Lanka have a settled top order when it comes to white ball cricket and the middle order could be built on Asalanka who can accelerate and rebuild an innings. “Dasun is the one who told me that I’d be batting at number five and to feel comfortable. I was going to get the long rope. I had never batted at number five before that and glad I have cemented my place now.”
“This is my best innings in international cricket. Dunith Wellalage was outstanding as well. Afghanistan have a very experienced side. They have lot of players who are involved in league cricket. Dunith showed lot of maturity.”
“We had identified that Rashid Khan was their key players. We didn’t want to take risks against him. We got out for some good balls. We made sure that we didn’t give wickets to him, and it got easier to score runs.
Richmond, Trinity clash for Under 19 Division I Tier ‘A’ cricket title
by Reemus Fernando
The stage is set for a thrilling climax when unbeaten Richmond meet formidable Trinity in the final of the Under 19 Division I Tier ‘A’ cricket tournament at the Thurstan College ground today.
There are two factors indicating to a thrilling climax. Both teams know what it takes to win a championship title as they have players who have featured in finals before. It was not long ago that a few players in the Trinity team guided their Under 17 team to joint champions title of the Division I cricket tournament of that age category. The team from Galle have in their ranks a number of players who had to be content with the runner up position after reaching the final of this tournament during the last season.
For the final, Trinity are likely to stick to the same team which won the semi –final against their arch rivals St. Anthony’s at the same venue early this week. During this tournament captain Rahal Amarasinghe has seen Manula Kularathne, Theeraka Ranatunga, Dinusha Pieris and Janith Warnakula sharing most of the batting responsibilities for the team’s success.
In the bowling department, Ranatunga (with over 20 wickets) has topped the wicket takers list. Dinuka Thennakoon, Tharana Wimaladharma and Manula Kularathne are the others shouldering most of the wicket taking duties.
During the semi-final Ranatunga was joined by skipper Amarasinghe, Peiris, Wathila Udara and Vibhavith Ehelepola to play crucial roles with the bat, while the former and deputy skipper Ehelepola took two wickets each to contain St. Anthony’s to 202 runs. A prominent feature of Richmond during this tournament was the dominant role played by their Sri Lanka Under 19 player Malsha Tharupathi. Tharupathi produced outstanding all-round feats to beat defending champions St. Joseph’s and St. Benedict’s in the quarter-final and the semi-final.
They have a strong batting line up from skipper Tharinda Nirmal, Helitha Edirisinghe, Thamindu Pradeeptha, Kavindu Nirmana, wicketkeeper batsman Janeth Kaushal to Tharupathi.
While Tharupathi is easily their top wicket taker, Nalaka Jaywardena, Nirmal and Sharon Abishek have all shared bowling responsibilities. Maheesha de Silva and Kaveesha Induwara have been economical with the new ball.
How they reached the final
Trinity beat St. Sebastian’s, Moratuwa and St. Anthony’s, Katugastota during the knockout stage after completing their first round matches as the third placed team in their group. They won five out of the eight matches during that phase.
Richmond have remained unbeaten during this tournament. They won all their eight matches in the first round to be the champions in their group. During the knockout stage they ousted defending champions St. Joseph’s and St. Benedict’s in a row to reach their second consecutive final.
Richmond (from): Tharinda Nirmal (Captain), Kavindu Nirmana (Vice Captain), Ruwan Jayawardena, Janeth Kaushal, Maheesha De Silva, Malsha Tharupathi, Sharon Abhishek, Thamindu Pradeeptha, Chehan Subasinghe, Sihath Ramanayake, Sasindu De Silva, Seneth Sisan, Kaveesha Induwara, Manuja Dulneth, Helith Edirisinghe, K.K Yuri, Pubudu Mihiranga, Charuka Gunasekara.
Nuwan Jayasinghe (Master in Charge), Lakmal de Silva (Head Coach), Umal Udayanga (Asst. Coach), Lahiru Madhuwantha (Asst. Coach)
Trinity (from): Rahal Amarasinghe (Captain), Vibhavith Ehelepola (Vice Captain), Theeraka Ranatunga, Supun Waduge, Manula Kularatne, Tharana Wimaladharma, Kusal Wijetunga, Dinusha Pieris, Dinuka Tennakoon, Jayavi Liyanagama, Janith Warnakula, Malith Rathnayake, Lakvin Abeysinghe, Wathila Udara, Yewan Hulangamuwa, Viduka Dhammage.
Brian Senaratne (Master in Charge), Naveen Ekanayake (Head Coach), Lakshitha Alahakoon (Asst. Coach)
Daraz partners with LPL for the third Consecutive Year
IPG Group, the official right holders of the Lanka Premier League (LPL) franchise, recently announced Daraz, Sri Lanka’s largest online shopping platform as the ‘League Partner’ and ‘Exclusive Ticketing Partner’ of Lanka Premier League 2022 tournament.Sri Lankan cricket fans can now purchase LPL 2022 tickets on Daraz– prices starting from Rs. 300.
The steps are as follows:
1) Log in to Daraz app & Add LPL tickets to the cart and checkout
2) You will receive a QR code via SMS and email
3) Walk into the respective stadium on the match day, show the QR code and get in
Speaking on the partnership, Managing Director of Daraz, Rakhil Fernando stated: “Cricket has always been the most popular sport in Sri Lanka; it plays a vital role in bringing the nation together. Ahead of the LPL 2022 season, Daraz is proud and excited to deliver an enhanced ticketing approach. Through our combined vision and expertise, we strive to deliver a superior cricket experience for the cricket fanbase.”
Founder and Chief Executive Officer of The IPG group, Anil Mohan added, “As planning for the LPL 2022 began, we knew that we needed to take a fresh approach to administration in order to provide our enthused cricket fans with an agile, fast and smooth customer experience. A holistic online shopping platform like Daraz is just what is needed in today’s day and age to ensure smooth, hassle-free ticketing operations for a tournament of this scale. We request LPL fans to purchase their tickets at the earliest convenience to avoid disappointment.”
My best knock for Sri Lanka – Asalanka
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