The Sri Lanka Junior Squash Teams performed remarkably well, finishing in the top 6 at the 19th Asian Junior Squash Team Championship, held in Pattaya, Thailand.
Know more about the Sri Lanka Junior Squash Team:8 selected for Asian Junior Team Championships
Boys’ Team Event
A total of 12 countries competed in the 2019 Team event in 2 Round-robin pools with Sri Lanka placed in Pool A. India, Pakistan, Korea, Chinese Taipei and host nation Thailand filled the other 5 spots in the pool, posing fierce competition.
Seeded 8th in the tournament, the Sri Lankan Boys’ Team consisted of Druvinka Perera (C ), Tuwin Nilakshana, Methmal Wood and Heshan Balasooriya.
Sri Lanka was up against India (4th Seed) and Pakistan (Top Seed) in their opening two fixtures of the tournament. Methmal Wood and Tuwin Nilakshana both lost their matches in the Indian tie and captain Druvinka, too was subdued after a hard fought 5 setter.
The Pakistan tie proved harder for the local boys as they went down 3-0 in all three of their singles fixtures. Methmal Wood was replaced by Heshan Balasooriya for this tie.
Nothing but good fortune followed the Lankans from this point onwards; Sri Lanka managed to beat Thailand and Korea 3-0 on the same day, and another clean sweep against Chinese Taipei secured their position at third place in the group.
The boys were up against Japan and Kuwait in their 5-8th place play-offs. Although Tuwin Nilakshana failed in bringing in the 1st Men’s Singles back to their bench, teammates Druvinka and Methmal finished up the job by winning their matches and advanced to play Kuwait for the 5th place play-off.
Unfortunately, both Methmal and Tuwin faced straight set defeats against the Kuwaitis in the 1st and 3rd singles, settling with a 6th place overall rank out of the 12 teams which participated.
Girls’ Team Event
9 Girls’ Teams were in the mix for the championship this year with Sri Lanka pooled in with Hong Kong China, Singapore and India.
Seeded 7th in the draw, the Sri Lankan Girls’ Team consisted of Kasuni Gunawardena (C ), Sameera Deen, Chanithma Sinaly and Devmini Gallage.
The girls didn’t fare as well as the boys in the group stages but their performance in the 5-8th place playoffs, proved their worth at the tournament.
The opening two fixtures saw Sri Lanka going down to both India and Hong Kong China, unable to register a single win. However, their final tie against Singapore was an intense 2-1 victory that saw Sri Lanka through to the 5-8th playoffs.
Both Kasuni Gunawardena and Chanithma Sinaly avenged Sameera’s defeat against Sneha Sivakumar of Singapore to win the tie. Kasuni pulled through in an incredible 5-setter while Chanithma too had to pull out a 4-setter thriller to carry Sri Lanka into the next set of playoffs.
In the playoffs were Chinese Taipei, Japan and Macau, China, all of whom Sri Lanka demolished to secure an overall 5th place. The girls won the Chinese Taipei tie 3-0 and then the Japan and Macau ties 2-1.