The year 2016 was a successful one for ‘The School by the Sea’; S. Thomas’ College, with their Student Athletes excelling and making headlines all throughout the year. Despite the disappointing loss at the Royal-Thomian big match encounter, the resilient Thomians went on to make waves in the rugby, basketball and water polo arenas.
Apart from these sports, they enjoyed a glorious run on the Tennis Courts of the Island, winning the All Island Public Schools’ Under 19 championship and later retaining their title in the National Schools’ Sports Festival. It was an achievement long yearned for by the Thomians as they followed up their success story in their annual encounters as well.
The Sri Lankan school’s tennis arena is a heavily contested playing field with schools from in and around Colombo being the more dominant forces. The boys’ title hunt has the active participation of heavyweights St. Peter’s College, Royal College, Ananda College and Colombo International School in the top tier along with S. Thomas’ College, making the Thomians’ achievements this year pretty special.
The S. Thomas’ College tennis team, led by Sebastian Sansoni, saw themselves through to the finals of the Public Schools’ Under 19 championship that was worked off at the Sri Lanka Tennis Association courts in July. The under 19 title is the topmost prize on offer in Schools’ Tennis and this fixture saw excitement and intense action with S. Thomas’ and Colombo International School both putting on some impressive play.
The contest was intensified with both schools winning two games each coming into the final match of the five game tie. It all came down to the final tie where Avindra Perera of S. Thomas’ faced off against Josua Jayaratne of CIS. The two-time Junior National Champion had no trouble however as he took the Thomians to a famous win.
The victory was made even more special by the fact that the last time the Thomians won this particular title was way back in 1995, making this a momentous occasion.
At National Schools Sports Festival final, S. Thomas’ met St. Peter’s College and it was the efforts of Viranka Fernando and Avindra Perera that enabled them to retain the title for yet another year.
The Thomian team for the year 2016 was a well-balanced outfit which included some top-notch players who also had their names on the national ranking list. The two-time junior national champion, Avindra Perera was the mainstay in the team and was quite evidently the man with the role of anchoring the team’s hopes. He came up trumps for the Thomians as he was able to shoulder the burden of pressure in crucial encounters.
Coming in support was his partner in crime, Viranka Fernando who stepped up his game when it mattered the most. It was Viranka who won the first single in the National Sports Festival matchup, ousting the Peterite player to make the job easier for Avindra.
A double title-winning captain, Sebastian Sansoni is overwhelmed with the support that had been coming his team’s way this season.
“Tennis isn’t the most popular sport but the support has been very special and we even had people missing school to come support us at the finals.”
Something that the Thomian outfit didn’t lack throughout the season was the crowd support. The finals of the Public Schools tournament saw a record attendance at the playing courts with the colours of blue and black flying high.
From winning the two national titles, the Thomians went on to hold possession of the two traditional trophies awarded for the encounters played against Royal College and Trinity College as well.
After a successful conclusion to their campaign this year, the outgoing skipper believes that his success story will be bettered in the coming years by his successors. Something that the Thomians will look to work towards is dominance in all four age groups. Sebastian believes that the future in the sport looks very fruitful and says that good times are coming for the School by the Sea.
“Well, it was the first time we won the public school’s tournament in 21 years so I would say that was a significant tournament for us. We were able to beat the toughest team twice which was indeed a great experience altogether. I believe that these tournaments and experiences have laid the platform from which Thomian tennis can excel to greater heights”