The tennis players of St. Peter’s College, Colombo 4 who have been continuously winning All Island tennis titles for around the last 15 years, won another title, the Coveted All Island Inter Schools Tennis Under 19 Championship for 2017 at the SLTA courts at Greenpath on Friday.
What was so impressive was that in an era where school sports draw large support staff and school administration officials, the Peterites simply had their long-standing coach Dinith Pathiraja and the Peterite tennis players of the other age groups with them.
The tournament was divided into two groups, group A and B; In Group “A” it was defending Champions S. Thomas’ College, Mt Lavinia featuring Davis cup poolist Avindra Perera, Royal College who were generally considered the strongest team in the tournament and Trinity College, Kandy.
While in group “B” the defending runners-up Colombo International School (CIS), perennial contenders Ananda College featuring Davis Cup Poolist Vibudha Wijebandara and St. Peter’s College were grouped together.
On the First day in Group A, both S.Thomas’ College and Royal College beat Trinity College, Kandy to reach the semis. And in Group B Ananda College and St Peter’s College beat CIS to reach the semis.
On the second day Royal College pulled off a close 18/17 win over S Thomas’s College to go through as group Champions. But the biggest surprise was when the strong Ananda College team with two Junior Sri Lanka Players in Davis Cup poolist Vibudha Wijebandara and another former Sri Lanka Under 14 player Nuwantha Dissanayake were soundly beaten by St Peter’s College 30 games to 5.
Therefore, the semifinal line up was complete. Defending Champions S.Thomas’ College was playing the suddenly dangerous St. Peter’s College team while the Anandians and the Royalists were having a go at each other to decide the other finalists.
In the first semi-final a confident Peterite team soundly beat the defending champions the Thomians 3/1 to reach the final while in the other semi-final Ananda was beaten by Royal by 3 matches to 1, to set a final match between the unexpected St Peter’s College team and the favorites Royal College.
Ananda and S Thomas’s were left to battle it out for the third place in the tournament.
The finals started with the 1st singles match between Thehan Wijemanna (a Junior U 14 Sri Lanka player) of Royal playing Innthujan (a former Junior Davis cup player) of St Peter’s. While Thehan put up a valiant effort, Innthujan finally won the match 7/6, 3/6, 6/3 getting the first point for St Peter’s College.
The second match was between Kavisha Rathnayake (a Junior Davis cup player this year) and Heshan Pillai of St Peter’s College. Kavisha proved too strong for Heshan winning the match 6/1, 6/1 easily to draw the Royalists level at 1/1.
In the third match, Venushka De Silva representing the Royalists took on Isuru Peris of St Peter’s College. Isuru won the match beating Venushka 6/4 6/2 to put the Peterites 2/1 up in the finals.
The 4th match was the 1st doubles match between Vikum Jayasuriya and Dhilvan Herath playing of Royal against the Captain, Vice Captain duo representing St Peter’s College, Kavinka Fernando and Udayachandran Srinath.
The Peterites had a clear advantage in this match as they had not lost an inter schools match playing together for the last 7 years. They were also aware that they were playing their last Inter School match together for their College, if they won their match, the coveted Under 19 Championship would go back to St Peter’s College after a lapse of three years. Setting a fast pace from the beginning, the Peterite pair took control of the match and won their match 6/2, 6/2 keeping their proud unbeaten record intact and thereby winning the Championship for St Peter’s College.
The winning team comprised of Kavinka Fernando (Capt), Udayachandran Srinath (Vice Capt), S Innthujan, Mark Seneviratne, Kevin Assauw, Heshan Pillai and Isuru Peiris with the coach being Dinith Pathiraja.
Meanwhile Ananda College beat St Thomas’s College by 3 matches to 1 to clinch the third place.
It was a commendable effort by the Peterites to win the Championship while all the other schools displayed a high standard of tennis as well as a dedication and commitment to represent their alma maters.
The tournament was organized by the Sri Lanka Schools Tennis Association and its Secretary Mr Jaliya Yasaratne.
Content courtesy: Dinith Pathiraja