Yasodara and Shamal champions in the making
By M. Shamil Amit
To start a sports career in almost the same age and same period and to become champions and win a major tournament at the same competition is something unique in anyone’s life. This is what is special in two up and coming youngsters ten year old Yasodara Karunaratne of Colombo International School (CIS) and eight year old Shamal Dissanayake of Royal College Colombo.

The duo were crowned the champions of the Under 10 age group in the girls’ and boys’ category at the recently concluded Junior Nationals 2004 conducted by the Sri Lanka Tennis Association. Yasodara comfortably outclassed her opponent I. Abeywickrama 6-2, 6-1 while Shamal did a little better when he overcame fancied Alex Fairbank 6-0,6-0.

The two have similarities since they began swinging a tennis racquet, starting their mission at the tender age of five (Yasodara) and three (Shamal) respectively. They began their training under coach Kingsley Candappa at the Moors Sports Club. The turning point of their career was when coach Candappa who saw that they were players with immense potential handed them over to national coach Arul Amalnathan an Indian for advanced training.

Having undergone training with their new coach the duo began taking part in tournaments regularly this year. Yasodara’s father Lloyd Karunaratne speaking about her daughters’ career said that she has numerous awards, she started by taking part in the Inter-school Tennis Championships and her first trophy was when she won the Junior Novices tournament in 2001 when she was just seven years old. Later her performance helped the school to win the Under 11 title overcoming schools like Visakha, Bishops and Musaeus College and went on to win the Junior Masters title, Otters and Colombo Championships and was the runner up at the Women’s Internationals tournament.

Yasodara has all the encouragement from her parents specially her father, himself a tennis player. Though her training period is two hours from 5.00 p.m. to 7.00 p.m. from Monday to Friday and two sessions on Saturday and Sunday, it has not affected her studies. This year Yasodara a grade six student at CIS was elected the Junior Head Girl of the school along with an scholarship and was presented with an Academic Merit award for her studies at the annual prize giving, proving to the world that both studies and sports could go together if you are determined.

The performance of eight year old Shamal a grade three student of Royal College Colombo is something extraordinary, a young player with plenty of talent who could be moulded into a future champion of Sri Lanka. He is a regular member of the school junior tennis team who has won many prizes, and winning a national event for ten year participants at this young age of eight years is something extraordinary.

Shamal like Yasodara is very dedicated and combines and balances his other activities systematically being a bright student in his studies and the leader of the primary percussion band. He has another two more years to compete in the Under 10 event which will give him more experience for the future to battle with players in the higher category.

The two youngsters are students of Arul Amalnathan a top class Indian coach who started his own tennis academy after completing his two year contract as the Sri Lankan national coach. In fact the duo was coach Amalnathan’s first students and they have done him proud.

Here are two up and coming stars who could be moulded to become future Sri Lankan champions. With dedicated parents giving them all the support and encouragement they need, they are definitely going to go places in the days to come and more could be heard about this two dedicated and determined stars which can make a difference and take Sri Lanka tennis to greater heights.


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