Eranga Alwis is the squash player to be watched – Col Anthonisz
A player to watch in the future is 17-year-old junior national champion Eranga Alwis of S. Thomas’ Mt. Lavinia, said Col. Rohan Anthonisz, President of the Sri Lanka Squash Federation whilst addressing a press briefing to announce the year-end grand open championships to be held from December 22 onwards at the Gymkhana Club courts,
“The Sri Lanka Squash Federation since 1980 has sowed its seeds at the Gymkhana Club by a band of dedicated members such as Wing Cdr. Noel Fernando, his brother Wimal, Christo Dias, Les Barker, Jayantha Pathikirikorale, AVM Bren Sosa etc. Today it has taken firm roots,” said old Thomian cricketer of yesteryear, Col. Rohan Anthonisz. The 26th James Finlay and Co., sponsored Open Squash championships will be staged on December 22 and 23 and will be continued from 27 to 30. It will be staged at the re-structured Gymkhana Club courts, at Maitland Crescent.
This year the SLSF has received added muscle with co-sponsorship from the Bank of Ceylon. This year’s open will have plenty of cash prizes at stake. The men’s open winner will receive Rs. 40,000/- and the women’s winner Rs. 30,000/-.
To the question whether squash is an elite sport confined to affluent clubs and schools and promoting the game in emerging schools, Col. Anthonisz said that they must have a plan, an infrastructure for the game to reach greater heights. He suggested having more courts even in public playgrounds and hoped that the Ministry of Sports would assist them.
During the last decade or so the men’s singles championship was dominated by ten times champion Saman Tillekeratne and Navin Samarasinghe. Both players received a lot of exposure whilst living abroad. Saman, at present is a professional domiciled in France. Navin the defending champion, is pursuing his studies in Australia.
Col. Anthonisz also had a word of praise for Chakranga Rajapakse of Stafford International, the runner-up. Evergreen Anura Hewage will also vie for honours at this year’s year end championships.
In the women’s section it’s going to be a battle of attrition between the Guruge cousins. Defending champion, Nirasha Guruge will probably clash against Tehani Guruge last year’s runner-up ,joined by Vidushi Gurunada and the experienced Kushani Dalwatte.
The men’s and women’s finals will be held on Dec. 30, starting at 4 p.m. The chief guest will be the chairman of James Finlay, Kumar Jayasuriya and the guest of honour former Sri Lanka squash captain and chairman Gymkhana Club, Shammi Silva.