Hansanee shines at World Hopes championships
Sri Lanka Under-12 table tennis players make huge impact in Austria
By Naushad Amit

The Sri Lanka Under-12 table tennis players consisting of ten boys and nine girls returned home after performing extremely well at the World Hopes championships in Vienna, Austria.

Under 12 TT players who went to Vienna, Austria Girls: Roshini Dahanayaka, Sheshala Bandara, Kavindya Sheshani, Eroni Kavindya, Meganie Wathsala, Sachini Alwis, Hansanee Kapugeekiyana, Viduni Manawadu Boys: Kavindu Gimsara, Isuru Anjana, Trishan Nimesh, Virunaka Hendahewa, Chamod Sandeepa, Thisura Thenuka, Dinul Himsara, Dishanka Umesh, Lithmina Mahanama Officials: Maheshi Anusha (TIC), Kumudi de Silva (AT), Swarna Peiris (LC), Chandana Perera, Muthalib Nazar (Manager)

Hansanee Piyumali of Anula Vidyalaya came on top with an extraordinary performance when she emerged World No.9 in the girls' championships. Piyumali a promising player who has the potential to represent Sri Lanka in the future overcame Hungarian Korda Kitti to qualify for the knock-out stages.
However she was defeated by Zhan Angelo of Australia in the pre-quarterfinal, to be placed at No.9 in the junior world rankings. Among the boys Dinul Himsara, Chamod Sandeepa, Trishan Nimesh and Dishanka Umesh performed exceptionally well.

Only the top 16 teams to qualify from the first round advanced to the main tournament which was the key attraction. They qualified to join top 16 ranked players of the world. Sri Lankans however were far behind in comparison with the European players who were sharp and accurate. The Sri Lankans followed basic playing methods according to team manager M. Muthalib.

"Our reasons for the failure of some players against the Europeans were the wrong method of returning the services. We also lacked experience, foreign exposure and the playing conditions did not suit us. Our seniors were however extremely fit," he said.

"It was evident that these players were determined to win medals for the country. All the players and officials were very united and as the manager I must reiterate that not only the performance of players but unity among the contingent was important part in attaining good results. It is advisable to consider them for future foreign tournaments before grooming them to national teams," Muthalib added.

Hansanee Kapugeekiyana

According to Muthalib this was the first time a Sri Lankan junior team took part in a world event of this magnitude. Muthalib was certain that the exposure gained in Austria will be very helpful in preparation for the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Forty two girls and 58 boys from 32 and 36 countries took part in these events respectively.

The championship is annually organized by the International Table Tennis Federation in collaboration with the Werner Schalager Academy in Austria. Muthalib, the current vice President of the Sri Lanka Table Tennis Association (SLTTA) stressed the importance of foreign training for junior players who took part in the World Hopes championship.

"Sri Lanka are benefiting from the juniors. They lacked a bit of exposure but the juniors did the country proud at the competition," Muthalib, who also said that the participation at ranking tournaments was streamlined, went on to add.

Muthalib said that Sri Lanka was easily the next best team behind India in the South Asian region but could do better once the players settle in as professional TT players. The SLTTA also organized a test between Sri Lanka and a European cadet team during the same period which was well received by the players.

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