Thursday, December 31, 2009

Upuli Samanthika (In front) and Achini Ratnasiri

Upuli Samanthika (In front) and Achini Ratnasiri who won the women’s doubles final in action at the Badminton Nationals which were worked off at the Royal College Sports Complex in Reid Avenue yesterday.
(Pic by Kamal Bogoda)

Badminton National Championships Teenager Ratnasiri and Karunaratne dazzle

Badminton National Championships
Teenager Ratnasiri and Karunaratne dazzle

Teenager Achini Ratnasiri and Niluka Karunaratne stamped their class as the best players when they won the singles crowns in the women’s and men’s tournaments respectively at the finals of the Badminton Nationals, worked off at the Royal College Sports Complex yesterday.

Ratnasiri’s win over the expereiced Chandrika de Silva was expected at the manner in which she played in the final. After outplaying her opponent in both sets (21-14,21-14) Ratnasiri said, "I am very happy to have won the singles and it was possible because I made very few mistakes today".

She thanked all her coaches who have helped her todate and said it wouldn’t have been possible to have made the mark if not for all of them. Ratnasiri is one of the yougest players to win the women’s singles nationals at age 15. The youngest player to win the women’s singles nationals is Namal de Silva who emerged champion in 1960 at the age of 13 years and eight months.

Ratnasiri earlier added another feather in her cap when she partnered Upuli Samanthika to win the women’s doubles finals against Subodha Dhahanayake and Gayani Perera. Ratnasiri and Samanthika won 21-5 and 21-5.

The experienced Niluka Karunaratne made short work out of his younger brother Dinuka when the two battled it out in the men’s singles finals. Niluka won quite easily recording a score of 21-14, 21-14.

The men’s doubles event produced a lot of excitement with Hasitha Chanaka and R.S.Dhahanayake playing their hearts out to beat Dinuka Karunaratne and Diluka Karunaratne. Chanaka and Dhahanayake won 21-18, 23-21.

The mixed doubles, which was worked off on Tuesday, was won by Chandrika de Silva and Niluka Karunaratne who beat Lekha Shehani and Dinuka Karunaratne.

Sensational Achini prevails

Sensational Achini prevails

Fifteen year old Visakha Vidyalaya school girl Achini Ratnasiri created a sensation at the 57th National Badminton Championships that was concluded at the Royal College Sports Complex when she defeated the more experienced Chandrika De Silva 21/14, 21/14 to clinch the women’s singles title.

In the men’s singles final, for Niluka Karunaratne blood was not thicker than water when he defeated his brother Diluka 21/14, 21/14.

Furthermore, Achini Ratnasiri went on to pocket a double when she teamed up with Upuli Samanthika to beat the Subodha Dahanayake and Gayani Perera in two sets to win the women’s mixed doubles.

Niluka Karunaratne also made sure of a double when he and Chandrika De Silva beat Dinuka Karunaratne and Lekha Shehani to win the mixed doubles.


Men’s singles – Niluka Karunaratne beat

Dinuka Karunaratne 21/14, 21/14.

Men’s doubles – Hasitha Chanaka and R.S. Dahanayake beat Dinuka Karunaratne and Diluka Karunaratne 21/18, 23/21.

Women’s singles – Achini Ratnasiri beat Chandrika De Silva 21/14, 21/14.

Women’s doubles – Achini Ratnasiri and Upuli Samanthika beat Subodha Dahanayake and Gayani Perera 21/5, 21/15.

Mixed doubles – Chandrika De Silva and

Niluka Karunaratne beat Dinuka Karunaratne and Lekha Shehani 21/15, 21/11.


Achini ousts top seed Chandrika

Achini ousts top seed Chandrika

Young sensation Achini Ratnasiri came up with an outstanding performance to beat top seed Chandrika de Silva to be crowned the new women's singles champion in the 58th annual Senior Badminton Nationals Championship which concluded yesterday at the Royal College Sports Complex. Achini managed to beat top shuttler Thilini Jayasinghe in the semi finals mostly played a defensive game and was involved in several rallies. Her placements were superb and she displayed a wide array of strokes including some wonderful drop shots and fake smashes which were played to perfection. The left handed Achini won the game 21/14, 21/14 in straight sets.

Meanwhile the undisputed king of Badminton Niluka Karunarathne was once again on song as he bagged the men's singles title by beating his younger brother Dinuka Karunarathne 21/14, 21/14. Niluka played some unplayable drop shots to tire his opponent and used his favourite smash shots to gain points. The pick of the games was the men's doubles final as top seeds Diluka and Dinuka Karunarathne met rookies R.S Dahanayake and Hasith Chanaka in a fast paced game.

Hasith and R.S Dahanayake combined together proved to be a lethal force to reckon with as they were ruthless on the attack and their defense was difficult to penetrate. They won the first set 21/18. In the second set both teams were in fine rhythm and were involved in several rallies to gain points. It was 20/20 and a simple error from Hasith Chanaka helped Diluka and Dinuka to gain a valuable point to move the score to 21/20 and have the match in their favour.

The pendulum swung both ways but R.S Dahanayake and Hasith got a lucky break and a delightful smash shot sealed their victory. The final scoreline read as 23/21 and a jubilant Hasith and R.S were crowned as the new men's doubles champions. In the mixed doubles finals the experienced duo of Niluka Karunarathne and Chandrika de Silva won the game in straight sets 21/15, 21/11 against Dinuka Karunarathne and Lekha Shehani.

Preethi Jayawardena the Managing Director of Chemanex PLC was the chief guest for the prize giving.


Monday, December 28, 2009

Rising shuttle star - Lekha

Rising shuttle star - Lekha

The stage was set for a grand final of the women's open singles event in the SSC Badminton tournament 2009. In the finals 16 year old young sensation Lekha Shehani was taking on one of Sri Lanka's finest and most experienced women's champions Chandrika De Silva.

Although Lekha has been in so many under 19 finals and won them this was easily the biggest match she had faced in her life. The large crowd,the cheering and playing against her childhood idol Chandrika De Silva didn't help her to ease out her nerves.

The first set was a closely contested one although Chandrika won 21/16. Lekha was determined in the 2nd set and was more disciplined and she won it convincingly 21/11. Even Lekha coudnt believe the scoreline 21/11 and the fact that she beat the champion with a large margin of points. In the 3rd set which was the tie breaker the score was 20/20. The atmosphere was electric as not even the most optimist fan would have imagined such a tight nail biting finish.

The crowd were ecstatic because of the wonderful performance by Lekha against top seed Chandrika and they were screaming Come on Lekha, come on........Alas experience proved to be the decisive factor as Chandrika won the set 22/20 and eventually won the game but the crowd's favourite was the rookie Lekha.

Lekha who is a student of Our Lady of Victories Convent is not an overnight star.

The way she got involved in Badminton is an interesting story. In 2001 a 8 year old Lekha was forced to select a sport and she accidentally chose Badminton.

After seeing her performance in the first tournament Miss Himali Fernando who was apparently Lekha's first coach asked Lekha's father to bring her for practices because of the potential she displayed even as a 8 year old.

Lekha still remembers Miss Himali who taught her the basics in Badminton and is forever grateful for her. Lekha is the eldest in the family and has 2 younger brothers and a sister. In her first international tournament in Singapore in the year 2005 Lekha managed to go through to the quarter finals.

Lekha has maintained a flawless record in the all island Junior Nationals by winning the under 13 championship in 2004 and 2005, under 15 championship in 2006 and under 17 championship in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Lekha enjoyed a fantastic season in 2009. She was crowned the triple champion as she bagged the under 19 singles,doubles and mixed doubles at the Junior Nationals. She continued her purple patch as she made a clean sweep in the SSC open by winning the under 19 singes and doubles championships.

Lekha stole the spotlight and created sporting headlines as she registered a shock win over Olympic player and top shuttler Thilini Jayasinghe.

She also came very close to winning the women's open and the mixed doubles along with her doubles partner Diluka Karunarathne, who acts as her present coach as well. According to Lekha the reasons for her tremendous successes recently is mainly because of the intensive training she receives as a member of the pool for the South Asian games.

Her current coach Diluka Karunarathne has helped her to enhance her talent but the biggest influence and the turning point of her career was the physical training given by S. Jayathilaka who is the current national physical trainer. It has helped her to improve on her stamina and endurance which is very important in winning rallies.

Although Lekha is a good all round player her favorite shot undoubtedly is the smash. She also mentioned that she has to improve in her back hand so that she can be a complete player like,her favourite player, king of badminton Niluka Karunarathne. Lekha prefers to play the defensive game and likes to tire her opponent by having several rallies and then go on the offensive to gain points.

Not only is Lekha a champion badminton player but has also represented her school at the provincial level in Athletics. She is the current games captain in school where she has been an inspiration for youngsters to take on Badminton as a sport.

Lekha's younger sister and brother have also followed the footsteps of their big sister as they also have been successful in Badminton.

In fact her younger brother was the runner up in the under 13 badminton championships this year.

Lekha is amiably supported by her beloved parents,her school principal Sister Sujeewa Nonis and vice principal cum mistress in charge of sports Sister Priyantha Mudalige. Lekha's immediate dream for the future is to perform well in the upcoming all important South Asian Games.

"I am not at all disappointed,with a bit more experience and training I could win the title" those were the courageous words of Lekha Shehani after the 3 grueling sets of intense stroke play against Chandrika de Silva.