By Nalin Jayetileke
The 36th Sri Lanka National Squash Championship came to an end last evening with Fathoum Iserdeen becoming the new women’s Champion and Ravindu Laksiri winning the men’s title for the 7th consecutive time.
All matches were played at Sri Lanka Air Force base Ratmalana Squash Complex where the Squash fraternity was able to witness some electrifying Squash being played by the current top ranked players in the open event and by some of the former national players in the Masters.
A considerable amount of entries were seen coming in for the men’s and the women’s events in the Open, Novices and the Masters categories, which encourages for development of Squash in Sri Lanka.
The highlights of the tournament were the men’s and the women’s final which took place last evening. The first was the women’s Final between the former Sri Lanka National Champion, Mihiliya Methsarani and Fathoum Iserdeen, which got underway at approximately 4.15 pm at Sri Lanka Air Force Ratmalana Squash Complex. It was a game of exciting squash played by both players coming out of playing at the South Asian games in Kathmandu.
Good Quality Squash was played between the two Sri Lanka Ranks, where Fathoum got the better off Mihiliya in a 4 setter, continuing her form stemming out of the South Asian games where she went neck-to-neck with some of the world ranked players.
In the 1st set Mihiliya started off well living up to her expectations and was leading, but could not hold on to the lead as Fathoum came firing all guns from behind to finish the game 11/ 9. In the 2nd game, Mihiliya bounced back winning the set 11/9, again a tough match, where Mihiliya used her experience to bounce back using her usual back court drives and back hand drops to take the nick.
Fathoum once again showed grit and determination, a quality she did showcase whilst at the SAG to win the 3rd set where Mihiliya was forced to make mistakes trying to cope up to the court craft and power play of Fathoum.
From this point Fathoum was staring at the Crown and played some classy cross court drops, which took the nick to finish the 4th set 11/7 to her credit, which made her the new Sri Lanka Women’s National Champion.
At the end scores read as 9/11, 11/9, 7/11 and 5/11 for Fathoum to take the Crown.
In the Men’s Final, it was 6 times Men’s Sri Lanka Champion defending his title and did do so in a straight setter, beating Shameel Wakeel. Except for the 1st set in which Shameel was leading 9/7 but was seen loosing 11/9, the 2nd and the 3rd sets Ravindu did not have much resistance from Shameel and went on to win both sets 11/3, 11/2 respectively to become the 7th Consecutive winner of the Sri Lanka men’s national title.
In the 36-year history of Sri Lanka Squash Nations, in the men’s category Saman Thilakaratne won it for 13 times whilst Navin Samarasighe has won the title for 7 consecutive years. In the women’s, Yasmin Zarook has taken the crown 8 times.
Looking at Sri Lanka Squash and the reach it had made, it’s evident that Sri Lanka Squash is slowly but surely have graduated itself to a different level, especially after fighting for its right place during the SAG. We can also be happy with what Sri Lanka did during the SAG in Kathmandu where Sri Lanka clinched the Bronze, both in Men’s and in Women’s and did show what can be expected from them, given the right backing and foundation to elevate to a higher-level of Squash, being in par with the regional Squash Giants India and Pakistan.