Victorious Neyara looks ahead with Spanish eyes | Sunday Observer
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Victorious Neyara looks ahead with Spanish eyes

Neyara Weerawansa
Neyara Weerawansa

Neyara Weerawansa winning her maiden SSC Open ranking tennis tournament a week ago, called on fellow players to focus on their game and more girls to join the circuit.

“I guess; we just need more junior players to play. Currently, for girls we are lacking in a lot of players and it would be great if we get more girls playing tennis from a young age,” she said in an interview with the Sunday Observer.

“Players should play more for themselves. Not to please anyone, but to make themselves feel good,” she asserted.

For the victorious Neyara, a student of British School in Colombo, particularly the training in Spain, a heavyweight nation in World of Tennis, had paid off in lifting the SSC Open rank title.

The two-years spent in Spain to hone herself had reaped with the reward of enjoying and earning a head-start to the season.

“(This is the) First-time, I’ve won the women Open’s title. I’ve won junior titles (U-14, 16, 18- the categories) before,” she declared. “I was a little nervous, to be honest. This was the first women’s tournament, since I got back from Spain,” the unseeded player said while adding “I was excited, but at the same time, I was really, really nervous. It feels really good.”

She also credited Heshani Imansha, who she beat in the finals 4-6, 6-4, 7-6, as a really good player.

Her game plan to better and beat Heshani, had only developed butterflies in her stomach.

Courtesy to the crown, the 16-year old Neyara is brimming and boosted with confidence, with that tapping the talent and the potential in her.

“All I need is hard work and a little bit of motivation with which I can go further,” she hoped.

The next mission for is to “get a good International Tennis Federation (ITF) rank and go pro, later, when I’m older.”

But, due to Sri Lanka staging only a low-points tournament, Neyara disclosed she is forced to visit other countries and contest different tournaments.

With the Australian Open Grand Slam drawing to a close on Sunday, she revealed that Roger Federer was her men’s favourite while Coco Gauff, the youngest to feature in a grand slam, was her women’s pick of the players.

“My first option, obviously, would have been Roger Federer, but couldn’t happen. But, I’m kind of struggling between Alexander Zverev and Novak Djokovic. I don’t know which one; I would like to see winning. If it’s not Roger- I would probably go for the new-baby or the underdog,” Neyara said of her predictions.

“I have been playing tennis since I was three-and-a-half. When I was young, I went with a couple of friends only for a friend to drop off. I decided to continue. I owe it to my mother for sending me for classes,” she recalled, reflecting in retrospect.

Commenting on Sri Lankan standards she said: “Not all the courts are the best. There is room for improvement. I’m all for supporting the Sri Lanka Tennis Association (SLTA) in whatever their decisions, may be.

“I think for Sri Lanka to get to a higher standard of tennis, it’s time we switch to training with a more modern approach, placing more emphasis on quality rather than on over-training which almost always leads to eventual burnout and injury.” Annually, Sri Lanka has three main tournaments; the first-of-the-year SSC Open, second the Colombo Championship and last the Nationals.