Time management helped me find success - Tennis champion Yasith de Silva | Sunday Observer

Time management helped me find success - Tennis champion Yasith de Silva

25 April, 2021

Yasith de Silva was the national tennis champion last year. He could be introduced as an intelligent sportsman. The Youth Observer caught up with him recently to discuss tennis.

Q: I like to begin the interview with the traditional question. How did your tennis career begin?

A: I began playing the game when I was schooling at Ananda College, Colombo. At that time I never thought of national level competitions but only targeted inter-house tennis tournaments. When I was thirteen my school tennis master Anupa Mathegoda told me to try to enter the national tennis arena. That is how my tennis journey began.

Q:  When did you become a national player?

A: I began to play national junior level tennis when I was around 13.  I was selected to represent the under-16 Davis Cup team. I have been a member of the national Davis Cup team from 2016.

Q: How did you find success? Did you practice under your school tennis master or did you take private coaching lessons?

A: At first I practised under my school tennis coach. He told me that to enter the national arena I had to improve my skills by taking private coaching lessons. I picked Niranjan Cassiechetty as my coach. He is my mentor and coach even today.

Q: Do you think he is the most suitable coach for you?

A: Yes, he is the most suitable coach for me. It was due to him that I was able to enter the junior national team in 2011 and find a permanent place in the national team in 2016. 

Q: Tennis is considered as a sport of the upper class. Do you subscribe to that view and are you a member of that class?

A: It was a sport of the upper classes some time ago, but not any more. After the game was introduced in schools things changed. Today, anyone keen on taking up the game is free to do so. Earlier it was played only in Colombo but now it is popular in Negombo, Kurunegala, Kandy and Matale. One could pick up the game if one has the skills.

Q: Are you sure about this?

A: Of course I am. There are over 3,000 participants in the under-10 tennis tournaments and most are from outside the main cities. If the game was not popular how could there be so many participants.

Q: But many give up when they reach higher age groups. What is the reason for this?

A: That’s true. Most of the young players give up the game when they reach  the Ordinary and Advanced Level classes. That is a big problem that has to be solved soon. The Tennis Federation and other prominent personalities who control the sport must look into it.

Q: Education is like a weapon that we need to solve most of the challenges that we face in life. This hinders the development of tennis as well as other sports?

A: Yes, what you say is true. We must try to find a balance between sports and studies. I was successful in having a good balance between studies and tennis.

Q: Young readers would like to know how you achieved success. Could you briefly describe how you achieved it?

A: Although I played in the national team while still schooling it was not a problem for me to enter the University of Colombo and obtain a degree. You can succeed if you have a target. In my childhood my mother was my mentor. She told me that to win one thing, never to give up any other thing in life.  I follow that lesson as a basic rule in life.

Q: You can say that because your family was provided everything you needed?

A: Yes, I am more fortunate than most others. My father and mother are professionals of standing in society. But they never treat me as an extraordinary son. I went for practises, to school and tuition class by public transport. After I entered the university they bought a vehicle for me. Before I entered the university they treated me as a normal child and they taught me how to find success. I am determined to reach my goals in life.

Q: Were you a bright student in school?

A: No. I was not a bright student. I was an average student. However, I was  successful in studies and sport.  I was not the No. 1 student in my class. So, I tell others not to hesitate about the future but work hard to achieve your goals. Time management also helped me accomplish my goals.

Q: Today society is changing at a fast pace. Youngsters can find anything on the internet and the world is a smaller place for them. As a member of the young generation what do you have to say about life’s challenges faced by your generation?

A: Yes. We have to face many challenges. The IT revolution has shattered cultural values. Day-by-day the world is changing and we have to find answers to new questions. If we are not prepared to face these challenges we will end up as rootless people in society. We must think about what is right and wrong and try to find a secure path in life. Sports, education and art will help us in this. I tell the youth to take part in sports or some other skill as it will help one to face life’s challenges.

Q: Were you involved in art when you were schooling?

A: As a sportsman I could not enter the arts field. However I have artistic skills due to my family background. I love to listen to music and watch movies as well.

Q: One final question. Do you always win? Have you ever failed?

A: I have lost several times. But I do not get disheartened whenever I lose, but try harder to achieve my goals. Defeat teaches us many things.