Mother is my driving force - Thisuri Molligoda
Thisuri Molligoda at thirteen years is the under 14 and under 16 Sri
Lanka Champion. Recently she has beaten Sri Lanka’s No 3 - Shankari
Thayakaran and Sri Lanka’s no. 2 - Roshenka Fernando of St Bridget’s
Convent conceded a match to her at the all island inter-school
tournament due to injuries when Thisuri was leading 4-0.
Thisuri has just come back from Myanmar where the Under 14 Asia
Championships were held, with a bronze medal and glory for Sri Lanka.
Thisuri has been selected for the World Junior team.
At thirteen she stands at five feet eight inches. She is soft spoken
and so shy that you have to literally pull words out of her mouth. All
her expression is on the tennis court. She has a powerful forehand and
literally smashes the ball across the court.
‘In one so young the height is an amazing advantage as it gives her
an extended reach,’ says her coach Mahesha Seneviratne.
Youngest in a family of three, Thisuri says, ‘Akki is studying to be
a doctor, ayya will become an engineer.” Her mum chips in with ‘So her
father says to let Thisuri become the best tennis player she can be
since she loves the game.’
Thisuri is a grade nine student of Visaka Vidyalaya. Introduced to
the rudiments of the game by her mini tennis coach Jayantha Chandralal,
Thisuri is eternally grateful to her first coach. Jayantha refused to
let her choose badminton over tennis as he saw the potential in her even
when she was just eight years old. Thisuri who was playing both games
just as well was torn between the two as her ‘akki’ also played
But today, with encouragement from her coaches Krishantha Perera and
Mahesha Seneviratne, Thisuri is simply flying high.
Thisuri barely has spare time when she relaxes with music. She trains
five days of the week and then she has to go to the gym and she has a
physical trainer too. ‘I have my studies too,’ she says.
She looks up to Serena Williams because as Thisuri says, ‘I identify
with her. Serena is as dark as I am. And she plays amazing tennis. She
is my role model.’ About her matches in Myanmar during the Asian
championships, her coaches and her mother say, ‘the gold was within her
She did not think fast when she played against the Myanmar champion.
The Myanmar champion played a game of tactics with a lot of defensive
play. Thisuri attacks. She does not yet know how to assess an opponent’s
game and play accordingly.’
But then Thisuri is only thirteen. And in Sri Lanka there are only a
handful of players who can play against her, leave alone play games of
tactics. ‘Match exposure in this country is simply not enough for
Thisuri,’ says her coach Mahesha.
Thisuri aims to be number one in Sri Lanka. She has the potential to
go much further. But potential should be coupled with desire and
experience. More players need to play tennis for those in the game to go
‘Thisuri could easily take Sri Lanka tennis to greater heights but
she needs to develop a fighting spirit and to use her brains when she
plays, in order to outsmart her opponents.
Right now it is only just power play with an attacking game that has
taken her on to bronze in Asia and a berth in the World Junior Team,”
says her mother who is the driving force behind Thisuri’s tennis.
Her mother nonchalantly says, ’But isn’t every mother the driving
force behind her children?’
Thisuri will go much further than Sri Lanka number one as her mother
coaxes, cajoles and devotes her entire time and energy to her amazingly
talented youngest child.