Two sisters Tashiya and Tiana excel at Pan Am TT Championship-by Dhammika Ratnaweera
Two sisters Tashiya and Tiana Piyadasa once again came to the limelight at the recently concluded ITTF Pan Am Youth TT Championships in Cuenca, Ecuador to win eight medals for the USA junior TT team. The US Team took home a total of 41 medals, which included winning the Gold Medal in nine of the fourteen events held at this elite international tournament while Tashiya and Tiana the two daughters of former National TT Champion Thilina Piyadasa were leading the way with impressive performance.
The performances of this Pan Am Youth TT Championship gave a real boost for two promising paddlers, 11-year-old Tashiya and 8-year-old Tiana and both of them followed their father’s footsteps. The US Girls U-13 and U-11 Teams did well, taking both the Gold and Silver and Tashiya Piyadasa had a break-out performance claiming four gold medals leading the way. A clean sweep, she emerged as the only player to remain unbeaten in any discipline from start to finish.
Tashiya who won the under 11 National title three months before also the number one rank paddler of the age group. She bagged mixed doubles, girls doubles, and most pertinently the girls’ singles titles to her name. Tashiya teamed up with Geetha Krishna to claim gold in the Girls U-11 doubles but they had to defeat the US Team of Tiana Piyadasa and Abigail Yu, who would be awarded Silver Medals, in the finals. In addition, Tashiya partnered Kef Noorani clinched mixed doubles success, at the final hurdle ousting colleagues Kyler Chen and Tiana Piyadasa (11-8, 15-13, 9-11, 11-6), before joining forces with Geetha Krishna, the player she had partnered to team gold, to claim the girls’ doubles top prize.
Tashiya Piyadasa in the girls’ singles final finished with remarkable performances. She needed the full five games to beat Ecuador’s Karolayn Maldonado (9-11, 11-3, 11-13, 11-5, 11-4) and Tashiya fought back strongly to clinch the title with more confidence. In addition, Tiana the youngest sister also ended with good memories collecting four medals under 11 girls team silver, girls doubles silver and under 11 girls singles and mixed doubles bronze. The two sisters bagged eight medals with an outstanding performance. “We’re all so proud to have been part of our U11 and U13 national team members on their first international TT competition,” proud father Thilina Piyadasa who himself is also one of the USA junior coaches for this tournament said”.
Thilina Piyadasa was appointed under 11 girls coach for the ITTF Pan Am Youth TT Championships and that was a great honour to former National champion. “I am proud of being a coach of the under 11 girls team and my two daughters Tashiya and Tiana’s performances. Both of them were able to win eight medals and their dedication is very high to go forward. My wife Rifka Kameel who was a former National champion always encouraged my two daughters to go forward. Especially I wanted to thank California TT Club in Rosemead where the two daughters are presently training under the guidance of former Chinese Olympic silver medalist Jun Gao. I also had a good experience as a former player and I knew what type of exposure at the junior level is vital,” added Thilina Piyadasa.
Thilina Piyadasa, the 42-year-old TT player cum coach who is based at the California Table Tennis Club in Rosemead, California, was an eight-time National Men’s Singles Champion in Sri Lanka, served as captain of the Sri Lankan National Team from 1999 to 2006, and has over 20 years of international tournament experience. His USATT rating is over 2500.
He’s a USATT Certified National Coach with more than 15 years of experience in coaching juniors and has produced many Junior USA team members. He also coached Sri Lankan Senior and Junior National Teams at the Indian Open ITTF Pro Tour Event.