"The Oceania Junior Championships 2016 which commenced on the 15th of January on the Gold Coast of Queensland attracted close to 200 players from around Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia.
The first day took longer than anticipated as the humid atmosphere lengthened rally after rally. I won my first u17 girls match against Western Australia's Kiara Rodgers 3-0, which saw me match up with New Zealand's Zoe Dykzeul. Zoe was just too good on the day and took me out in 3. Next I played a second Kiwi - Ruby Turnbull and went down in an excruciatingly close 5 games. In the playoff for 7th place, I went up against Queensland's very own Taylor Jones and won in four games.
The u17 girls final was no upset as no.1 seed Wen Li Lai saw off no.2 seed Nadia Hubbard in 3 to clinch the title.
That very evening, the Australian junior team along with coaches Vicky Cardwell, Tim Cowell and team manager Lisa Camilleri, prepared for the Trans tasman test series commencing the next day - checking into the team accommodation, tending to sore bodies and deciding on a name for the team's mascot.
The following morning, the team buzzed with nervous energy and excitement in anticipation of the long day ahead. The u13 boys and girls kicked us off with well earned wins, the u17 girls team fought hard but lost to our opponents and the day ended with a draw of 9 matches all and New Zealand leading by 3 games. A recovery session and fitful sleep later, the team was back the next day and more determined than ever. I played the no.1 seed Nadia Hubbard and went down in an extremely close 5 games, a huge improvement from last year. After many hard fought matches, New Zealand outdid the Australian team by 19 matches to 17.
Considering last years disheartening match score comparison, this years result is an enormous improvement for our team and just goes to show that working as a team and giving it all we've got only gets you closer to victory.
It was an unforgettable trip and a great experience, and I look forward to seeing everyone again at the Australian Junior Open held in Tasmania this year!"
-Shehana Vithana, January 26, 2016