Speech and debate members earn top honors at UIL state, TFA


Ash and Abhinav take a photo after the TFA state tournament awards ceremony.

Standing on a large wooden stage with other finalists as yellow light floods the auditorium, students wait as one by one, finalists in the Texas Forensic Association (TFA) state tournament are named. When second place is announced to a student from Cypress Woods High School, senior Ash Malhotra realizes he has won first place.

“I remember holding my breath and my heart was beating ridiculously fast,” Malhotra said. “Suddenly the entire audience erupted with applause as Plano Senior and my name were announced. I remember wondering how on earth I was going to carry that massive trophy headed my way.”

Along with winning first place in United States Extemporaneous Speaking at the tournament in March this year, Malhotra recently won United States Informative Speaking at UIL state last week. He has participated in Speech since seventh grade.

“Informative Speaking is also known as extemporaneous speaking because it’s not a pre-written speech, but a spontaneous one you get 30 minutes to prepare,” Malhotra said. “At the TFA tournament it’s basically giving a speech on a random current events question drawn in round.”

Also successful was junior Abhinav Sridharan, who won second at UIL State in Congress in early January and first in Foreign Extemporaneous Speaking at the TFA tournament. He has been involved in Speech and Debate for three years and plans on continuing next year.

“I like doing it because it allows me to express my thoughts at any given time on a variety of scenarios,” Sridharan said. “Unlike many other activities, the subject and topics we talk about deal with real world implications, so there’s something empowering about the fact that what I am speaking about actually matters.”

At TFA, there are four levels for Foreign Extemporaneous Speaking, and at the state level the final round typically has an open audience, so according to Sridharan, they end up pretty full. Since the final round competition was at the category’s highest level of rigor, his first place win was unexpected.

“My round had around 100 peoople watching,” Sridharan said. “I was intimidated at first. It’s always been my dream to reach finals and deliver a speech about foreign affairs to the crowd, but I never imagined I would do as well as I did this year.”