ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday March 9, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 41

Lokuge in the middle

By Harry Jayachandra

Sri Lanka's preparation for next month's crucial Davis Cup tie in Iran has been far from ideal. Sports Minister Gamini Lokuge once again finds himself at the centre of the controversy.

Aruna Seneviratne who is member of the Sri Lanka Tennis Association's selection committee said; "We had already selected Harshana Godamanne and Rajeev Rajapakshe. Then we held one set of trials to select three local players to take on two United States of America based competitions. The three local players were Dinusha Wijesuriya, Guyanga Weerasekera and Artha Hewakotage. Subsequently one of the competitors Franklin Emmanuel said he would not be available. Therefore Wijesuriya who had won all his matches and has never been beaten by Weerasekera or Hewakotage, was sent to Thailand to train with Godamanne and under coach Dominic Utzinger because time is of the essence."

Seneviratne added; "It was more or less a dead heat between Weerasekera and Hewakotage. Both had won three and lost two. But, in the head to head between the two players Hewakotage had beaten Weerasekera 7-5 in the third set. However, as I said earlier these trials were not held to select the Davis Cup squad. Weerasekera then went on to win the ITF tournament held recently, while Hewakotage was knocked out in the first round."

When contacted Vasantha Wijesekera Manager of the Davis cup said as per the minister’s instructions, the Davis Cup squad comprised of Godamanne, Rajapakshe, Wijesuriya and Hewakotage with Weerasekera being the first reserve.

When The Sunday Times spoke to Minister Lokuge he said; "I don't know about three sets or four sets. Neither do I have the time to go and watch the matches. I went by the pool results. And in that Hewakotage was the better player. As far as I am concerned all the players should have competed in the trials.

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