Sport

Tennis: Two National teams fly out for International events

22 June 2019 - 55   - 0

The Sri Lanka Tennis Association (SLTA) will be sending 2 teams overseas this weekend, to represent the country at 2 separate International Tennis Federation (ITF) events. 

The two events are the ITF Asia 12 & Under Team Competition in Bangladesh, where 6 youngsters will represent Sri Lanka and the Asia-Oceania Davis Cup Group III Tennis Championship 2019 in Singapore, where the 4-member national Men's team will be in action. 

Sri Lanka will field its youngest National Tennis team at the ITF Asia 12 & Under Team Competition, which will be held in Dhaka, Bangladesh from June 24-28. 

The 6-member team, along with two officials, took wing to Bangladesh on Saturday (22) to take part in the competition, which also comprises regional nations Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, India, Maldives and Pakistan. 

Under the watchful eyes of Ashan Dep and Sirimal Anthony, three boys- Lisal Goonatilleke, Methvan Wijemanne and Senuk Gunaratne- and three girls- Arushi Thomasge, Ruvi Lewkebandara and Shashinika Chandrasiri- will be in action for Sri Lanka starting off from on Monday (24). 

The six youngsters are top ranked players in their respective categories, as Sri Lanka will eye to earn points in the Asian Ranking System and qualify for the finals of the ITF Asia 12 & Under Team Championship. 

Among them, Goonetilleke of S. Thomas’ College, will be the player retaining his place in the National side. 

He is the current top ranked National player in the Boys’ Under (U)-12 local rankings and has already recorded notable wins in the ongoing season. 

Goonatilleke has his credentials in representing the nation after winning championship titles at the National Clay Court Championship, the SSC Open Ranking Tournament, Tamil Union Open and the Bandarawela Open Tennis Tournament. 

Gunaratne, from Ananda College, is a debutant to the ITF 12 & Under circuit and has captained his school in the U-11 team category that emerged runners-up at the National Clay Court Championship recently. 

He also won the U-12 championship at the Nuwara Eliya Hill Club Tennis Tournament. 

Wijemanne, another debutant, is the younger brother of Junior Davis Cup player Tehan Wijemanne and is currently placed third in the Boys U-12 rankings. 

The three girls are all among top National rankers in the U-12 category and are newcomers to the ITF circuit. 

Meanwhile, the Sri Lanka Men's Tennis team will leave the country today for the Asia-Oceania Davis Cup Group III Tennis Championship 2019, which will be held at the OCBC Arena in Singapore from June 26-29. 

Interestingly, National regulars Sharmal Dissanayake and Yasitha de Silva will miss out the Singapore event due to personal reasons, paving the way for two veterans and two newcomers to represent Sri Lanka at the Davis Cup Group III battle. 

Returning to the court are local tennis aces Harshana Godamanne and Dineshkanthan Thangarajah, who will have to put in an extra effort to see Sri Lanka return to Group II in Davis Cup. 

The two veterans will be joined by youngsters Savit Weerasinghe and Dumindu Dilum, two  good performers at National Junior level. 

Together, the four players will represent Sri Lanka for the 17th occasion at Davis Cup tournaments. 

In 2018, Sri Lanka was relegated to Group III, after losing to Thailand and Indonesia in Group II playoffs held in Colombo. 

However, this season Sri Lanka will have to battle Singapore, Iran, Kuwait, Malaysia, Syria, Qatar and Vietnam, with the opening battle against Singapore and 6 more playoffs to aspire for Group II.

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