ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday December 16, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 29

Tennis war continues

By Harry Jayachandra

P.S. Kumara
(Pic by Berty Mendis)

A war of words has broken out at the Sri Lanka Tennis Association (SLTA) between the chairman of selectors P. S. Kumara and selection committee member Aruna Seneviratne. This is over the selection of the Sri Lankan Davis Cup team for Group Three tie to be held in Iran next AprilWell known former player, coach and manager Kumara said: “I don’t really know what the fuss is all about. Seneviratne could have sorted this out with a phone call with out speaking out. The General Committee of the SLTA has asked me oversee the preparation of the team for the Davis Cup. The selection committee had short listed eight names. After speaking to national coach Chrishantha Perera, we decided to test the endurance of the players. I did not take this decision in my capacity as Chairman of Selectors, but because I was asked to oversee the preparation. We decided to play five sets instead of best of five to gauge fitness levels. Physiotherapist Ranil Harshana was seeing to the players. On the second day since they were cramping up we reduced the matches to a best of three.”

He added: “We will be submitting these results to selection panel. Prior to the trials I told all the players that two of them could be eliminated. The selection panel can either go by these results or order fresh trials. But I will not sacrifice discipline for anything. All the players know that they have to play a certain number of tournaments to be eligible for national selection. If they have failed to fulfil this basic commitment they should not be included. By not playing they also deprive younger players of testing their skills. The exception would be for medical reasons or if the player is overseas. Harshana Godamanne, Franklin Emmanuel and Oshada Wijemanne are overseas and have all indicated their desire to represent Sri Lanka. Fortunately Emmanuel and Wijemanne are at the same university and we have written to the head of their university to give them permission to return to Sri Lanka for at least one month prior to the Davis Cup. And as for practicing on hard courts, we will be switching to clay next month. Players do not need four months to adjust themselves to a different surface.

Seneviratne said: “If we can order a fresh set of trails why have one in the first place. This is utterly ridiculous. It was decided before that any trials should take place only after the availability of the player’s based overseas is checked. Because until we get that information we would not know how many slots there are. I believe that this year’s non playing Davis Cup captain Rohan de Silva should be included. There is at least one player in the squad who has played fewer tournaments. At the end of the day, we are all human and we could make a mistake. But it must a collective mistake. Otherwise there is no point what so ever in having a selection committee in the first place.”

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