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DateLine Sunday, 6 April 2008

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Lankans leave today for Davis Cup

TENNIS: Sri Lanka takes wing to Tehran today (Sunday) in their tenth attempt to gain promotion to Group II of the Davis Cup Tennis (Asia/Oceania Zone). They continue to play in Group III since 1999 and the tournament this year is from April 9 to 14 in Tehran, Iran.

The four players are Harshana Godamanne, a professional player based in Bangkok, Thailand, Rajiv Rajapakse, Dinusha Wijesuriya and A. Hewakottage, who was included in the four-member side at the last moment. Wasantha Wijesekera (a Vice-President of the SLTA) is the manager with veteran Davis Cup campaigner and former national champion, Rohan de Silva, as non-playing captain.

Godamanne comes under Swiss coach Dominiq Utzinger in Bangkok and has been playing regularly on the Futures Circuit and just returned to Colombo after competing in three "back to back" tournaments. He joined in the training sessions in Colombo with the other three players for about a week before leaving for Tehran. They were in training earlier in Bangkok under Utzinger the team's coach.

The eight teams vying for the two slots to gain promotion to Group II are: Sri Lanka, Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Vietnam and Syria.

A spokesman for the SLTA told the Sunday Observer that Sri Lanka's chances "look good" to gain promotion, but will face stiff opposition from Pakistan and Iran, while Malaysia and Vietnam too pose a threat.

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