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DateLine Sunday, 23 March 2008

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Sri Lanka finalise team for Davis Cup tie

TENNIS: The three Sri Lankan players currently undergoing training in Bangkok, Thailand for the Davis Cup (Asia/Oceania Zone Group III) contest to be staged in Tehran, Iran from April 7 to 13 are scheduled to arrive in the country on Saturday (March 29) for further training before leaving for Tehran on April 4. Sri Lanka side is sponsored by EPSI Computers.

"The three players include Rajiv Rajapakse, Dinusha Wijesuriya and Hewakottage who are in Bangkok under the watchful eyes of their Swiss coach Dominic Utzingor.

Rajapakse and Wijesuriya left for Bangkok earlier this month to join Sri Lanka's only professional player, Harshana Godamanna said the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Sri Lanka Tennis Association (SLTA), Colonel Chris de Silva (Rtd).

De Silva further told the Sunday Observer that Hewakottage who found himself in the side after Sports Minister, Gamini Lokuge, intervened on the players' behalf left for Bangkok about a week back. He replaced Guyanga Weerasekera in the national side.

Weerasekera won both the singles and doubles at the Junior (under-18) International Championship of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) held at the SSC courts a few weeks back, though Hewakottage lost in the first-round of the singles.

Godamanna is Sri Lanka's best player based in Bangkok and is presently playing in three "back to back" ITF Futures Tournaments in India. He is expected in Colombo to join the other three players soon after he completes his events in India for further training before leaving for Tehran.

Harshana Godamanna will be Sri Lanka's No. 1 singles player, while the other slot will be taken by Dinusha Wijesuriya. The doubles pair will be Godamanna and the experienced Rajiv Rajapakse.

A Vice-President of the SLTA, Vasantha Wijesekera, is the manager, while Rohan de Silva, a former seasoned Davis Cup campaigner and national champion, is the non-playing captain.

The eight sides vying to get promotion into Group II are Sri Lanka, Iran Malaysia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Vietnam and Syria.

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