Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Group II Match, Sri Lanka team (from left): Sharmal Dissanayake, Alex Fairbanks, Harshana Godmanna, Coaches Dominic Utzinger, non-playing Captain Rohan De Silva, Yasitha De Silva and Avindra Perera
By Shannon Jayawardena
Sri Lanka is to face Indonesia in an intense game of tennis at the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Asia Oceania Zone Group II playoff match which will be held on 7 and 8 April at the Sri Lanka Tennis Association (SLTA).
The Lankan team that was promoted to Group two from Group three of the competition after an unbeaten record achieved by the players in June 2017 lost their first match against Thailand earlier this year but are expected to give out a tough game against the Indonesians.
However the losing side in the tie will be demoted to zone Group III in 2019. Out of the eight nations taking part in Group II this year, one from the Sri Lanka vs Indonesia tie and one from the Iran vs Chinese Taipei tie will be relegated while the winners will remain in Group II until the next series of matches next year.
Having their star player Harshana Godmanna who has a current world ranking of 1100 in the singles and 1441 in the doubles back in the game will definitely be an advantage for the Lankans who felt his absence during the match against Thailand.
“We have a great team this year. Even without me all of them are capable of taking on most of the countries in this pool. I will be just adding value this time; we have a very balanced team so we are looking forward for a great match,” said Godmanna.
The team consists of promising youngster Sharmal Dissanayake who has a current world ranking of 1446 in the singles and 1465 in the doubles, Yasitha De Silva who is ranked 1681 in the singles, Alex Fairbanks and Avindra Perera.
The squad is being trained by Head Coach Dominic Utzinger and assisted by Sudantha Soyza. The team will be captained by non-playing Captain Rohan De Silva while the team is managed by Uditha Wickremasinghe.
De Silva said: “We have never beaten Indonesia so we’ll see how it goes. We can’t predict if we’ll win or lose, but we will give our best shot. Harshana will definitely give us added value and we are capable of doing great.”
On the other hand Sri Lanka will be facing Christopher Rungkat who has a current singles ranking of 814 and a doubles ranking of 115, David Agung Susanto who has a current singles ranking of 1366, Ignatius Anthony Susanto, Justin Barki and Muhammad Dhaifullah. The team will be captained by non-playing Captain Febi Widhiyanto while the team is managed by Deddy Prasetyo.
SLTA President Iqbal Bin Issack said: “The SLTA has worked hard to make this event a success. We have spent a lot of time, effort and money on the preparation and practice for the players. They also went overseas and trained for this tie. We are confident that our players with Harshana leading from the front with his experience will give a good account of themselves and will be successful.”
The referee for the games will be Emilliano Zanov who is an ITF Silver Badge Referee from Georgia while Sri Lankan ITF White Badge umpires Dharaka Ellawala and Prasad Jayalatharachchi will be the Chair Umpires. Alexander Bagdasarov will be the Chief of Umpires at the series.
Pix by Ruwan Walpola