Sri Lanka’s young guns eye Davis Cup World Group | Sunday Observer

Sri Lanka’s young guns eye Davis Cup World Group

16 July, 2023
Apna Perera-Dilvan Herath
Apna Perera-Dilvan Herath

Sri Lanka will be aiming to use its home advantage for a promotion to the Davis Cup World Group by hosting the Asia/Oceania Group III Davis Cup 2023 at the Sri Lanka Tennis Association (SLTA) Courts in Colombo from July 24 to 30.

Cambodia, Iran, Malaysia, Jordan, Pacific Oceania, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka are the eight teams featuring in this tournament divided into two pools during the draw on July 25.

The top two teams will automatically qualify to Group II while the second placed teams in the two pools will playoff for the third qualifying slot. The next three teams will remain in group III while the two bottom placed teams will be relegated to group IV.

“Playing at home will definitely be an advantage. More than the weather it is the court conditions. Our clay courts are not like those in Europe. It’s more sleek and the ball bounces high and travels fast as well,” said Sri Lanka’s non-playing captain Renouk Wijemanne.

However, the Sri Lankans will have their task cut by Vietnam, Pacific Oceania and Jordan who dropped down from the World group last year. Nonetheless, they have not named their leading players for this tournament which could be changed during the captain’s meeting.

Sri Lanka was promoted from the Asia/Oceania Group IV after beating Kyrgystan and Bangladesh to top their pool in the Colombo tournament and defeated Iraq 2-0 in the playoff. Cambodia and Sri Lanka were promoted to Group III.

In the history of the Davis Cup, Sri Lanka has reached the second round of the Asia/Oceania Group II on five occasions, in 1995 and from 1989 to 1992.

The Sri Lanka team comprises Chathurya Nilaweera, Ashen Silva, Thehan Wijemanne, Dilvan Herath and Apna Perera. Harshana Godamanna and Yasitha de Silva who featured in last year’s victorious campaign will not be available this time.

“This is a relatively young team with the oldest being 21 years. We began preparations two months before the tournament. The players have been to local tournaments. National singles champion Ashen (Silva) and doubles champion Dhilwan (Herath) were automatic choices while the others came through a series of trials,” said Wijemanne who was non-playing captain in 2001. This will be his third campaign as Sri Lanka coach in the Davis Cup.

The two most experienced campaigners in the side are Thehan and Chathuriya who teamed up to blast all opposition in doubles matches last year. Silva was part of the squad last year but was not called up to play any matches. Herath and Apna Perera will make their Davis Cup debut.

Sri Lanka will be playing all their matches on the SLTA centre courts. A tie will consist of two singles and a doubles match.