Sri Lanka had to rely on old guard Harshana Godamanna to win his match and the tie for Sri Lanka 3-2 over Palestine in a group II Davis Cup Tie in Colombo last weekend.
Until then the tie was all square on 2-all and the final reverse single was down for the deciding match. The seasoned and best player in Sri Lanka for a long time Godamanna took to the court with confidence. He beat Gioyani Samaha in straight sets 6/3, 6/2, 6/3 in the afternoon that lasted nearly 90 minutes only.
Non playing captain Rohan de Silva said that this is history for Sri Lanka tennis as it was the first victory in this group on Sri Lanka soil after 20 years. Not that Sri Lanka has not beaten Palestine before but this is the first time on Sri Lanka soil and in group II. With this win Sri Lanka is assured to stay in group II for yet another year. This is also history as Sri Lanka will continue in group II for the fifth successive year. This has not happened before in Sri Lanka tennis.
Godamanna has become the Mister Reliable for the country and as long as he can go on like this Sri Lanka would be able to stay afloat for a few years more. He has already reached the age of 30 years and can go on for another three or four years the most. That’s when Sri Lanka will face the problem of finding a replacement for him.
Godamanna was the best replacement for former skipper and player Arjun Fernando who played most of his tennis in the United States of America. Fernando too often won his match against opponents every time Sri Lanka played in a Davis Cup tie. He only could not win against players from Hong Kong, Philippines and India.
“Finding a replacement for Godamanna is a long term process as it takes many years for a player to master the game. When he (Godamanna) retires from the game that’s when the problems will start,” noted Rohan de Silva.
True Sharmal Dissanayake is set to continue with his tennis career even after taking up his advanced level examination. He is already participating in several foreign competitions a year and this is why he has reached an appreciative standard in the game. If his determination continues without faltering then he will be as good a player as Godamanna.