As many as thousand of the country’s best tennis players are expected to contest the 101st National Tennis Tournament scheduled to begin on August 5 at the SLTA courts in Sir Marcus Fernando Mawatha. Arrangements have been made to start the Junior National on August 12 and the main Nationals August 21.
The junior tournament has already attracted 800 entries, but the closing date to send entries for the Open events has been fixed for August 6.
The Open events will see the cream of players in action, except for Harshana Godamanna, who is coaching in the USA, and made himself unavailable. Davis Cup player Sharmal Dissanayake is the top seed in the men’s open event in the absence of Godamanna. Entries are also expected from Pakistani and Indian players.
Among the women there are many talented players in the likes of Nethmi Waduge, Anika Seneviratne, Janali Manamperi and Medhira Samarasinghe.
Two girls from the Junior Nationals will be selected to participate at the WTA future stars tournament to be held in September. This is the first time such a move has been mooted to encourage Sri Lanka’s young girls to enhance their standard in tennis.
Singles and doubles events in the wheelchair tennis championships will also be conducted at the nationals. These players are making headway internationally having won the singles and doubles events held in Belgium. Upali Rajakaruna and Dissanayake Gamini are the two players who have brought glory and honour to Sri Lanka. Rajakaruna is also expected to participate at the Paralympic Games to be held in Rio de Janeiro after the Olympics.
A new concept introduced this year is to reward the coaches of junior players for the yeomen services rendered towards the sport. Two points will be given to the coach when a player wins a match. The coach who accumulates the highest number of points will be rewarded.
The Junior Nationals for boys and girls will be conducted in the under10, 12, 14, 16 and 18 categories. The events open to them are the singles and doubles.
The events at the Nationals will be for Open men and women singles and doubles and the mixed doubles. There will be events for veterans as well.