Self pity is not in their fly­ing plan

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - INTERNATIONAL - By Gau­rav Deva

If there is one thing a wheel­chair ten­nis player seems to have in com­mon, its re­silience. Self- pity is not some­thing they can af­ford to en­ter­tain. They can’t all have been born that way and yet zest for life is a theme that runs through all of them.

Amidst a bloody 30 year eth­nic con­flict, sport spoke a com­mon lan­guage as it was able to bring ev­ery­one to­gether ir­re­spec­tive of be­lief or race.

The eth­nic con­flict de­layed de­vel­op­ment and progress and as we know came at a tremen­dous cost to the tax­pay­ing in­di­vid­ual. The free­dom we en­joy today was a re­sult of per­se­ver­ance and above all hu­man sacrifice, some were for­tu­nate and some were not. To the few who were for­tu­nate to live through with dif­fer­ent abil­i­ties, through their de­ter­mi­na­tion have found a new path in which they hope to show­case their tal­ents.

A gath­er­ing con­tain­ing four p l aye r s, D. M Gamini, R Ranaweera, S Dhar­masena and L Se­naratne took flight a month prior, to bat­tle in three ITF Fu­tures course of ac­tion ri­val­ries held in Thai­land, Bangkok and Malaysia. They came back to the is­land cum­ber­some hav­ing earned 11 im­prove­ments/ medals in the midst of the three weeks in play.

The Thai­land Open held from 21st Oc­to­ber – 23rd Oc­to­ber where R. Ranaweera and Dhar­masena went up against the pri­mary draw. Dhar­masena's trip was stopped in the quar­ter last as he went down gen­tly to base seed and neigh­bour­hood Kh­lon­grua 6/0, 6/3 notwith­stand­ing win­ning the sec­ond cy­cle 6/1, 6/2.

In the in­terim, Ranaweera con­veyed the lion sig­nal for­ward the dis­tance to the last. With a walkover in the first round and a sim­ple pre­vail upon DJ in of Korea in the sec­ond, he con­fronted the com­pe­ti­tion top seed H. IM in the quar­ter­fi­nal where he de­vel­oped suc­cess­fully with a score of 7/5.

Dhar­masena and Ranaweera later teamed up for the sets, as they made a trip to the quar­ters with an­other walkover. With a straight­for­ward 6/0, 6/1 win in the quar­ters, they passed up a ma­jor op­por­tu­nity 6/3, 6/3 in the dis­posal rounds.

Fol­low­ing a two-day respite, the Dhar­masena- Ranaweera cou­ple in­flu­enced it to an­other men's semi- to last. After an all around fought be­guile­ment, Dhar­masena's de­sires dashed when he faced S. Kh­lon­grua of Thai­land as a three point gap in the sud­den demise round took the Thai to the last. So also as his friend, Ranaweera went down to Ho Won Im as he had a pleas­ing de­light to ad­vance to the last.

Like the ear­lier ri­valry, the com­bine would be shrewd to for­tunes in the copies as they made sense of how to ac­com­plish the last to stand up to Thai­land co­or­di­nate Kh­lon­grua and Kru­mai. They couldn't push for the gold how­ever should be con­tent with sil­ver.

The Malaysian Open was the last stretch out of the visit for the men. The men's sin­gles draw saw each one of the four of our play­ers test­ing against ca­pac­ity from Malaysia, In­dia and Korea. This time around it was fourth seed Gamini Dis­sanayake who pulled through to the last just to defy over­come in the hands of best seed Ho Im. Ho Im, hav­ing an epic con­tinue run­ning all through the plan fin­ished with yet an­other ti­tle cham­pion van­quish­ing Gamini with a score of 7/5, 6/2.

Dhar­masena and Ranaweera's last spell in sets saw them ac­com­plish­ing the semi- last with the help with a walkover.

With a hur­dle be­fore the last, the match stood up to the dan­ger­ous pair of Im and Lee of Korea. Scores were even after the com­plete of the un­der­ly­ing two sets and the match was to be picked in a third set super sud­den demise round. The Korean match hinted at change of Dhar­masena and Ranaweera as they pushed out tri­umph by an im­ma­te­rial three point lead. Full time scores read 6/3, 3/6 (10-7).

The gath­er­ing was pre­pared by Ja­gath We­likala who has been the guide for the Wheel­chair so­ci­ety in Sri Lanka while be­ing the sin­gle tu­tor from them.

Upon dis­cus­sions held with the play­ers above, they have served within the armed forces of Sri Lanka which is where their tragedy had taken place, none of them ex­pected to en­gage them­selves into ten­nis, a sport which they were not very aware of un­til very re­cently.

Fur­ther­more they also feel that they re­quire more ex­po­sure to­wards the game as they pre­pare for the Par­a­lympic games which is the pin­na­cle of their In­ter­na­tional Sched­ules. They fur­ther have the lux­ury of the in­put pro­vided by Aad Gzwaan who is world renown coach and abun­dant in ex­pe­ri­ence. Aad is no stranger to the is­land as he has been en­gaged with the SLTA over the past decade, he too agrees that more ex­po­sure is needed at this level. He is also within dis­cus­sions with the SLTA with re­gard to a pro­fes­sion­al­ized sched­ule which he claims to be suc­cess­ful upon im­ple­men­ta­tion onto the cur­rent squad.

L. Ranaweera (R) was suc­cess­ful in the ITF Asian Leg - Pic by Athula De­vap­riya Aad Gzwaan, the men­tor

Lanka Wheel­chair Ten­nis play­ers at their out­ing in Malaysia

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