Domineering Dissanayake champion again


Shamal Dissanayake dominated this year’s SL Tennis Nationals like never before losing no set and only a single game before emerging champion yesterday beating a hapless Sankha Atukorael 6-0, 6-0 in the Men’s Open Singles final. (Pic by Kamal Wanniarachchi)

by Revata S. Silva

Probably, in the shortest and the easiest final in the recent history of Sri Lanka Tennis Nationals, defending champion Sharmal Dissanayake won his second back-to-back Men’s Open Singles title, thrashing Sankha Atukorale 6-0, 6-0, in this year’s 102nd version of the historic tournament, last morning at the Sri Lanka Tennis Association (SLTA) hard courts, Colombo.

It was notable that some years ago, the SLTA, the organisers of the event, used to have the best-of-five-set format, especially for the Men’s Singles’ final rounds. This year, it was no match in the finals for the prolific former pro player Dissanayake who presently runs Sri Lanka’s Davis Cup campaign alongside country’s most prominent player and five-time Nationals Singles title-holder, the US-based Harshana Godamanna. The scoreline suggests somewhat of a mismatch yet a five-setter would have been more competitive and also up to the world’s standards, one cannot but argue.

Remarkable dominance -

Dissanayake’s run for this year’s title win was remarkable as he didn’t drop a set and lost only a single game on his way to the championship victory. The top-seeded Dissanayake ousted ‘qualifier’ Mark Seneviratne 6-0, 6-0 in the 1st Round, 7th seed Duminda Dilum 6-0, 6-0 in the quarter-finals, Rustom Ali of Bangladesh 6-1, 6-0 in the semi-finals, before completing one of the most domineering Nationals campaigns in the recent history of the tournament, which was founded as far back as in 1888.

Dissanayake, 21, is a Royal College old boy who was involved in professional tennis circuit until recently, having a career-high International Tennis Federation (ITF) Singles world rank of 1,528= in July 2017. He is also a key Singles and Doubles player for Sri Lanka in the sport’s World Cup, the Davis Cup, for almost three years.

Atukorale’s feat -

Meanwhile Atukorale, who shocked last year’s runner-up and current Davis Cup rep Yasitha de Silva in the semi-finals, 6-2, 7-6 (4), is a late starter of serious tennis. He took to tennis at the age of 13 from Kotte’s Ananda Sastralaya College and then went on to represent Sri Lanka in the Davis Cup, earning four nominations for the national team while playing in Sri Lanka’s Davis Cup campaign in 2009 when the country qualified to the Asia-Oceania Zone Group-II, from III, after a lapse of ten years, in Aleppo, Syria.

In 2003 too, Atukorale staged a similar act unsettling fancied Amresh Jayawickrema, in a gruelling five-setter in the Men’s Nationals semis, to book a berth in the finals where he was defeated by Thangarajah Dineshkanthan.

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