Sports

Sri Lankan war victims shine at Malaysia ITF wheelchair tennis

Corporal Gamini Dissanayake of Sri Lanka army and its Lance-Bombardier D. S. R. Dharmasena won gold medals at the first leg, the Labuan Open, of a three-round International Tennis Federation (ITF) men’s wheelchair tennis tour, now being held in Malaysia.

Dissanayake became Labuan Open singles champion before partnering Dharmasena to clinch the gold medal in men’s doubles. Notably the event was comprehensively dominated by the Lankans as they emerged runners-up also in both singles and doubles, amid a representation from countries such as Australia, India, Indonesia and hosts Malaysia.

The Sri Lankan wheelchair tennis team is coached by Jagath Welikala.

RESULTS

Dissanayake beat Sri Lanka’s R. A. L. S. Ranaweera for the singles gold medal to a score of 6-1, 6-7(2), 7-6(5). In the doubles, the Gamini – Dhamasena pair secured victory over Ranaweera and N. R. L. Jayasundara 7-5, 6-2.

THE EVENT

Labuan, the venue of this first-leg of the Malaysian Wheelchair Tennis Tour 2018, is a federal territory of Malaysia situated in the country’s east coast.

The Sri Lankans are now taking part in the second leg of the Tour, the KL Open, being held from 23 August with two South Koreans, Ho Won Im and Ha-Gel Lee being the top and bottom seeds respectively.

The final leg of the Tour, the 19th Malaysian Open, will follow next, going on till 31 August.

RANKINGS

Gamini Dissanayake was a corporal of Sri Lanka Army’s Gemunu Regiment. He lost his left leg from below knee in a landmine explosion in year 2000 in Muhamalai. The 40-year-old son of a farmer from Ampara became 45th in the world last year, the highest ITF world rank recorded by a Lankan so far. In 2012, he represented the country in the London Paralympics.

Dharmasna carries a career-best world rank of 53 in singles and 42 in doubles (both in June 2018).

Dissanayake (current ITF world rank of 64), Dharmasena (current 62) and Ranaweera (career-best 67 in November 2017) and former national champion in the sport, Upali Rajakaruna, all made the country proud by entering into top 100 in the world without a proper tennis background, taking to the sport about 15 years ago through the Army’s involvement with its differently-abled soldiers, led by Maj. Shiran Abeysekera. All of them lost their limbs during the brutal 30-year civil war that took place in Sri Lanka’s north and east.