Published on - 9/17/2002
Differently able wheel-chaired soldiers of the Sri Lanka Army, for the first time in the history of Wheelchair Tennis Championship Tournament abroad, brought honour and prestige to their motherland Sri Lanka at the recently ended Wheelchair Tennis Thai Open 2002 Tournament in Pattaya, Bangkok after bagging several trophies in major events.
Upon their return to Sri Lanka, these Army players were congratulated by the Commander of the Army Lt. Gen. L. P Balagalle RWP RSP VSV USP ndc IG where he also posed for a group photo with contestants.
The Wheelchair Tennis Thai Open 2002 Tournament (Sep 7-10), aimed at promoting and elevating the standards of wheelchair tennis, served an excellent window of opportunity for soldiers representing Sri Lanka, where our sportsmen were able to share their experiences with foreign colleagues. Sri Lanka was represented by R.M.U U Rajakaruna, J. B Silva, T. P.S. D Jayatissa and H. D Balasuriya of the Sri Lanka Army who competed in the â€œDâ€ division in the tournament.
Sri Lankan players H. D Balasuriya and R.M.U. U Rajakaruna, won Champions in Men's Double and Men's Singles (Consolation) was won by J.B Silva. T. P. S. D Jayatissa and J. B. Silva emerged Runners-up Men's Double event. Rajakaruna became the Runners â€“ up and T.P. S. D Jayatissa also was adjudged a semi-finalist in the Men's Singles event. The overall performance of the Sri Lankan team came in for lavish praise by Thai organizers of the tournament for their excellence and the tough competence and resistance shown at the tournament.
The colourful opening ceremony presided by General Tienchai Sirisampahan, Chairman Organizing Committee followed the preliminary matches played at two different locations where Sri Lankan team won 3 of the four matches. A special word of thanks and appreciation was extended to the Sri Lankan team at the final closing ceremony by Chairman Sirisampahan who admired the performance of Sri Lankan players. Thailand's Ambassador for Sri Lanka hosted the players to lunch before their departure home.
Secretary/Manager Wheelchair Tennis Lt. Col. J. L. C R de Silva, who took this initiative and worked tirelessly to ensure the Army team's first ever foreign participation in its history of Tennis, was also full of praise for the dedication and commitment of his players, the Sri Lankan community in Thailand for their support and the sponsorship provided by the Srilankan airlines and various other donors and philanthropists.
In March this year, Sri Lanka Army's Wheelchair Tennis players received a fillip when Mark Bullock, International Tennis Federation Wheelchair Tennis Development Officer conducted a three day workshop in Colombo for players in Sri Lanka. More than 100 participants, majority of who were victims of the war attended this workshop.
Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports which has given its approval for this team under the provisions of the Sports Law has written to the Sri Lanka Tennis Association giving its support for their participation at this Thai tournament.