|Wednesday, 20 August 2003|
Mahesha cruises into second round
Two of Sri Lanka's six-player challenge in the Jembo Cables US Dollars 10,000 Grand Slam Development fund, Women's Professional Tournament were bundled out in the first round at the SLTA Courts, Green Path, yesterday.
Fifth seed Czech Veronika Ctvrtnickova carried far too many guns for Bishops College schoolgirl, Shanki Dandenniya, losing 6/0. The second Sri Lankan victim, Thiyumi Abeysinghe, the 15-year-old Visakhian, fared slightly better against unseeded Indian Iciri Rai, who won 6/0, 6/3.
The only Sri Lankan to survive the opening day was 17-year-old Bishops' College student, Mahesha Seneviratne, thanks to the draw, which put her against compatriot Sobhini de Silva in the first round. The schoolgirl won over her veteran opponent, 6/0, 6/4 and will meet the winner of the match between sixth seed Isha Lakhani of India and Sri Lankan Thavindra Ekanayake. Also billed to play today is Navodi de Zoysa who meets Thai Varnya Vijuksanaboon.
"We can't be too disappointed with the losses because realistically speaking this is their first exposure in the professional circuits and came up against rivals belonging to another league - they are all experienced in the professional circuit. Our players have lived in a sequestered world of their own, and, hopefully, this tournament would've told them what to expect in the world outside," said SLTA president Suresh Subramaniam.
The six Sri Lankans, however, will not go away empty-handed. "Even first round losers will get US $ 100 - Mahesha is already assured of US $ 200 even if she loses in the second round," said Subramaniam. "Hopefully, our players will realize there's big money to be had if they can seriously commit themselves to the game."
The top seed Thailand's Napaporn Tongsalee, ranked 300th in the world and Indian Rushmi Chakravarthi make their appearance today having drawn first round byes.
Tongsalee is also expected to play the doubles today, partnering Sri Lankan Abeysinghe.
They meet Indonesian Aleta Sungkono and Australian Rebecca Turner.
Produced by Lake House