The Sunday Leader

Sudantha Refuses, Paldano Accepts Davis Cup Job

s-1By T.M.K. Samat

Sudantha Soysa has declined to coach Sri Lanka’s Davis Cup squad, citing his inability to give the commitment the task demands. And veteran George Paldano is to take on the four-month-long job.

Soysa’s thumbs-down to what is currently the most important job going in local tennis is surprising, hinting a conflict between the coach and officials. But SLTA Chief Maxwell de Silva denied Soysa’s refusal was born of any controversial circumstance.

“Yes, the job of coaching the Davis Cup team was offered to Sudantha; he considered and concluded he can’t give the commitment the job deserves and it’s best that a coach who can give fulltime commitment does the job,’’ said de Silva. “That Sudantha is also the SLTA Coaching Director has to be considered.
If the Davis Cup coaching job was going to affect his work as Coaching Director then that’s not going to help our development programme.’’ Soysa’s plate also bears the responsibilities of running his own tennis academy.

With the promotion to Group Two, after nine long years, the job of coaching our Davis Cup squad has acquired greater importance. Paldano has the credentials to fit the bill.

He counts about three decades of coaching experience, and was, in fact, Davis Cup coach in the 90s when the country figured in Group Two competition.

Meanwhile, the selectors, after last week’s trials, have pruned down the Davis Cup to nine, from 14. The nine: Harshana Godamanna, Rajiv  Rajapakse, A. Jayawickrema, A.

Hewakotage, S. Atukorale, M. Siyaguna, S. Gomes, T. Dineshkanthan and G. Weerasekera.

A second trial is slated for December 19 after which the final squad of four players will be named and get into intense training all the way to the March 5-7 Colombo tie with New Zealand.

Feature of the preparation would be the hire of two Indian players as sparring partners to our players for a period of three months. As well, arrangements are being made to have our players participate in ITF tournaments in India.

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