Dissanayake back in the saddle, admits the race is bumpy | Page 2 | Sunday Observer

Dissanayake back in the saddle, admits the race is bumpy

29 January, 2023
Sharmal Dissanayake in action at the SSC Open
Sharmal Dissanayake in action at the SSC Open

Sharmal Dissanayake the men’s singles champion at the SSC Open tennis championship is in his stride to get back to the national team once again. He was a member of the Davis Cup squad as a 15-year-old and went on to excel in the singles event even having won against his opponents while representing Sri Lanka in Davis Cup ties.

Dissanayake was still a schoolboy at Royal College at that time. He became known as an astute player even at that time and became a winner at all age groups. It was clear that he was earmarked to become a national player from his school days.

“It is a long way to get back my fitness up to the level I had during my first days with the Davis Cup team. It will take at least another three to four months to be better than I am now,” said Dissanayake.

At present he practices with a top Sri Lankan player in Dineshkanthan and coach Sylvester Frances to boost his game up once again. He intends to raise the standard of his game to a much higher level.

The last time Dissanayake played in a Davis Cup tie was against Paraguay but lost the tie as the host team was far too good. That tie was played in South America and there the standard is very high.

What made Dissanayake to be left out of the national squad is because he was involved in studies intensely. He became a student at the Chartered Institute studying for a degree in accountancy and business. He intends to get involved in financial marketing in the future. During this three-year study period Dissanayake could not indulge in tennis as he would have liked to and remain in the national squad. According to his mother, studies are important for any child and he was no exception. He had to obtain this degree to pursue in his profession as an administrator.

Dissanayake now 26 has lost a lot of hair on his head. The reason for this, according to his mother is, when he was playing in Germany from the age of 18 to 22 years, the water there is mixed with sea water (salty). This salty water has acted as the hair remover. If this theory is correct many people who bath in the sea will grow up to be bald headed. However, Dissanayake was at his peak period at that time.

While being stationed in Germany, he had to be brought back to Sri Lanka due to the outbreak of Covid 19. Before that he was playing for the school team and was in the under-14 team and represented Sri Lanka at junior international events.

Dissanayake’s talent was also spotted by an ITF qualified Indian coach by the name of Asuto Singh who undertook to coach him for three years. He was then only 16 years old and was in good shape until he reached 19 years.

At the age of 15 years Dissanayake was a member of the Sri Lanka Davis Cup team that played in the group II tournament at that time and played against Malaysia and other teams in Asia.

He continued playing with the national team and at under-18 level he was ranked 208 in the world ranking, a great achievement and a boost for his image in the game.

“I have played against over 20 countries in all my years from the age of 15 but I have trained only in Sri Lanka,” said Dissanayake who was just three years old when he began playing tennis.

He wanted to follow his elder brother who went for training under a renowned junior coach in Kingsley Candappa. He never wanted to be left behind when his brother went for training and Candappa was always helpful in grooming the junior Dissanayake develop his tennis. He was given a small racquet meant for kids and a soft ball that can be hit by soft hands.

He continued to be trained under Candappa until he reached the age of 12 years old.

“Do not stop playing tennis at any time. Do not think or worry about the results. Always endeavour to play against better players and do not be afraid to take them on,” said Dissanayake giving his advice to future young players.