The Sri Lanka Tennis Association (SLTA), the main controlling body of tennis in Sri Lanka, was established in 1915 -–as Ceylon Lawn Tennis Association or CLTA-- when it was under the Presidency and purview of the then Governor of Ceylon, Sir Robert Chalmers.
Now, Maxwell de Silva, present Gen. Secretary of SLTA Interim Committee, is certain to become the 31st President of the country’s main controlling body of the sport, probably next Thursday (11), in its 94th year of existence. He represents the Colombo Swimming Club.
Under de Silva will be new as well as interesting faces that are expected to fill this year’s Executive Committee of the SLTA.
Dayaratne, Next Gen. Secretary –
Among those new faces is its former controversial Chief Executive Officer Boshan Dayaratne. He was in fact the first to take up the post of the CEO of the SLTA when the post was established under Suresh Subramaniam’s Presidency. He had to leave his job under the same President due to a bitter dispute. Then there was Lionel Almeida holding the post. Thereafter the title was held by Lt. Col. (retd.) Chrys de Silva.
De Silva’s tenure as SLTA CEO fell during one of the most volatile periods of the SLTA which became a hot spot of controversy and power struggle towards the end of Janaka Bogollagama’s first year in office; that was during the first quarter of last year.
De Silva, after Bogollagama was appointed as head of an Interim Committee --following an overhauling of the bitter scenario at the tennis headquarters by Sports and Public Recreation Minister Gamini Lokuge— left for the USA leaving the interim administration to seek services of S. Yogaratnam who served not as CEO but as the SLTA Gen. Manager.
Then, following behind-the-screen disputes and misunderstanding, Yogaratnam had to reportedly bid adieu to the SLTA early this year.
New Names –
Some of the new names which will be appointed unanimously at this week’s AGM will be Vipul Perera who represents Matale Tennis Club, Irshard Othman from the Dehiwala – Mount Lavinia Cosmopolitan TC, Arjuna Herath who is from the Singhalese Sports Club and Pavan Nadarajah.
Dayaratne is to be appointed Gen. Secretary this week while former SL National player and present SL Davis Cup Non-Playing Captain-cum-Manager Aasiri Iddamalgoda and another former Davis Cup player of the 1960s and ’70s, and former National Selection Committee Chairman P.S. Kumara are to hold two of the six Vice Presidents’ posts available.
The following members of the existing Interim Committee are to be included unanimously in the next Executive Committee of the SLTA at its next AGM.
They are: Kumar Gunawardena, as Treasurer, former Gen. Secretary Lt. Col. Shiran Abeysekera and another former President Lalith Withana along with Kumara and Iddamalgoda.
Meanwhile the present Interim Committee President Bogollagama last week said he was not contesting this time for any post.
He was willing to go for a contest last year against former five-time President Suresh Subramaniam before Minister Lokuge intervened to dissolve the SLTA committee postponing its AGM before appointing an Interim Committee under Bogollagama himself.
But Bogollagama, brother of country’s Foreign Minister Rohitha, said he was willing to serve the new committee if he was requested to do so.
Meanwhile, former Vice President Vasantha Wijesekera who was a four-time Manager of the SL Davis Cup team (from 2005-08) said this newspaper last week that he has decided to step down from local tennis administration.
Sports and Public Recreation Minister Gamini Lokuge postponed the SLTA AGM last March, when Bogollagama was completing his first year in office, before appointing a nine-member interim administration five months later under Bogollagama himself. That was following gruesome in-fights at the SLTA, for the control of the sport, between two parties led by Bogollagama and former five-time President Suresh Subramaniam.
Jithmie Leaves SL –
Jithmie Jayawickrema, the 17-year-old four-time and reigning Sri Lanka women’s national champion, left Sri Lanka last Monday (1) to USA hoping to play in the women’s circuit there.
As a result, Jayawickrema, holder of the 339th rank of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) junior ratings at present, is unlikely to be available for the forthcoming Sri Lanka Nationals and any of the major international tournaments like Fed Cup, Commonwealth Games, etc.
One of the few players in recent history to dominate local women’s tennis, Jayawickrema, a Bishop’s College schoolgirl, held a career high ITF world junior rank of 309 last March.
Jayawickrema thus becomes one of the latest victims of the marginalisation of National level tennis players who eventually had end up in USA university teams. Two of Jayawickrema’s contemporaries Ruchika Alahakoon and Thiyumi Abesinghe are the most recent examples for losing hopes amidst a lot of broken promises of the SLTA, under various leaderships, and eventual desperation.
Jayawickrema was unjustly debarred from a major National level sports award last year. She was struggling to find a sponsorship throughout the last few years, in spite of a lot of promises from the SLTA, so as to pursue a professional career which would have been an immense boost for Sri Lanka’s women’s tennis.
Presidents of SLTA*
1915-16 – Sir Robert Chalmers
1916-19 – Sir John Anderson
1919-27 – Sir William Henry Manning
1927-31 – Sir Herbert J. Stanley
1931-33 – Sir Greame Thomson
1933-37 – Sir Edward Stubbs
1937-42 – Sir Andrew Caldecott
1942-45 – (No committee elected due to World War II)
1945-46 – Sir Henry Monck-Mason Moore
1946-49 – Dr. C.H. Gunasekara
1949-53 – O.M.L. Pinto
1953-55 – K.T.E. de Silva
1955-58 – Lionel Fernando
1958-68 – V.A. Sugathadasa
1968-70 – H.C. Sansoni
1970-72 – T. Thiruchittampalam
1972-75 – A.C. Gooneratne
1975-77 – D.M. Perera
1977-78 – A.A. Cader
1978-80 – Elmore Perera
1980-81 – G.J. Gunawardene
1981-82 – A. Maheswaran
1982-85 – Elmore Perera
1985-86 – Elmore Perera / J.P. Senaratne
1986-87 – J.P. Senaratne
1987-90 – D.L. Seneviratne
1990-92 - M.D. Seneviratne
1992-94 – D.L. Seneviratne
1994-95 – John Rajapakse
1995-97 – AVM P.M. Fernando
1997-98 – N.M. Udeshi
1998-2000 – John Rajapakse
2000-02 – Lalith Withana
2002-07 - Suresh Subramaniam
2007-08 – Janaka Bogollagama
2008-09 – Janaka Bogollagama (Interim Committee)
2009- ? – Maxwell de Silva (?)
* The place was named CLTA from 1915-70