By Lerpong Amsa-ngiam
For the first time the Zonal Group I and II ties have been reduced from three days to two (Saturday and Sunday) and from the best-of-five set match to best-of-three in accordance with International Tennis Federation (ITF) new rules.
Thailand, seeded first in group II, will be spearheaded by world No 458 Wishaya Trongcharoenchaikul and the two-time ATP doubles champions Sonchat and Sanchai Ratiwatana, while Sir Lanka are represented by Harshana Godamanna, Sharmai Dissanayake and Yasitha De Silva, none of who are in world’s top 1,000.
Thailand also lead the head-to-head meetings with Sri Lankans 7-0 but it won’t be a walk in the park for Thai players whose usual superiority will be neutralized by the clay courts of the Sri Lanka Tennis Association venue.
“We barely practise on clay and we have been busy with our professional events,” said Sanchai, who flies out with his teammates from Bangkok this morning.
“There will be some difficulties but we still have a few days to train at the venue.”
On the other hand Sonchat reckons the reduction of the doubles to a best-of-three-set match should benefit him and his twin brother.
“The weather in this region is very humid, so it’s good that we don’t have to play the best of five sets,” he said. “We can give it all right from start without having to save energy for five sets.”
Saturday sees the two reversed (1 v 2, 2 v 1) singles rubbers, while Sunday will feature the doubles and two remaining singles.
The first nation to win three rubbers will move into the second round to face either the Philippines or Indonesia in April.