Players threaten to boycott Davis tie

AITA may adopt a flexible approach to solve the problem, says CEO Chatterjee

The Indian Davis Cup team players have threatened to boycott the forthcoming tie against South Korea if the All India Tennis Association (AITA) does not “consider and engage” with them in their suggestions for improvement in the current structure.

The eight players came out with a joint statement stating they are united in their stand against “certain practices” observed in the Davis Cup squad. They, however, insisted that by doing so they do not intent to challenge the authority of the AITA.

What peeved the players the most was the statement of AITA secretary-general Bharat Oza on the introduction of the disciplinary code for the players in reply to their suggestions.

“Unfortunately, in light of the AITA Secretary-General Mr Bharat Oza's statement that the AITA will introduce a disciplinary code for players before the Davis Cup tie against South Korea in February and that only those who sign the code will be able to represent the country, we wish to make it very clear that all of us are, regrettably, unavailable for Davis Cup selection unless the AITA is willing to consider and engage with us on our very legitimate suggestions in relation to the team,” the players wrote.

Amid the fresh controversy that has rocked tennis in the country, Davis Cup captain SP Misra tendered his resignation on Thursday.

The players, however, said they are united in their stand through which they wish to make the Davis Cup team “stronger and more competitive.”

The players have made five suggestions. (1) The team must comprise six players to ensure adequate practice partners, while also allowing for exposure to a larger pool of talent. (2) The decision-making process for choosing the surface and venue for home ties should involve the participation of all active players. (3) Professional team management to include a common team physiotherapist and coach. (4) A revised agreement for the distribution of Davis Cup prize money. (5) All team members should be treated at par with regard to logistical arrangements.

The statement also included personal statements from all the players, leading with Somdev Devvarman.

“I feel our suggestions have been reasonable and have been arrived at based on what we believe we deserve. If the AITA proposes a solution that is agreeable to all the players, I shall play for the country, if asked,” he said.

“If, in our opinion, the AITA's response is unfair, I will stand united with the rest of the players and continue on our pursuit for changes in the system that I believe are necessary for the evolution of the sport and the system of sports administration in the country. My involvement will always be for the greater good of the team and what we believe is best for our team. We will not continue to function with these archaic methods of management.”

Veteran Mahesh Bhupathi said it is refreshing to see the players unite on a common stance. “What they are suggesting is improved infrastructure and support to enhance their performance at Davis Cup ties. Tennis is a demanding sport physically and mentally, and these suggestions accommodate those factors. It shouldn't be a hard decision for the AITA.”

AITA, meanwhile, is adopting a flexible approach to the problem and admitted that some of the demands of the players are indeed reasonable.

“I had a very fruitful meeting with the players on Sunday. In fact, we had decided to change the 20-year-old playerss agreement and I am in the process of framing the new ones, which will include the new prize winning sharing formula. It will also include the code of ethics,” AITA CEO Hironmoy Chatterjee told Deccan Herald.

“It will be sent to the players for their approval before the Korea tie. “I had told the players that I will get back to them on Monday and I am confident we will be able to come up a win-win situation,” he said.

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