Younger lot seek truce with AITA

As the deadline for the eight top tennis players to make themselves available for selection of the Davis Cup team drew near, the news of some of the younger players among the eight reaching out to the All India Tennis Association (AITA) was doing the rounds by Wednesday evening.

It has been learnt that four out of the eight players were in talks with top AITA officials to find a way from the deadlock. Sources said the federation is hopeful that they will make these players come around by Thursday afternoon. The selection committee meeting is scheduled on Friday.

The AITA had given these eight players a Thursday evening (5 pm) deadline to make themselves available for the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Group 1 tie against South Korea, failing which it would pick another pool of players which it had kept on standby.
Leander Paes is the only senior player who has kept away and will be available for selection.

Somdev Devvaraman, Yuki Bhambri, Vishnu Vardhan, Mahesh Bhupathi, Rohan Bopanna, Sanam Singh, Divij Sharan and Saketh Myneni had threatened to boycott the tie after their ‘suggestions’ on higher prize money and better support staff among others were not considered by the AITA.  The AITA’s offer, in response, did not satisfy the players and was rejected by them on Monday.

Out of the eight, Bhupathi and Bopanna have already fallen from AITA’s favour during the Olympic row. Somdev, who is being seen as the leader of this crusade, has joined the two. Given the fact that he is returning from injury and is yet to regain his form that took him to top-100 world ranking in men’s singles, AITA expectedly is not willing to consider him for selection ‘on the basis of form.’

The younger lot, many of whom had just begun their international career, stand to lose the most. And it is from them, the AITA is hopeful of a climb down.

"They should realise their careers are at stake. They are in touch with us and we are looking to find a middle path. They are reconsidering their decisions and we are hopeful by tomorrow everything will be sorted out," a top AITA official told Deccan Herald.

Meanwhile, AITA’s efforts to rope in Prakash Amritraj were nullified by the Sports Ministry, which made it clear that only sportspersons with Indian passports could represent the country.

“The Ministry examined the issue and reiterates its view that a person can represent India in any international competition only if she/he is an Indian passport holder,” said a ministry statement.

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