Hope afresh for Prakash & Co

Last Updated 08 January 2010, 16:54 IST

While announcing on Friday that the felicitation function for the 1966 Indian Davis Cup team will be held here on Saturday, Tamil Nadu Tennis Association president Karti Chidambaram, who is also the vice-president of the All India Tennis Association, said:
“With a couple of players – Rajeev Ram and Prakash Amritraj – expressing their desire to play for India, we are looking at the possibility of enabling them to represent the country.
“The PM’s statement today at the eighth edition of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas that the government was working on the issue of allowing the NRIs to exercise their franchise might open up opportunities for sportspersons as well.”

Amritraj, who represented India in the Davis Cup for several years holding an American passport, became ineligible to play for the country after the sports ministry passed the ‘only Indians’ stricture last year.

“In fact, the rule had hit tennis the worst with as many as four players becoming ineligible to wear Indian colours. Besides Amritraj among men, Uberoi sisters – Shikha and Neha – and Sunita Rao had also lost their opportunity to play in the Fed Cup and Hopman Cup.

At the ongoing Chennai Open, when he was asked if he was trying to explore means to play for India again, Amritraj had said: “I am trying to figure out the issue of getting an Indian passport as playing for the country has always been my prime priority.”

Amritraj has a 7-11 win-loss record in the Davis Cup while Ram, also a US citizen, is ranked number 79 in the ATP rankings.

“We are just looking at the possibility and we will see if we can draw up some eligibility criteria with the sports ministry for them to be able to play for India. If this can work out, it will be good for Indian tennis as our bench strength will increase manifold.

“It, however, remains to be seen how this pans out because the decision ultimately rests with the sports ministry,” Chidambaram noted.

Meanwhile, the AITA awarded Rs 2.5 lakh each for Somdev Devvarman and Rohan Bopanna, who won three live singles against South Africa late last year to propel India into the Davis Cup World Group.

(Published 08 January 2010, 16:54 IST)

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