No end to tennis row, players reject AITA proposal
The crisis that has rocked Indian tennis escalated with the players rejecting the compromise formula offered by the AITA.
New Delhi: The crisis that has rocked Indian tennis escalated Monday with the players rejecting the compromise formula offered by the AITA, which in turn has now decided not to bend its back any more. The eight revolting players, led by Somdev Devvarman, sent their response to the national tennis body this evening and demanded that all their demands be fulfilled.
The AITA, however, is no mood to listen to the players and has warned that the national tennis body would not mind going ahead with the South Korea tie without them. It has also been learnt that the players are not happy with the AITA sharing its proposal with the media. "They want us to reconsider our proposal. They want us to agree to all of their demands. But whatever we have had to offer we have. We have extended out maximum support," AITA CEO Hironmoy Chatterjee told PTI.
"They are trying to enter area to which they have no obligation and prerogative. A player can not be administrator, selector and a player at the same time," a fuming Chatterjee said. The senior AITA official said they cannot offer more to the players and will field only those for the South Korea tie, who will make themselves available.
"We have a selection meeting on the 11th and if players want to play they will have to make themselves available. If they do not want to play, it's their choice," Chatterjee said, sending out a stern warning to the players. The AITA, yesterday, accommodated many of the players' demands by replacing coach Nandal Bal with Zeeshan Ali. It also removed Dr Vece Paes and physiotherapist Sanjay Singh and promised to seek their replacements from the Sports Authority of India (SAI).
The AITA also increased the players share in the Davis Cup prize money. If the crisis does not end, it would mean that barring Leander Paes, none of the other top players -- Mahesh Bhupathi, Rohan Bopanna, Somdev Devvarman, Yuki Bhambri, Sanam Singh, Vishnu Vardhan, Divij Sharan and Saketh Myneni -- would play the tie, beginning February 1.
The option before AITA are few as the next best available players are national hard court champion Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan, who is ranked 423, N Sriram Balaji (324), Ranjeet Virali-Murugesan (517), Vijayant Malik (542) and Purav Raja (155 in doubles). It is for the second time in six months that the players and the All India Tennis Association have sparred over some or other issue.
Ahead of London Olympics, Bhupathi and Bopanna had taken on the AITA by rejecting the team selection. They refused to pair with Paes and insisted on being paired together. AITA was forced to agree to their demands but later axed both Bhupathi and Bopanna from the Davis Cup tie against New Zealand in September. AITA also handed them a two-year ban but the players challenged it in the court and had it stayed.