Rebel tennis players disappointed over exclusion
The rebel players also said the stand taken by them was for the betterment of the sport in the country.
New Delhi: The rebel Indian tennis players have expressed their disappointment after the All India Tennis Association (AITA) kept them out of the upcoming Davis Cup tie against South Korea.
"We are disappointed to note that instead of engaging in discussion with us, the AITA has selected an inexperienced team to represent the country in this crucial Davis Cup fixture," the eleven players - Mahesh Bhupathi, Rohan Bopanna, Somdev Devvarman, Yuki Bhambri, Vishnu Vardhan, Sanam Singh, Divij Sharan, Saketh Myneni, Sriram Balaji, Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and Vijay Sundar - said in a joint statement.
The players also said that they would not be representing India until the sports body engages with them in constructive talks. "We will be unavailable to represent the country until such time that the AITA engages with us in good faith."
They said the stand taken by them was for the betterment of the sport in the country. "In making each of our suggestions to the AITA, we were guided by our strong convictions regarding what we believed was fair and beneficial to the future of the sport in the country and are dismayed to hear that the AITA has labelled our suggestions "unfair and unjustified"," the statement further stated.
Earlier in the day, the AITA had expectedly named a depleted Davis Cup squad to face South Korea, ignoring the eight revolting player for the Asia/Oceania Group I tie beginning here on February 1.
Announcing a four-man team comprising of veteran Leander Paes, Ranjeet Virali-Murugesan (517), Vijayant Malik (542) and Purav Raja (155 in doubles), the AITA vice-president Bharat Oza on Friday clarified that the ruling body had agreed to a few of the unselected players' demands.
Oza confirmed that AITA would send the four players via business class air travel and that a team physio will be selected as per the players' demands, adding that venues would be selected in consultation with players.
Announcing the 4-man team to face South Korea, AITA also said it had agreed to a few of the revolting players demands. "If the players refuse to play for their country, it's very hard for us to give proposals to the government for changes," said Oza.
SP Misra will be the non-playing captain while Zeeshan Ali will be the coach. The revolting players wanted Misra to be replaced as the non-playing captain and also wanted a new coach apart from other demands such as a larger share in the prize money and air travel upgradation.
Selection committee chairman Anil Dhupar announced the team in a packed press conference where senior AITA officials explained the Association's stand and described the players' boycott as "unfair and unjustified". The AITA officials claimed that the Indian players were offered the best remuneration in the entire Asian region and gave the break-ups of some of the senior players' financial packages to back their claim.
In India's most recent Davis Cup tie, the team had beaten New Zealand 5-0 with young players such as Yuki Bhambri, Vishnu Vardhan, Divij Sharan and Sanam Singh in the absence of star like Somdev Devvarman, Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna.