The national tennis federation has requested the ITF to consider Ankita Raina’s bronze-medal winning performance at the 2018 Asian Games for a place in the women’s singles draw of the Tokyo Olympics since the gold and silver medallists from China are eligible for a direct entry due to their higher ranks.
Ankita had won a bronze at the 2018 Asian Games, where the winner was assured of a Continental qualification place in the women’s singles draw at the Tokyo Olympics.
Wang Qiang had won the gold while her Chinese compatriot Zhang Shuai took silver at the Games held in Jakarta and Palembang.
As per the June 14 WTA rankings, both Wang (world number 36) and Shuai (world number 38) are eligible for direct entry.
As per the ITF rules, if the winner does not accept the quota or becomes ineligible for it, the Continental place can be given to the silver medallist and so on.
The ITF rules for the eligibility criteria state that athletes who achieve both a Continental Games qualification place and subsequently a Direct Acceptance ranking, will qualify using the Continental Qualification quota place.
However, the All India Tennis Association (AITA) has written to the International Tennis Federation (ITF) that Ankita be considered for an entry so that the country can have representation at the Games in the singles event.
“We wrote to them about Ankita’s entry through the Continental route and they said they will let us know," a senior AITA official told PTI.
“It makes sense that the Continental place is given to the next best performer if gold and silver medal winners can make it to the draw basis their higher rank."
Ankita was ranked 181 on June 14 when the rankings were considered for direct entries.
With such a low rank even mass withdrawal won’t help in the draw of 64.
Ankita, though, will make her Olympic debut in Tokyo in the women’s doubles after being picked as partner by Sania Mirza, who was assured of direct entry due to her top-10 rank.
Sania has used her protected ranking (9) to enter the Olympics.
Meanwhile, reliable sources have said India will not be able to have representation in the men’s singles since the cut fell at 105 and India’s best players — Sumit Nagal (144) and Prajnesh Gunneswaran (148) are not even close to the mark.
It remains to be seen if Rohan Bopanna (38) and Divij Sharan (75) will get entry in the men’s doubles. Their combined rank of 113 as of June 14 means that their qualification would depend on withdrawal of teams from other nations.
Bopanna and Sharan had won the gold at the Asian Games but the quota was kept only for the singles winners.
If India won’t be able to field a team in the men’s doubles, then the country will also go unrepresented in the mixed doubles event since the 16-team competition will have players only from main draws of other events.