The half-baked response to the player demands sent out by the All India Tennis Association on Sunday has not had the conciliatory effect it was meant to. Instead, it has further angered the eight who have scaled up the degree of their revolt.
First, sending out details of what it
is offering the players to the press has put off the rebels. They feel that a contract that is in the negotiating stage can't be made public.
Then, the clause of Davis Cup players alone being eligible to coach the team first evoked laughter and then derision.
Somdev Devvarman, for instance, has never been coached by any Davis Cup player for a significant period of time in his whole career. Neither have Yuki Bhambri, Sanam Singh or Vishnu Vardhan.
The need for a six-member team is not something that's negotiable, feel the rebels. Nor is the parity in travel and stay arrangements. The days of top players getting suites and business-class travel created fissures in the team. The current crop no longer wants this arrangement.
There is even talk of throwing out the elaborate formula for division of prize money to have equitable distribution between all four playing members.
What AITA is failing to realise is that this is, as of now, an idealistic bunch bonding together, for all have suffered at the hands of the federation. They aren't in the mood to negotiate for what they feel are essential components to a better unit.
The fact that nobody is calling key players to even discuss their demands has further escalated the tension. The bumbling federation has been unable to gauge the tenor of this lot and is looking to break their unity albeit without much success.
Devvarman has not forgotten the fiasco of the February 2007 tie against Uzbekistan when he had to turn back from New York airport as the federation failed to process proper documentation for his travel.
A student then, he had exhausted his money in getting to the airport and had all of six dollars in his pocket when the AITA officials called him to say that he could not be a part of the Davis Cup that time around. He knew no one in that city and did not even have taxi fare to get to a fellow student's brother who offered to host him.
Each member of the squad has similar tales of AITA apathy and unprofessionalism to narrate. There is a deep-set resentment against a body that refuses to divulge financial details of its dealings and players feel it is taking them for granted.
Resentment is also building up against India's most illustrious Davis Cup player Leander Paes. The veteran has kept silent on the issue and the younger lot feels that he has let them down in their struggle to set things right.
Now, it remains to be seen how the player unity holds out in the face of AITA's firm stand.
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