In a significant turn of events, Leander Paes officially took on the role of joint vice-president of the Indian Tennis Players’ Association (ITPA), during the body’s first annual general meeting on Saturday.
Mahesh Bhupathi and Somdev Devvarman were the other vice-presidents chosen unanimously by the body, which also named the other office-bearers.
While insisting that they were not in confrontation with the national body, All India Tennis Association, the ITPA, which has registered as a Section 25 non-profit organisation, said they will focus on the development of tennis in the country.
“It’s not the players versus AITA,” said Somdev, confirming that the ITPA would not speak as a body with AITA over the Davis Cup issues that had been raised before the South Korea tie, which most of the top players missed because the two sides failed to reach a compromise. “If they can provide help in any way, we will take it on board.”
Forty-five players, along with Paes, were signed on as members, swelling the ITPA member count to 80.
The players said that apart from suggestions of lucrative tournaments for players, an off-season camp involving most of the top players was on the top of the agenda. The initial idea is to bring together the best pros in the country for a two or four-week camp at the end of the year and provide them with the best support staff.
“As a body it is easier to raise funds and involve more players in the camp,” said Somdev.