The possibility of a compromise in Indian tennis looks unlikely, as the players have rejected the national federation's choice of a committee to interact with them.
To begin with, the federation sent a mail on Monday outlining that a three-member committee would interact with the rebels. This mail was cced to a few dozen people including players and various All India Tennis Association representatives. The players have responded on Wednesday saying categorically that: "... we are not convinced that the new committee formed by the AITA will be beneficial to us."
The mail written by Somdev Devvarman on behalf of the players goes on to add: "We also don't feel that the new committee can have an unbiased opinion as it comprises of AITA representatives." While MC Gupta is a former vice-president of the body, Naresh Kumar, former Davis Cup captain, has been firmly in the corner of Leander Paes for the last two decades. Paes is the only senior player who is not part of the revolt against the national body and the players seem to be cagey about his mentor adjudicating on their conduct.
Devvarman goes on to emphasise his point: "Also, since we have acknowledged that lack of communication has been a weakness, we suggest that both parties work together to improve the situation, rather than involve a new party which the players disapprove of."
In what is an apparent climbdown from the earlier stance of captain and coach of choice, the latest mail has a more conciliatory note to it: "We agree with you that players should not have the ultimate say in who is picked for any position while representing the country; whether it's the captain, coach or any playing or non-playing member of the team."
Now, if the federation was to actually look at the press release that it gave out on Feb 11, the players and AITA are totally in sync. Except that a new equation has been added to the situation with the formation of a committee.
A new twist
However, Devvarman goes on to add a new twist that is bound to raise the hackles of the administrators when he asks for enhanced player participation in decision-making. "We request that we set up a new executive committee and a selection committee which consists 50% of AITA officials, 50% of player representatives," he asks while going on to say that this model is based on just how the ATP works.
The players are obviously peeved at the fact that none of them have been approached for a face-to-face meeting. Devvarman, obviously looking for a solution, goes on to say: "If our schedules permit, we would be glad to meet in person to sort out the issues, but given that we have to travel to different countries while on tour, this might not be possible, but we are always available to communicate via email.”
The AITA could actually use Naresh Kumar's expertise, for he is the only one who successfully solved a player revolt in the past that left all parties satisfied. When Ramesh Krishnan and Leander Paes refused to play the World Group semifinal against Australia at Chandigarh in 1993 on account of unresolved payment issues, all it took was a meeting between the players, the captain and the present president Anil Khanna's father RK Khanna. In an hour, the situation had been resolved with Krishnan and Paes both being given 20 lakh each to settle the issue.