All India Tennis Association (AITA) secretary, Anil Khanna, has been putting his chartered accountant brain to some real hard thinking. The national body has broken down the international tennis structure in an interesting analysis of just why Indian players are unable to get beyond being great juniors.
50 more coming
At the root of the problem, according to Khanna, is the tremendous amount of money required by our players to go abroad to play. Khanna provides some interesting figures. "The 55 nations of Europe have between them 450 Future and Challenger events per year. There are nine tournaments per week. Even though India ranks third in the world as far as the number of Futures goes, the federation just does not have the resources to hold anymore by itself.
"We have asked the government's support for putting up an enhanced tournament structure. We expect the government to help us organise 50 more events. This will allow our players to earn ranking points without having to travel abroad," said Khanna.
Khanna asserted that the ATP's prize money structure was skewed in favour of the big players. "Only the top-50 players make money. With most players travelling with a coach and trainer, those ranked below hardly manage to break even."
He also asserted that the Grand Slam countries have a huge advantage in propping their next rung as they have as many as eight wildcards to give away. "We refuse to accept the Australian Open as the Slam of Asia-Pacific. We have repeatedly asked the ITF to give us an Asian Slam."
Support to Somdev
"A special request has been made to the govt to help Somdev (Devvarman) and Yuki (Bhambri). We are going to ensure they have at least a significant part of their expenses taken care of," said AITA's development officer Col Ranbir Chauhan.