Rebels might be given a chance
AITA to meet today to settle team dispute; Paes expected to stay captain; existing team members could be retained, reports Deepika Sharma.sports Updated: Feb 27, 2008 23:28 IST
WILL THE All India Tennis Association (AITA) continue to support Davis Cup captain Leander Paes or will the rebels have it their way?On Thursday, the AITA executive meeting comprising the president Yashwant Sinha, the secretary-general Anil Khanna, the Davis Cup selection committee members and various office-bearers from all over, will sit down to bring an end to the controversy that rocked Indian tennis.What decision is likely to be taken in the meeting? On Wednesday, sources told the Hindustan Times that Paes will stay captain and the players who have demanded his resignation as the leader will also be retained in the list of options for the Davis Cup tie against Japan. After that, it would be the rebels' call. They could bury the hatchet and play or stick to their stand. "The AITA is going to be stubborn regarding this issue," said a senior member of the selection committee. "Ninety per cent of the members attending the meeting tomorrow would want to retain Paes as the captain of India."A procedure would be followed. The same players would be named and all the players would be informed about their selection in the team. "It will then be up to them to tell us if they have any problem with the team or their availability."Does that mean that this would be some kind of a selection meeting?"Since all aspects in this case are inter-linked, selection is bound to be discussed," the source said.In the past week, Khanna has been vocal about standing by Paes. He, however, also said the decision that they take would be in the best interest of Indian tennis. Another selection committee member said the pressure was on the dissenters. "The other players would be under pressure, not Paes. He is a great player and someone who has brought laurels for the country," the source said. The rebels, Rohan Bopanna, Prakash Amritraj and Mahesh Bhupathi, have said they would not play in the upcoming tie against Japan in April under Paes' captaincy.On Tuesday, Amritraj also told the Hindustan Times from Los Angeles that they would stick to their stand and will not compromise. He also said a non-current player as the captain would be the best solution.But is there a non-current player, barring the Krishnans or Vijay Amritraj, who is good enough to sit in the captain's chair? The federation will have to take note of Paes' public outburst against his players. This month, in the tie against Uzbekistan, Paes openly called Amritraj "unprofessional" for attending a party in the lead-up to the tie. Amritraj retaliated by calling Paes a captain who lied and did not support his team "at the time of war." He also pointed out instances in the past when Paes had demeaned him and Bopanna in the media. The AITA could also look at getting the players to patch up. But that seems highly unlikely. With time running out --- AITA have to submit the names of the players for the Japan tie to the ITF by April 1 --- one would hope that politics and favouritism do not play a role in the decisions.No word from AITA: PrakashPrakash Amritraj told the Hindustan Times on Wednesday that the AITA still had not responded to him or the other players opposing Leander's captaincy. "Till now no one has got in touch with us. We have no clue what is happening," Amritraj said from Los Angeles.