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Tennis players unite, form association

sports Updated: Feb 12, 2013 01:35 IST
Sharmistha Chaudhuri
Sharmistha Chaudhuri
Hindustan Times
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The crux of the five-week-long rebellion by the top 11 Indian tennis players against the national body, which garnered international attention, can be put down to player rights.

Just when the crisis seemed to have blown over with the All India Tennis Association (AITA) finally agreeing to most of their demands in writing, a fresh challenge has been thrown at the apex body.

The players had made themselves available for the Davis Cup Asia/Oceania relegation playoff tie in April, but barely 48 hours later they have announced a players' body that is already being viewed with an amount of cynicism.

On Monday in a joint press statement, the formation of the Indian Tennis Players Association (ITPA) was announced. It will be a non-profit association formed to benefit and 'help in overall development of the sport from the players' perspective'.

United voice
"It's been in the pipeline for a while. As a former player when I was asked to join I couldn't say no," is what interim president and one of the founding members, Jaidip Mukerjea, had to say.

"I believe we need a united player voice in the country. However, we are not going to interfere with the AITA but want to work hand-in-hand with them."

With membership open to all Indian players who have played at the international, national or state level, ITPA plans to hold elections soon to form a general body and council.

"Our prerogative is to promote tennis in the country. We will not interfere with team selection but put forward our views to the AITA. We are not against the national body. We want to promote the game at the grassroots level and also help former players," Mukerjea insisted.

Incidentally, the former Davis Cupper and captain was also founding member of the Association of Tennis Professionals, on which the ITPA has been modeled.

Waiting and watching
"We are not opposed to the ITPA but it's too early to say anything. We don't know how long it will exist," AITA CEO Hironmoy Chatterjee claimed.

If one had to give examples, Indian player associations in cricket are defunct while the one in football is yet to be recognised by the parent body.

On Mukerjea, who had headed the 2010 Commonwealth Games preparatory camp, taking up the post, Chatterjee said 'ethically it shouldn't be done'.