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Dumped coaches pained by AITA

The AITA's latest bit of firefighting by naming a new coaching panel under Jaideep Mukherjea has not gone down too well with Akhtar Ali, reports Sukhwant Basra.

india Updated: Oct 03, 2008 23:13 IST
Sukhwant Basra

The AITA's latest bit of firefighting by naming a new coaching panel under Jaideep Mukherjea has not gone down too well with Akhtar Ali -- one of India's most established and reputed coaches.

"Jaideep was a great player but he has not even produced a state-level champion amongst juniors. There is a lot of difference between playing the game and coaching," said Ali when contacted by HT.

Ali is also not too enthused with all the talk of Tony Roche coming in.

"Unless he promises a long-term commitment what will he manage to achieve in a short camp? I would prefer to have the services of someone like Ramesh Krishnan. Not only is Ramesh actively coaching abroad with people like Roy Emerson but he also cares deeply about Indian tennis. Not having him on board does not make too much sense," fires the coach who seldom minces his words.

From being named national coach a few weeks ago to being just another former Davis Cup player -- that has been the lot of Vishal Uppal.

"Firstly, I never took up the offer. I had said a conditional 'yes' provided some pertinent points I raised were addressed. The monetary issue was a big factor for me too as I would never work for a sum like Rs. 50,000 a month," clarified Uppal.

"Acceptance was subject to me getting complete control over the programme minus any interference by administrators and pen pushers."

While Uppal can at least be vocal about the precise situation, the other coaches who have been left out can only squirm, wary of the powers-that-be.

Arun Kumar and Nar Singh have all been involved in coaching for more than a decade and have national champions to their credit.

While Kawaljeet produced India's youngest hardcourt champion in the form of Sunil Kumar Sipaeya in 1999, both Nar and Arun have been pivotal in shaping up Ashutosh Singh who won the nationals in 2007 and is presently ranked 201 in world doubles. Promising players like Vivek Shokeen, Divij Sharan and Sanam Singh have all come from DLTA's coaching system.

"The bit that hurts the most is that an organization that we have worked in for so long (DLTA), did not support us when our credentials were questioned. Instead, we were labeled as a cheaper option till better coaches were found," said a DLTA coach who, obviously, did not want to be named.

The AITA has clarified that the new team has been named largely on account of the fact that the main training focus will shift to the new facility created at Pune for the Common Wealth Youth Games.

That has brought in Nitin Kirtane and Radhika Tulpule who, despite the playing experience they bring to the table, are no more qualified than some of the experienced DLTA coaches who figured in the original list.

Under flak for a series of gaffes in the recent past, it looks like AITA has just managed to commit another one.

Latest list of coaches: Jaideep Mukherjea (chief coach), Nandan Bal and Enrico Piperno (visiting coaches), Nitin Kirtane and Radhika Tulpule.