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AITA plays it safe

Paes will continue as captain. The rebel players who sought his removal as captain — Amritraj, Bopanna and Bhupathi, have also been retained, reports Deepika Sharma.

sports Updated: Mar 01, 2008 17:20 IST
Deepika Sharma
Deepika Sharma
Hindustan Times

AS REPORTED by the Hindustan Times on Wednesday, the All India Tennis Association (AITA) did not make changes in the Indian team for the Davis Cup tie against Japan in April.

Leander Paes will continue as captain. The rebel players who sought his removal as captain — Prakash Amritraj, Rohan Bopanna and Mahesh Bhupathi, have also been retained. The grievances of these players will be addressed after the tie.

On Thursday evening, in more than an hour-long meeting at the Delhi Lawn Tennis Association (DLTA), the executive committee, chaired by the president Yashwant Sinha, the selection committee and the office bearers of the federation decided to retain the same team that played against Uzbekistan this month (apart from those mentioned above, the team includes Somdev Dev Varman). “Time is too short to consider all the points the players raised,” said Anil Khanna, the AITA secretary-general. “As the Japan tie is in April, this matter should only be discussed in May, when Bopanna and Prakash are here to play two Challenger events.

“We can discuss what the real issues are. Sensitivity of the players is required till then.”

Khanna, seen as pro-Paes, pointedly praised the players opposing the captain. “Leander Paes has a mercurial record for the country and so does Mahesh Bhupathi. Bopanna is now doing very well in the doubles. He is almost in the top 50. Prakash is a respected member of the team.”

Khanna emphasised the need for Paes and Bhupathi to come together for the Beijing Olympics. “India are definitely a medal prospect if Leander and Mahesh play together. The AITA will request them to put their differences aside and play together. “They should play at least six tour events together.” Asked about the option of appointing a non-playing captain, which is what the rebels wanted, Khanna replied: “It was discussed. We have had non-playing captains in the past. It was debated upon and a decision will be taken only after the Olympics.” AITA has appointed the former Davis Cupper and selection committee member, SP Mishra, as the manager of the Indian team for the Japan tie. AITA member Ranbir Chauhan will be the assistant manager. “We have appointed a manager to ensure camaraderie in the team.”

Despite the players maintaining that the AITA had not gotten in touch with them, Khanna said: “The AITA wrote to them. They have replied too.”