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AITA has obstructionist attitude, says its own vice-president

Tuesday, 22 January 2013 - 9:00am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: DNA
Mud slinging begins as association’s VP questions timing of Davis Cup selection, intent of the body to negotiate with players and CEO’s appointment.

Exactly ten days after the All India Tennis Association (AITA) snubbed the eight rebels and announced a second-string team for the Davis Cup tie against South Korea, its own vice-president Karti Chidambaram has flayed the body for the way the entire issue was handled.

In a letter to AITA, a copy of which is with DNA, he has mentioned that the association announced the team “when negotiations were still underway”. While reminding that the stipulated last day for selection was January 22, he also questioned its CEO Hironmoy Chatterjee’s appointment and the body’s  intent to make peace with the players.

Chidambaram has reminded that the Indian team for the London Olympics was announced on the last day. Blasting the AITA for having an “obstructionist attitude”, he has refuted its claim that the team was announced early to help the players withdraw or participate in other tournaments.

A part of the letter reads: “He (AITA’s secretary general) is probably unaware that no ATP tournaments are held in the week of the Davis Cup and further there are no ITF Futures or Challengers of any significance in our part of the world during this week. It is also relevant to point out that the Korean tie will be held in India and hence there was no need to give time for the players to obtain visas.”  

Chidambaram felt the Chatterjee hardly spent an hour or so in meeting Somdev Devvarman who “was available in Chennai for almost two weeks during the Chennai Open”.

“When his meeting with Somdev did not produce the desired results on 30th December, he could have stayed back or come back again to Chennai for another meeting as Somdev left only on 8th January for Australia. It is therefore clear that when Somdev was in Chennai for such a long period, the AITA senior management made no effort to resolve the pending issues,” he wrote in the letter.

He also thought that AITA, like it did during India’s Olympic selection row, could have used the services of its lifetime president SM Krishna to reconcile the factions.   

On Chatterjee’s appointment as CEO, he pointed out: “The secretary general in his circular released on November 2nd 2011, announced the appointment of Mr Hironmoy Chatterjee as CEO, based on a decision taken by the executive board of AITA.  When I checked the rules and regulations of AITA, I found there was no mention of the executive board in the rules. Hence it is clear that the appointment of the CEO is not legally valid.  An executive committee meeting was held during the Davis Cup tie at Chandigarh on September 15th during which there was no discussion on the CEO appointment.  It is therefore surprising that a non-existent body of the AITA has appointed a CEO in a manner inconsistent with the AITA rules. No public announcement seeking qualified applicants was made before this appointment was announced.”

He also questioned the selection of Arjun Khade over Ramkumar Ramanathan. While agreeing that Khade has promise, he reminded that he lost in “round one of juniors event of Australian Open and French Open and round one of qualifying at Wimbledon.”

In this regard, he wrote, “Ramkumar has a higher ATP Ranking because he has played more tournaments than Arjun Khade. It would be relevant to point out that Ramkumar has played a large number of his tournaments in Spain where the competition is much tougher.  Also, in the recent Dharwad ITF Futures, Ramkumar beat both Vijayant Malik (part of this Davis Cup team) and Arjun Khade to reach the finals.”

He was optimistic that India could still play their best side. “The ITF rules allow for two of the four nominated players to be replaced by the captain one hour before the draw ceremony on January 30th.  In the tie against Serbia in 2011, Leander and Mahesh were replaced by Yuki Bhambri and Karan Rastogi in a similar manner,” Chidambaram said in the letter, while clarifying that he described the new team as “third string” and not “third rate” as was reported.

Chidambaram’s grouse

  • Selection committee meeting could have been postponed to 22nd (January) as AITA had to face an abnormal situation
  • CEO’s appointment not as per rules and regulations of AITA
  • Argument behind Arjun Khade’s selection not convincing

His suggestions

  • Chairman of selection committee must also be ex-Davis Cup player
  • Chairman of both senior and junior selection committees need not be executive committee members
  • Two of the four nominated players be replaced one hour before the Davis Cup draw on January 30th

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