While the set of eight players, led by Somdev Devvarman, insist that their only intention is the betterment of Indian tennis, they also issued a joint statement that they may not be available for Davis Cup selection unless their demands were discussed.
The All India Tennis Association (AITA) had stated that it would introduce a code of conduct for players and only those who sign it would be eligible for Davis Cup selection. That’s something the players have taken strong exception to. Leander Paes is not part of the eight but Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna are.
“In light of AITA secretary general Bharat Oza’s statement that the AITA will introduce a disciplinary code for players before the Davis Cup tie against South Korea and that only those who sign the code will be able to represent the country, we wish to make it very clear that all of us are, regrettably, unavailable for Davis Cup selection unless the AITA is willing to consider and engage with us on our very legitimate suggestions in relation to the team,” said the statement from the players. “This is not and should not be construed as an ultimatum, but instead as a platform for change to ensure a better future for Indian Tennis,” it added.
“It was and is not our intention to make this a public affair. We wished for certain matters to be amicably resolved, in private, between the AITA and the players. However, given that all the information is now in the public domain, we wish to emphatically state that all of us are united in our stand against certain practices observed in the management of the Davis Cup squad. We are not looking to challenge the authority of the AITA, but are making a genuine attempt to change things for the improvement of Indian tennis,” it further added.
Some of the demands that the players have made are that the team must comprise six players to ensure adequate practice partners, player participation in the decision-making process for choosing the surface and venue for home ties, a common physiotherapist and coach, a revised agreement for the distribution of Davis Cup prize money and that all team members should be treated on par with regard to logistical arrangements.
The tie against South Korea in New Delhi from February 1 to 3 and the winner gets to play in the world group play-off. It seems things will get worse. Who is right or wrong is another question.