The phrase ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ is apt for 27-year-old Purav Raja, who was named in the squad for the Davis Cup tie against South Korea by the All India Tennis Association (AITA) on Friday. While he is upset with the latest controversy ailing Indian tennis, he is equally elated at being given an opportunity, six long years after he became the national champion in 2006.
“It’s been a long wait,” Raja, currently ranked 155th in the world in doubles, told DNA. “My selection has obviously not happened under the best of circumstances, and I’m extremely upset with the situation the other players are in. I would have been ecstatic had I been selected after bagging the national crown six years ago, but I’m happy to be finally given a chance to play for India.”
Raja, who no more plays singles, achieved a career-best doubles ranking of 130 in 2010. And while he was a regular in various challenger events both in India and abroad, the Mumbaikar remained relatively unknown. “I made a decision to concentrate on doubles. India always had Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna in the doubles circuit, so I never really got a chance to come to the forefront. And unfortunately in our country, there is no recognition at the challenger level,” said Raja, who took to the sport at the age of six.
Excited at the chance to partner Paes, he said, “I will look to capitalise on it. I’ll miss some ATP events owing to this, but my family and I made a conscious decision to confirm my participation,” he said.
India had beaten New Zealand 5-0 with a young brigade in their last Davis Cup outing. Raja hopes to do an encore with this young team comprising VM Ranjeet (ranked 517) and Vijayant Malik ( 542). “If they could do it, so can we,” he said.