Threatening to boycott India’s Davis Cup tie against South Korea next month, the Indian team issued a joint statement on Tuesday stating that all its members will not be available for selection until the All India Tennis Association engages with the squad on its “very legitimate suggestions” in relation to it.
The statement was issued by eight major Indian players and it includes five suggestions to make the team “stronger and more competitive.”
The players in question are Somdev Devvarman, Mahesh Bhupathi, Rohan Bopanna, Vishnu Vardhan, Divij Sharan, Sanam Singh, Yuki Bhambri and Saketh Myneni.
The squad has urged the association to ensure it comprises “six players to ensure adequate practice partners” and exposure to Davis Cup for a larger pool of Indian talent.
The team also wants a revised agreement for the distribution of Davis Cup prize money, involvement in “the decision-making process for choosing the surface and venue for home ties”, the inclusion of a common team physio and a coach, and equal treatment for all members logistically.
The players maintain that they wanted to resolve the issues, in private, with the AITA but after the issue went public, they have now taken a united stand “against certain practices observed in the management of the Davis Cup squad.”
AITA Secretary General Bharat Oza’s warning which threatened the non-selection of those players refusing to sign the disciplinary code ahead of the South Korea tie has seemingly not gone down well with the team.
Praising the move by the Davis Cup squad, Bhupathi said “It is refreshing to see the players unite on a common stance. What they are suggesting is improved infrastructure and support to enhance their performance at Davis Cup ties. It shouldn’t be a hard decision for the AITA. If Leander (Paes) and I could have been on the same page years ago we would have done the same.”
Devvarman, whose ‘leaked’ e-mail to the AITA brought the issue into public, asserted “We will not continue to function with these archaic methods of management."
The team, however, claims that the statement is not “an ultimatum” but “a platform for change to ensure a better future for Indian tennis.”