Without an iota of doubt, India has fielded an inexperienced team for the upcoming Davis Cup tie against Korea, but the best thing about the side is that the players and the support staff are realistic, enthusiastic and far from making tall promises.
The players, captain S.P. Misra, coach Zishan Ali have started the preparations for the big challenge ahead as the team slugged it out at the R.K. Khanna Tennis stadium.
Former national champion V M Ranjeet, Vijayant Malik, who will be in action on the first day of tie on Friday, and reserves -- Arjun Kadhe and Ashwin Vijayraghavan -- trained under the watchful eyes of Misra and Zishan.
Leander Paes, the top player of the side, and Purav Raja are yet to join the team although they too have started practicing together in Mumbai.
For Misra it was business as usual while Zishan, for whom it is his first assignment with the national team, it was more of knowing and establishing a rapport with the young players.
Asked if Misra was emotional since it will be his last assignment as captain, pat comes the reply, “No, not at all.”
“Everything has to end one day. Nobody can go forever.
Players and captains come and go. The games goes on,” said the outgoing non-playing captain.
“It is like any other tie for me. I am focused on the job. It’s going to be a good challenge for us.”
The rebel players had demanded that the captain be changed to which AITA agreed but the national body chose to give Misra a farewell tie and also did not accede to the players choice of captain.
Asked Misra how he rates the players at his disposal for the Korea tie, he said: “They are of the same standard who played in the New Zealand tie. The only thing is that they are inexperienced, have not played five set matches. So it is a huge challenge to deliver.”
But it’s not that Misra was not hopeful.
“I am expecting that at least we will win one singles on day one. We have a fair chance”
Ranjeet had just finished his first session with sparring partner Kadhe but he was ready to give his best shot in the tie.
“What else one can ask for. Playing for India is huge.
Every single player who picks up tennis racquet dreams of representing the country,” Ranjeet said.
Ask him about the controversy and he politely refuses to be dragged into.
“What can I say about them. Mahesh (Bhupathi), (Rohan) Bopanna, Somdev (Devvarman), they are heck of players. They are too good. But I had no clue what’s happening.”
Ask Ranjeet about the tie and he says smilingly, “We are going to give them a good fight. We have home advantage.
There’s gonna be 5000 people supporting us and they will be just 12. At the end of the day there is an opportunity and I will give my 100 per cent.”
Malik was today busy adjusting his game to the slow nature of the centre court and later said,” Good for me that I got a chance. I can give my 100 per cent. They (Yuki, Sanam, Vishnu) are much better players than me. But I want to do well for the team.”
India have surely lost advantage of playing at home against an opponent, who would have been easier to beat with a full strength side, but one hopes that the chosen players will put up a good fight against the Koreans.
Keywords: Davis Cup tie