Ramesh Krishnan wanted more participation among youngsters as the way forward for Indian tennis.
“We need at least a couple of players of Somdev's (Devvarman) level to be vying for places in the Davis Cup squad. Apart from Yuki Bhambri, who is young and talented, there are none. Players will emerge when more kids are attracted to the game,” said the tennis maestro, speaking at a media briefing in connection with the first TCS Corporate Tennis Cup at Bombay Gymkhana from March 13-21.
Teams will be divided into four groups, featuring two doubles pairs each team, for round-robin league matches lasting best of seven games. The group topper will advance into the semifinals (best of 11 games) and final (three sets).
Talking about India in Davis Cup play, he said: “India getting into the World Group is creditable, so was the result against South Africa.”
Russia defeated India 3-2 in the opening round, with Somdev going down to Igor Kunitsyn and Mikhail Youzhny in the two singles matches. “Somdev should be competing against players of Youzhny's calibre more often,” said Ramesh Krishnan.
Asked about replacements for the Indian doubles aces Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi in Davis Cup play, Ramesh emphasised on developing singles players. “Davis Cup play is about four singles matches, so we need players who will play singles. Leander and Mahesh are experienced in doubles play, after them we don't have replacements yet.”
He pointed out that exposure and experience to European conditions as critical factors for talented Indian juniors.
Play in Europe
Emphasising that Europe is the place for players to prove tennis credentials, he said more Indians getting into the juniors Grand Slams would be useful.
“We have to get more Indians into the Grand Slam juniors event, then take it forward from there. I know it is expensive for Indian juniors to travel and play in Europe, compared to European youngsters.”
Ramesh pointed out that increase in the number of tennis-playing nations was making the sport more competitive for the current generations.
“Indoor tennis may be responsible for nations like Russia making a mark. Earlier, the harsh weather in many countries resulted in reduced number of tournaments, now with so many indoor tournaments in various countries, players go where money is available.”
According to Jayant Pendharkar, TCS, the round-robin format will ensure numerous opportunities for players to qualify, instead of the knockout format which eliminates weak teams early. Matches will be played at Bombay Gymkhana courts on weekends.