NEW DELHI: They might have signed peace with the All India Tennis Association but that has not stopped the disgruntled players, led by Somdev Devvarman, from forming the Indian Tennis Players Association to handle “contemporary issues” that have not been addressed by AITA.
“A Not-for-Profit association, the ITPA is being constituted as a Section 25 Company and is built on the premise that the existing structure of tennis administration in the country does not represent or adequately address contemporary issues faced by players in the country,” the players said in a statement.
The founding members of the ITPA include Jaidip Mukerjea, Mahesh Bhupathi, Karti P Chidambaram, Enrico Piperno, Manisha Malhotra, Prahalad Srinath, Somdev Devvarman, Rohan Bopanna, Aditya Sachdeva and Mustafa Ghouse.
“We believe that the ITPA will provide the players a voice that will stand united in our concerns and suggestions for the improvement of the sport in the country,” said Somdev.
Mukherjee has been made interim President of the body.
“Mr. Jaidip Mukerjea, will act as interim President in the ITPA’s formative period until the General Council and the General Body of the ITPA formally meet.
“The founding member players of the ITPA believe that Mr Mukerjea will bring a balanced and objective view to the running of the organization given his past accomplishments as a Davis Cup player and captain as well as a respected statesman,” the statement read.
The 11 revolting players, led by Somdev Devvarman, had put forward a charter of demands before AITA ahead of the Chennai Open. AITA yielded to most of the demands but the players refused to compete in the Korea tie since they did not get a few assurances in writing.
The AITA recently gave all the assurances in writing which ended the rebellion.
AITA agreed to increase players’ share in Davis Cup prize money, change the support staff and consult them for choice of venue and surface. The parent body also agreed to give the players business class airfare, a six-member squad for even away ties, and agreed to consult them for the appointment of team physiotherapist.
The players the ITPA is their way of improving the game’s standard in the country.
“The ITPA will comprise of and has opened its membership to all current and former international and national tennis players. It will primarily function as a forum and platform to represent the professional interests of its members and, thereby, improve the standard of tennis in the country,” the players’ statement explained.
“The players constituting the ITPA membership strongly believe in the principles of self-governance and consultative dialogue in arriving at key decisions impacting professional tennis in the country,” it added.
The players said that the ITPA’s general body would take office after an election.
“All members will have equal voting rights and will participate in a democratic process to elect a General Body that will be responsible for the operations of the ITPA,” their statement said.
“Modeled around the functioning of the ATP, that encourages and allows players to make decisions for the benefit of the sport, the ITPA will focus on the overall development of the sport from the players’ perspective”, the statement said. “The ITPA will also focus energies on building programs that will address the welfare of former players and mentor and support current players, while nurturing future talent,” the statement added.
The ITPA got the backing of AITA vice-President Karti P Chidambaram, who is not on very good terms with the national body.
“Tennis in India needs a players’ collective. The ITPA is the right forum for all the players to come together.
Initially, the ITPA will be funded by membership fees.
Eventually, we will seek support from Corporates and Private Individuals to fund our activities,” he said.
India’s next Davis Cup tie against Indonesia is scheduled for April 5-7 and is likely to be hosted by Karnataka Lawn Tennis Association in Bangalore.