NEW DELHI: India’s top singles player Sondev Devvarman’s decision to concentrate on ATP tour at the expense of upcoming Asian Games has come under sharp criticism from the All India Tennis Federation, which termed the player’s move as “not correct”.
Somdev said the Federation did not ask for his availability before naming the Asian Games squad. We said that since he is country’s number one player, he was expected to play. We said that at least play the team event but he was adamant,” a peeved AITA general secretary Bharat Oza told PTI today.
“We tried our best. But what to do, what alternative is there,” Oza sounded helpless.
Somdev, who won two gold medals at last edition of the Asian Games in Gunagzhou, wants to improve his ranking as he has slipped to 143 following a prolonged poor run.
Somdev will lead India’s challenge in the Davis Cup to be held from September 12-14 in Bangalore and Asian Games is set to begin in five days time after the World Group play-off tie.
“We had discussion with Anand and Zeeshan Ali (coach) and felt we have a chance in team event. We can’t do anything but the government expects the top players to play. We can’t force, we can only request. We even informed him that we will be answerable to the government, which may take objection to it,” Oza said.
Oza, the new Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association President, also said, they cannot think of taking any disciplinary action.
“Tennis is an individual game. They do not play under national federation. We also understand that playing on ATP Tour is their bread and butter. So what can we do? The only thing we have in hand is Davis Cup selection. Asked if the players were still getting financial help from the government, Oza said for the 2010 Commonwealth Games they got funds but not after that.
“We present details to the government every year before the budget for helping players, spelling out their travel and coaching requirements but the tennis players have not got anything after 2010 Games,” Oza said.
AITA also said that reserve player Divij Sharan will replace Somdev in the squad.
“Divij can play in the mixed doubles. It will be good for him. Sometime back, he was in top-100, we want to give him recognition, that is why we had selected him.”
Asked if it would have been better to select a singles player in place of Somdev, Oza said Yuki Bhambri, Saketh Myneni and Sanam Singh are all good enough to handle singles.–PTI