New Delhi: The crisis that has hit Indian tennis deepened on Friday with the revolting players threatening to pull out of the upcoming Davis Cup tie against South Korea unless AITA discusses their "legitimate" suggestions for improvement in the system. The eight players issued a joint statement and insisted that their intention is not to challenge the authority of national tennis body.
"Given that all the information is now in the public domain, we wish to emphatically state that all of us are united in our stand against certain practices observed in the management of the Davis Cup squad. We are not looking to challenge the authority of the AITA, but are making a genuine attempt to change things for the improvement of Indian tennis," the statement said.
The players repeated their major demands -- change in support staff, a say in decision making, revised agreement for the distribution of Davis Cup prize money -- and said they are not willing to play in Davis Cup unless AITA engages them in a dialogue.
"In light of the AITA Secretary General Mr. Bharat Oza's statement that the AITA will introduce a disciplinary code for players before the Davis Cup tie against South Korea in February and that only those who sign the code will be able to represent the country, we wish to make it very clear that ALL of us are, regrettably, unavailable for Davis Cup selection unless the AITA is willing to consider and engage with us on our very legitimate suggestions in relation to the team."
The players said their statement should not be construed as an ultimatum but instead as a platform for change to ensure a better future for Indian Tennis.
Meanwhile, after this boycott threat from India's top tennis players, a beleaguered AITA on Friday sought to placate the revolting group by terming their suggestions as "progressive" and agreeing to meet some of their demands. Hours after the players issued a fresh threat to pull out of the upcoming Davis Cup tie against South Korea from February 1, the national tennis body dropped enough hints that it may increase the players' share in the Davis Cup prize money, which is one their major demands.
"The players suggestions are progressive. If they want a change in the (prize sharing) agreement after 18 years, it is rightly so," said AITA President Anil Khanna. "AITA CEO and other senior Executives had a fruitful meeting with the players and AITA is looking with a positive frame of mind to help the players financially. AITA is aware that the players do not make tremendous amount of money on the circuit. They deserve all the support which, they can get," Khanna added.