Indian tennis board gags Davis Cup players

April 8th, 2008 - 8:07 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, April 9 (IANS) The All India Tennis Association (AITA) has imposed a gag on its players to prevent them from talking to the media ahead of the crucial Davis Cup tie against Japan, starting here Friday, perhaps taking a cue from the Indian cricket board. AITA had made its intention clear when secretary-general Anil Khanna had asked the players after a meeting of its Executive Council not to rush to the media with their views on the revolt in the Davis Cup squad before discussing the matter with him.

The AITA Executive Council has also appointed former Davis Cupper and selection committee member Shiv Prasad Misra as manager to act as a buffer between captain Leander Paes and the rebels led by Mahesh Bhupathi.

Now, the appointment of AITA director of development and marketing Ranbir Chauhan as media manager for the Japan tie was made public Tuesday afternoon when he came out to announce that neither the captain nor the coach would be interacting with the media till the end of the tie. They will be talking only when there is an official briefing.

Though the players had refused to talk to the media Monday, coach Nandan Bal briefed reporters on the practice session. But, Tuesday he was not forthcoming either.

“The players are concentrating on the upcoming tie and they don’t want to get distracted. I have spoken to the team members and the coach and they said they were not willing to talk. Being the media manager of the team, you can ask me whatever questions you have,” Chauhan said after the practice session here at the National Sports Club of India (NSCI).

However, when media persons sent out a veiled threat to boycott the tie unless the gag order is revoked, captain Paes relented and came along with manager Misra to answer only game-related queries.

Peas, who landed in the capital Monday night, expressed his satisfaction with the team’s preparation.

“Well we had a long practice session today (Tuesday) and it’s really going very well. The entire team is together and Mahesh has also reached Delhi last night and will join the practice tomorrow,” said Paes.

Asked about Rohan Bopanna’s knee injury, the veteran Davis Cupper said: “Well he (Rohan) knows it better but as far as I am concerned he is looking fine. We have got the full support system to make him fit for the tie.”

Paes, who holds a 81-30 win-loss record in the Davis Cup, said the tie against Japan is evenly poised. “The Davis Cup is entirely a different kettle of fish as it is about form. Whichever team performs better over three days will win the tie.”

Asked about his own form and knee injury that ruled him out in the last tie against Uzbekistan in February, he said: “I am in a good shape and had a decent four-week run on the ATP circuit. I have no problem with my knee, there are no straps around.”

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