Written by Prajwal Hegde
BANGALORE, February 23: In a letter that is bound to strike Indian tennis at its roots, three of the four players on the Davis Cup team have written to the All India Tennis Association stating in no uncertain manner that they will not play under the captaincy of Leander Paes.According to sources close to the team, the letter addressed to AITA secretary Anil Khanna was signed by Prakash Amritraj, Rohan Bopanna, Mahesh Bhupathi and Karan Rastogi, currently not in the team.
Things came to a head during the country’s Cup opener against Uzbekistan in New Delhi in February when Paes questioned the professionalism of his number one player Prakash Amritraj during the tie.
The letter concluded with the players saying, “We are not prepared to play Davis Cup if Leander is the captain. Sorry it had to come to this but up until now we did not have the courage to say anything and it only has gone from bad to worse.”
Confirming having sent the letter, Amritraj told TOI from Los Angeles, “Playing Davis Cup for India is our greatest joy. We live for these ties, and through the year we prepare ourselves so we can peak for these occasions. He (Paes) has basically killed that joy for us.”
It is believed that Amritraj along with Bopanna, India No. 2, decided amongst themselves before approaching the rest of the team to address the issue. In the letter against Paes, some of the factors mentioned are:
- No support or communication through the year even when Paes is playing the same tournaments as Amritraj or Bopanna.
- A lack of confidence in Paes’ decision-making powers, as in the case of his decision not to play Amritraj on day one of the tie vs Uzbekistan, saying that Amritraj had a stomach sickness, even though he had stated that he was fit and ready to play.
- Lack of comfort with Paes on the captain’s chair during singles matches, mainly because he was not in sync with the players’ thinking and strategy.
- Paes’ habit of repeatedly talking his teammates down to the media as in the case of Bhupathi during the Asian Games in Doha and Amritraj in Delhi.
- Paes’ lack of punctuality during Cup ties.