AITA rejects Somdev's claims

New Delhi, Jan 12 (IANS) The All India Tennis Association (AITA) Saturday rejected allegations by Somdev Devvarman that it was not in touch with the rebel players before picking the team for the Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group I tie against South Korea slated for Feb 1-3.

The AITA in a statement that it had informed the eleven rebel players that their demands were met but still they made themselves unavailable for national duty.

"We were personally in contact with Vishnu Vardhan till about 11:30 pm on Thursday night (Jan 10). We had categorically informed him that remaining demands (business class for Asia Ocenia Zone for four players and a squad of six player) of the players have been met. But the selection of the coach and captain is the responsibility of the AITA," the AITA said in a statement.

"He (Vishnu) was also informed that Mr. Zeeshan Ali's credentials are impeccable. He assured us that he will contact other players, and would get back to us," he said.

The AITA also said that it was also in touch with Sanam Singh and Divij Sharan.

"During the day (10th January 2013) we had met Sanam Singh and informed of the same and

requested him to speak to Somdev Devvarman. One of our committee members was also in

touch with Divij Sharan. It is correct that a written letter was not sent, but the concern of business class fares for all four players for Asia Oceania Davis Cup tie and composition of team of six members was duly communicated," the statement added.

The AITA also added that a last minute attempt was also made but Sanam and Vardhan didn't answer their calls made before the selection committee sat down here Friday noon to pick up the squad.

"We called up Vishu Vardhan and Sanam Singh on Friday morning (11th January 2013) but our calls went unanswered. AITA waited till 12 Noon for player's response and since no response was received, the selectors were provided with a list of available players.

"We strongly deny that we have been unprofessional and unethical and believe that players should have made themselves available as was indicated to be a possibility by some players till late Thursday night," said statement read.

Earlier, Somdev has slammed the AITA saying that the association has been acting in an unprofessional manner in handling their demands.

"There is zero communication, there is zero professionalism and regardless of what the players have been trying to say, there just isn't any. Actually, this is a good thing because this has been going on for the past 20 years and hopefully, someone can bring in some change," Somdev told NDTV Saturday from Melbourne.

Eleven players, led by Somdev, threatened to boycott the Davis Cup tie if their demands were not met. They had signed a statement against "certain practices observed in the management of the Davis Cup squad" in what they said was an effort to improve Indian tennis.

"We are not asking for the moon. What players are asking for is to be kept in the light of what's going on, what's happening, what changes are being made and when we raise concerns, we just want them to be dealt with professionally," said Somdev.

"We are just asking for basic rights that we as players deserve. Every one of us would have made ourselves available and would have played if the situation was dealt with in a professional manner."

"Nothing was given to us in writing, nothing was even said to us by any of the selection committee or any of the executive committee. All we heard was the last message they sent to us on the sixth of January," added Somdev.

In the absence of the regulars, a depleted Indian side with Leander Paes will now take on South Korea in the Asia/Oceania Group I clash.

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