Rebel tennis players form association

Chennai, Feb 11 (IANS) In their bid to make their voices heard by the tennis administration, India's rebel tennis players formed the Indian Tennis Players Association (ITPA) with former Davis Cup captain Jaidip Mukerjea as its interim president.

Besides Mukerjea, the other founding members are Mahesh Bhupathi, Enrico Piperno, Manisha Malhotra, Prahalad Srinath, Somdev Devvarman, Rohan Bopanna, Aditya Sachdeva Mustafa Ghouse and All India Tennis Association (AITA) vice-president Karti P. Chidambaram.

India's only Olympic tennis medallist Leander Paes, however, is not among the founding members.

ITPA in a statement said its membership is open to all current and former international and national tennis players.

"It will primarily function as a forum and platform to represent the professional interests of its members and, thereby, improve the standard of tennis in the country," ITPA said.

All members of the IPTA will have equal voting rights and will participate in a democratic process to elect a general body that will be responsible for the operations of the ITPA.

"Jaidip Mukerjea will act as interim president in the ITPA's formative period until the General Council and the General Body of the ITPA formally meet," the association aid.

"The founding member players of the ITPA believe that Mr. Mukerjea will bring a balanced and objective view to the running of the organisation given his past accomplishments as a Davis Cup Player and Captain as well as a respected statesman," the statement read.

The ITPA will work on the overall development of the sport from the players' perspective and will also focus energies on building programmes that will address the welfare of former players and mentor and support current players, while nurturing future talent.

Devvarman, who led the rebellion against the AITA, said: "We believe that the ITPA will provide the players a voice that will stand united in our concerns and suggestions for the improvement of the sport in the country."

Chidambaram said that tennis in India needs a players' collective.

"The ITPA is the right forum for all the players to come together. Initially, the ITPA will be funded by membership fees. Eventually, we will seek support from corporates and private Individuals to fund our activities," he said.

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