Coming out in support of beleaguered Anand Amritraj, India’s top tennis player Somdev Devvarman says there was no need to change the support staff since the Davis Cup captain has produced results and addressed the indiscipline issues appropriately.
AITA has hinted that the 64-year-old Amritraj could be removed since he has failed to impose discipline in the team with media reports suggesting that young players indulged in drinking and had girlfriends in dressing room.
Both Amritraj and Coach Zeeshan Ali’s terms are up for review at the end of this year as India play New Zealand in Pune from February 3-5 in the next tie.
“In my opinion, Anand is a great captain, looking at the results. It’s hard for me to understand why we need a change. There is no reason to change the captain,” Somdev told PTI.
“We travelled Korea and we beat them in an away tie. That has never happened in our Davis Cup history.”
Somdev said he may not have played Davis Cup for some time due to injury issues but he has been part of the team long enough to deserve an opinion on the issue.
“Yes I have not played a few ties but I have been there for almost 10 years.”
Somdev did not deny the indiscipline issues connected with younger players but said the captain promptly addressed them.
“The youngsters have made mistakes but they have been addressed. Those mistakes have not been repeated, so it’s not that indiscipline has not been addressed. I myself have spoken to the youngsters and told them clearly what is acceptable and what not and they have listened. The juniors, seniors and the captain need to work together to take the team forward.”
It is also believed that Amritraj’s criticism of timing of the Spain tie in New Delhi did not go down well with the AITA.
Somdev said the players together with the captain are the best people to have a view on the surface and timing and they should be respected.
“We, the players, understand more how we can be in best position to win. If I had played that tie against Spain, I would not have played in the evening,” Somdev, known for his baseline slugfest, said.
Somdev emphasised on utlity of Amritraj in the captain’s chair and recalled a few ties when he helped him out of difficult situations.
“Whenever there is a panicky, uncomfortable situation, Anand has always helped me out with his input. In Bangalore during the Serbia tie, I had lost the first set and was down 2 sets to 1, but won 4th and 5th. Having Anand in those bad situations really helped me.
“Also when I was playing against Jiri Vesely during the Czech republic tie in Delhi, Anand told me to focus on serve and playing long points, engaging him more in rallies to put pressure and tire him out using my strengths. It helped me having him on the side,” Somdev explained.
Somdev, architect of India’s many Davis Cup wins, said Amritraj keeps in touch with the players throughout the year.
“Anand is someone who will always make that effort to reach out to players and ask them about their game and well being even when we are not playing Davis Cup. I have tremendous respect for him when he sits on the bench. His experience is immense and expertise is very useful for Davis Cup ties,” he said.