September 9, 2012 6:44:43 am
Ever since SP Mishra took over the role of non-playing captain of the Indian tennis team,it hasn’t been a smooth journey for the veteran player,who had represented India in the Davis Cup in the late 1960s. From the fallout between Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupati to the selection dilemma for the London Olympics,which led to the ouster of Bhupati and Rohan Bopanna from the Davis Cup team,the Hyderabadi veteran has been part of every controversy. In Chandigarh for the Davis Cup Asia Oceania 2nd round playoff between India and New Zealand,Mishra talks about working with a brigade of young and fresh legs,the apt time for change in the Indian tennis team make up,the importance of the Davis Cup tie and absence of doubles specialist from the team.
This is the first time that you will lead an altogether new and young team. What is the feeling like? A change was needed the most. We don’t have to worry about the future of the Indian team because we have many exciting talented players. Currently some players are taking part in Challenger tournaments in Shanghai while some are in Iran. These players have the experience of playing at the highest level. I have high hopes from them.
But don’t you think that these young players need a senior and experienced player to guide them? Of course the presence of an experienced player would have helped,but they have got other commitments to fulfill. However,it was the right time to bring in new players and I feel the youngsters have come at the right time. The rankings of the New Zealand players are not high and these players have the perfect opportunity to prove themselves. It is not everyday that these players get to play best of five matches. Having said that I would also like to add that it won’t be a cakewalk for the Indians as the amount of pressure will be high.
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India had lost the rubber in Kazakhstan earlier this year. How important is this tie for the team?
Yuki and Sanam were part of the Indian Davis Cup team that lost in April. The bright spot was that they gave a good account of themselves. The advantage with these players are that they have got fresh pair of legs and can stay longer on the court. As long as we win,everything is fine. We need to win this tie and I know the players have it in them to beat the Kiwis.
Leander,Bhupati and Bopanna were doubles specialist. Have you thought about the combination of the team? I am keeping a keen eye on those who are playing in Shanghai. However,we will decide about the combination of the team once they reach Chandigarh and start training. Indians have always played well above the expectations and enjoyed success in Davis Cup. I hope it happens this time also.
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