CHENNAI: The Delhi Lawn Tennis Association (DLTA) in a recent unprecedented move decided to hold the Davis Cup World Group Playoff tie between India and Spain in the evening. It was surprising because India prefer hosting these rubbers in the morning and afternoon, when heat and court speed work to their advantage. The only previous late start, 3 pm, was against Serbia at the same stage two years back in Bengaluru.
The DLTA wants to ensure the stadium is packed. For that, office-goers must be given time to make it. A source also told Express that the decision had been okayed by the team. “We discussed with players and only after they agreed, was it decided to hold matches in the evening. Saketh (Myneni) has cramping issues to deal with. Leander (Paes) and Rohan (Bopanna) aren’t getting any younger. Given these variables, it’s strategically better for us.”
The only question is, did they actually consult the players and team management? India skipper Anand Amritraj revealed he had received no communication from either the AITA or DLTA. He also said players hadn’t been consulted. “I don’t know who they spoke to, but it certainly wasn’t me. I spoke to Rohan and Saketh. Both didn’t know. Playing in the evening doesn’t suit us at all. The court is quickest when the sun is shining. It’s also when the level of heat and humidity is at its zenith. This is not the first time a decision has been taken without running it by us,” Amritraj proclaimed.
India coach Zeeshan Ali attested to being kept in the dark but didn’t seem too concerned about the late start. “It was a bolt from the blue. Neither Anand nor SP (Misra, chairman, AITA selection committee) nor I had any idea. By opting for a 5 pm start, the spectator turnout will go up by 50 per cent. It’s reasonable. However, the done thing is to speak to players and staff,” Ali added.
AITA secretary general Bharat Oza said the DLTA executive committee had taken the decision, adding the AITA leaves it up to the local bodies to decide such things. He was surprised the captain, coach and players hadn’t been informed. “It’s to ensure that more people can attend the matches. The selectors, captain and coach must have helped take the decision. But maybe there was some gap in communication,” Oza said.
While belling the Spanish cat was always going to be unlikely, there at least needs to be some sort of communication between the local parties involved if the Boys in Blue are the put up any semblance of a show for fans.