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First set goes to the players

India’s tennis chiefs attempted to end a simmering Davis Cup row with the country’s players yesterday by agreeing to most of their demands ahead of next month’s tie against South Korea.

Eight India players, headed by Somdev Devvarman, had last week threatened to boycott the Asia-Oceania group one tie in New Delhi from February 1-3 if a slew of demands made by them were not accepted.

The All India Tennis Association (AITA) accepted the demand for higher prize money, a change in the squad’s support staff, appointment of a full-time physiotherapist and the players’ involvement in the choice of venues for ties.

It announced that former Davis Cup competitor Zeeshan Ali will replace Nandan Bal as the India team’s coach, but decided that Shiv Prakash Misra will continue in his role as non-playing captain at least for the Korean tie.

The association, in an email to players that was also released to the media, said it had written to the sports ministry to appoint a new team doctor in place of Vece Paes and a new physiotherapist in place of Sanjay Singh.

It also agreed to give the players 70 per cent of the prize money earned from home ties instead of 50 per cent that was the norm earlier. For away ties, the entire prize money will be paid to the players as before.

Players will be consulted on deciding the choice of courts and venues for future Cup ties, the AITA statement said.

The AITA has decided that for World Group ties, captain and four players will be entitled to business class airfare subject to a maximum of Rs 3.5 lakh. In respect of Asia/Oceania ties, any player who has reached top 100 in singles or top 50 in doubles during his career will be entitled to business class airfare subject to a maximum of Rs 3.5 lakh. All others will be entitled to economy class fare with a maximum limit of Rs 1.70 lakh per player.

There was no immediate response from the players on the AITA’s decisions. AITA’s selection committee is due to meet on January 11 to pick the squad for the Korean tie.

Changes in the offings
>> Players to get 70% of the prize money instead of 50%

>> Zeeshan Ali to replace Nandan Bal as coach

>> Appointment of a full-time physiotherapist

>> Players to get a say in choice of venues

>> SP Misra to continue as non-playing captain but only till Davis Cup tie against South Korea

>> AITA says it has written to the sports ministry to appoint a new team doctor in place of Vece Paes and a new physiotherapist in place of Sanjay Singh 

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