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AITA to be strict with the star trio

New Delhi: A day before the All India Tennis Association (AITA) selection committee meets in the capital to pick the team for the Davis Cup tie against South Korea, the conflict between a section of the revolting players and the national body seems to have reached the point of no return.

Sources said that AITA officials, who were huddled in meetings throughout Thursday, have decided not to consider at least three rebel players for the team even if they declare their availability at the last moment, on Friday.

“The executive committee is extremely upset with the attitude of Somdev Dev Varman, Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna. It might request the selection committee not to consider these players, irrespective of their rankings and availability,” sources said.

The fact, however, remains that no player has succumbed to the AITA pressure till Thursday night, though the officials maintained that at least “two to three players” would break away from the rebel group and would be available to play.

“We are in touch with the players… Some of them have agreed to play,” claimed Hironmoy Chatterjee, the chief executive officer (CEO) of the association. “The selection, on Friday, would be made strictly on the basis of availability and rankings,” he added.

AITA officials refused to name the players who have agreed to play, saying that the other rebel players may put pressure on them. However, names of Vishnu Vardhan and Saket Myneni are afloat as possible members of the team along with the experienced Leander Paes.

The selection of Paes, who skipped the previous Davis Cup tie, against Japan, seems a certainty now. “Leander is always there. His experience will be a boon for the young team,” said Chatterjee.

Eight players — Somdev, Yuki Bhambri, Vardhan, Bhupathi, Bopanna, Sanam Singh, Divij Sharan and Myneni — had threatened to boycott the Asia-Oceania Group I tie if their demands were not met. The AITA had accepted some of their demands, but the players were not satisfied.

Insisting that their entire charter of demands should be fulfilled, the players asked for the removal of SP Mishra as the captain and said former Davis Cup player Zeeshan Ali should not be made the coach.

In case the AITA is forced to pick an entirely new team, the players who could be available for selection are N. Sriram Balaji, Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan, Ranjeet Murugesan, Vijayant Malik and Purav Raja.