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‘Let’s focus on youngsters’

- Time for Indian tennis to move ahead, says Somdev Dev Varman

Indore: With India’s recent Davis Cup triumph against Chinese Taipei coming without the experience of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, the country’s numero uno singles player Somdev Dev Varman feels it is time that the focus shifts from the veteran duo to the youngsters.

India thrashed Chinese Taipei 5-0 in the Asia/Oceania Group I tie here. Somdev said although the team will forever remain grateful to Paes and Bhupathi’s contribution, the time has come to move ahead.

“Let’s not focus on Leander and Mahesh. Let’s focus on the youngsters. All the teammates here are helping out each other. I think the focus should be on the group of guys who are here. The focus should be on the new captain because this is the future.

“We appreciate everything they have given us, but now we need to move on. Mahesh has said he is done this year. Leander is a fantastic player, unfortunately he is not available for national duty this year but we will just go ahead.

“No matter, who is there or not... We will try to make the best of whatever we have. The time has come to move ahead,” said the 28-year-old player, who is currently ranked 103rd on the ATP list.

When asked about news of cracks appearing in the Indian Tennis Players’ Association (ITPA), Somdev said: “I would not say that. The players’ association has done three things in the last one year. We have done the camp in Hyderabad, we have raised about Rs 20-25 lakh for the players, we had an event in Mumbai and now for the next eight tournaments, we are sending a physio for all the players. So we are doing little things for the benefit of the players.

“I am on great terms with AITA and my aim is to try and make the sport in India better. If AITA steps up, I will be the first one to be happy and say thank you. Times are exciting for Indian tennis. We have five potentially good players playing in the Grand Slam qualifiers in Saketh Myneni, Jeevan, Bala, Sanam Singh and Yuki Bhambri.

“If the seniors come together and give these guys a push, we can really make it happen. I am glad that we started the ITPA because we are not 100 per cent dependent on AITA.

“Having said that, AITA has been stepping up. They sent a physio for Sania Mirza’s camp, they sent Abhimanyu (fitness trainer) to help me. The ITPA is not there to hurt anybody. It’s only there to promote and get the best out of current players,” said Somdev.

Somdev said the core of the association is very strong. “All the guys are on great terms. The core of the association is very strong. In Mumbai, we had Sania (Mirza) and Mahesh (Bhupathi) helping out. These are the things that have not been done before, so why not start now.

“Sometimes people say to go ahead, you push other person down. Why push each other down, help him up and both of you help each other up. This is how the Spanish guys do and the French guys do. This year at the Australian Open, there were 16 French guys were in the main draw. We are not there and only way to get there is to help each other out. And if that happens, it would be a dream come true for Indian tennis.” (PTI)