TNTA VP Karti Chidambaram hits out at AITA

TNTA vice-president Karti Chidambaram blasted the AITA, asserting that the national body believes organising junior tournaments is enough to produce future tennis stars.

TNTA vice-president Karti Chidambaram

TNTA vice-president Karti Chidambaram ruled out getting any support from AITA, stating that it is better if the association just focused on Indian players and provided them the resources.   -  B. Jothi Ramalingam

Karti Chidambaram, vice-president of the TNTA has hit out at the AITA, accusing the latter's way of dealing with the players as "archaic" and terming its dealing with Indian elite players as "disastrous".

Speaking to the media on the sidelines of the Chennai Open, he said: "We, in India, from an association point of view are not supporting any of our players. They (AITA) believe running junior tournaments or futures is enough to produce players, but we need our players to travel abroad and compete."

"In the last 15 years, can AITA tell the names of all the junior and National Champions, and tell what it has done for them? Players need to be given more incentives, just prize money isn’t enough.

"Yuki is undoubtedly our best player, which he has proved after coming back from injury and playing in style, but what are we doing for him? Why doesn’t he have a coach? He is 24-years-old, what’s stopping the association from calling him and asking him what he needs?"

He added that Yuki needed more support from AITA when he was junior World No. 1, and because of the association's failure to do so, Yuki missed three to four years of his crucial period. In strong words, he said that the system as a whole has failed Yuki Bhambri.

'There is Judicial Overreach'

Karti Chidambaram, also the former vice-president of AITA, felt that there was judicial overreach, when it came to handling sporting bodies.

"See there are these sports codes and everything, I feel there needs to be a mix of administrators and sportsmen in sporting bodies. The technical aspects can be run by sportsmen but there are commercial aspects which need to be looked after. Not all sports are cash cows, we need someone to raise the money, so that distinction should be made — between the commercial side and the technical side of things."

Eliciting his point, he said: "For example, to be a Davis Cup captain, you need someone of stature — someone who has played the game, but if you want someone to find a sponsor, then I don’t think a former player is the best bet."

"There are people in political and corporate life who can add commercial value to the sport. Except cricket no other sport attracts natural sponsorship. You must allow people who are passionate to run the association and raise money, sometimes we get mixed up."

Chennai Open perfect example of public-private partnership

Karti also hailed the Tamil Nadu government for its continuous support of the Chennai Open, and said that the tournament is the perfect example of a private-public partnership.

"We have this tournament for so many years and have got bipartisan support for it. We have got private sponsors and government sponsors. The only problem I feel is we don’t have enough Indian players to leverage it, none of the Indian players could get direct entry. You sometimes wonder whether the whole effort is of any value to our players."

He also ruled out getting any support from AITA, stating that it is better if the association just focused on Indian players and provided them the resources.

The Chennai Open, has, over the years, lost some of its major star power, but Karti added that was a statement not backed by stats.

"We have six players from the top 50, one player from top 10. Tennis doesn’t start and end with the top four. Real tennis fans will understand the depth of this tournament. The average ranking has stayed the same for many years and we need to understand that we are competing with Doha and Brisbane, which offer a lot more money."

When asked whether any more such tournaments or challengers can happen in India, Karti said: "Tennis is not commercially viable in India. This tournament is running because the government sees it as a good branding opportunity. We aren’t making any profit. I feel whatever resources we can gather, we should use them to get our players to go and train abroad — hire coaches and trainers for them. Let them go abroad and take part in Challengers and more such tournaments."