Zeeshan Ali brought back by AITA as senior selection committee member

The association makes a U-turn after realising Zeeshan Ali, the Davis Cup coach, was the only member who had a direct connect with players on tour.

Zeeshan Ali has been reinstated as a member of the senior selection committee, now headed by Rohit Rajpal.   -  Sudhakara Jain

The All India Tennis Association, on Thursday, brought back Zeeshan Ali in the senior selection committee. The step was taken after the association realised no other selection committee member had a direct connect with players on tour.

It was a U-turn taken; at its Executive Committee meeting in Gurugram, AITA had removed Zeeshan, the Davis Cup coach, alongside S. P. Misra, the head of the panel. Former players Vishal Uppal and Ankita Bhambri had instead been brought to the fold.

Rohit Rajpal, already a member before the rejigging, has now been made the head of the panel. Two other members — Nandan Bal and Balram Singh — were retained. Uppal has been ousted.

Invaluable member

“Zeeshan is someone who is always in touch with the players, so we thought we need to bring him back,” Rajpal told PTI, confirming the development. “From among all the current members in the committee, only he can provide the latest input on the players since he remains in touch with them as Davis Cup coach,” he added.

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Uppal made no fuss after he was informed of the decision to remove him from the panel, according to Rajpal. Uppal had not attended the first meeting of the new panel when the Indian squad for the tie against Italy was chosen, stated Rajpal.

No reason to be upset

Uppal, contacted after having been ousted, said he never received any communication in writing from AITA about his appointment in the selection committee, so there was no reason to be upset. AITA had, however, issued a press release mentioning Uppal’s name in the new panel.

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Uppal was recently appointed as the new Fed Cup captain while Ankita Bhambri was made the coach. In the previous Asia/Oceania Group 1 Fed Cup matches held at DLTA, New Delhi, Bhambri had served as both the captain and the coach. Perhaps Uppal was handed the new post to compensate for his removal from the selection committee.

AITA secretary Hironmoy Chatterjee said the Executive Committee had felt the need to try out new candidates, but after further discussion, the association felt bringing Zeeshan back was not a bad option.

‘Always ready’

Zeeshan said he was glad to be back in the panel. “I am always ready if AITA feels I can contribute in anyway for the good of the team. My removal was AITA decision and I had accepted that. Now if they feel I am required I have accepted this role again,” he said.

“They know that I keep talking to players and have latest update on their form and fitness,” he reasoned.