Davis Cup: Pune to host India-New Zealand tie

The All India Tennis Association (AITA) has confirmed Pune as the venue for the Asia Oceania Zone Group 1 Davis Cup tie between India and New Zealand from February 3 to 5. Pune will host a Davis Cup tie after 42 years; the last tie played here was between India and Russia at the Deccan Gymkhana in 1974. The MSLTA will conduct the tie at the Balewadi Sports Complex.

There is heavy speculation about Leander Paes' role in the Indian team in the immediate future.

The All India Tennis Association (AITA) has confirmed Pune as the venue for the Asia Oceania Zone Group 1 Davis Cup tie between India and New Zealand from February 3 to 5. Pune will host a Davis Cup tie after 42 years; the last tie played here was between India and Russia at the Deccan Gymkhana in 1974. The MSLTA will conduct the tie at the Balewadi Sports Complex.

Confirming the AITA decision taken at an Executive Committee meeting on October 24, AITA Vice President Bharat Oza said, "We considered hosting the tie against Serbia last year. The State Government had given the permission then. So, on the basis of the Government's positive response then, the MSLTA made a bid and got the approval."

The MSLTA Secretary, Sundar Iyer, said: "It will not be possible to host the Davis Cup without the State Government's full backing. Pune fulfills all norms to host a Davis Cup rubber."

The AITA consulted the non-playing captain, Anand Amritraj and coach Zeeshan Ali and some players before choosing Pune. "There is a built-in facility and it's a hard court. It was not really a toss up for grass or hard court. Everyone is comfortable with the hard court here. Sundar Iyer (AITA EC member and Secretary , MSLTA) has proved to be a wonderful organiser of tennis events in India and abroad. He has been running an excellent Challenger here for three years", said Oza.

The contracts of both Amritraj and Ali end on December 31, 2016. Oza said,"It's the prerogative of the AITA EC to nominate the non-playing captain and coach. I don't want to speculate. There may be options, but the AITA will take a call, probably in the first week of January 2017."

The selection committee will take note of the performance in the Chennai Open and pick the team. "Normally it will be three singles players and one doubles specialist. We go by rankings. Personally I would like youngsters to get in," revealed Oza.

The AITA selection committee will look at the fitness of Yuki Bhambri, who won the challenger here last year and also had a good run in the 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games. Oza said Yuki was fit to play the Challenger here after playing three prior to this, but the Delhi player decided to rest. An elbow injury had kept him out of action for a long time, but he played in two Challengers and one ITF Futures recently.

There is heavy speculation about Leander Paes' role in the Indian team in the immediate future.