Mahesh Bhupathi has been badly treated, says Jaidip Mukerjea

The former India Davis Cup captain expresses his disapproval with the way the AITA has selected the national team for its match against Pakistan.

Jaidip Mukerjea... “What baffled me [was] the way AITA handled stars like Paes and Bhupathi. They could have handled this in a better way.”   -  Sandeep Saxena

Jaidip Mukerjea, the former India Davis Cup captain, has expressed his disapproval with the way the All India Tennis Association has selected the national team for its Asia/Oceania Group One match against Pakistan.

The AITA had unceremoniously removed non-playing captain Mahesh Bhupathi from the team. On Thursday, it named an eight-member team that included Leander Paes who made a comeback since his historic doubles win against China in April, 2018.

Bhupathi and some senior players had refused to travel to Pakistan before the International Tennis Federation (ITF) shifted the tie, to be played from November 29 to 30, out of Islamabad to a neutral venue. “I think Bhupathi was badly treated. They should have asked him to leave earlier itself, could have been communicated properly. It leaves a bad taste for Indian tennis,” Mukerjea said.

‘Not good for Indian tennis’

“AITA has done what it thought was best. Safety and security for our players is a big issue. But what baffled me [was] the way AITA handled stars like Paes and Bhupathi. They could have handled this in a better way. I’ve observed that when Paes gets selected, Bhupathi is left out and vice-versa. This has been happening for last 10-15 years. This is not good for Indian tennis,” the 77-year-old said.

Related | AITA's stance on India-Pakistan tie unchanged

Mukerjea was speaking on the sidelines of the announcement of the fourth edition of Premjit Lall Invitational Tennis Tournament. The participation of former India No. 1 Somdev Devvarman will be the highlight of the competition. It will be held from November 5-8, and has a prize money of ₹5.7 lakh.

Somdev will be seen in action for the first time since his retirement in 2017.

This year, the tourney will be played in round-robin format with four designated teams in the fray, comprising two players and a captain. Indian tennis sensation Sania Mirza will be here on the opening day as tournament ‘mentor’.