National champion Niki Poonacha elected to ITF panel

Poonacha thanked the Indian players including 18-time Grand Slam champion Leander Paes for supporting him in the election.

Reigning national champion Niki Poonacha has been elected to the International Tennis Federation (ITF) men’s player panel.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

Reigning national champion Niki Poonacha has been elected to the International Tennis Federation (ITF) men’s player panel and will represent the Asia-Oceania zone along with Ti Chen of Chinese Taipei.

Aldin Setkic and Francesco Vilardo were elected from Europe, while Juan Pablo Paz and Jose Bendeck were elected to represent South America. One more position awaits an eligible candidate in the men’s panel, even though 11 players contested the election among the men, in which Poonacha polled the second highest number of votes with 62.

“I am happy to be given a chance to represent players in the ITF. I thank all the players who trusted me with this responsibility. I will give my best. I am already in touch with players from other countries also, about the issues,” said Poonacha, who was the only Indian candidate.

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The ITF also has a women’s player panel with Akgul Amanmuradova of Uzbekistan from Asia.

The men’s and women’s panels will be headed by Mark Woodforde and Mary Pierce, respectively, who are already athlete representatives on the ITF board of directors.

A coach will also be included into the player panels. However, in the case of voting for making recommendations to the ITF world tour committee, the coach and the chair will not vote, and the seven player members will decide.

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“The ITF is committed to improving our communication with athletes at all levels across the world. We look forward to working with the elected members of the player panels to ensure that players’ opinions are at the forefront when making decisions about the World Tennis Tour,” said David Haggerty, president of the ITF.

Poonacha, who trains at the Rohan Bopanna Academy in Bengaluru, thanked the Indian players, including 18-time Grand Slam champion Leander Paes, for supporting him in the election and spreading the message on the international circuit.

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