Rain to be deciding factor in choosing next Davis Cup venue

After studying various aspects, AITA president Khanna felt that it could be a toss up between Kolkata and Delhi. "South Club looks the best bet if they can handle the rain’’, he said. The venue should also have a seating capacity of at least 4,000 for a World Group play-off tie.

India will next face Spain in the Davis Cup World Group play-off tie at home in September.   -  PTI

Various constraints, including an active monsoon, has reduced the choice of venue for the Davis Cup World Group play-off to be played against Spain in September.

The president of the All India Tennis Association (AITA), Anil Khanna pointed out the minimum requirement of a seating capacity of 4,000 for the World Group play-off tie.

"That rules out many venues and Chandigarh looks doubtful. There are not many venues that have so much seating capacity. We can look at Delhi Gymkhana and the NSCI. The ITF also wants very good infrastructure for a tie of this level. We can request the Davis Cup Committee to approve," said Khanna.

After studying various aspects, Khanna felt that it could be a toss up between Kolkata and Delhi. "South Club looks the best bet if they can handle the rain,’’ said Khanna.

When contacted, the president of the Bengal Tennis Asssociation, Hironmoy Chatterjee, conceded that it would be "very risky" to have the tie in Kolkata in September owing to rain.

"We will take a call soon," said Chatterjee, who was instrumental in the preparation of the grass courts in the recent Davis Cup Asia-Oceania group-1 tie against Korea in Chandigarh.

South Club has hosted some of the prestigious ties against Switzerland in 1993 and Sweden in 1996, but they were all done in March and April. "We have rain in Kolkata from June to October", said Chatterjee, as a matter of fact, highlighting the futility of fighting nature.

The indications were strong that grass would be the choice, subject to the availability of a venue with that surface and the required infrastructure.

"The stipulations have become very strict for the World Group play-off level matches," said Khanna, who is also the vice-president of the ITF. The rules specify a seating capacity of 6,000 for quarterfinals, 8,000 for semifinals and 12,000 for the final.

India had hosted the semifinals against Australia in Chandigarh on grass in 1993, in that red-brick bowl stadium of the Chandigarh Lawn Tennis Association (CLTA).

Unfortunately, all the venues including the CLTA Stadium in Chandigarh and the R.K. Khanna Stadium in Delhi have shifted to sporting synthetic hard courts, with the passage of time. That is one major reason why India has not been able to make the breakthrough into the World Group in recent years.

"We have to decide fast and ask the ITF team to inspect the venue," he said.

Delhi had hosted some of the unforgettable ties against Britain, U.S., Chile, Sweden, Japan, Croatia and there were superb performances of the Indian team in Jaipur as well against the Netherlands and South Africa, when grass played a key role in deciding the dynamics of action, striking a parity between world class opposition and the less resourceful host.