Niki Poonacha wants to fight for players in ITF Player panel

Niki’s agenda also includes the demand for a qualified physiotherapist in all tournaments, who would treat players free, except for massage.

National tennis champion Niki Poonacha with Sania Mirza.   -  FILE PHOTO/ KAMESH SRINIVASAN

 

Reigning national champion Niki Poonacha has opted to support the players by trying to get into the ITF Player panel.

The new idea floated by the ITF will have two sets of panels for men and women players on the professional tour. The chairman for the men’s player panel will be 17-time Grand Slam doubles champion, Olympic gold and silver winner, Mark Woodforde, while the women’s panel will have Mary Pierce, the four-time Grand Slam champion as the chairperson.

Seven current players will each be elected into the two panels, by the players themselves. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) will directly contact the players to conduct the voting.

Back home in Anantpur in extended lockdown, and focusing on his fitness regimen in the absence of any scope for tennis, Niki has charted a set of points to fight for the players cause in his agenda.

The main focus would be to have a draw of 64 for all tournaments which would help more players compete. The final round of qualifying events to have best of three sets format.

Niki’s agenda also includes the demand for a qualified physiotherapist in all tournaments, who would treat players free, except for massage.

He also would seek better coordinated tournament calendar, for easier travel, as there are about 550 tournaments world wide in a season.

Among other basic things, the demand will be for reduction of entry fee to $20 for the qualifying event, and no entry fee for main draw.

Unlimited water, energy drink and banana to be supplied free to the players by all tournament organisers. Owing to the current crisis, one of the demands will be for a specific grant from ITF every six months, to the players ranked from 400 to 1000 in singles and 200 to 800 in doubles.

There are 13 nominations for the men. The Asian Oceania region has three nominations in Ti Chen and Jason Taylor, apart from Niki. Andrey Chepelev, David Fox, Daniil Glinka, Riccardo Maiga, Michalis Sakellaridis, Aldin Setkic and Francesco Vilardo have all been nominated from Europe. The three other nominations are from South America and other American region.

The ITF will announce the results by the middle of June.

"’The voting will start today. I have tried to reach out to maximum players’’, said Niki.

As he trains at the Rohan Bopanna Academy in Bengaluru, Niki said that he may need an inter-state pass to travel, and that he was not sure about the 14-day quarantine rule. For the moment, he is excited about possibly getting an opportunity to take up the cause of fellow players with the ITF World Tour Committee and ITF Board of Directors.

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