Billie Jean King Cup: Vishal Uppal’s removal as captain stumps AITA Executive Committee members

Uppal has been replaced by Shalini Thakur Chawla, All India Tennis Association announced on Monday.

Published : Mar 07, 2023 14:21 IST , New Delhi

FILE PHOTO: Former Tennis player Vishal Uppal at his residence in New Delhi.
FILE PHOTO: Former Tennis player Vishal Uppal at his residence in New Delhi. | Photo Credit: KRISHNAN VV

FILE PHOTO: Former Tennis player Vishal Uppal at his residence in New Delhi. | Photo Credit: KRISHNAN VV

Vishal Uppal’s removal as Billie Jean King Cup captain has surprised even the Executive Committee members of the All India Tennis Association (AITA), as the crucial decision-making body did not discuss the matter.

Shalini Thakur Chawla has replaced Uppal. AITA Secretary General Anil Dhupar had told  PTI he had spoken to Haryana Tennis Association (HTA) Secretary Suman Kapur about the change. But the latter said he has only conveyed the decision when ideally, it should have been discussed at the EC meeting.

Uppal was also not taken into confidence before the announcement.

Kapur, also a member of the EC, has written to AITA Vice President, (Sports) Hironmoy Chatterjee, expressing “serious concern” and demanding that an urgent EC meeting be called to discuss all important matters related to Indian tennis.

“It was not discussed with me and how I came into the picture. Why is Anil Dhupar telling me about Vishal’s removal. This should have been discussed in the Executive Committee,” Kapur said.

It may be noted that Uppal runs his academy in Gurugram, which falls in the Haryana region.

The 46-year-old Uppal was appointed non-playing captain in 2019.

Another EC member, who did not wish to be named, said Dhupar is taking “arbitrary decisions”.

“We don’t understand why he is doing this. This is an important matter, and how can a decision be taken like this without discussing. What’s the rush? what’s the trigger?,” the member asked.

In his letter to Chatterjee, Kapur wrote that he does not have anything against Shalini Thakur. But any decision to replace Uppal should have been taken after discussions in the AITA Executive Committee, which had given him the job.

“Under his captaincy, the Indian team has shown exemplary performance over the last few years. He has been responsible for keeping India in Group 1 of the BJK Cup and has the unique distinction of having taken India to the World Group Qualifying for the first time in history.

“I am given to understand that some Indian players have also reaffirmed their confidence in him and expressed that they find motivation in the presence of Vishal as captain during this important national duty.

“The news of his sudden replacement, without any discussions within the AITA Executive Committee, has come as a big surprise,” Kapur wrote.

Kapur exhorted Chatterjee to do something since the AITA Constitution empowers him.

“In the past, all captains of India’s Davis Cup team and Fed Cup team were appointed after proper discussions and deliberations in the AITA EC.” In a subtle dig at India’s performance in the Davis Cup, Kapur reminded the AITA VP how the national team has been struggling in the prestigious competition and how India’s singles players are struggling on the ATP Tour.

“It is another matter that in the Davis Cup, the performance of India has been consistently going down in recent times, and India has now been relegated to Group II of the World for the first time in history.

“Also, for the first time in history, we do not have even one Indian player ranked within the top 300 in the world in singles. It is indeed a matter of grave concern for all, and matters like the performances of our Davis Cup team, as well as our Indian players, need to be discussed urgently in the AITA Executive Committee.

“I am saddened that while this dismal state of affairs is not being discussed in the EC, we are going ahead and removing a performing and respected captain of the Fed Cup without any deliberations.

“I implore you to please impress upon everyone concerned to call for an urgent meeting of the EC to discuss these critical affairs of Indian tennis.”

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