The All India Tennis Association (AITA) has again written to the International Tennis Federation (ITF) to request for a change in the venue for India’s upcoming Davis Cup tie in Pakistan. The Group 1 Asia/Oceania clash is scheduled to take place on November 29-30 in Islamabad, but the national federation has cited security concerns and asked for the tie to be held at a neutral venue instead.
“We have made a further request for a change in venue yesterday,” says AITA secretary general Hironmoy Chatterjee to The Indian Express. “So far we haven’t heard from the ITF, but we did forward to them the security report we received from the Davis Cup committee for consideration.”
The draw for India’s upcoming tie was made back in February, and the AITA had announced a strong Indian team to travel for the tie which was to originally be held in September. But with the political relations between the two countries breaking down following the Kashmir issue that arose in August, the AITA had requested the ITF to either shift the tie to a neutral venue or postpone it by two months. After initially rejecting both pleas, the ITF decided to delay the tie to November.
The new dates, however, render India’s no 1 singles and no 2 doubles players, Prajnesh Gunneswaran (ranked 82) and Divij Sharan (ranked 43) respectively, unavailable for tie due to prior commitments.
“Prajnesh will be getting married, and Divij will be having a wedding reception around the same time. So there’s nothing that can be done there,” Chatterjee says.
Despite the AITA writing to the ITF for a change in venue, the national body, at the behest of the ITF, has started the visa process for the players.
“The ITF had asked us to start working on getting the visas for the trip,” Chatterjee adds. “So we have begun that process with a broader group of players. Since Prajnesh and Divij are out, we will have to figure out who we can send.”
Since the tie was shifted from its initial date in September, relations between the two countries have not improved. As a result, the players have written to the AITA asking for it to approach the world body for a shift in venue.
“The players are also looking for a change in venue so that they can feel comfortable when playing the tie,” Chatterjee says. “We will first have to see where the tie will be held, in Islamabad or elsewhere. Then we will see who is available and willing to play. Accordingly, we will select a team.”
The ITF meanwhile, had stated that it would conduct a security review of the venue in Islamabad on November 4.
The last time an Indian team did travel to Pakistan for a Davis Cup tie was back in 1964. Since then, the team was again slated to travel across the border for in 1973, but as it was still fresh after the 1971 Indo-Pak War, the tie was shifted to neutral Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Forty-six years later, the Indian team is again hoping for the tie to be shifted to a neutral venue.