Shipra Verma Verma
Doctor. A writing enthusiast. Poetry is my sword to battle the monotony of life.
Sumit Nagal, 19, who amazed us with a scintillating performance in his Davis Cup debut in Spain has been dropped for the upcoming New Zealand tie. AITA issued a statement about this saying that the player has been dropped because of his undisciplined conduct citing Sumit’s negligence in abiding by the regulations.
AITA did not stop at this. They went ahead making public allegations about the player stating that he was found hungover during practice sessions and brought his girlfriend during the Spain tie without permission. Somdev Devvarman, a former tennis star, who recently retired is certainly astounded by the comments made by AITA and thus came to the support of the young player.
He wrote an open letter to the AITA asking about their vested interest in the matter further questioning what they are trying to accomplish. The former player also revealed that he remained in contact with Sumit Nagal throughout December and that he is not dropped, but he is not available to play in the forthcoming tournament due to his shoulder injury from which he is recovering.
The player also revealed that none of the members of the Association supported the player at the time of the injury. He also remarked that AITA being run by mature individuals should know how to deal with a matter of a 19-year-old instead of taking a jibe at the player on a personal issue.
Below is the full letter by Somdev Devvarman:
After reading your latest article about information regarding Sumit Nagal, I feel urged to publicly write to you and bring a few of my concerns to your attention.
As you were openly bringing bad publicity to our young player Sumit Nagal, one has to wonder, what were you trying to accomplish there? Were you trying to teach Sumit a lesson? Are you trying to make an example out of him? Are you trying to cover up the bad decision your selection committee made with picking only five players for the next Davis Cup tie and leaving out our highest ranked player Rohan Bopanna? What is it you’re exactly trying to accomplish is my question to you.
And to be very clear, what I’m trying to accomplish here with this article is to expose the AITA for the incompetent tennis running body they are. My sources tell me that Mr Hiranmoy Chatterjee was the one who made those allegations against Sumit. Now let’s take a step back Mr Chatterjee and everyone else at AITA and look back at what all has transpired over the last 6 months.
You have accused Sumit of finishing his mini bar in Chandigarh. You have accused him of missing a practice as he was hungover. However, he has categorically denied both of the accusations. You have accused him of bringing in his girlfriend to Delhi without permission. It is my understanding that our captain Anand Amritraj has dealt with every situation regarding Sumit and his mistakes have not been repeated.
Is Sumit Nagal perfect? Probably not! He hasn’t done things perfectly by any means. But he is a good kid. He is a hard working kid, and with the right guidance, he has the potential to be a fantastic player for our country. Just another reminder here that Sumit has DENIED all these allegations made against him.
Now if you truly have a problem with a 19-year-old, any sensible, mature adult would sit him down in a room with some senior players, the captain and if need be the Federation representative and explain to him what is acceptable and what is not. Doing so over a newspaper that’s broadcasted throughout the country is hardly a way to teach a young player a lesson. Do you agree with me there? If yes, I once again ask you, what is the real point of your article by the PTI that brings in the negative press to Sumit?
Also, just because you brought up the drinking issue, I am too tempted to mention this story from my own experiences. It was told by a very reliable source that during the World Group play-off Davis Cup match in Bangalore in 2014 Sep, in the 4th rubber which I played went to 5 sets, as I was down 2 sets to 1, the AITA officials who sat in the front row, missed the entire fourth set and most of the 5th as they were getting late for their single malt party down at the club as they thought my match was done and I had no chance of coming back.
I am also aware that they will clearly deny my claim, but to those reading, do you think I’m making this up? Could you see these non-sportsmen Babus behave this way at a sporting event when India is playing? This information certainly didn’t come as a surprise to me. I expect them to be unpolished. I also got a solid whiff of their single malt scotch as they poured over me with congratulations after the match. Dear readers, what do you think is a plausible scenario here?
Next up, and I’m far from done here.
I want to be clear once again. You have not chosen Sumit Nagal for the upcoming tie because Sumit Nagal is NOT available to play. How do I know this? Because I have spent 2 weeks with Sumit in December helping him with his training and his rehab for the current shoulder injury he is recovering from.
If you had any interest in your players, you should have this information. It’s really not that hard to do. It just requires a little bit of the “caring about your players” factor that nobody from your organisation has shown any interest in since I have been around.
The poor kid was contemplating a shoulder surgery at the beginning of December, and a couple of senior players in the country had decided to come together and help him out to make an informed decision about the best way to move forward. For your information, he is not available to play the upcoming Davis Cup tie in Feb because he has literally just started hitting tennis balls again to test how he feels and again for to be clear, there’s still a chance he undergoes surgery if he continues feeling so much pain.
So please don’t give us any crap excuses of why he has been dropped and why you have a 5 member team instead of the 6 you are supposed to have. It is simply false information and extremely unethical of you to make such statements. But once again, useless is as useless does.
Coming to my next point. I find it absolutely hilarious that an AITA official, reportedly Mr Hiranmoy Chatterjee has the audacity to question Sumit Nagal’s so called “breathing condition” that he felt during his first match while playing for the country.
Let me ask you, Mr Chatterjee. Why is it so wrong for Sumit to feel nervous? Are you speaking from your own experiences of playing your debut Davis Cup tie for India? Do you know what it feels like to step on a court with the weight of a nation on your shoulders as a 19-year-old? Please give me, and everyone paying attention your experiences and stories from your competitive days and convince me why I should listen to you. Especially your experiences while under pressure and playing for the country.
Because I remember my first time playing for the country. It was in Delhi on an unfamiliar grass court, and I remember being so nervous I could barely stand straight. Was I also unworthy material in your eyes? I also remember my 2nd and 3rd time when I was expected to win and didn’t deliver. But luckily I didn’t have you in my ear poisoning my self-belief and morale. Incidentally, I also remember winning a few Davis Cup matches and gold medals for India not long after. Any thoughts Mr Chatterjee?
Dear AITA, don’t you ever ask yourselves, am I doing things right to truly grow the sport in India? Am I doing things right in supporting the current crop of players and giving them the backing and support they deserve? And if you’re doing none of those, why are you going out of your way to hurt young players reputations?
I truly hope this is a wake-up call to you or anyone else who is capable of making decisions at the highest level for sport in India. Please take notice of what is happening and how it hurts our nation. We cannot grow as a sporting nation as long as we have such people running sport in our country.
Thank you for your time.
Always supporting what’s in the best interest for the growth of the sport in India.
It is interesting to note that Somdev Devvarman led a players revolt against AITA in 2013 which forced it to make amends about how Davis Cup team was run. Somdev is from college system in the US, and he believes that India neither has the equipped training centres nor the expertise.
We believe that personal allegations against any player and that too a young player degrade the player’s identity which takes a lot of hard work and determination to build again. This is not only demoralising for the young players throughout the country but also shameful for the federation as it uncovers the inadequacy of federation like AITA in dealing with young players and the lack of judgment to separate their personal lives from the professional career.
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