Davis Cup: Empty stands on Day 1
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More than the morning showers that hampered for 90 minutes the first singles rubber in the Davis Cup tie between India and New Zealand, it was the number of empty stands that stood out. It was after 19 years that a Davis Cup tie was being held in the city — the last one was held in 1993 when India lost to Australia — but excitement was nowhere to be seen. Even cheerleaders could not perk up the proceedings.
"I was expecting to see a huge crowd and a lot of rush in the stadium. That's why I started early from home. On reaching the venue, I was surprised to see empty stands. There were hardly 500 or 600 spectators," said Arjun Singh, a resident of Mohali. "It was very disappointing to see such a thin crowd to support the Indian players."
The Chandigarh Lawn Tennis Association (CLTA) had made all possible arrangements to lure crowds by keeping the ticket rates low and beautifying the stadium, which has a capacity to host 4,500 spectators. Besides, Nek Chand's pieces were put in the vicinity of the stadium. But call it the fielding of an inexperienced team, the exclusion of local lad Sanam Singh from the rubbers or the weather, nothing seemed to go the way the organisers had hoped for.
"We were expecting a large crowd. We are really disappointed with the figures," said one of the organisers.
Cheerleaders, dressed in red and white, schoolchildren and CLTA trainees mainly comprised the crowd.
But Saturday could be another day. "Hopefully, people will come on the weekend and the number will swell," added one of the organisers.
Maybe Yuki's victory over Daniel King Turner and Vishu Vardhan having the upper hand in an unfinished match against Kiwi number one Jose Rubin Statham will pull in more crowd on Saturday, the day when India play its doubles match.
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