Rebel with a cause
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Somdev Devvarman's decision to take on the AITA has seen a strong support from other tennis players. So far, this united stand has caused heads to turn, and it promises to stay
When it first became apparent that Somdev Devvarman had put forth suggestions for some strong changes for the Indian tennis federation to consider, he came across as a player, who despite playing a professional sport, was concerned with how it is run in the country. Having slipped more than 500 places in his world ranking and unsure of his place in the Davis Cup set-up, the team event in which tennis players represent their country, he still took on the mantle of opposing some archaic set of regulations that the All India Tennis Association (AITA) was following.
As a player of world top-50 potential, who had his personal coach and trainer travelling on the tour with him, and as someone who also received allowances for his team when on national duty, Devvarman did not need to speak for those who didn't. But the fact that he did raise his voice, and his demands—of more monetary support, comfort and stability, specifically targeted at reserve players, who just turn up at a tie to warm the bench—showed how much it mattered to him that factionism in Indian tennis should become a thing of the past.
Why Devvarman's efforts were more likely to strike a chord within the players' fraternity was because the way he approached the problem was something that the sport in India had not seen in the past two decades. Unlike the bickering and conspiracy theories of the past of pitting X player against Y—or 'L' against 'M', as is the norm in Indian tennis, Devvarman worked towards getting as many players on board as he could, and by taking their suggestions ensured they were not just yes-men either. Soon, he had ten other members—largely every active man's tennis player whose name rings a bell—up in arms to bring about a change.
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