Will seek reasons for Ankita's TOPS exclusion: AITA
By Amanpreet Singh
New Delhi, Oct 7 (PTI) The All India Tennis Association says it will ask for the reasons behind Ankita Raina's exclusion from the TOP scheme despite admitting that she has not shown "enough progress" to be taken seriously for the Olympics.
Ankita may not feature in the singles competition at the Olympics but she recently won a doubles silver at the Asian Indoor Games in Ashgabat.
In the 2017 season, she has won four doubles titles, including three USD 25,000 events and one USD 60,000 tournament.
In May this year, she also reached the singles final of the USD 60,000 ITF event in Luan, where she lost to China's Lin Zhu.
Apart from Ankita, the Sports ministry had also left out veteran Leander Paes and Saketh Myneni from the list of tennis players selected for the monthly stipend of Rs 50,000.
Ankita is India highest-ranked player at number 272, but it is the next-best Karman Kaur Thandi (317) who has been selected for the assistance along with Prarthna Thombare, who now focusses on doubles and has made considerable progress.
"We sent our list and it was up to the government and the national observer (Somdev Devvarman) to look into it and decide. If they have decided something there must be some basis to it. It's a surprise (Ankita's inclusion), when we sit down, we will discuss," AITA Secretary General Hironmoy Chatterjee told PTI.
It appears that AITA had given Ankita's name but after discussions between Somdev and the government panel, she was ignored.
"There is a committee which takes decisions. When this decision was taken, I was out of the country. In my next meeting we will discuss it and find out what is the justification for deciding on this particular list," Chatterjee said.
Despite many attempts, Somdev did not explain the reasoning behind Ankita's exclusion and the criteria adopted for selection. Responding to a message, Somdev claimed to be busy.
Chatterjee, on his part, seemed to justify her exclusion.
"She has not won any medal and she has not won any Nationals, she is number one (in India) but she needs to win some medals because the TOPS is meant for Olympics. She needs to show some progress.
"Even in her ranking, there is no progress. If she progresses, we can push the situation hard. She has not won the Hard Courts Fenesta Nationals even once," Chatterjee said.
Ankita might not have won the hard Court national title but in 2009, she had won the National grass court championship.
And at the recent Asian Indoor Games, she won the women's doubles silver along with Thombare.
"Maybe the government thinks, will she be good enough for the Olympics? We have not sat down and discussed," Chatterjee said.
Asked if AITA was not kept in loop when these decisions were made, Chatterjee asserted it was not the case.
"It is a total concerted effort by everyone. We have given the list, the government and the observer look into the list, thereafter, who will be given the TOPS advantage, it is for the government and the observer to decide.
"We had given the list but some people have been left out, why they have been left out, we will sit and discuss," he said.
Among the players, who have been chosen for the monthly allowance are leading men's singles players Yuki Bhambri and Ramkumar Ramanathan, country's top doubles player Rohan Bopanna and the young Sumit Nagal.
Nagal, ranked 270, had won the singles gold at the recent Asian Indoor Games and is a promising talent.
A review committee will sit very soon to evaluate the performance of the chosen athletes. It may add more names or delete some.
Meanwhile, AITA President Praveen Mahajan assured that she will take up Ankita's matter with the Sports Ministry