Country needs to develop quality singles players: Amritraj

Vastavam web: Indian tennis legend Vijay Amritraj on Sunday said that the country needs to develop quality singles players if it wants to be in the elite group in the world. India recently lost to Serbia in the Davis World Group Play-off tie 0-4 and Amritraj felt the country was lacking in the number of quality singles players. “The focus has to be on singles for India. We need four good singles players. There is no point just having good doubles players. Since we do not have enough number of good singles players, we are not being able to qualify for the elite group,” Amritraj told.

“Yuki has done well well. The problem is that he is not able to play a full year yet. He is not fit enough to play a full season, which is a worry. He needs to work on his fitness. Similarly, Ramkumar did well in some tournaments, reached the final at Newport, but needs to be a lot fitter,” he said. “The players should to be fit enough to be hitting the ball hard in the 8th-10th or 15th ball as in the first shot of the rally,” said Amritraj who was recently elected as president of Tamil Nadu Tennis Association.

On the new Davis Cup format which is to come into force from next year, Amritraj said it would not affect India much as of now. Amritraj, who has guided the country to two Davis Cup finals besides himself reaching the quarterfinals of the prestigious Wimbledon Championships, said he will give it his best shot as president of TNTA. “I know that the expectations will be high. Tennis in the country needs a fillip for a better standard. Our team will do its best in that direction. Concrete plans will be firmed up shortly,” he said.

He said his priority was to produce good players and also have top events in the state. About the decision to take up the top job in the TNTA, Amritraj said it was not a sudden one and a lot of thought had gone into it.

“Not at all… I gave a lot of thought about it. Talked to a lot of people concerned and when everyone said OK, I said OK. It is a three-year term and I have to see what best I can do,” he added. There was a lot of disappointment among the fans in the city when the popular ATP tournament was moved out to Pune. Asked if there was a possibility of the event returning to Chennai, Amritraj said he would look to bring the tournament back. On the state organising more ATP events, the lower rung ones, the former India Davis Cupper said it was a possibility, adding his team was looking at not just Chennai but other cities like Coimbatore and Tiruchirappali, among others. Asked if there was any plan to open an academy for young players, he said presently TNTA had one where 17-18 were training, adding the focus would be on nurturing talent across Tamil Nadu.