Rio 2016: AITA seeks 4-member staff but IOA says 2

AITA is insisting that Rohan Bopanna and Sania Mirza should be allowed to travel with their respective trainers to the Rio Olympic Games but the Indian Olympic Association has not yet agreed to the tennis body’s demand.

However, IOA has a policy of allowing only 50 per cent of the team strength as support staff and AITA has already named two other members as support staff.

All India Tennis Association’s predicament is that they want Zeeshan Ali, who has been appointed as captain cum coach of the side and Sania Mirza’s mother Nasima Mirza, who is the women’s team manager, to also travel with the players.

“Yes, IOA has not agreed to allow a four-member support staff for the tennis players,” an IOA source said.

It has been learnt that Sania wants her trainer Robert Ballard to be with her during the Games while Bopanna’s preference is Yash Pandey, who has trained the doubles ace for a long time.

When contacted, AITA senior official Hirnmoy Chatterjee said IOA should understand that tennis is a different sport.

“I understand that IOA has a policy but tennis cannot be put in the same bracket as other disciplines. Sania, Leander and Rohan are medal hopefuls. You have seen in this Davis Cup tie how important is the role of a trainer and physio in a tennis team. All the players suffered from cramps and it was only because of trainers that they could play,” Chatterjee told PTI.

“What if something happens in Rio. The players need physios and trainers around. Rohan must get approval to have Yash by his side. We also want Nasima to be with Sania. We have appointed her as the team manager. How will she go if IOA will allow only two support staff.

“We request IOA to consider tennis as special discipline. We are hopeful that we will get medal from tennis. And players should be supported by the IOA,” he said.

India’s Davis Cup coach Zeeshan Ali said having separate trainers for Rio is a must.

“Playing in two events, it is absolutely necessary for team to have trainers for both men’s and women’s team. This support staff is absolutely necessary,” Zeeshan said.