Shalini Thakur Chawla has replaced Vishal Uppal as the captain of the Indian Tennis Team for the Billie Jean King Cup. The tournament for the Asia-Oceania group will commence on April 10 and will go on till April 15.
The Indian team features debutants like Vaidehi Chaudhary and Sahaja Yamlapalli, who have been putting up great performances in decent times. Chaudhary won the recently concluded ITF Women’s singles category held in Gurugram. Yamlapalli on the other hand is the fourth-highest-ranked player from India at No.454.
While announcing the squad, All India Tennis Association (AITA) Secretary General Anil Dhupar clarified that there was no politics or agenda behind this captaincy change. He also added that “There is no trigger to this move. It's just a change. He has not been sacked. This is a ladies' team and we just wanted women coaching staff. The Sports Ministry also supports it. Vishal is very hard-working and will get more assignments in future.
Going into the tournament, it will be interesting to see how these young guns gel with veterans like Ankita Raina and Karman Kaur Thandi who have been part of the squad for some time. Further in the squad, Shrivalli Bhamidipaty has been named as a reserve player in the squad.
This is also the first time when the Indian contingent is being led by all-women support staff. Radhika Kanitkar is the newly appointed coach and Ajeeta Goel is the physio of the team.
India will clash against giants like China, Japan, Korea, Thailand and Uzbekistan in the group stages. The top 2 teams will then be promoted to the world group play-off while the bottom two will be relegated to group-2.
Indian Tennis Team for the Billie Jean King Cup:
Ankita Raina, Karman Kaur Thandi, Rutuja Bhosale, Sahaja Yamlapalli, Vaidehi Chaudhary, Shalini Thakur Chawla
Reserve:- Shrivalli Bhamidipaty