New faces in Indian team for Billie Jean King Cup, Shalini captain

Vaidehi Chowdhary has been in good form after being picked in India’s Billie Jean King Cup tennis squad for the upcoming Asia-Oceania Group I tie, while experienced Ankita Raina and Karman Kaur Thandi are also in the squad. Chowdhary recently won her second ITF women’s singles title in Gurugram, defeating compatriot Sandipti Singh. Sahaja Yamalapalli is also there in the five-player squad while Rutuja Bhosale has also managed to retain her place in the team. Riya Bhatia was not picked in the team by the Nandan Bal-led selection committee.

These matches will be played in Tashkent from 10th April. Bal said, “We wanted to reward the youth for their good performance. Vaidehi and Sahaja have done well. Vaidehi has even defeated Ankita. AITA has named Shalini Thakur Chawla as the captain in place of Vishal Uppal, who was the coach in the previous tie. Radhika Kanitkar will be the new coach while Ajita Goel will be the physio. AITA general secretary Anil Dhupar said there was no politics or agenda behind the move.

There is no message for this move, he said. It’s just a change. He (Vishal Uppal) has not been sacked. It is a women’s team and we wanted only women coaching staff. The Sports Ministry also supports it. Vishal is very hardworking and will be given more responsibilities in future.” Uppal said he was not informed about the decision.

But Dhoopar said AITA had asked Haryana state association’s Suman Kapoor to inform her about the decision not to make Uppal the captain. Uppal said, “My performance as captain speaks for itself. I don’t know why they made this change. No one from AITA has spoken to me.” Indian team: Ankita Raina (241), Karman Kaur Thandi (268), Rutuja Bhosle (419), Sahaja Yamlapalli (454) and Vaidehi Chowdhary (492). Srivalli Bhamidipati (reserve) Captain: Shalini Thakur Chawla Coach: Radhika Kanitkar.

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