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Indian Tennis Team May Be Axed As Stars Didn't Turn Out

With the country's top tennis players pulling out of the Asian Games, preferring to improve their rankings on the professional circuit, the participation of the Indian team at Incheon looks doubtful with top government officials admitting that they may be forced to cut down or even scrap the entire squad. 

"It is disappointing that top tennis players have pulled out of the Indian team. It has affected our medal chances and we may be forced into a rethink on whether the remaining members of the squad should make it to Incheon as they don't stand much of a chance," government sources told TOI. 

After defending men's singles champion Somdev Devvarman announced his decision to pull out last week, other high profile players Rohan Bopanna, Leander Paes and Sania Mirza too followed suit. 

Players in the Asiad fray in the men's section now include Yuki Bhambri (world ranking 153), Sanam Singh (358), Saketh Myneni (430) and Divij Sharan (doubles ranking 124). 

The chances of the women's team look bleaker after Sania's pullout. Ankita Raina is the top player with a world ranking of 293 while the others in the squad are Prarthana Thombare (337), Natasha Palha (509), Rishika Sunkara (594) and Shweta Rana (617). 

Government officials also opined that following the withdrawal of Paes and Sania, Leander's father Vece Paes (team doctor) and Sania's mother Naseema Mirza (team manager) were unlikely to be in the contingent. 

"Though the players have announced their decision we are yet to receive any official communication from the All India Tennis Association (AITA). At this point we are not sure whether the tennis team will travel. We will take a final decision speaking to AITA officials on Friday," officials said. 

On Tuesday, the sports ministry had cleared an 18-member tennis contingent including six men, six women and six officials.

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