Poonacha aims to get into ITF panel

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Reigning National tennis champion Niki Poonacha is trying to get into ITF’s player panel in a bid to to support players. There will be two sets of panels, one each for men and women, with Mark Woodforde and Mary Pierce as the respective chairpersons.

Seven current players will be elected into the two panels, by the players themselves with the ITF directly contacting the players to conduct the voting.

Back home in Anantpur due to the lockdown, Poonacha has charted a set of points to fight for the players’ cause.

The main focus would be to have a draw of 64 for all tournaments, which would help more players compete, and that the final round of qualifying to have best of three sets format.

He is also seeking a better coordinated tournament calendar for easier travel, as there are about 550 tournaments worldwide in a season.

Poonacha also wants a reduction in entry fee to $20 for qualifying events, and no entry fees for the main draw; unlimited water, energy drink and bananas to be supplied free to players by all tournament organisers.

Owing to the current crisis, one of the demands will be for a specific grant from ITF every six months for players ranked from 400 to 1000 in singles and 200 to 800 in doubles.

Results by June

There are 13 nominations for the men. The Asian Oceania region has three nominations in Ti Chen and Jason Taylor, apart from Poonacha.

The ITF will announce the results by the middle of June. “The voting will start today. I have tried to reach out to maximum players,” said Poonacha.

On a personal front, Poonacha said he may need an inter-State pass to travel as he trains at the Rohan Bopanna Academy in Bengaluru but that he was not sure about the 14-day quarantine rule.

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