Sports

Billie Jean King Cup: New Faces In India's Squad, Shalini Thakur Chawla Replaces Vishal Uppal As Captain

Vaidehi Chaudhary, who recently won her second ITF women's singles title in Gurugram after beating compatriot Sandeepti Singh, was named in India's squad. Sahaja Yamlapalli was another name added to the team.

The action in Asia Ocenia Group I will begin in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, from April 10.
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Vaidehi Chaudhary was on Monday rewarded for her good form as she was named in India's Billie Jean King Cup squad for the upcoming Asia Oceania Group I competition, where seniors Ankita Raina and Karman Kaur Thandi will lead the country's challenge. (More Tennis News)

The 23-year-old Chaudhary had recently won her second ITF women's singles title in Gurugram after beating compatriot Sandeepti Singh.

Chaudhary, ranked 492, had won her maiden ITF title in Gwalior recently and then also reached the final in Jhajjar, where she had lost to Serbia's Tamara Curovic.

Also making it to the five-player squad is Sahaja Yamlapalli, who is the fourth-highest ranked player from India at number 454. 

Rutuja Bhosale has kept her place (419) in the squad even as Riya Bhatiya has been dropped by the selection panel, led by Nandan Bal.     

The action in Asia Oceania Group I will begin in Tashkent, Uzbekistan from April 10.

"We wanted to reward the youngsters for their good form that's why Vaidehi and Sahaja are there. The good thing is that all five players are almost at the same level. Vaidehi has even beaten Ankita. So in case there is an injury issue, we have ideal replacement," Nandan Bal told PTI.

"Players like Vaidehi and Sahaja should be able to push the senior players in a couple of years, if not immediately. So they should be in the team to soak the atmosphere and pressure," he added.  

The AITA has replaced Vishal Uppal as captain and Shalini Thakur Chawla, who was the coach in the previous tie, has taken his place.

Radhika Kanitkar is the new coach of the side while Ajeeta Goel is the physio in an all-woman support staff.      

AITA Secretary General Anil Dhupar said there was no politics or agenda behind the move.

"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," Dhupar said.

Asked why Uppal has been replaced as captain, Bal said, "We were mandated to pick only the players and not the support staff. Only AITA can answer that." 

Uppal said he was not informed about the decision. But Dhupar said AITA had asked Haryana State Association's Suman Kapur to communicate the decision to Uppal that he is being replaced as captain.

"My performance as captain speaks for itself. I don't know why they have made the change. No one from AITA spoke to me," Uppal said.

India's Squad:

Ankita Raina (241), Karman Kaur Thandi (268), Rutuja Bhosale (419), Sahaja Yamlapalli (454) and Vaidehi Chaudhary 492). 

Shrivalli Bhamidipaty (Reserve) 

Captain: Shalini Thakur Chawla

Coach: Radhika Kanitkar.

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