Dubai: A senior Davis Cup official has urged the International Tennis Federation (ITF) to better fund zonal level ties in future.
“The ITF provides accommodation and a daily allowance to players, but realistically speaking I doubt this is a sufficient amount considering the standard of living here,” said Sara Baker, Tournament Director of the Group III and IV Asia/Oceania Davis Cup qualifiers here this week.
A total of 18 countries, including hosts UAE will be contesting for two promotion spots in each of the two groups over the next one week. There are 10 teams in Group IV and another eight, including the hosts in Group III.
“As of now, all teams have landed and some of them including the UAE team have been hitting about on the courts already,” Baker said. “The heat in Dubai is not really a positive and having 18 teams at one competition can be quite a challenge from any point of view. But I think we’ve done well to ensure all the teams are feeling at home in Dubai,” she said in an interview with Gulf News.
However, the huge participation of teams has brought along with it other related issues, the contentious one being the allocation of funds by the ITF. As per rules, the host nation gets a stipulated amount allocated to pay for accommodation, daily allowances to players and team officials and organising the competition.
“We are not allowed to get other sponsors to back the tournament, and even if there are other sponsors they are not allowed to get any sort of exposure on the courts or anywhere else. Luckily, we have the Dubai Sports Council (DSC) backing us up along with a host of other bodies including the Jumeirah Creekside Hotel, Dubai Duty Free, Irish Village and Aviation Club,” Baker said.
The official press conference and draws ceremony for Group IV will be held at the Majlis on Sunday morning with the first round of matches starting at 4.30pm on Monday. Teams will be divided into two groups with each team playing each other in the group to decide the best two teams. Each country will play two singles and a doubles match against each other before the ‘qualifying pool’ of the best two teams from both groups is decided. The bottom two teams will enter the ‘relegation pool’ to decide which two nations get relegated for the 2014 season.
“If Group IV was followed by Group III over two weeks things would have been more comfortable for us to sort the organising part of the competition. But despite being in this situation we are all set to host a successful week of Davis Cup action here,” Baker said.