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Sanaa, Rushmi back govt policy

January 04, 2009 15:00 IST

Tennis players Sanaa Bhambri and Rushmi Chakravarthi feel only Indian citizens deserve to hold the tri-colour in international sporting events, an opportunity that has been denied to them by foreign passport holders of Indian origin in the past.

The duo got a place in the Fed Cup team at the expense of Sunitha Rao and Shikha Uberoi -- both US citizens -- who were rendered ineligible for selection as the new government policy allows only Indian citizens to represent the country.

Bhambri got her first Fed Cup cap and Chakravarthi made a comeback to the team after three years along with Ankita Bhambri, who last played in Fed Cup in April 2007.

"It is one of the brightest news so far. The new year could not have started on a better note than this. I am pretty excited to be in Fed Cup," Delhi left-hander Bhambri said after earning a call to the national team.

On being asked if it is the new government policy that helped her cause, Bhambri said, "Kind of. But it gives a chance to Indian players to represent their country and gives the national association [AITA] chance to breed Indian youngsters, who deserve to play for nation.

"It's a proud moment when you become representative of your country."

The 31-year-old Chakravarthi, who refuses to be called a veteran player, is also happy to be back in the team.

"It's nice to be back to Indian team. Yes, we benefitted from the new policy but it is fair enough for players who were born and brought up in India. It's fair to the Indian players."

"You practice and learn with all your heart for years and suddenly you see someone coming from outside and take your place. So, it is fair to everybody," Chakravarthi said.

The players are determined to make the most of this chance as India aims at qualifying for World Group II play-offs from Asia/Oceania Zone. Eight teams will compete in two groups of four in February in Perth with the winners of match between the group toppers advancing to play-offs.

"It should be better than the last time when we finished seventh. If not winning it, we will do everything to make sure we remain the Asia/Oceania zone and do not relegate," Sanaa said.

Chakravarthi also said she will do her best. "The zone is getting tougher and tougher and we will take it one by one tie. I hope we will do well like we made semis in 2005.

Chakravarthi also refused to believe that age would have a bearing on her performance.

"I think age should not be a criteria to decide about a player's career. I have never called myself a veteran. It is the media which has branded me a veteran and if that is the case there are some players in men's tennis who should be called veterans," she said.

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