Russian tennis boss laments decline in men’s game

St. Petersburg, April 12 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Russian tennis chief Shamil Tarpishchev has bemoaned a decade lost to stagnation in the domestic game that has seen a once-mighty men’s team slip into obscurity.

The Russians suffered a humiliating comeback defeat to Britain in the Davis Cup last week to leave them facing a playoff to remain in the second tier of tennis-playing nations.

It’s a far cry from the 1990s and early 2000s, when Russia had two world No.1s in Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marat Safin and won the Davis Cup twice while finishing runner-up three times.

“I’ve been talking about this for a decade, but who’s listening,” Tarpishchev said of the dramatic drop in fortunes.

“It’s a shame that on the wave of the first decade (the 1990s) it would have been possible to create a miracle, but now just to return to that previous position we need to waste another decade, and only if everything goes well,” the 65-year-old said.

President Vladimir Putin had vowed to kick-start redevelopment in the men’s game, Tarpishchev said.

“I met with Vladimir. He gave the order to make a tennis development program, and now we’re going to carry it out,” he said, without elaborating.

The 2-3 shock defeat to Britain forces the Russians to play Slovenia or South Africa to remain in Europe/Africa zone Group I.

A double headache for Tarpishchev is that that tie must be played on the weekend of Oct 18-20, which clashes with the final rounds of the Kremlin Cup ATP and WTA tour event.

–IANS/RIA Novosti

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