Sumit Nagal had impressed on his Davis Cup debut against Spain not so long ago but the youngster has been dropped from the team for the upcoming New Zealand tie due to serious breach of discipline, AITA sources have claimed.
It has been learnt that during the tie against Korea in Chandigarh in July last year, 19-year-old Nagal, who was a reserve member in the squad, skipped morning practice sessions due to a hangover.
“We got to know that he finished the mini-bar in his hotel room. He is a very talented guy but when you are only 19 years old and you are getting a chance to be in the Indian team and you miss practise sessions, it’s not acceptable,” an AITA source told PTI.
Not only this, Nagal, who grabbed eye balls after winning the junior 2015 Wimbledon doubles title, brought his girlfriend to Delhi during the Spain tie without permission.
“Well, he did not ask anyone before bringing his girlfriend to Delhi. When he arrived at the hotel, the girl was with him. Captain Anand Amritraj promptly asked him to send her back which he did,” the source claimed.
Asked why he has been punished now when the issue emerged after the July tie and was given a chance to make his debut against Spain in September, the source said, “It came to light only when the squad was already announced for the Spain tie.”
“At that time we were not sure what was happening. When he was countered he denied the charge. We believed him, but things got worse and more stories surfaced, then we had to take a firm stand,” the source claimed.
The AITA named a five-member squad for the Asia/Oceania Group I tie, scheduled for February 3-5 when usually the norm is to have six members, including two reserves.
Not only this, Nagal’s decision to concede the dead fifth rubber against Marc Lopez due to ‘breathing problems’ on the last day of the Spain tie did not go down well with the AITA.
“In the reverse singles, he did not want to finish the match. He kept on saying he wants to retire since he is having breathing problem. He is a young player, if he is not able to play, what is his place in the team.”
An AITA official, who did not wish to be named, confirmed the incident but said the door has not been closed on Nagal permanently.
“He has been set aside temporarily and definitely he has not lost his place permanently because he is a very good player and has good future. He can always come back. But if you are not behaving properly, if you are not having any discipline, you have to reform,” the official said.
“He is young, he played a terrific match against Spain, he could have won his match (vs Marc Lopez). It was there in the air and we thought, we will give him a miss this time. But he is a great talent. Talent will always be there. It never gets lost.”
Nagal, who was hand-picked by veteran Mahesh Bhupathi for training, chose not to react on the issue.
Meanwhile, when contacted, selection committee chairman S P Misra restricted his comment to, “Nagal is a talented player. We see spark in him, he is expected to do well for India in Davis Cup.