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Tennis Rebels Toe the Line

The Czech tennis community breathed a sigh of relief Jan. 16 when Davis Cup captain Vladislav Savrda announced he had averted a players’ boycott of next month’s cup match in Italy.

Martin Damm, Daniel Vacek, Cyril Suk and David Rikl announced last month that they were not available for the Czech-Italian matchup. They blamed the money offered ($13,000 each with a win bonus of $5,000) and the attitude of the Czech Tennis Association (CTS). The country’s two top players, Petr Korda and Karel Novacek, had dropped out the month before, explaining that their schedules could not accommodate the matches in Italy.

But Savrda’s efforts at the Australian Open, which opened in Melbourne Jan. 16, appear to have solved the problem, at least temporarily. While Korda and Novacek still refuse to participate, the other players will be available to take on the Italians. Damm, Vacek and Suk will join Ctislav Dosedel and Radomir Vasek, who didn’t participate in the rebellion.

In addition, Damm, Vacek and Suk announced they each would donate $5,000 in Davis Cup income to charity as a demonstration that money was not at the root of their strike.

“The main reason [the boycott threat was issued] was the way we were being treated by the Czech Tennis Association,” explained Damm. “We decided to go back on our threat for the benefit of Czech tennis.”

The players will receive a total of $65,000 with an additional winners’ bonus of $15,000. The CTS backed down from its insistence on individual contracts, allowing the players to sign a team contract, and also on the allocation of money, which will now be decided by the players.

“We discussed our opinions and then found consensus,” said Savrda. “I’ve explained the financial situation of the CTS and that the association doesn’t want to make a profit on the Davis Cup.”

The players still insist the attitude of the CTS must change.

“In the past, we have been given ultimatums by the CTS, but whenever we have a different opinion, we are criticized,” said Vacek. “We have promised to play in Italy [Feb. 3-5], but if we are to play other matches, the CTS must make a fundamental change in its attitude toward us.”

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