Peace plan vital to tie up NZ's top tennis player

DAVID LONG
Last updated 05:00 03/02/2013
Rubin Statham
Fairfax NZ
THAT WAS THEN: Rubin Statham in action for New Zealand.

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Tennis New Zealand and Rubin Statham need to make their peace in time for April's probable Davis Cup tie against Pakistan.

Dan King-Turner and Marcus Daniel beat Ibrahim Abou Chahine and Karim Alayli 6-1 6-1 6-1 in the doubles in just 68 minutes yesterday, giving New Zealand an unassailable 3-0 lead against Lebanon.

Today, King-Turner and Artem Sitak will play dead rubbers against Chahine and Michael Massih respectively.

Pakistan are likely the next opposition standing in New Zealand's way on the journey to win promotion to Asia-Oceania group one. New Zealand No 3 Michael Venus will be back, having skipped this tie to play a couple of Challenger tournaments in Australia, but the key issue is whether Tennis NZ and Statham can patch up their differences so our top player ends his Davis Cup boycott.

Statham, who lost in the semifinal of a Challenger tournament in Tasmania yesterday, is set to shoot up towards a career high of somewhere in the 290s in the world rankings tomorrow.

But he refuses to play for New Zealand as a protest against Tennis NZ's high performance programme.

Davis Cup captain Alistair Hunt said he'd talk to Tennis NZ to see if anything could be done about Statham's situation.

"It hasn't been discussed yet and obviously we'll get through this tie first," Hunt said. "Steve (Johns, Tennis NZ chief executive) and the selectors will have to sit down as a group and see what happens from there.

"We'd like our strongest team on the park, but it is what it is. He has his issues and it's not for me to get into them," Hunt said.

"I want to stay out of that and concentrate on my job as captain in a positive way and go from there."

Meanwhile, Johns said a letter signed by five of the regional coaches and selectors, in which they said they could no longer work with national coach Marcel Vos, would be discussed at a board meeting this week.

"We've needed to get through this busy January period where people are all over the place. We're going to regroup and have a good discussion about it," he said.

"We need to get a clear understanding about why they wrote what they wrote, what their key concerns are and how they think those issues can be addressed, so we can get the full picture because at the moment we're just sitting on a letter.

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