She has been dreaming of playing for India, but reality is staring hard at the U.S.-based Sunitha Rao at the moment.Currently ranked 162nd on the WTA computer, and 24th among the 120 ranked players in the U.S. behind the likes of Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Lindsay Davenport, Jennifer Capriati, the 17-year-old Sunitha had sought to represent India in a recent communication to the International Tennis Federation (ITF).Sunitha’s father Manohar Rao has been interacting with the secretary general of the All India Tennis Association (AITA), Anil Khanna, on the subject for the last few months.Manohar had sought compensation from the AITA, for the money he had spent over the last 13 years in building Sunitha’s career. Moreover, he had suggested that Sunitha would need about $100,000 a year for coaching support so that she could realise her potential and represent the country with distinction.`Sunitha can take India into the World Group of Fed Cup. She can represent India in the Olympics, and in all the Grand Slams. She can’t do that for free. I have spent about Rs. 5 crores so far,” said Manohar from his base in Florida.Manohar stated that a promise had been made to him on the support for Sunitha, but he said that the AITA was not willing to give him any financial guarantee. I heard from Anil Khanna in Wimbledon that the AITA would discuss the subject in a meeting on July 21. Recently, when I contacted, Anil told me that the committee would not approve of the idea of making any compensation. They have taken my approval on the subject in the letter to the ITF, and are going back on the promised support,” said Manohar. Manohar stressed that he would withdraw the application from the ITF, which is likely to discuss the subject in September or so, if the AITA did not make a positive response to the situation. he situation is such that the United States Tennis Association (USTA) which had supported her all along had recently stopped doing so, as it came to know about Sunitha’s application to represent India. Rao played her first WTA match at the 2002 Brasil Open – Women’s Singles event, where she defeated Vanessa Henke in the first round. She was beaten by Anastasia Myskina in the second round. Sunitha played at the Hansol Korea Open 2004 where she was beaten by Miho Saeki in the first round. Rao participated at the Internationaux de Strasbourg 2005, but was overpowered by Iveta Benešová in the first round. Then she played at the Sunfeast Open where she beat Neha Uberoi in the first round before falling to Elena Likhovtseva.
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