Jordan's top ranked tennis player will be unavailable to participate in the upcoming Davis Cup competition, due to be held during next April.
In an official statement, Laith Azzouni explained that he is in his "last year of medical school, so the last thing I need is to have more headaches." Below the surface, the "headaches" Azzouni was referring to appear to be a personal rift that has developed between himself and the Jordanian Tennis Federation (JTF). According to Azzouni, the conflict emerged during Jordan's last Davis Cup competition in Brunei, when the head of the technical committee Mazen Matamlejh named Laith captain of the squad rather than his older brother, Faris.
The strife's turning point occurred following the star player's recent jaw surgery. According to Azzouni, "upon my return they asked me for a medical report as they did not trust me. So I submitted my resignation from the team." The account of Saed Hijawi, president of the JTF, tells a different story. In an interview with the Jordan Times, Hijawi stated to the JTF prepared a training schedule for Laith, who had been away from the game for four months. "The schedule apparently did not suit Laith and according the conflict blew out of proportion and made him decide to leave the team," Hijawi noted.
While the Jordanian team will certainly miss the services of its top player in April, Azzouni has not ruled out the possibility of representing his country in the future. In a diplomatic statement Azzouni wished all the team luck in their upcoming mission. The Asia/Oceania Zone Group IV round robin includes Bahrain, Brunei, Fiji, Oman, the UAE and Saudi Arabia. The two highest placed nations will be promoted to Group III in 2001.
The 22-year old Azzouni is the youngest Jordanian ever to compete in Davis Cup play. In March 1992, as a 14 years old, Azzouni made a successful Davis Cup debut by defeating Singapore's Derek Young 7-5, 3-6, 6-2. His career Davis Cup record stands at 9 wins and 7 losses.
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)