For more than a decade, Leander and Mahesh have carried the Indian hopes on their shoulder and have delivered time and again. How long can they go on? When will we see the next generation kick in? We have seen that the Indian young players have never been up to the challenge yet. Players like Bopanna, Prakash Amritraj, Harsh Mankad and quite a lot of young tennis players came on the scene and have disappeared.
Yeah they do play in the doubles scene in the Grand Slams once in a while but have never done anything of note. Sania Mirza too, India’s major hope for a top 10 player has been so inconsistent and injury prone. The dream of her reaching the top 10 seems far and distant. Tennis is a very expensive game and it’s not easy in India to take it up as a career.
It was about 8 years back when I saw an interview of Leander in Harsha Online in the ESPN where he spoke about the hardships he and Mahesh had to go through to come to this level. Eight years after they are the ones still carrying Indian dreams in the Grand slams. Recently the Indian tennis scene received an incredible boost with Yuki Bhambri who won the Australian open juniors and Somdev Devvarman who reached the business end of the Chennai open.
We will have to wait and see if these two take over the mantle from these two legends but the chances are bright. I had huge hopes for Prakash Amritraj as he was coached in the US and his father was the last Indian player to consistently challenge the top players during his time, but he has been disappointing.
India needs a top tennis player, need an idol to follow after Leander and Mahesh decide to call it a day. I just hope that these youngsters step up to the plate and deliver. Indian tennis scene has never looked so promising and I hope that these youngsters convert their good starts into something meaningful.
Till that happens the hope of an Indian tennis lover will continue to rest on Leander and Mahesh. It’s been an amazing 12-13 years since Mahesh became the first Indian to win a grand slam. They have more than 20 Grand Slam titles in doubles between them and it would have been fantastic if they had continued to play together. I salute the two legends of Indian tennis and their contribution towards the sport in India has been magnificent. Hope we find another Leander and Mahesh soon to carry on the mantle once they hang up their boots.