Recently the AITA (All India Tennis Association) announced the Indian Tennis teams for the upcoming London Olympics 2012. The overall announcement turned into a farce which ended up in the association having to redo the combinations. Tennis is one of the few sports where India has a strong chance of obtaining a medal in the Olympics. The strong Indian contingent comprises of fantastic doubles players such as Leander, Mahesh, Sania and Rohan Bopanna.
Everyone knows that Leander and Mahesh split once again for the 100th time last year and do not like to play with each other. It was pretty strange when AITA paired Leander with Mahesh for the London Olympics. But when the announcement came in there was a series of ugly spats in the media. Mahesh came in and refused to play with Leander and threatened to pull out. Leander for his part did the same thing. Rohan Bopanna too refused to partner Leander as he has had a successful time partnering Mahesh in the grand-slams this year.
This was really sad when you consider that this was an Indian team which has been announced. Tennis as a sport is mostly individual except for certain events such as Olympics, Davis Cup etc…So it does not require the players to get along with each other like how it is with other team sports. The players and the AITA are both at fault here. AITA should have known about the situation and probably should have discussed the situation before announcing it to the media. The players too even though being unhappy should have spoken with the AITA first before expressing their displeasure openly to the media. It was ugly when Sania Mirza and Leander’s father too got involved in this circus.
I can’t believe that a person who is not even a member of AITA or has never played any tennis can come in public and request for a written assurance from a tennis player to partner his son. I feel sorry for the young Vishnu Vardhan who got stuck in this crossfire. He would have been honored to represent India at the highest stage and to be paired with a Legend in the Olympics only to find that Leander refused to partner with him unless Sania partnered with him for mixed doubles.
This seemed like a round of ugly politics and players egos coming to the fore. Leander and Mahesh are legends of Indian tennis but it seems like their egos are bigger than their achievements. We thank them for all the great things they have done for the Indian tennis but this situation could have been handled better. Threatening to pull out of a premier event for any reason when your country’s pride is at stake is an extremely selfish act. I understand that the mistake was from both the sides but a discussion behind the scenes would have been a much better option.
The young players look up to these legends for inspiration and this is not something they would like to see. I am just happy that the issue has been finally resolved and it seems like the players are happy with whom they have been paired with. Leander has finally agreed to pair with Vishnu and Mahesh with Bopanna. Sania Mirza will be paired with Leander and she said that she is honored to do so. Somdev and Sania will be playing singles after getting wild cards to represent India in the Olympics. After all this tamasha, it does look like India has some decent chance of multiple medals this year. I hope that the players put behind their differences and perform to the fullest in the event to bring glory to the country.