The All India Tennis Association (AITA) must take much of the blame for the crises the sport in India finds itself in.
It’s easy to blame Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna for refusing to play with Leander Paes and thus putting India’s Olympic chances in jeopardy, but the establishment should have made a better effort in acting like good elders in trying to convince Paes and Bhupathi that they must play together, much before their selectors got down to selecting the team for the London Olympics.
Instead, Anil Khanna (the association’s chief) sat on his high horse and expected Bhupathi to partner Paes when the Bangalore-based player had already previously written to the AITA expressing his inability to partner Paes.
Sure, the country comes before personal relationships, but this was like expecting a couple to have a rosy marriage when one partner didn’t want to have anything to do with the other. To reckon without counselling was a recipe for disaster, which is what India’s tennis scene is at the moment.
Paes is right in feeling cheated when asked to partner a low ranked player. The country’s best player does not deserve to be offered limited a la carte when he should be shown the buffet table.
It will be a travesty of justice if Bhupathi and Bopanna are allowed to play together while Paes teams up with a lesser player in a scenario where he isn’t sure of getting Sania Mirza as a mixed doubles partner.
The Olympic motto of “participation matters” does not apply to the best in their trade. Unfortunately, Indian sport continues to be riddled with unholy compromises. If ever there were medals offered for the best compromises, India would clinch gold.
We thrive on serve and volley strategy. And the sports men and women, impoverished of confidence and backing, are expected to deliver the aces.