The Great Indian Tennis Disaster
India’s sports lovers have much reason to feel dejected through the exit of Mahesh Bhupathi-Rohan Bopanna and Leander Paes-Vishnu Vardhan at the 2012 London Olympics.
While Somdev Devvarman’s first round defeat was disappointing too, much was expected from the doubles teams considering their individual talent and ability.
The tennis defeats have left us wondering whether things would have been less depressing had Paes and Bhupathi played as a team. But this is no time for ifs and buts.
Paes-Vardhan battled hard before going down to France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Michael Llodra on Wednesday, a far superior show to what Bhupathi and Bopanna dished out in their 3-6, 4-6 defeat to France’s Richard Gasquet and Julien Benneteau the night before.
Defeat is part and parcel of sport, but departure of India’s best tennis talent at the Games inevitably causes sports lovers to deeply lament the ultimate result after what was said and done by Bhupathi and his chum Bopanna. They didn’t mince their words when it came to bad mouthing Paes in public, knowing well that they were actually refusing to represent India at the biggest sporting stage of all.
Ultimately, Bhupathi and Bopanna got what they wanted from the All India Tennis Association and still fared poorly.
Paes’ heart-on-sleeve image turned greyish when he highlighted Vardhan’s low ranking, something which attracted this response from Sania Mirza during Wimbledon: “To Leander Paes I would like to point out that Vishnu Vardhan is an extremely talented player, who I had the privilege of partnering. We went on to win a silver medal for India at the 2010 Asian Games, when all the three male stalwarts of Indian tennis had opted to stay away from Guangzhou.”
Their controversial ways notwithstanding, Paes and Bhupathi have been great champions but it’s time to look beyond them. India’s tennis future is in the hands of younger players.
Doubtless, there are lessons to be learnt from India’s great big tennis row and what transpired on the green courts of London.