Lee-Hesh & London Olympics: Doubles is all about compatibility & combination, so why this pairing AITA?

New Delhi: All India Tennis Association’s (AITA) decision to team up friends-turned foes –Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi – for the London Games has once again stirred the hornet nest. Lee-Hesh had been in news, for wrong reasons off late, and with AITA’s decision both factions have started washing their dirty linens in public.

Though AITA had the choice of sending two teams, Bhupathi-Bopanna and Leander with Somdev, as the Leander had a direct entry and had the liberty to choose a partner while Bhupathi-Bopanna combine made the grade according to the rules, the decision hasn’t gone down well with many, though some feel Lee-Hesh has the best chance and they should bury their hatchet to play in the interest of nation.

It is a known fact that the pair of Paes and Bhupathi, which was once the number one pair in the world, does not go hand-in-hand. Both the players have tried to avoid playing with each other and they were not too keen to pair up for the biggest sporting event. There were talks that Paes might be teamed up with Somdev and Bhupathi with Bopanna but AITA said that they are focusing on quality rather than quantity and the team of Paes-Bhupathi had the best chance for India to secure a medal.
In response to AITA’s decision, Bhupathi-Bopanna made a joint statement saying “that the decision will deny two highly accomplished players of the privilege and opportunity to represent the country at the Olympics. This is a sad day for Indian tennis from all perspectives.” The duo is hoping some better sense will prevail and they continue to make our case to all concerned over the next few days before the nomination deadline of June 21. And if Bhupathi decides not to play in Olympics, it will have an impact on the in-form Bhupathi-Sania pair incase Sania Mirza gets a wildcard.

All these controversies have confused tennis lovers in India, as they do not know who to support and who to cheer for. Some say the decision is in the interest of the country while others think that though Lee-Hesh was the best Indian pair in the past, a lot of water has flown down the river and since they aren’t on talking terms, pairing them makes no sense.

“I don’t know where Indian tennis will go from here. Seriously how can players be so selfish? Choose whoever you want to play in the next four years, but can’t you people play for your nation once in four years. AITA has taken a right decision by pairing up Bhupathi and Paes, it makes perfect sense to send the best players in the most important event. I have been a fan of both the players, but don’t force me to think otherwise,” says Sanjeet Kumar a passionate tennis fan.

“AITA were absolutely right when they said that we are looking for quality and not quantity and I totally agree with that. Numbers will not win you medals. Bhupathi and Paes are very experienced on the tennis circuit and they have played against the best players. It will be very good to see them fighting it out once again. Please forget your personal grudges, do it for us,” says Pranaya, tennis fan.

But then there are others who see logic in Bhupathi-Bopanna’s statement. One such tennis fan Mudit Kaushik says, “If I am going to compete for an Olympic medal than I want to be paired up with a player with whom I am most comfortable. If AITA had an option of sending two teams then they should have done that. Players should not be forced as that might affect their game. Bhupathi and Bopanna should be paired together while pair Paes with Somdev Devvarman. Lee and Hesh aren’t on talking terms and they have let us down on last four occasions in Olympics. So a bad decision I must say.”

“Look personally speaking I have lost interest in whatever is happening. I don’t care about who teams up with whom and what the end result is. People are fighting like kids and I don’t want to get involved in that. Players should be teamed up with whoever they want to, anyways after such a horrendous beginning I don’t thing we are going to be any good in men’s doubles category, says Ria, a dejected tennis fan.

By Indian Sports News Network