ByÂ Srishti Jain:
Do Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna actually understand the meaning of the word, Sportsmanship? Their recent public spat says otherwise. Being the world’s 7th best doubles player, Paes secures his berth in the upcoming Olympics with the added privilege of choosing his partner. Obviously the best would like to team up with the second best, but does anyone wish to team up with the best?
Surprisingly, no! Given the haughty attitude of Paes, Mahesh (world ranking 14th) and Rohan (world ranking 12th) have preferred to maintain their distance from him, and instead have been playing together for the last six months preparing for the Olympics 2012. AITA had previously given autonomous monopoly to their players not realizing that one day the situation would get so grim that the players won’t be able to reach an consensus and now they are in a fix where they have to apologize to Paes not being able to fulfill his asked request of pairing with Mahesh, and zeroing down on Mahesh-Rohan and Paes-Vishnu as their Olympic representation.
With Sania Mirza preparing to qualify for the Olympic seat, one more rift is ensuring its presence. Mr. Paes has requested a written statement assuring that Sania will pair up with him for the Mixed Doubles event. And he might have a sign of relief as with their combined ranking of 19, AITA might consider their representation as confirmed if she manages to get a wild card on June 28.
However, signed by Bhupathi’s management company Globosport when she was only 15 and having played a glorious French Open with him, she and Mahesh obviously want to play together but Miss Mirza has been gracious enough as giving AITA’s decision premier importance unlike her older counterparts who have very vocally gone against Paes and Mahesh pairing and have instead decided to play as Mahesh and Rohan.
But given the record of Doubles Games (the last 4 times Mahesh and Paes played together, they didn’t win), it’s realized that recently, Paes has played better without Bhupathi. (He beat Goran Ivanisevic in the Davis Cup and won the bronze medal at the Atlanta Olympics). He is known for his high handedness and maybe probably this is the reason why no one wants to play with him, because he is simply not a team person according to them even if his world ranking speaks otherwise. Although being the best, Paes deserves to be paired with the best and secure his chances for winning the Olympics, of course he is let down when being the best player he has been paired with a junior Vishnu Vardhan (world no. 328) in a competition which is revered by all the sports persons in the world.
But at the same time his pairing with Mahesh won’t vent anything except Paes’ emotional content because the past has been crystal clear that they aren’t just as good enough when they play together. I personally believe that AITA’s decision is in the best interest of Indian tennis. It’s not that time to get emotional and count how Paes has given so many sacrifices in the name of the country because no one forced him to take those decisions, it was his duty to take them as being an Indian and he also wanted to do that, but I don’t get why his father is now bragging upon his son’s past glories.
Given the recent performances, it’s best for Mahesh and Rohan to go as a team and it would be wonderful if India’s best player Paes also goes out rocking the field with his junior and be an inspiration for tennis aspirants and put his best foot forward, not caring about the results. Also his stature has been kept in mind when it’s alleged that AITA will pair him with Sania in mixed doubles if she qualifies whereas we all know that Sania would play best with her mentor Mahesh.
But all said and done, all we can hope is a great show at Olympics 2012 with all our teams bringing gold home.