AITA keeps players happy; to send two teams for Games (Second Lead)

June 21st, 2012 - 4:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Rohan Bopanna New Delhi, June 21 (IANS) The All India Tennis Association (AITA) Thursday decided “to keep everybody happy” by sending two men’s doubles teams for the 2012 London Olympics. Leander Paes will team up with Vishnu Vardhan while Mahesh Bhupathi gets to play his preferred partner Rohan Bopanna.

AITA also said that Paes would partner Sania Mirza in the mixed doubles if the Hyderabadi gets a wildcard. Mirza, if eligible, will also partner Rushmi Chakravarty in the women’s doubles. The AITA has also applied for a wild card for Somdev Devvarman in tne singles event.

By announcing its decisions, AITA met the Thursday deadline for sending the Olympics entries to the International Tennis Federation (ITF).

The decision to field two teams, however, was clouded with AITA’s threat to take action against Bhupathi and Bopanna after the Olympics for indiscipline.

Action would be taken against Bhupathi and Bopanna after the Olympics for defying the decision of the selection committee, AITA president Anil Khanna said.

Khanna said that sending two men’s doubles teams was not the best decision on “tennis ground” but the association was left with no option as otherwise it would hamper India’s medal prospects.

The selection committee last week had decided that Paes would pair with Bhupathi. But both Bhupathi and Bopanna said they would play only together and rejected AITA’s decision to pair eitehr of them with Paes.

“AITA admits that the decision of pairing Mahesh and Rohan on tennis grounds alone may not be the best. However, in the given circumstances, this is the most appropriate decision,” said Khanna.

Khanna also said that the decision was arrived at after consulting AITA’s honorary life president S.M.Krishna, who is also India’s external affairs minister. “Mr.Krishna’s guidance and approval helped the AITA to arrive at the decision,” said Khanna.

Khanna felt that Paes will soften his stand and partner with Vardhan. Paes had Wednesday threatened that he would not partner with anybody ranked 207/306 in the world.

Asked if Paes refused to budge from his stand, Khanna said: “We have taken a very calculated risk. But I hope he will make some sacrifice for the sake of the nation and also give two Indians their first chance to play in the Olympics.”

Khanna said AITA expects the players to accept the decision graciously that has been taken after due deliberations.

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