Controversy has made Leander Paes guarded, says father

April 14th, 2008 - 12:22 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, April 14 (IANS) The last month has been a trying one for India’s Davis Cup captain Leander Paes. And his father and team doctor Vece minces no words in acknowledging that the mutiny in the team against his son has hurt Leander and made him a guarded person. “His first reaction was one of surprise. He wasn’t expecting this at all. Leander is a team man and he has always worked to get the team right. He is proud to represent India in the Davis Cup and that is something which comes close to his heart,” Vece said when asked about Leander’s reaction on hearing the player’s objection to his captaincy.

Four Davis Cuppers, including India’s top singles players Prakash Amritraj and Rohan Bopanna, wrote to the All India Tennis Association (AITA) last month that they would not play if Paes continued to be captain. Amritraj and Bopanna had said the captain was putting his interests above the interests of the team.

But Vece, once a member of India’s Olympics hockey team, said that for Leander the team has always been the priority.

“Leander is such a friendly guy. For him the team always comes first. But all this controversy has really hurt him. He has become really guarded now. But he has shown character during the controversy,” he said.

Reflecting on the Leander-Mahesh win in the doubles in the second round of Asia -Oceania Group 1 tie against Japanese pair Takao Suzuki and Satoshi Iwabuchi Saturday, Vece said that it was heartening to see them play after almost two years. The pair famously known as “Indian Express”, who have three Grand Slams between them, last played together in Doha Asian Games in 2006 but then parted ways.

“It is terrific to see Leander and Mahesh coming together. More than that, it is good for both of them to play together. They enjoy playing together. They gel well and are spontaneous on court. All the differences between them are off court. On court they play like a team,” said Vece.

He refused to comment on how after so much controversy the duo plans to prepare for Olympics, but said: “They are both intelligent guys. They will work it out for the Olympics. They are a strong medal prospect in the Olympics.”

“Leander and Mahesh are going on to play the circuits from here, Prakash and Rohan will be heading to play circuit too and they will be meeting before September world group play off. But at the moment their priority is Olympics,” he added.

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