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Things are getting murkier out there
Sukhwant Basra, Hindustan Times
June 15, 2012
First Published: 01:30 IST(15/6/2012)
Last Updated: 01:32 IST(15/6/2012)

Both Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi are looking to make inroads into the movie business. Instead of looking for any script, one would suggest that they make a true rendition of their trysts and twists while trying to outwit each other.

Their dramatics will surely make for great cinema. It's just that the storyline will be too incredible to believe!

In the latest we-hate-each-other episode, damning emails are being sent by both camps to the national federation. Paes' father, Dr Vece, has sent statistics outlining how his son is the strongest contender and, therefore, should get the partner of his choice.

On the other hand, Bhupathi's coach Scott Davidoff has written a hard-hitting mail alleging that Paes' behaviour on the Tour has ensured that there is no communication between the estranged players. Apart from all the allegations that he makes, Davidoff points out that for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Bhupathi was the highest ranked player but his desire to play with Rohan Bopanna was turned down by the selectors.

It has also been learnt that the selection committee has been summoned for a ‘briefing’ by the executive committee of the All India Tennis Association on Friday, before the members sit down for any discussion in Bangalore. This implies that the matter is being taken out of the hands of the six former players that comprise the selection committee and being hijacked by career sports administrators. Empathy with the players isn't necessarily the priority for this lot.

Firm hand
The AITA AGM in Bangalore should have been a joyous time for the body's secretary, Anil Khanna, who is being elevated to the post of the president uncontested.

Instead, it has become a public relations nightmare for the beleaguered man. But then in the midst of all this chaos, there is also the chance for the fellow to start his term by handling a situation that demands tact and diplomacy. Revisiting a bit of history may help.

For the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, the veteran Ramesh Krishnan had taken Paes under his wing. They reached the men's doubles quarterfinals after upsetting top seeds John Fitzgerald and Todd Woodbridge in the second round. Paes was 19 at the time.

At Atlanta 1996, the Indian more than justified the exposure by wresting a singles bronze. While the two may not be related but would Paes have had the strut he did at Atlanta had he not already experienced the Games under a mentor four years ago?

Fresh blood
One cannot predict as to whether Yuki Bhambri shows the kind of pluck which Paes did thereafter but wouldn't it be best for Indian tennis to blood him this time around under the stewardship of Paes?

Coincidentally, even he is 19. Further, doubles is about bonding. Despite the uncanny knack that Paes has of turning most partnerships into success stories, his bad blood with Bopanna is too recent for it to not stain any arrangement imposed by the selectors. Khanna has a chance to show vision beyond this pettiness embroiling Indian tennis. Skirting through this minefield of egos will take deft manoeuvring. It's an acid-test start to his tenure.


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