The contingency machinery at the All India Tennis Association seems to be working overtime.
The tennis federation, on Wednesday, in an attempt to nip a controversy in the bud, seem to have ended up creating one. There were reports from Raipur that Mahesh Bhupathi had said he "will not be playing with Leander Paes again". With the London Olympics approaching and Rohan Bopanna emerging as one of the better doubles players on the tour, the debate about which two will clinch the berths is still open.
Bhupathi denied making such a statement. "I said it's their choice (about which team will represent India in the Olympics)," he told HT.When asked whether anyone from the AITA had verified the reports, he said, "I haven't heard from anyone. Not to mention I was doing a school interview (in Raipur) and there was no context."
The AITA seems to have jumped the gun in issuing a rebuttal. "No such statement has been given by Mahesh to AITA," secretary general Anil Khanna said in a statement.
"AITA will put its best team forward for the Olympics doubles event. The team will be selected on 16th/17th of June after the rankings are released in June 11 and ITF notifies direct entries on June 14. This meeting will be held in New Delhi," Khanna said.
"All Indian players are mature professional and are fully aware that personal preferences cannot override the interest of the nation. It is creditable up to now that no player has written to AITA that he/she will not play with any particular partner," he added.
All these comments appear to be redundant since all the AITA needed to clear the confusion was to speak with the player.
Is the AITA being an over cautious watch-dog or are there bigger games afoot?