India’s most accomplished Davis Cup player and the man identified with playing for the flag will not be available for national duty in 2014.
Leander Paes, it is reliably learnt, has conveyed to the national tennis association that he should not be considered for selection for the forthcoming tie against Chinese Taipei scheduled to be held at Indore January 31 to February 2.
He will also not be available for subsequent ties and the Asian Games.
A variety of factors seem to have motivated the veteran player’s decision. Given that at 40 he is not getting any younger, Paes has to conserve himself if he is to realise his dream of representing the country in seven Olympics. He has made no bones about the fact that Rio 2016 stays his main priority.
For long now there has been a train of thought amongst the decision makers of Indian tennis that it’s time the younger players were exposed to the pressures of representing the country; even if it means asking the seniors to take a break from ties that are not perceived to be too tough.
Given that India is at the nadir of its Davis Cup campaign, now is the right time to do so.
Also, the atmosphere in the squad has not been much to Paes’ liking as the veteran feels the unity in the squad has been undermined in the wake of the recent revolt of the players.
The confrontation between a section of players and the federation saw Paes take a back seat as he did not join the rebels.
This has soured his relations with the others to some extent. Further, Paes has been cutting down on a lot of his travel in order to spend more time with his daughter Aiyana in Mumbai.
This personal reason is also likely to have played a major role in Paes stepping down. Reliable sources inform that this does not mean Paes will not be playing for the country again.
The present situation is likely to be a temporary backing off till the time he figures out just how much time he can devote to tennis. As of now, family comes first for the veteran.