On Satuday,while the whole of the world will look to see Leander Paes playing his 50th Davis Cup tie,the residents of Chandigarh will be keen to see his doubles partner,Sanam Singh,in action. The former Chandigarh Lawn Tennis Association (CLTA) trainee will combine with Paes and aim to give India an unassailable 3-0 lead against the visiting Indonesian team in a crucial Davis Cup Asia-Oceania group I relegation play-off at the KSLTA in Bangalore. The prospect of the future of Indian tennis and the legend,who has put Indian tennis on the world map,playing together has the city coaches excited.
“Playing with Leander will be a great experience for Sanam. I remember Purav Raja playing as doubles’ partner for Leander in the last Davis Cup tie against Republic of Korea and his performance improved in the presence of Leander. Also,Leander has positive things to say about Sanam,” said Gajendra Singh,Director Coaching,CLTA.
Birbal Wadhera,coach at Chandigarh Club Tennis Academy,agrees with Gajendra. “Sanam will definitely combine well with Leander and I am sure he will cover the court well due to fresh legs. On one hand Sanam will fulfill his dreams of playing together with Leander while on the other,I believe he will provide a great support to Leander on the court. Paes knows how to groom young blood as he has the experience of playing at the highest level,” said Birbal.
Leander,39,the former World No 1 in doubles,has an enviable record in Davis Cup: 48-22 win-loss record in singles and 39-10 in doubles,making him one of the most successful players in the world. Sanam,on the other hand,also has a decent record in doubles despite being currently ranked 980 in the world. The 25-year-old showed he is a talented doubles player also when he combined with Somdev Devvarman and won the doubles gold in Asian Games at Guangzhou in 2010.
Gajendra remembers: “I have travelled a lot with him in 2005-06 and he came as a good singles as well as doubles player. He has won lots of doubles titles outside India in the past. He can play both singles and doubles. He was given the duty of playing doubles at the Asian Games and he proved himself by winning gold with Somdev. Playing with Leander will certainly boost his confidence.”
In the last one year,Sanam has proved himself as an excellent singles player,raking up lots of futures titles. The icing on the cake,the one that catapulted him to another level,was the rubber against New Zealand in the Davis Cup tie in Chandigarh last September. Sanam not only won the dead rubber convincingly,he emerged as the best player to play in that tie,as India routed the Kiwis 5-0.
While Sanam,along with other top ranked players from India like Yuki Bhambri,Vishnu Vardhan and Somdev,did not feature in the next Davis Cup tie against Korea due to their protest against All India Tennis Association (AITA),the doubles encounter against the Indonesian duo of Elbert Sie and David Agung Susanto will give him a chance to prove as an all-round player. The opportunity,however,comes due to the absence of the Bengaluru doubles duo of Rohan Bopanna and Mahesh Bhupathi,who are sitting out of the tie.
“The captain,coach and the team management must have kept Sanam’s impressive performance in the last two years in their minds. Playing in singles was out of question since Somdev and Yuki are ranked higher than him. However,that gave Sanam a terrific opportunity to play along with the legend of Indian tennis. I am sure he will savour it and play well to help India win,” added Birbal.