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Veterans sad over Lee-Hesh row,say could have been avoided

The ongoing row between two of the nation’s premier tennis players — Mahesh Bhupati and Leander Paes — and the way All India Tennis Association (AITA) has handled it might have made headlines,but former tennis players who have known the duo for long are hoping that the matter is resolved in a better manner.

Written by Rohan Swamy | Pune |
June 19, 2012 2:31:12 am

The ongoing row between two of the nation’s premier tennis players — Mahesh Bhupati and Leander Paes — and the way All India Tennis Association (AITA) has handled it might have made headlines,but former tennis players who have known the duo for long are hoping that the matter is resolved in a better manner.

The tennis players,who have known the two since the Davis Cup days,believe that the problem could have been solved more amicably without it spiralling out of control.

Former Davis Cup player and national champion Nithin Kirtane says,“It is disappointing. The manner in which things unfolded,especially the way the AITA managed the issue,is sad. Also,Mahesh going public with his comments was something that I would deem unprofessional. There may be problems; over the years,the two have played and split a number of times but this time,the issue could have been solved in a different manner.”

Bhupati had expressed his displeasure in playing with Paes openly,even accusing him of backstabbing. Former Davis Cup player Sandeep Kirtane said the fact that Bhupati and Rohan Bopanna had been practising together for the last few months indicated that they were serious about playing at the Olympics together. “Also,Leander’s first choice of partner was Bopanna. It is evident that they do not wish to play together. The AITA could have kept the sentiments of the players in mind and named the teams accordingly. Now,everyone is left with an unpleasant feeling about the incident.”

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The AITA has now been given a deadline of June 21 to solve the issue. “Someone can still step forward and volunteer to play together,” says Nitin. “They are great players and we have a shot at a medal given that at their peak,the duo was unstoppable. Their on-court chemistry as players was superb,with Mahesh’s long booming serves and Paes’ reflexes and close-to-the-net shots.”

While speculations are still rife about the role the AITA can play in the issue,Sandeep feels that it has gone beyond redemption. “As much as every tennis fan and player in the country wants to see the two play together,I don’t think it will happen. If only the AITA had spoken to both of them about it.”

Davis Cup coach Nandan Bal,however,had little to say on the issue. “I hope it is sorted out. The deadline is approaching and an amiable solution is called for. I don’t think I would be able to comment about the issue until then,” he says.

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