Posted On Tuesday, June 19, 2012 at 09:04:25 AM
The crisis surrounding Indian tennis turned into a letter writing contest yesterday. Rohan Bopanna and Mahesh Bhupathi who are in London, preparing for Wimbledon, spent a rather busy Sunday as both were drafting letters to the All India Tennis Association (AITA) and the union sports minister.
The joint letter from Bopanna and Bhupathi landed in minister Ajay Maken’s mailbox at 03.45am. Maken took his time and by evening shot off a letter to the AITA asking for explanation on various counts.
|In happier times: Rohan Bopanna, Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes during a Davis Cup tie in 2009 in New Delhi
Bopanna’s letter was a basic one, making it clear that he will not partner Leander Paes at the Olympics. He explained: “Over the weekend, I was approached by the AITA with a request to pair with Leander Paes as the AITA’s ‘second choice’ team. With all respect and humility, I have been unable to accept AITA’s offer and have communicated my decision to them in writing this morning.”
“Since the beginning of the year, I have partnered with Mahesh Bhupathi towards playing together as a team at the Olympics. This was communicated to the AITA at every step and we were encouraged to continue to play together.
Having played alongside Leander Paes only twice during my career, I recognise that as a team we are underprepared for the demands of the Olympics and ... I could not accept AITA’s offer that we play together,” he added in the letter.
Process and preparation
He also took a dig at Paes, who broke his partnership with Bhupathi last year to stay inside the ATP top-10 with a different partner. Bopanna said he too could have taken an easy route by continuing his team with Aisam-ul-haq Qureshi but did not do that.
“In October 2011, I broke up an extremely successful partnership with Aisam Qureshi as I believed that Olympics preparedness required hard work and understanding between partners and the numerous little adjustments that make a team work.
This was the toughest professional decision I have taken, as it signified an end to a great partnership and jeopardised a close friendship that was built over many years of struggle and, ultimately, success on the ATP Tour.
“Having been ranked No 8 in the world last year, I could have taken a far easier route to Olympics qualification — if that was my only goal - by continuing my existing partnership and aiming for a personal top-10 ranking.
However, I am an athlete who believes that outcomes are a product of process and preparation. I also believe that successful partnerships of every sort require investment of time and emotions through the ups and downs, and that sporting partnerships are no different.
Told AITA in March: Bhupathi
Bhupathi’s letter to Maken meanwhile, was more like a student going to the principal against the class-teacher.
He wrote: “If the objective, as proved by latter events, was to send only one team, why was this not communicated to the players clearly and well in advance such that the team proposed to be sent to the Olympics could train together and play together? We failed to understand how, without notice, putting together a combination of two players who haven’t played together in months serves the interest of the country.
At a time when our country is doing its best to improve its Olympic record, the stance taken by AITA of refusing to nominate a team that has legitimately qualified on its own record — and instead nominating two players who have failed in four previous Olympic events and who have not played together this year — is bemusing and difficult for to understand.”
Bhupathi informed the minister that he and Boppana had told the AITA of their desire to play as a team at the Olympics as early as March 2012. Bhupathi asked the minister to intervene on the principles of natural justice.
The pressure on AITA increased with Maken questioning the logic behind fielding one team in London. “We can send 2 teams, why send 1?” Maken wrote on his Twitter page yesterday.
He later wrote a letter to the AITA. The letter seemed to be favouring Bhupathi-Bopanna as it asked AITA why can’t it send two doubles teams and why are they ignoring the duo even though they had expressed their desire to play as a team long ago. The letter asked AITA to explain by today afternoon.
The big question then is: Will Paes join this letter writing contest?
► With all respect and humility, I have been unable to accept AITA’s offer of playing with Paes
- Rohan Bopanna in his letter to AITA
► AITA’s refusal to nominate us, who have qualified, is bemusing and difficult to understand
- Bhupathi-Bopanna, letter to sports minister
► Why can’t AITA send two doubles teams and why are they ignoring the Bhupathi and Bopanna
- Ajay Maken letter to AITA