Good at rabble rousing. Ready to pick up verbal pow-wow at the slightest of provocations. Bloated egos.
The above traits exemplify a superstar and few other tennis titans of India. Ironically, these players are the ones who are idolized by millions of tennis admirers in India and abroad. These tennis luminaries have left no stones unturned in evoking extreme reactions from each other and duelling it out brazenly, especially when there was a gleam in the eyes of countless tennis aficionados that these champions would bring back home Olympics medals in tennis. Alas, this gleam got doused as we got to witness sarky remarks among feuding tennis champions with each passing day full of speculations as to who would be teamed up with whom to be sent to Olympics.
The bickering trio – Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi, Rohan Bopanna – has been throwing its truckloads of attitude and aiming each other with fiery verbal volleys. The ageing duo – Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi – that has to its credit a scintillating record of winning 24 Grand Slam doubles titles had split last year, and now their irresolvable differences are shining bright as Bhupathi refused to partner Paes in Olympics. The fans received a thrill of nostalgia soon after when Rohan Bopanna (now a partner to Bhupathi) refused to get paired with country’s number one doubles specialist at Olympics.
The recently formed duo-Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna-gave an interesting turn to the ongoing tennis impasse by putting forth clear their idea of skipping Olympics if they are forced by AITA to play with Paes. The next day, the newspapers flaunted the headline of the pullout threat from Leander Paes, and the desperate AITA rushed one of its selectors Rajpal to appease Paes (who was apparently miffed for not getting a partner of his choice to play at the mega event), and offered him a compromise formula of getting teamed up with Vishnu Vardhan.
What a debacle to the game! Such tantrums from the veterans clearly reflect the levels to which these champions can stoop to with a simple desire – to satiate their personal egos. Such adamant demeanor that put AITA in a quandary is so unfair to the spirit of the game and the occasion to which these players should have risen by putting aside their baggage laden with individual egos, narcissism and prejudices.
The rude rebuttal of this troublesome trio is symbolic of their unrepentant arrogance, which in my opinion, is nothing but a byproduct of the new and glitzy money-spinning tournaments they played in the past, representing the nation.
To add a cherry to this already messy cake, AITA worked out a compromise formula by pairing up Paes with Vishnu Vardhan in the men’s doubles event and Sania Mirza in the mixed section. Dr. Vece Paes, Leander Paes’ father, in an attempt to realign the lost glory of his son, demanded a written assurance from wild card entrant Sania that she would play only with Paes and not Bhupathi in the mixed doubles. And now, Sania’s working out her lungs really hard by yelling of being a victim to male chauvinism prevalent in the Indian tennis. And, now she has been joined by India’s ace badminton player, Jwala Gutta in her hue and cry.
What a real shame these players have brought to the country! It’s certainly the debacle of a great game. With Olympics knocking the doors and AITA still awaiting Paes’ nod to the compromise deal, the future of Indian tennis is empathetically jeopardized.
I also feel that AITA should not be spared for its ignorance. It’s equally responsible for this infamous debacle of Indian tennis. Why did the selectors have to rush all the way to London to pacify angry Paes? Why does it have to pamper the egos of these selfish players? How dare these players lash out at the association? Why does the AITA have to rely solely on the tennis trio to soften its rough edges in a vague hope that it would return from Olympics with golden circles? Why can’t we have many more Paes’, Bhupathis and Bopannas? Why does it not put in adequate efforts to popularize tennis among Indian youth as cricket is?
As an admirer of this game, I’m grief struck and skeptical about the future of Indian tennis.