|Akhtar Ali and Naresh Kumar
Calcutta: The All India Tennis Association (AITA)’s decision to send two doubles teams for the London Olympics was termed as “ridiculous” by Naresh Kumar, while Akhtar Ali said that the AITA has a history of buckling under pressure.
The following are excerpts
Naresh Kumar: It’s ridiculous. The top ranked player of the country is being asked to partner one of the lowest-ranked players. I strongly believe that Mahesh (Bhupathi) and (Rohan) Bopanna used strong-arm tactics. Once the selection is done, how dare they say that they will not partner Leander (Paes). Is it a joke or what? They have ganged up against Leander and that’s a sad thing.
There is a fear that Leander may pull out. He is an emotional guy and he doesn’t believe in petty politics. He talks straight and expects you also to be honest with him. So after what AITA has done to him, I will not be surprised if he pulls out. I’m in constant touch with him and I feel he is disturbed by the way things have unfolded.
I also think the selectors should resign. For they have been made redundant…
Mahesh is saying there is a complete breakdown in communication with Leander, so it will not be possible for him to play alongside his former doubles partner. I find it funny. I still remember some years back, during the Chennai Open, both Bhupathi and Leander going on record that they may not see eye-to-eye on many issues, but once on the court they just forget everything and play.
I have nothing against Vishnu Vardhan. But I think Leander would be humiliated in London if he partners this youngster. Having said that, I would also wish Mahesh and Bopanna luck for the Games. If they can bring a medal then I would be really happy.
Akhtar Ali: What can I say? I find it funny. When the contract was signed nobody said that they had reservations with certain players. But, when the team were announced Mahesh says he has a problem with Leander! Should an individual be above the country? I do not think so. The problem is we never had a good bunch of tennis players. It has always been a couple of good players and that’s why they dictated the terms.
In the past Vijay (Amritraj) used to say unless and until brother Ashok is selected for the Davis Cup, he will not play. Invariably AITA used to wilt. Now, in 2012, things haven’t changed. So you can see AITA has a history of buckling under pressure. But I also feel you cannot blame the association when some people are out to wash dirty linen in public…