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India to send two doubles teams to London Olympics

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Leander Paes
New Delhi, Jun 21: Finally, the crisis in Indian tennis has ended. The All India Tennis Association (AITA) has decided to send two doubles teams to London Olympics 2012.

Leander Paes will partner Vishnu Vardhan while Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna will be the second team, the AITA announced on Thursday.

Thursday was the final day to submit the teams for the Games. Both Bhupathi and Bopanna had refused to partner Paes for the Olympics.

"In the given circumstances, the best option is of sending two teams. Undoubtedly the most patriotic one, who has the record of most David Cup appearances for India and has served the nation for over 20 years, had been driven to the wall and had to react sharply," AITA President Anil Khanna said, in reference to Paes.

"AITA does not want Leander's image to be tarnished. AITA asks Leander to forgive the utterances (against him by Bhupathi and Bopanna). Leander Paes and Vishnu Vardhan (ranked 207) and Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna will be the two teams. We request Leander to reverse to his thoughts and he should help Bopanna and Vishnu to succeed in their first Olympics," Khanna added.

Initially, AITA had announced that Paes and Bhupathi will be the lone team to London. AITA also said that Paes will team up with Sania Mirza for the mixed doubles.

On mixed doubles, Khanna explained:"Sania has already stated after the French Open that although she prefers to play with Mahesh, she would play with any partner in the Olympics."

"Leander and Sania are the only direct entry for the mixed doubles. If Sania gets a wild card, they will be only Indian pair at number 19 with their combined rankings," he added.

On Wednesday, Paes had threatened pull out of the Olympics if he was forced to team up with a junior player. AITA and India are waiting for Paes' reaction on the selection. Paes' father, Vece Paes told Times Now news channel, "He is not going to agree with AITA decision." He added that it was "unfair" on Paes.

"It would not be acceptable if with my ranking as the best Indian tennis player I give up the best option of partner for winning a medal for my country and I am made to play the Olympics with a player ranked 207/306 in the world while the No.13 and No. 15 ranked players form another team together based on their refusal to play with me."

"If this is the case then for the sake of Indian Tennis and to relieve the AITA in regards to the selection of the team, I have no other option but to withdraw from the Olympics," Paes had written to AITA on Wednesday.

"This decision is unfair to India No. 1 (Paes). AITA holds Leander in very high esteem. We are confident that Leander won't disappoint us as he has done yeoman's service to the game," Khanna said, hoping that Paes will play with Vishu Vardhan.

AITA also decided not to take any disciplinary action against Bhupathi and Bopanna.

"To take a harsh decision against Mahesh and Rohan is not in the best interest of nation. AITA established a code of conduct, we will consider action only after the Olympics," Khanna said.

"AITA admits that decision of pairing with Mahesh and Rohan is not the best on tennis grounds. AITA admits that this decision may not be fair in all aspects but is the best one to AITA's understanding and in the best interest of the players," added Khanna.

OneIndia News

Story first published: Thursday, June 21, 2012, 13:13 [IST]
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