Serve and volley sans answers

Selection process defies logic

 Buoyed by Rohan Bopanna’s unequivocal support, Mahesh Bhupathi stepped up his fight against the All India Tennis Association by writing a strongly-worded letter to the Sports Ministry, complaining against the selection process of the men’s doubles team for the London Olympics where he has been paired up with Leander Paes.

“The manner in which this (selection of team) has been communicated and handled by the All India Tennis Association defies logic,” noted Bhupathi in a letter addressed to Sports Minister Ajay Maken.

In a scathing indictment of AITA’s handling of the whole issue, Bhupathi wondered why the players were not informed in advance if the association’s intention was to send just one team to the Games.

“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?” Bhupathi asked.

“We fail 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,” said the Bangalorean. Bhupathi  claimed AITA didn’t communicate to them about its plan to enter only one team. “At no point did the AITA suggest that we would be considered as anything but a team; in fact, their correspondence of March 2012 proactively states that ‘we have great possibility of having two doubles teams in the Olympics main draw’.”

Saying that AITA’s decision had “surprised” and “disappointed” him, the 12-time Grand Slam winner also questioned the logic behind sending just one entry to Olympics when the country has the opportunity of fielding two teams.

“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 remarked.

The veteran star asked Maken to intervene and ensure justice was delivered. “We sincerely hope that you will intervene based on the principles of natural justice and rectify this situation so that we may be able to participate as a team at the London Olympics as we rightfully deserve to do,” he signed off.

‘I will partner only Bhupathi’

New Delhi: Rohan Bopanna on Monday swore his allegiance to Mahesh Bhupathi and rejected the All India Tennis Association’s (AITA) proposal to partner Leander Paes for the London Olympics.

Bopanna was sought both by Bhupathi and Paes for the Olympics before the selection committee zeroed in on the experience of Paes-Bhupathi pairing.

Bopanna, who has been playing with Bhupathi with an eye on Olympics, informed through a statement that he turned down the AITA offer because his “professional integrity will not permit me to make this compromise.

Over the weekend, I was approached by the AITA with a request to pair with Leander Paes as the AITA's ‘second choice’ team to represent India at the Games,” Bopanna stated.

“While I was apparently the partner of choice for all other concerned parties, I was told that the AITA's original decision to exclude me and overlook my pairing with Mahesh Bhupathi was a 'unanimous' one, given that the Olympics needed 'veteran champions' to compete at that level. The irony of this situation was not lost on me.
“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.”

Bopanna said he and Paes will be an underprepared team for the London Games.
“Since the beginning of the year, I have partnered with Mahesh towards playing together as a team at the Olympics.

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, in good faith, I could not accept AITA's offer that we play together.”

Bopanna said he took the risk of breaking his partnership with Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi in order to give his best for the country.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

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