Paes back in Asiad team, Yuki exempted

Paes back in Asiad team, Yuki exempted

Leander Paes

The All India Tennis Association (AITA) has picked doubles specialist Leander Paes for the Asian Games, while the country's top men's singles player Yuki Bhambri has been “exempted” for the quadrennial event's tennis competition.

Yuki, ranked 93, has been excused by the selection committee, headed by S P Misra, “as he is likely to be in the main draw of the US Open.”

The distance and the paucity of time between the two events also became the deciding factors and AITA viewed it as a “good opportunity” for Yuki to represent India in the last Grand Slam of the season. The previous time an Indian qualified for the US Open men's singles draw was Somdev Devvarman in 2013. The tennis event in Asian Games is from August 19 to 25 while the US Open kicks off on August 27.

Paes, who has not played in Asian Games following his gold medal feat with Mahesh Bhupathi (men's doubles) and Sania Mirza (mixed doubles) in 2006, is among the three doubles specialists in the team which also includes Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan.

Ramkumar Ramanathan, Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Sumit Nagal are the three singles players in the mens' team. With Mahesh Bhupathi choosing to stay back in the country, Zeeshan Ali was appointed the coach-cum-captain of the team.

“Both Mahesh and Zeeshan have been taking care of the team. In any case, we could have sent only one because of the limited quota in a contingent,” AITA secretary-general Hironmoy Chatterjee told DH.

In the women’s section, Ankita Bhambri has been named the captain. The team includes Ankita Raina, Karman Kaur Thandi, Rutuja Bhosale, Pranjala Yadlapalli and Riya Bhatia along with the doubles specialist Prarthana Thombare.

India had won five medals in the 2014 Asian Games at Incheon. Yuki had won the bronze medal in the men's singles. The men's doubles team won a silver and bronze while Saketh Myneni clinched the mixed doubles gold with Sania Mirza. Prarthana had clinched the doubles bronze with Sania in the last edition.

Gaurang Shukla and Anand Kumar Dubey have been appointed as the physios for the two teams.

The teams: Men: Ramkumar Ramanathan, Prajnesh Gunneswaran, Sumit Nagal, Rohan Bopanna, Divij Sharan, Leander Paes. Coach: Zeeshan Ali.

Women: Ankita Raina, Karman Kaur Thandi, Rutuja Bhosale, Pranjala Yadlapalli, Riya Bhatia, Prarthana Thombare. Coach: Ankita Bhambri.