The last two-three days were very disturbing to me, not as a columnist but as a tennis player. Having played the Indian circuit for more than 10 years it was a cherished dream that I would get to represent my country at any level. I did achieve the target, but as the non-playing Captain of the Indian junior tennis team. I am quite aghast that when you’re on national duty to represent the nation in the Olympics, how one can even think of personal interest or choice being kept as priority. As a player, I respect and applaud every achievement of a player at any level. But it is painful when a player starts to play games outside the periphery of the game for reasons best known to them.
The unfortunate spat of the 2012 Olympics in London is still haunting Indian tennis where bloated egos and personal issues saw India fritting away a certain chance of winning medals. The lessons were not learnt nor were the damages repaired. The situation remained the same. In fact, the smell of stale relationship still prolonged. It seemed that the personal war and grudges were still deep rooted in their hearts. The achievement of a player should always be the achievement for a nation-- and it should never be used as a negotiating or pressure tool for personal gains. Every country has an organized association to manage the affairs of the game with experts doing their job, keeping national interest in mind.
The unfortunate spat of the 2012 Olympics in London is still haunting Indian tennis where bloated egos and personal issues saw India fritting away a certain chance of winning medals. The lessons were not learnt nor were the damages repaired.
The whole controversy of Rohan Bopanna getting to choose his partner who is 79 ranks below (Saketh-125,Leander-46) by writing an official letter to the All India Tennis Association just by virtue of being a high ranked player. Did Rohan realize that the letter he wrote was for choosing a partner for Olympics and not for a professional or a show-match. In the past, we have seen Leander raising the bar of the game in Davis Cup and beating much higher ranked players and proving himself time and again like a soldier on the nations duty.
The selection of AITA committee on records seems correct and Rohan had to ultimately bite the dust by accepting the judgement. Was all this necessary???
Each time a controversy of this level is highlighted, I lose half the hope of winning medals because there are two players playing as a team with different hearts and a different mission. Doubles is always a team game and we’ve seen that team work in ‘Lee-Hash’ chest thumping appreciation of each other with fire in their eyes and national duty at heart.I spoke to Anil Khanna, president of AITA, also treasurer of Indian Olympic Association who said ‘I am happy that we have a very good team representing India at the Olympics and we are very hopeful to win medals for the country.’ Thank you Mr. Khanna for these words of consolation, but my apprehension is if Bopanna also has the same feeling at least till Rio 2016.
I would personally love to see India winning medals in tennis and see the game growing as a port in our country, but without controversies, without want of personal gains, without inflated egos and without politics. We have the Davis Cup around the corner before the Olympic Games, which will allow Rohan and Leander to pair up as a team and prove me wrong by playing as true ‘national heroes.’ Let the game of tennis perform the national duty and help India win a medal in tennis.’ All the best for Mission Medal to Indian Tennis team for Rio 2016.
Hemanshu Chaturvedi is a sports guru.