AITA to send two teams for Olympics
New Delhi: The embattled All India Tennis Association (AITA) today claimed to have worked out a compromise formula to resolve the selection crisis for the Olympics by deciding to send two men`s doubles teams for the event, pairing Leander Paes with a lower-ranked Vishnu Vardhan.
Giving the decision, which it itself termed "unfair" on world number 7 Paes, AITA has allowed Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna to team up for the London event after both of them adamantly refused to partner the 39-year-old veteran.
"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 referring to Paes` threat of a pullout in case of being paired with a junior partner.
"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," he added ending speculation of Paes being paired with Somdev Devvarman, who is recovering from a shoulder injury.
"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."
But in a decision that is bound to go down not so well with Bhupathi, the body has decided to break his Australian Open and most recently French Open-winning partnership with Sania Mirza in mixed doubles.
Khanna said Sania, in case she gets a wildcard for the Olympics on June 28, will partner Paes as the duo`s combined ranking ensures a direct entry to the mega event.