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Sunday, April 21, 2024

AITA refuses to change stance

BANGALORE: Sticking to its stand, the All India Tennis Association on Saturday said it will not change the players’ combination for the London Olympics despite Mahesh Bhupathi categorically rejecting his pairing with Leander Paes.


Speaking to reporters after being elected unopposed as AITA president, Anil Khanna made a strong defence of the selection committee’s decision on picking the duo.Urging Bhupathi to be a “little more mature”, Khanna asked him to put the national interest first.”Both (Bhupathi and Bopanna) have to realise that the nation comes much before commitment to each other,” he said.Khanna said if Bhupathi expects AITA to buckle under pressure and not pair him with Paes, “it will not happen”.Bhupathi and Bopanna, in a joint statement on Friday, said they have repeatedly and consistently communicated to the AITA their desire to only be considered for selection as a team and not as individuals to be paired with any other player.The two players had also said they would continue to pursue their case so that they be selected as a team before the final entry is sent to ITF.Khanna stressed that the Paes-Bhupathi pair is the best team for the Olympics.”It will have to be Leander and Mahesh,” he said. Arguing that the Paes-Bhupathi pair is the best bet for India, Khanna said a medal-winning team is possible only with Paes.”Olympics is a different ball game and tougher than a Grand Slam and wealth of experience that the duo has would keep them in good stead in crunch and pressure situation. We have to send medal winning team,” Khanna said, and expressed hope that Bhupathi would agree to team up with Paes.

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