Lee-Hesh to play together; AITA seeks wild cards for Sania, Sunitha

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New Delhi, May 21 (UNI) The All India Tennis Association (AITA) today reiterated that ace doubles' players Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi will play together at the Beijing Olympics and it has sought wild card entries for Sania Mirza and Sunitha Rao in women's doubles for the 2008 Games.

''Our position has been clear from the very beginning and it is our prerogative to decide who will represent India at the Olympics,'' AITA secretary General Anil Khanna told UNI here today.

''We have already nominated their names for the doubles on February 28,'' he said.

He added that Sania Mirza, who is currently ranked 32 in singles in the WTA charts, is sure to get a wild card entry for the forthcoming Games unless her ratings fall dramatically.

''We have also sought wild card entries for Sania and Sunita Rao in the doubles. While Sania is sure to get an Olympic berth, we are hopeful that Sunitha too has a great chance,'' Khanna informed.

The AITA secretary general pointed out that the Olympics is the highest level that a sportsperson can aspire to play.

''Olympic is bigger than Davis Cup. Only best players compete there and in India they are the best. Rohan Bopanna is still to reach that level. So there will be no change in the team.

Earlier, Bhupathi had written an e-mail to AITA, saying there was no point in playing with Paes ''without communication and preparation'' and he would rather like to partner Bopanna in the Olympic Games.

But Khanna chided Bhupathi for giving greater priority to his personal enmity against Paes over the interest of the country.

''Mahesh should keep the country's interest in mind. I request Leander and Mahesh to forget the differences and come together to play for the country,'' he said.

Yesterday, Paes had said he was looking forward to partnering Bhupathi and win the gold medal at Beijing.


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