The right call: AITA backs Leander Paes

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Leander Paes
Bangalore, Jun 19: All India Tennis Association (AITA) has backed Leander Paes in the selection process for London Olympics 2012. AITA and its selectors should be commended for sticking to its original selection.

AITA has rightly come out in support of India's top-ranked doubles player in Paes. According to AITA, asking Paes to partner a junior player is "meaningless". It is right.

AITA said on Tuesday, "asking Leander to pair with a junior player would be the most inappropriate decision and will be deemed to be an insult to Leander Paes, who enjoys great respect in International Tennis Circuit."

"It would be meaningless to send Leander with a junior player who has not played Grand Slam. Leander being the best player must be paired with either Rohan Bopanna or Mahesh Bhupathi," AITA added.

Over the past few days, Indian tennis has plunged into deep controversy over picking the right combination for Olympics. Sports biggest spectacle in London is every athlete's dream. With Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna deciding not to partner Paes, it is a great insult to him.

In the fight between Bhupathi-Bopanna and Paes, AITA has done the right thing. It also hit out at Bhupathi and Bopanna.

"It should be understood that two players cannot make a pact with each other to keep the number one player out and publicly suggest in media that No.1 player should go to Olympics with No. 5."

Why should Paes suffer because country's other two top players have ganged up to scuttle his chances. It is totally unfair by Bhupathi and Bopanna to openly dare AITA and India's most respected tennis player.

With the Sports Minister, Ajay Maken backing Bhupathi and asking for two teams to be sent to England, AITA has replied today making its stand clear.

AITA selectors job is to pick the players and they should abide by it.

"Since the Ministry reacted on the letter of Mahesh and Rohan, it is important that the Ministry should understand the correct facts so that it can understand that whatever decision AITA has taken is in the best interest of the nation," the AITA said.

"The selection committee resolved that sending Leander Paes with any other player will be a wasted opportunity," the association added.

AITA's stand is welcome. However, there is still no end to the ongoing row. Indian tennis fans are kept waiting to hear who will finally take that flight to London.

Now, AITA has put the ball in Bhupathi and Bopanna's court. It's their turn to react to AITA's latest reply.

Also, AITA listed out five options to Sports Ministry. Here, they are.The AITA, nonetheless, presented five options to the Ministry.

1. Stick to the original selection of Paes and Bhupathi as a team, which the AITA selection committee deems as "best".

2. Send Paes with Bopanna, which would "again mean that only one pair will go" and Bhupathi will miss out on Olympic participation.

3. Send two teams -- Leander pairs with either Yuki or Vishnu and Bhupathi teams up with Bopanna -- but AITA mentioned it won't be necessarily be the "best" teams.

4. Send only Bhupathi and Bopanna to Olympics and Paes decides to not participate.

5. Final option is to pair Paes with a junior player and take disciplinary action against Bhupathi and Bopanna for refusing to abide by the decision of the AITA selection committee.

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