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Indian tennis - the cast is bigger than the plot


The Olympics has not yet begun and we already had a thrilling episode wrt the Indian tennis team for London.   We saw the personalities come out in full colour.  Mahesh “He is a back-stabber” Bhupathi, Rohan “no one but Mahesh” Bopanna, Leander “it is all about India” Paes and Sania “I am a victim” Mirza– what a joke.  This was a soap opera playing out in the open and every actor (and atleast one dad) wanted his or her 15 minutes in the limelight.  For those who didn’t follow the story, here is one version of it

Amongst all of this, what was lost was the quality of Team India in Olympics.  We have a 39 year old and a 38 year old representing us in what is clearly a young man’s sport.   Whatever happened to the Yuki Bhambri’s of the world? I remember seeing Yuki play 4 years ago in the juniors in US open and being really impressed by him.  And what about the next Sania Mirza?  We have not seen one women’s player at the top since Sania gave us a lot to cheer 7 years ago.

With the growing economic prosperity in India combined with the fact that India had produced good players of international calibre like Vijay Amritraj, Ramesh Krishnan, Leander Paes,  Sania Mirza, etc  - we were expecting many more top Indian tennis players.   While we have seen some hope in the likes of Somdev Devvarman, the results have been largely disappointing.

There is no way India is going to medal in singles in the Olympics – that is a given.  Our best chances of medaling in doubles are with Mahesh and Bopanna – Paes and Vishnu are un-tested as a pair and neither Paes nor Sania can play a decent backhand.    Even if our players are able to perform exceedingly well and do India proud, we have a singular larger issue to contend with. 

Why is India not producing a steady crop of top tennis players?  

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