AITA defends decision, gives sports ministry five options

New Delhi: Defending the decision to pair Leander Paes with Mahesh Bhupathi, the All India Tennis Association (AITA) Tuesday lobbed the ball back into the government court giving it five options to resolve the selection issue for the 2012 London Games.

AITA secretary general Bharat Oza, in his reply to Sports Minister Ajay Maken said that "asking Leander to pair with a junior player (Yuki Bhambri or Vishu Vardhan) would be the most inappropriate decision".

Oza also said that doing so will be an insult to Leander, who enjoys great respect in the international tennis circuit.

Elaborating the five options to the sports ministry, Oza wrote: "Ask the players to follow the decision of the selection committee consisting of five Davis Cup players and 1 Fedeation Cup player. This means that Leander should play with Mahesh. This also means that there will be only one pair but in the views of the selectors the best possible pair."

The second option, in case Mahesh does not want to play with Leander, Rohan Bopanna should play with Leander as the per the decision of the AITA selection committee. This again means only one pair will represent India at the Olympics.

The third option is of two Indian pairs at the Games. Leander would pair up with either Yuki Bhambri or Vishnu Vardhan and Mahesh could team up with Rohan Bopanna.

As per the fourth option, if Leander decides not to go to Olympics with a lower ranked player, only Mahesh and Bopanna will represent India. The AITA in the final option said disciplinary actions should be taken against Mahesh and Bopanna if they don't abide by the decision of the selection committee and Leander takes court with a junior partner.

Oza said the decision to send one or two teams was not an easy one.

Coming down hard on Mahesh and Bopanna, Oza said: "It should be understood that two players cannot make a pact with each other to keep out the No.1 player out and thereafter publicly suggest in the media that No.1 player should go to the Olympics with the No.5 player." (IANS)