Recent events of the war of words between senior national tennis players Leander Paes and Sania Mirza have highlighted not only a feud between senior players and the one-off rebels but also highlighted the incapability of All India Tennis Federation (AITA) in controlling tennis players who represent India.
Currently, in India Tennis is the only sport after cricket that has captivated Indians with success onfield with the adventures of Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi, and Sania Mirza winning accolades in their chosen format of games i.e- doubles and mixed doubles. Tennis is also a very well organized sport in India with a good circuit of tournaments for juniors all the way to the famous tennis scholarships with American universities.
Having said that, I reckon all the hard work of AITA is undone when the animosity between it’s best players come out in the open.
This whole ugly episode of Leander Paes criticizing the mixed doubles selection for Rio games and Sania Mirza responding to the comments calling him ‘TOXIC’ was way out of order and ideally such comments are best ignored. As a top tennis player from India Sania should ideally focus on her performance on the court and avoid baiting and getting dragged into unwanted controversies that blemish your image.
Another highlight of the week was Sania demanding AITA and its Lifetime President (whatever that means) Anil Khanna to look into the TUE files from the recent WADA leaks concerning her USA opponent’s involvement. My question is why? Why would you want to do that? TUE’s are basically clean chits because they have been approved by WADA. Is your pressure going to change things? Probably, a reason why AITA haven’t taken any action on the request.
These incidents show a clear shortfall in AITA’s way to deal with players. On one hand, we have an association that does fantastically well for the development of tennis in India and contrasting that are the trigger-happy speak your mind out players who put the association in a disrepute with their words. This needs serious attention. This raises serious questions about how AITA functions, and if the unwanted pressures and war of words continue there can be serious damage to the growth of tennis in India with sponsors, partners, and other stakeholders will start looking at the affairs with Hawkeye precision and for a growing sport like tennis it can impact its future growth and reputation.