“We never expected this sort of reaction. Honestly, we never even thought things would be so bad,” said S.P. Misra, India tennis squad non-playing captain and member of the All India Tennis Association selection panel member.
Mr. Misra was reacting in an exclusive chat with The Hindu on Saturday to the reports about Davis Cupper Mahesh Bhupathi refusing to partner Leander Paes in the 2012 London Olympics.
“The decision to field Leander and Mahesh was taken after a teleconference involving both of them before the final choice was made. But, we were definitely surprised at the post-selection developments,” he said.
“I still believe that Mahesh and Leander are the best bet from India to win a medal given their amazing track record at the highest level,” he added.
“I am still optimistic of these issues being sorted out by Monday. And, if Mahesh insists on not partnering Leander, then Rohan Bopanna would be the next choice.
“If he also refuses to play with Leander, then the next best ranked players from India will be in the reckoning automatically,” said Misra. “Fortunately, there is time till June 21 to decide on this big issue,” he added.
“I mean, it cannot work out if players want to be selectors. There has to be some respect for the selection panel,” Misra added.
Referring to Sania Mirza, the AITA selection member said that they were making the best possible efforts to get a wild card entry and that they are really optimistic given the Indian's performances of late, including the mixed doubles title-triumph in the French Open partnering Mahesh Bhupathi.
“But, since Mahesh has not qualified for the London Olympics, Sania has to partner Leander in mixed doubles,” he said.
For their part, the Mirzas have indicated that their preference would be to see Sania and Mahesh combine once again in the London Olympics also. “But, they will not make an issue if the AITA takes a decision which it feels is right,” they pointed out.
Misra points out that a wildcard can only help Sania get an entry into the singles and doubles for Olympics. “But, again, she can name a choice for doubles but the AITA will have the final say in this regard,” he said.