Creditable performance by Asiad team

The young tennis brigade finally seems ready to take on the mantle from their illustrious seniors as they proved by their performance in the Asian Games. India

Updated: February 25, 2007 09:28 IST
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New Delhi:The young tennis brigade finally seems ready to take on the mantle from their illustrious seniors as they proved by their performance in the Asian Games. India improved on their performance from the last edition at the Games to bag four medals in all - a gold, a silver and two bronze. Seniors Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes obviously set the standards, winning the gold in doubles and also contributing in silver and bronze winning performances, but the youngsters also showed their mettle by contributing their bit. "It was a creditable performance by the players. Both the boys and girls worked hard, and their success is ample testimony to it," said Anil Khanna, General Secretary of the All India Tennis Association, while welcoming the players here at the airport yesterday. With Paes and Bhupathi flying to Madrid from Busan for an ATP tournament, the spotlight turned, and deservedly so, on the younger members of the team - Rohan Bopanna, Mustafa Ghouse, Vishal Uppal, Sania Mirza, and Ankita Bhambri. A medal eluded the 22-year old Bopanna who nevertheless impressed with his spirited display, particularly against Uzbekistan's Oleg Ogorodov in the team singles event, which he lost 5-7, 6-2, 3-6. "It was a good opportunity to play at the international stage where the players were from the top 150. But I should say that Ogorodov gave a lot of chances, and I did not play that well," admitted Bopanna. Bhupathi and Manisha missing the gold in mixed doubles after holding a match point in the third set might have been disappointing, but the men's second doubles pair of Uppal and Ghouse winning a bronze came as a pleasant surprise. "We did not expect anything, we just went there and gave our best shot," said Ghouse. For both the players, the first Games medal will be a memorable one for more than one reason. "Rubbing shoulders with some of the great players was a nice experience. I could not talk to Paradorn (Srichaphan) but you could always learn from players like him by merely watching from the sidelines," said Ghouse. The fast improving 16-year-old, Sania, was overjoyed with her bronze medal effort. "Playing alongside Leander was a great experience. I learnt a lot of things about doubles tennis by playing with him. For instance, from the baseline you have to loop it up a bit, and things like that," said the teenager from Hyderabad. Sania's notable performance, however, came in the team events. Playing Chinese Taipei's Janet Whids Lee, who is ranked in the top 75, Sania did very well to go one-set up before losing the match. "I was leading the second set tie-breaker 4-1, and then I choked. Perhaps I relaxed a bit, I don't know. I have problems with my concentration. I am working on it," she said. The women's team captain Enrico Piperno though was not too worried. "Young minds tend to drift. The important thing is that all the girls put up a splendid show. A silver and a bronze from two girls speaks for itself," he said. (PTI)

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