Bangalore: The All India Tennis Association (AITA) has come down heavily on Mahesh Bhupathi for declining to partner Leander Paes for the Olympics. An AITA official in a press conference said, "If Mahesh does not want to partner Leander, then Rohan will partner Leander in Olympics."
He also reiterated the fact that the association were mature enough and did not favour any individuals.
The official, in a press conference in Bangalore, said, "We are a fair body and we dont have preference for any individuals. We want Mahesh to team up with Leander at the Olympics."
The AITA official criticised Mahesh Bhupathi for acting immaturely.
He said, "Unfortunate that Indian players spoke about selection issues in the media. Mahesh should have acted more maturely."
On Friday, AITA selector Rohit Rajpal termed the joint statement issued by Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna, criticising the sports body for not considering their demand to select them as a team for London Olympics, as "unfortunate".
AITA shot down the duo's demand that they be selected as a team and not as individual players for the London Olympics but Bopanna and Bhupathi said they will not take AITA's decision lying down and will pursue their case.
In a joint press statement Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna said, "As athletes who have committed ourselves to representing the nation, we have worked tirelessly on our pairing, choosing to break winning partnerships, and keep aside personal best interests, to combine forces to represent the nation on sport's most prestigious platform. We have worked together on strengthening our partnership and have proved its benefits. As a result, we have maintained our position as one of the top Men's Doubles teams in the world."
An upset Bhupathi earlier told NDTV: "I have already told the All India Tennis Association (AITA) that I will not be available to play the Olympics if I am paired with Leander. I haven't even spoken to Leander since November." Hesh, as the Indian star is popularly known, wants to be sent with his regular doubles partner Rohan Bopanna. "Rohan and I would have been the best pairing and we have repeatedly told the AITA that."
The angry fuselage of words from the two tennis aces came after tennis selectors announced in Bangalore on Friday that India would send only one men's doubles tennis team to London and Paes and Bhupathi would have to play together as that team, despite stated differences. They made it clear that they are focused on quality, not quantity and would like to send a winning combination to London.