Hip Hip Hurray! Leander Paes!
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Hip Hip Hurray! Leander Paes!


Paes wins 50 th doubles title  and  a daily hailed it as a milestone win. But the space allotted to its coverage  was just one fifth of a normal column of the newspaper. But a recent similar achievement in another sport, though with a mile stone at 100, in fact  gobbled up almost entire sports  sections of newspapers. Even a nonevent of not reaching that 100 was discussed  ad nauseam for days on end. Cricket alone seems to be  our religion and  Tendulkar, the Lord at its sanctum sanctorum. His fanatic followers  may even raise  temples for him, name them “ashtasachin”, a potential competitor  to existing “ashtavinayak” in Maharashtra. There may ensue in future fierce political battles for the control of this golden mine. As in Arab countries, where Islam reigns supreme, other religions have no place. India has cricket and cares for nothing else. Recently one finds that it is actually  sports other than cricket that  wins some  kudos for the country. Unstinting encouragement of  other sports alone will raise our stature as a sporting nation. The status of world champion in cricket  was indeed short lived. Was it just a flash in the pan? It was not a shove  to a lesser seat, but a  violent push that sees us now in  an abyss of ignominy.

My love for tennis is  from my armchair and not displayed in court. Right from  Connors to Djokovic  and Navratilova to Sharapova, I have viewed many a battle royal. I took in every moment of their  gladiator like combats  till the winner fell flat  spread eagled. I am impartial to men or women, to singles or doubles. I was witness to stunning serves and burning aces, outstretched  back- and forehand smashes, crafty slices, tempting lobs and unending volleys, pumping fists and  grunts of pain and titilating flights of ever shortening skirts  of the best of players. The joy they gave me  left no  place for envy, the prize money  normally evokes. Success in singles is a solo effort , but  in doubles , to achieve the same,  effort must necessarily go hand in hand  with a communication between players. It is this  element that adds to the charms of a doubles event. Greatness in doubles is no less than greatness in singles.

Fifty tournaments and six hundred matches  to reach this important milestone is no mean achievement. When one considers that it is garnered partnering with different players, enhances its value. It highlights a  skill in communication during play  with partners having  different talents  and temperaments. This makes Leander’s accomplishment an enviable landmark in tennis.

Hip, Hip, Hurray! Leander! Though  the number to shout Hurray to follow  Hip Hips is  not yet very large  in the country, I am sure , your attainment will  go a long way to enhance the number of cheers and draw many youngsters to this elegant game in future.   


Dr T N Vasudevan


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