Somdev Devvarman Opens Up on Leander Paes-Mahesh Bhupathi Tiff and AITA's 'Inefficiency'

·2-min read

Somdev Devvarman since his playing day has always been vocal about the systemic 'issues' plaguing the Indian tennis system.

From raising his voice on rising cases of police brutality and recalling his experiences of racism, Devvarman has lead from the front.

Devvarman in a recent interview recalled the times when the Indian Davies Cup team was split down the middle because of the relationship between Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi.

"Basically, before the Davis Cup ties in 2008, it’s no secret that there was almost a rebellion against Leander Paes, who was captain at the time. I think Mahesh Bhupathi, Rohan Bopanna, Prakash Amritraj and maybe someone else, said they didn’t want Leander to be captain," Devvarman recalled to Indian Express.

"They had asked me to join in at the time as well but I was still in college and I told them straight up, ‘Guys, I have never been a fan of the Lee-Hesh kind of situation and I’m still in college so please keep me out of it. You guys go ahead and do what you want to do but keep me out of it.’

This was in February 2008, against Uzbekistan on grass in Delhi. The next tie they played against Japan, Prakash and Rohan won (the first two singles rubbers and Leander and Mahesh won the doubles), but right after that tie (was secured) they said they won’t play with Leander anymore. And I was still this guy who was coming in and out of the team – I wasn’t a permanent fixture on the team," Devvarman added.

Devvarman said that Vece Paes (Leander’s father) was the team doctor, while Sanjay Singh (Paes’ trainer) was the team masseuse but added that 'he wasn’t a physio'.

"I joined the team at the end of 2008 in a tie against Romania and then in 2009, we played a tie against Chinese Taipei. It became very clear to me that the entire Davis Cup team was a Leander team," Devvarman said.

"Nandan Bal was the coach who at the time – if there was a Leander-Mahesh camp, Bal was on the Leander camp," Devvarman added.

Devvarman also said that, during a "Leander and Mahesh crisis if people in the Davis Cup team are all pro-Leander, you think that’s not going to create a rift?"

"I’m not pro-Mahesh or pro-Leander but it seemed pretty clear to me that a change needed to be made," Devvarman added.