Doubles matches are a treat to watch in Tennis, Badminton, Table Tennis and Squash. It needs a lot of co-ordination of both the players to make a match. Different strengths come handy and one complimenting the other may take the match from two best individual opponents if they fail to make a good combination. In Indian Racquet games the story of doubles players striking gold has been variable.
Squash: Squash is a game where the Indians like Deepika Pallikal and Joshna Chinnappa pair have done well in international events. They won the first ever gold medal at the Commonwealth games in 2014 which has boosted the confidence of the Indian players at this level.
At the Asian games the women’s team which comprised of these two top players won the silver medal. In the same tournament the men’s team of Saurav Ghosal and Haridner Pal Sandhu won the gold medal. This shows that Indian doubles pairing in squash have been good and have brought laurels for the country.
Tennis: In Tennis, the ace Tennis player Ramnath Krishnan recently said in Kerala ”Indian go after playing doubles and are not pursuing singles” is a matter of concern. If we strictly look there are no Indian doubles pairing at the Top international level tournaments like Wimbledon, US Open etc.
In this event, the last recognized pair was that of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi. The pair grew stronger in 1998, reaching the semi-finals of three Grand Slams, the Australian Open, the French Open, and the US Open. The duo of Paes and Bhupathi won the Gold medal at the 2002 Asian Games in Busan. The split in July 2012 and since then the country is not having any good Indian pair, though both of them are still a force to reckon pairing with international players.
In 2015, L. Paes plays with Klaasen, Mahesh plays with J. Melzer and Rohan Bopanna with D. Nestor. It is sad that Indians are not able to come together. Indians do pair at the Asian games level when Sanam Singh and Saketh Mieyni won the silver medal in doubles event and also Yuki Bhambri partnering with Divij Sharan won the bronze medal.
In women’s category, Saina Mirza won the bronze medal. In the Australian Open 2015 Saina Mirza is pairing with S. Hsieh a foreign (Chinese Taipei) partner. In mixed doubles, Leander Paes and Saina Mirza won the Gold medal in the Asian games 2006 at Doha. In 2009, Saina Mirza and Mahesh Bhupati won the Australian Open. Since then no good performance is recorded.
Badminton: In Badminton, India have some great singles players in men’s and women’s category which have represented the country at international level. Saina Nehwal , PV Sindhu in female category and P Kashyap, Srikanth, HS Prannoy, Guru Sai Dutt, HS Praineeth. Unfortunately, they do not play doubles for the country.
In women doubles, only Ashwini Ponnappa and Jwala Gutta are the only doubles pair that has done well at International circuit. In men’s category, there are few young Indian pairs like Manu Attri and Reddy which have represented the country but have not done enough at the international level. In Olympics and Asian games levels the Indians cannot match the speed of the Chinese, Koreans and Japanese.
It is a matter of great concern for a country of 120 million population to not have a good double players in majority of these events. It is time that the respective associations make additional efforts to build good double players in all three combinations of Men’s, Women’s and Mixed doubles.