Leander, Thanks for the memories in singles!

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Leander, Thanks for the memories in singles!

Post by jayakris » Thu Mar 13, 2003 4:28 pm

Had a nice chat with Leander yesterday after the match. He was basically mentioning that we have been constantly on his case about singles. He said there were times when he read the my notes and the forum and decided to stay away from it because we were just constantly critical of him in the singles matter. But he hastened to add, "but having said that, THANK YOU guys. You all are amazing in what you do for Indian tennis as fans; so I keep coming back to read what you all are saying". Knowing him as a sensitive type, I wasn't surprised and I had guessed for a while that Lee had a little bit of a bone to pick with me for a while for being on his case too.

I should take some blame for this, because I have been the cheerleader for the "get back to singles, Lee" campaign here, though I don't think I have been nasty about it. My main complaint has always been that he should have just announced his retirement from professional singles and that I would shut up. I told him that and he said, "heck, you guys know how it is; what is the big deal about it?" .. Perhaps he has a point. And to be fair, he has not said that he would play pro singles for at least the last 18 months. The last time I remember was a few months after his last meaningful singles outing (qualifying and winning a round at Wimbledon). Perhaps I shouldn't have made such an issue of him not tendering an official "retirement press release" -- from us as fans, I wanted to have us a chance to thank him for all he did to keep India in the pro singles circuit for a number of years after RK left, but we never got a proper opportuinty to do that.

He said, "look, I have been playing singles competitively for some 18 years since I was 10 --- I am done with that, and my body can't take it much longer". He didn't say he no longer enjoyed professional singles for himself, but it is clear that was what he implied.

Before I could say Davis Cup, he had read my mind. He said, "playing singles for India is a totally different thing; I know what you guys expect from me - and I should thank all of you fans at the website for giving me the inspiration for it". He pointed out all of us as the biggest reason why he wants to keep playing top level singles in Davis Cup. That was nice to hear from him. I was also a bit surprised because it was the first time he said that to me. He may also have noticed that the only time I have called him to wish him the best is at the Davis Cups for the last few years.

So anyway, no announcement or anything official from him about retiring from singles, but he has retired from professional singles. He will continue to put his heart and soul into Davis Cup singles, which we know and he said he does "know what we all want from him".

Though we never got a proper time to say this, I will say now - "Thank you Leander for all the tour singles memories!"

Jay

gvhvhg: I wouldn't say that doubles is "meaningless". Quite a few of the top singles players are beginning to play it with some seriousness lately after the recent entry and ranking changes. With there being no doubles specialists below the top-30 ranking in the future (and all doubles specialists being those who were good singles players earlier), it will stop appearing to be an irrelevant event. It may still only be roughtly as important as the prize money difference between singles and doubles indicate. Say 1/3rd as important. But that is not "meaningless"!

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Leander, Thanks for the memories in singles!

Post by Dhruv » Thu Mar 13, 2003 5:14 pm

Thank you Leander for the singles events. I think you helped keep Indian tennis alive for a little while longer while the newer generation of players emerged. Your performances in the Davis Cup well :notworthy: :notworthy: :notworthy: :notworthy: :notworthy:

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Leander, Thanks for the memories in singles!

Post by BSharma » Thu Mar 13, 2003 8:51 pm

After reading Jay's note today about his chat with Leander it became clear that the Indian tennis fans do not have to guess if Leander will play singles in a pro tournament or not.

Well, I am thankful to Leander for giving the Indian tennis fans many occasions to cheer about his success in singles. He may not have become a champion in singles but he gave his best shot.

I feel that Leander will prolong his pro tennis career by playing only doubles and playing singles in Davis Cup. He still has at least 4 or 5 good years in pro tennis where he can be one of the top 5 players.

Thanks for the memories, Leander!!! :notworthy:

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Leander, Thanks for the memories in singles!

Post by gvhvhg » Thu Mar 13, 2003 11:54 pm

Say 1/3rd as important. But that is not "meaningless"!
Ok agreed

Thanx leander for all the memories, and even though it is not my wish, it is yours so good luck in the doubles.

Jay, whne you say that lp said that we are the biggest reason he plays davis cup etc etc, did u mean us at tennisindia.org or indian tennis fans in general.

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Leander, Thanks for the memories in singles!

Post by jayakris » Fri Mar 14, 2003 1:51 am

I am sure he means all of us - those who come to the website, those who stay up in the chatroom during the Davis Cup matches trying to find score updates, those who post here about how we would win 4-1 against Japan, those who follow the players who could be potential future Indian team players, etc, etc. You know, the "no-name fans" who hardly ever even see him play, but he knows about a lot of us through this website.

Don't forget that the players are constantly dealing with many people with axes to grind - those who want something from them, those who create problems for them, those who are in the officialdom, etc, etc. A lot of those people at courtside in many tournaments are sometimes not "pure fans", so to say. That is one reason why the players appreciate the fact that there are a lot of us who want nothing else but for them to play and win!

Jay

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Tragic retirement

Post by PKBasu » Fri Mar 14, 2003 2:42 am

Thanks Jay for this vital conversation. For a sports fan, it is extremely difficult to come to terms with the retirement of a hero, primarily because he is still usually the subject of unfulfilled hopes and expectations. I remember watching the US-India Davis Cup match in 1992 (when Courier was #1) and hearing Fred Stolle say that Indian players -- especially Leander -- had really quick hands and would therefore make great doubles players. He took that advice and became the best doubles player of his generation. But I always knew that Leander was capable of much more than he achieved in singles, if only he would plan his career a bit better (I still don't understand, for instance, why he did not play the US Open juniors in 1990, or any of the Slam juniors in 1991 except the USO -- and failed to play much singles on the pro tour either). Then I remember the first time India beat Britain in the Davis Cup, and the typically xenophobic Brit papers wrote horrible articles about Leander's supposed lack of any talent. One wanted those absurd critics to be silenced -- as indeed they occasionally were over the years, but not often enough for us fans.
But we will now simply wallow in the happier memories...of Leander beating #5 Enqvist and #19 Furlan on the way to the Olympic bronze, of that wonderful win over Sampras soon after his only Pro singles title in Newport, of beating future French Open champion Albert Costa in R1 of the US Open...of his two magnificent matches against Agassi at the Olympics and the US Open R3 in 1996. These marvellous achievements, though, have just the hint of an appetiser before the meal -- and we fans are now to be permanently deprived of the meal. Those who saw him play singles in Chennai in January (as I did) would be forgiven for holding legitimate hopes (nay, expectations) of a singles resurgence this year -- and the upcoming Challengers offered a perfect entree -- but that is tragically not to be...
At least we will still be able to savour Leander's singles play in the Davis Cup (but how long can that last without any singles practice on the real tour?). Davis Cup, of course, is the arena of his greatest triumphs...over Jakob Hlasek (then ranked around #10) on Calcutta's South Club lawns (a match I was privileged to witness), over future Wimbledon champ (and that year's reining runner-up) Ivanisevic in an epic grass five-setter, over another grass specialist Wayne Ferreira, and of course over Arnaud Boetsch (then #16) and Henri Leconte on the clay of Frejus (at a time when the French were Davis Cup holders). And of course, numerous other wins over the Czech, Italian, Korean players ranked far above him in the official singles rankings.
So we fans will take the liberty of imploring you one last time, Leander, to reconsider the decision to retire from singles altogether. Remember Ramesh played the occasional tournament even in his final year of 1993, just to stay sharp for the Davis Cup (and invariably did something extraordinary!). You showed us in Chennai what you are capable of -- and indeed reinforced it amply in subsequent Davis Cup matches. This is already turning into an absolutely marvellous doubles year for you. But please, we implore you one last time, do not entirely abandon singles...it is tedious planning, but 3 challengers a year plus the Tata Open (and the occasional qualifier at Wimbledon or Flushing Meadow) will at least keep you match-fit for Davis Cup and with a respectable ranking that does a bit of inadequate justice to your talent....thank you anyway for the wonderful memories.

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Leander, Thanks for the memories in singles!

Post by Dhruv » Fri Mar 14, 2003 12:27 pm

Jay wrote:He said, "look, I have been playing singles competitively for some 18 years since I was 10 --- I am done with that, and my body can't take it much longer". He didn't say he no longer enjoyed professional singles for himself, but it is clear that was what he implied.
Everyone we should repect that and accept the fact that LP has moved away from playing singles in the ATP tour. He will continue to play in the Davis Cup. As Jay also mentioned it has been 18 months or so since LP has done that we should stop asking him/critising him from playing singles. Only LP knows truly what he is capable of in the long haul. We should now focus on the new generation, the Rohan Bopannas, Harsh Mankad, Mustafas and SKS of this world and give them our full support. It does not help the young generation if you keep putting them down by saying you want the older generation to play. Some might take it to implicitly mean that they are not good enough yet or will ever be to replace those who came before them. Anyway my two cents.

LP has represented Indian tennis well along with MB but now maybe it is time to move on to atleast in the singles to the newer crop of players for the day to day grind of the ATP circuit.

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