India as a sports nation has a galaxy of stars who have been shining very brightly in the firmament of our sports sky. Be it cricket , lawn tennis, badminton, chess, boxing etc. And the one who has managed to enthrall the nation for the last twenty years with his sheer brilliance and on the field exploit is Sachin Tendulkar. But I would turn my spot light on one of the magnificent sporting personality is Leander Paes in tennis. His chequered career has exhibited an unusual character in the form of courage and great fighting qualities. In tennis we know the great Indian masters of the past like Ramanathan Krishnan, Premjit Lal, Joydeep Mukherjea, Vijay and Anand Amritraj, Ramesh Krishnan who did India proud by their performances and Leander is the worthy successor to this distinguished line-up.


Leander Paes was born in Kolkata and his father is Dr.Vaez Paes who distinguished himself as a hockey player at the highest level by representing India in hockey and in fact he was an important member of the bronze-winning team at Munich Olympics and his mother Jennifer too was a renowned basket ball player who represented India as captain at the Asian Basket Ball Championship in 1980. It is but natural for Leander to take to sports as the ducks take to water! Surprisingly his initial love was for the soccer as a kid he was fascinated by this game like many kolkatans whose love for this game simply borders on mass hysteria. He was drawn to tennis much later.


After spending spending some time at the Britannia Tennis Academy where he had all the training facilities to hone his skills in tennis, he started his career with a bang by clinching the Junior Wimbledon Boys Singles in and Junior US Open title in 1990 He did not have to look back since then. His exploits are too many in the professional tennis to be detailed in this article .But what is remarkable about his career is his scintillating performance whenever he represented India in the Davis Cup. He has an awe-inspiring record by beating players who had far superior ranking to earn the nickname as the giant-killer. His moment of crowning glory came at the Atlanta Olympics when he won an Olympic bronze. In Mahesh Bhupati he found an ideal partner in the doubles, this duo turned in a series of superlative performances by winning all the Grand slam tournaments in the doubles. Unfortunately they fell out and both of them partnering with other players continue to dominate in the doubles game today.


One of the most notable features of his character is his courage. The way he fought back an illness which even threatened to bring end to illustrious career to return to professional tennis, should be an example for all the sports-persons in the country. Judging by his current he is poised to win many laurels for the country.




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