Saurav and Shazia (India) got wild card entry in Mixed Doubles category of Tennis Slaves Series. In international sports, the term (wild card) is perhaps best known in reference to big international sporting events such as Olympic Games or Wimbledon. Countries which fail to produce athletes able to meet performance requirements to compete are granted “wild cards”, which enable them to send competitors tournaments even if those competitors’ abilities are below the required standards. Though, there were few better ranked Tennis players in India but they were busy in other tournaments, injured (and some popular celebrity showing off their stardom by statements like we are focusing on Olympics…skipping ‘small’ tournaments).
This was second year of Egypt’s Tennis Slaves Series. There were 16 pairs in the Mixed Doubles Event. The only unique rule was the two players should be of same country which happens in big International events like Olympics, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, etc as nations also compete in composite Medal Tally of all the events. 3 Rounds before Final (First round of 16, Quarter Finals, Semi Finals). The Indian pair, scheduled to play Chadian players, was very excited and happy as their rankings were better than the Chadian duo and the players from Chad were unseeded.
Just before the games a bitter Civil War broke out in eastern Chad and all the International Flights were canceled. Indians progressed to Quarter Finals with a W.O. or Walkover win. They practiced for 2 days before their next match. Their opponents were Markal Bass and Cindy Pass from Nepal. But on the eve of match Cindy was disqualified by World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) for doping violations in the last round of 16 match. Saurav and Shazia got their second Walkover and they were in the semis. They were happy and “Only 2 Steps….” was the only thing in their mind. Russians won their first 2 matches and were scheduled to play Indians next.
Zafira Nova, Top-seeded International star was main attraction in women’s singles of the same tournament. She got injured in her singles semi-final match. She retired from the match and from the Mixed Doubles Event. Indian pair was now in Final of Egypt’s Tennis Slaves Series.
Shazia – “Everyone is focusing on singles events….media and all, no news of us ‘making’ it to the final?”
A reporter heard this line of Shazia when she was practicing with Saurav and quoted it in the next day’s National Newspaper. Now, not “everyone” but many were talking about these two players. SMS and Internet Jokes circulated everywhere. “Register your names and you are a finalist! Hurry!”
Next, top-seeded Israeli pair. They were called Mixed Doubles Specialist with 29 titles to their credit. They were super professionals and favorites in the Sunday final.
Saturday evening, some Palestinian extremists kidnapped Israeli Players for their multiple demands. Authorities had no clue of the players on Sunday and reserve day, Monday.
Indians were declared the champions of Mixed Double Event of Egypt’s Tennis Slaves Series. The joke changed “Register and be a Champion plus a free foreign trip!”
Author notes –
*) – A walkover or W.O. is the awarding of a victory to a contestant because there are no other contestants, or because the other contestants have been disqualified or have forfeited.
*) – The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is an independent foundation created through a collective initiative led by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to promote, coordinate and monitor the fight against drugs in sport.