A sweet victory on the court but unsavoury incidents off it. That just about sums up the events of the past week as far as Indian tennis concerned. And while the victory over Uzbekistan at Bangalore with a basically young team was welcome the open war of words between the two long serving stalwarts of Indian tennis Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi left a bad taste in the mouth. This is of course not the first time that the two have been at loggerheads or washed dirty linen in public.

What is disturbing however is the adverse effect the rift could have on the youngsters given the fact that one is a living legend of Indian tennis and the other is now the non-playing captain.

Whatever the two might put forward in arguing their case the fact remains that both are in the wrong. If Paes has a point then so has Bhupathi. And if Bhupathi was wrong in making public a whatsapp exchange between the two then Paes was wrong in leaving the venue in a huff after coming to know that he had been dropped from the playing squad.

It is easy to say that both are right in their way and it was a difference of opinion that caused the sparks to fly. Overall though one must always keep the cause of Indian tennis first and foremost and learn to adapt and adjust and even be ready to make sacrifices with a smile. Here both of them have failed and all because of their king sized egos which they have been having for a long time now. Also despite the on-off, on-off relationship – they have come back repeatedly despite their differences to play doubles in the Davis Cup – the fact remains that theirs is an uneasy personal relationship which now appears to have reached the point of no return.

It is quite unbecoming for the two giants of Indian tennis to repeatedly get into ugly spats. This is a pity for the two have still much to contribute to Indian tennis given their vast experience and undoubted skill.

What makes the present scenario particularly alarming is that the two did not hold back in driving their points across. For example according to Bhupathi the decision to drop Paes was taken after considering the fact that he missed the fitness test as required and the fast courts, cooler temperatures and high altitude at Bangalore were all suitable for Bopanna to get the nod ahead of Paes. In the post tie press conference, Bhupathi asserted that Bopanna is India’s top doubles player and hinted at his inclusion for the World Group Playoffs.

On the eve of the tie, Bhupathi’s reasoning for putting both Bopanna and Paes in the reserves was their disappointing form going into the tie. He, however, said the final decision would be taken later on who plays if things change. As luck would have it Paes won the ATP Challenger event in Leon, Mexico prior to the Davis Cup tie. On the other hand, Bopanna played at the top level alongside Pablo Cuevas and crashed out early in Indian Wells and Miami.

Paes therefore joined the team on Wednesday when the squad had been practicing from Sunday. If form was in fact the criteria, it made more sense for Paes to be picked and the veteran brought this point up in his rebuttal to Bhupathi’s claims in a slamming Facebook post. ''The main criteria for selection was form. This was not followed when it came to final selection. I was never categorically told that I would not be playing. But it was apparent that the decision was made before I arrived in Bengaluru. This is what I found unnecessary and disrespectful,” wrote Paes in his post.

Paes also didn’t take kindly that Bhupathi had made his whatsapp message to the captain public. “That a private exchange has been made public just points to the kind of conduct that I find unbecoming of a Davis Cup Captain” he said. As it was Paes was livid that he had to travel half-way across the globe from Mexico only to be told that he wouldn’t be in the final four whereas Bhupathi had maintained all along that no one was guaranteed a place. There was just no stop to the damning comments and accusations. The interesting point to note is that there was a time when Paes’ word was law both as captain and leading player of the team. Now it is Bhupathi’s turn to call the shots in his new role as non-playing captain. How much effect this will have on their fast deteriorating relationship is anyone’s guess.

The silver lining in the otherwise inky dark cloud is the fact that the victory over Uzbekistan was achieved by a young team. The tie saw debuts for Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Sriram Balaji. While Prajnesh won one and lost one, the other singles player in Ramkumar Ramanathan won both his singles rubbers while Balaji pairing with Bopanna was on the victorious side in the doubles. This dominant showing came despite the absence of Yuki Bhambri who was injured and took India into a World Group Playoff tie against Canada in September. It is an away match and is going to be a tough assignment. And if the off court atmosphere does not improve the task will be tougher still.