WTA Tennis set for India return after five years

WTA
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Mumbai will host the $125,000 WTA event in November – the first women’s tour event in India after five years.

Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association will host the event christened as the Mumbai Open. It is the second consecutive time the MSLTA is bringing a prestigious tennis event to India. The association has also recently acquired the rights for India’s ATP World Tour event, Chennai Open.

The event to be played at Pune has been named Maharashtra Open now.

“It’s time that our players such as Ankita Raina, Karnam Kaur Thandi, Rutuja Bhosale and others get to play at a better level and try to move up the rankings ladder. For the players’ interest we have brought this event to Mumbai,” MSLTA secretary general Sunder Iyer said about the WTA event.

There will be four wild cards each on offer in main draw and the qualifiers for the top players in the country.

India’s top women’s singles players other than Ankita Raina (262) do not have the right rankings to get a direct entry into the main draws of WTA $125,000 level events. Presently Karman Kaur Tahndi is ranked 349 and national champion Riya Bhatia 519. “It will be an opportunity for players to get some crucial points ahead of the Australian Open. Also, players who are to return from injuries and niggles, this event will serve their purpose. Players ranked between 11 and 50 will compete and it’s good for our girls to get that exposure,” Iyer added.

Ankita is excited about the opportunity. “I am very much looking forward to the WTA event at home. It will be a great exposure and experience for all of us since it’s quite tough to enter a WTA event. I would like to request AITA to host more of these tournaments,” she said.

“It will be great for women’s tennis with that kind of event happening in India,” Karnam says.

MSLTA will also be hosting two $25000 events at Pune and Navi Mumbai; and a $15000 tournament in Solapur. There is another $50,000 Challenger line up. With all these women’s events, MSLTA would be spending close to $300,000 on these tournaments.

This is when other state associations, including DLTA, are struggling to generate funds for a single tournament.

Prashant Sutar, MSLTA Director (Development Committee), said if a proposal is put before corporates and the government with the “right vision”, it’s not difficult to raise money. We have KPTI as dedicated sponsors for men’s challenger and a dedicated local mill as sponsors for Solapur. We have understood that proposal should be presented in a particular manner to get sponsorship.”

Sutar will also be the Tournament Director for both WTA and ATP World events in January. He was hoping that Ankita will be able to get a direct entry and Rutuja will be a strong contender for the singles wild card as she is a player from Maharashtra.

The Royal Indian Open 2012 at Pune was the last WTA event hosted by India at Pune. That was won by the now world No. 5 Elina Svitolina with a win over veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan.

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