Monday, Nov 24, 2014

WTA raises doubts over Mahesh Bhupathi-promoted ITPL, questions off-season timing

India’s Sania Mirza has signed up for the Mahesh Bhupathi-led ITPL, which is set to take place between November and December (File) India’s Sania Mirza has signed up for the Mahesh Bhupathi-led ITPL, which is set to take place between November and December (File)
Press Trust of India | Singapore | Posted: March 12, 2014 12:46 am | Updated: March 12, 2014 10:13 am

 

The Women’s Tennis Association, which has turned to Asia to grow its sport, is unclear how the Indian Tennis Premier League is going to pan out.

“We are still learning about it, just as the world and the media is,” said Melissa Pines, Vice-President, Asia-Pacific on the sidelines of its new announcement to bring the season-ending BNP Paribas WTA Championships to South East Asia for the first time this year.

The Mahesh Bhupathi-promoted ITPL, following its recent draft in Dubai, announced that among the women players who have signed up are Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Ana Ivanovic, Caroline Wozniacki, Daniela Hantuchova, Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza.

Continuing on the ITPL, Pines said, “We feel exhibitions can be good but the athletes need to strike a balance between professional and financial needs. They need to look to recovery and preparation for the coming season.”

She said the WTA was still learning about the event through media reports and did not have a clear picture. Pines also said that she and the WTA looks forward to India becoming ‘priority market’ in the near-future.

“We are always looking at inquiries at hosting new events and certainly India is a key market to spread women’s tennis.”

Women’s tennis in Asia is at a very interesting stage with Li Na as the World No.2 and Peng Shuai as No.1 in women’s doubles. Also Hsieh Su-wei of Chinese Taipei is World No.2 in women’s doubles and India’s Sania Mirza, who was as high as No.7 in 2012, is now No.11.

Australian Open champion Li Na has decided to skip the inaugural ITPL, presumably because of a packed calendar. Li Na is being used by the WTA to push its sport in Asia.

The Asia-Pacific region has around 17 WTA events, and these include many new events in China and the season-ending event in Singapore. There is also talk of a new top-level event in Li Na’s home city of Wuhan.

The ITPL is due to take place in the off-season between November 27 and December 14 and will feature matches across the four host cities — Bangkok, Mumbai, Singapore and Dubai. This is also the period when most top players on the men’s and women’s tours prefer to rest and recover.

Meanwhile, the WTA signed a five-year deal with BNP Paribas once again and the championships will move from Istanbul to Singapore this November.

Focus Asia

Asia is the new focus area for the Women’s Tennis Association, which today brought its year-end WTA Championships to South-East Asia for the first time, as it announced a five-year tie-up with BNP Paribas in a high-profile launch in Singapore.

Also present at the announcement for the event promoted by World Sport Group, was Pierre Veyres, Chief Executive continued…

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