Champions Tennis League

Indian tennis is all geared up as international stars and Indian players have come together at the Champions Tennis League (CTL) that kicked off on November 17. The 10-day tournament will see the closing of the tennis league on 26 November. Pune Maratha made it to the final beating Hyderabad Aces 25-24. The Pune team is now playing the final against Delhi Dreams at the R K Khanna Tennis Stadium on Wednesday.

With their impressive wins, Delhi has been a strong team in the CTL. However, Pune’s star Marcos Baghdatis and world number six Agnieszka Radwanska will be a good confront to the host team. From the Delhi side, South Africa’s world number 16 Kevin Anderson and Jelena Jankovic will be favorites. The finale will be a cracker of a match as Juan Carlos Ferrero will take on another legend, Pat Cash.

The tennis league, which is a platform like Indian Premier League (Cricket), has taken steps towards escalation of Indian tennis. Indian players will surely benefit from the tennis league in India and it will help them perk up their talent.

India, sure, is working towards development of sports. After the IPL, Kabaddi League, Badminton League, Hockey League, Indian Soccer League, now it’s time for Indian Tennis to gain popularity and recognition.

Champions Tennis League helps players hone their skills 

Talk about tennis in India and the only familiar names from a youngster would be Leander Paes and Sania Mirza. Tennis as a global sport is quite popular. India too has produced many tennis stars but the popularity and response of people is distressing. Indian tennis has made a stride with the first edition of Champions Tennis League and it will help players progress in their rankings and gain experience too. IT might also help in bringing about a change to the people’s opinion towards tennis as a sport. We don’t want to be limited only to ATP Challengers and ITF Futures. Many other tournaments in India are being held but the spectators are hard to find. The mellow response needs to be changed and the efforts to improve the standard of Indian tennis by star players like Vijay Amritraj (brainchild of CTL), Premjit Lal, Ramanathan Krishnan, Ramesh Krishnan and Jaideep Mukherjee is noteworthy. One such effort, Champions Tennis League is all set to achieve success with India’s crown players as well as international stars on the same platform.

Only playing on the court can provide practice, experience and improvements in ranking, which the CTL will provide the young players with. Ranking is a very important part of tennis as it affirms a player’s capability and judges a certain tournament to be played by a player and also decides who he/she will be playing with. This league will help players hone their skills by playing with international names and seek out for tips from them as well. It will be a boost for players towards improving their rankings.

Singles players show no progress

Some players have made significant rise in their rankings. Players such as Bangalore Raptor’s Ramkumar Ramanathan have shown tremendous improvement. He has been successful in reaching the rank of 211. Ramanathan began the year at 526 but this year proved to be a turning point for the Chennai player. Pune Maratha’s Saketh Myneni also landed a ranking of 258 displaying rise in rankings.

However, India’s top men’s singles players have not shown much progress. Somdev Devvarman playing for Punjab Marshalls in CTL, Delhi Dreams’ Sanam Singh and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan from Hyderabad Aces have failed to rise up in rankings and have in fact dropped. Maybe the Champions Tennis League could help them rise in rankings and help them progress. The CTL is a podium for players to improve rankings and if this happens, the CTL will achieve its mission and will have popularised the league’s success.

Poor spectator response

The unresponsive spectator stands at the Champions Tennis League was disappointing. The organizers didn’t leave any stone unturned to make CTL a success but getting in crowds was one area where the organizers failed. With the success of certain sports leagues it has been very clear that to be hyped and popular, marketing along with glamour and blitz is necessary to pull Indian crowds. Merely the best players on court couldn’t attract spectators at the tennis courts. Just a few chants of Go Paes and Go Jelena were the only noise and cheers heard on the courts. However, talking about the format of the CTL, the players seemed unperturbed.

As the tournament kicked off right after the professional circuit finished, players seemed to be calling the CTL as a good start to their off-season practice unlike the remarks where players criticized full playing calendar.

CTL has six teams

The Champions Tennis League comprises of six teams – Mumbai Tennis Masters (Mumbai, Maharashtra), Hyderabad Aces (Hyderabad, Telangana), Bangalore Raptors (Bengaluru, Karnataka), Pune Marathas (Pune, Maharashtra), Delhi Dreams (Delhi) and Punjab Marshalls (Chandigarh).

The format of the game is interesting as it has 13 matches played over the 10 days and the teams are planned into two groups, each with three teams. The teams with the maximum number of games winning in their particular group play each other in the final. The winning award is Rs 1 crore and the runners-up will be awarded Rs 50 lakh. To choose the group standings, every team has to play a match on home and away basis. Eventually, the top from each group will play each other in the final game. Each team has four players picked from a pool of 24 players – six legends, six international men players, six international women players and six Indian players.

The play so far…

In the first match between Delhi Dreams and Punjab Marshalls, the Capital team emerged victorious with a score of 25-19. In another match on the first day of the Champions Tennis League, Hyderabad Aces beat Bangalore Raptors 27-25. Pune Marathas beat Hyderabad Aces 26-25 on day 2 of the inaugural tennis league. Delhi Dreams won 27-19 against Mumbai Tennis Masters on November 18. Out of the two matches played on November 20, Mumbai Tennis Masters beat Punjab Marshalls 27-21 and Pune Marathas beat Bangalore Raptors 25-24. Punjab Marshalls won over Delhi with a score of 29-18 on November 21. With Legend Enqvist beating Pat Cash of Pune Marathas 6-3, the Pune team emerged victorious over Bangalore Raptors 26-20.