Mumbai: With the aim of providing level playing opportunities and world class competition to Indian players, Ankita Raina, Sahaja Yamalapalli and Rutuja Bhosale, India’s top three ranked women, and promising teenager Vaishnavi Adkar, of Maharashtra, have been awarded the singles main draw wild cards at the L&T Mumbai Open WTA 125K Series Tennis Championships, being organized by the Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association (MSLTA) and the Cricket Club of India (CCI).
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Organising Committee members, Mr. Sanjay Khandare and Mr. Pravin Darade stated, “We are happy to get back this world class event back to India with an aim of providing world class competition to our players. We also thank our Sponsors, L&T, for coming forward and supporting women’s tennis in the country. I’m sure that having such a major event at the beginning of the year will help our players to improve their ranking and participate in higher level events globally.”
“Our players do not get to play such high-level events due to various reasons and that is why we decided to organise this event here so at least 8 to 10 Indians can get a chance to gain valuable WTA points and thereby improving their world rankings,” added Mr. Khandare and Mr. Darade.
Mr. Prashant Sutar, Chairman of MSLTA, thanked the Maharashtra Government for their continued support. “We are thankful to the Government of Maharashtra for their support to tennis, with their backing we have been able to organise ATP tour events, Davis Cup ties, ATP Challengers and the WTA 125 Series events.”
He further added, “With the government support, we are launching Lakshyavedh project for Maharashtra players. Under this initiative, we have joined hands with JC Ferrero Academy to start a world class tennis academy in Pune.”
Mr. Bharat Oza, President of MSLTA, stated, “In 2023-2024, MSLTA has organised international tournaments worth over ₹3.5 crores in the women’s and men’s categories at Solapur, Navi Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune and Mumbai. This is the highest by any association in India. MSLTA’s contribution to Indian tennis has been immense and the L&T Mumbai Open is the biggest tennis event on the Indian Calendar this year.”
Mr Sanju Kothari, EC Member and Chairman of Tennis Subcommittee of Cricket Club of India, added, “It’s a privilege for CCI to host this prestigious world class event again. We have ensured world class playing facilities. CCI has newly laid its tennis courts in accordance with standards laid down by the WTA and we also have built a Centre Court with seating requirements for 1000 people.”
“We would like to thank our President, The Committee, and our members for their support to this event. CCI has always been at the forefront of promoting sports and we hope that tennis lovers in the city will enjoy world class tennis matches during the week,” Mr Kothari added.
Mr. Sunder Iyer, Hon. Secretary of MSLTA, updated that the Qualifying rounds for the event will be played on the weekend (February 3 and 4) while the main draw matches will start on Monday February 5 with the finals being held on Sunday February 11.
“A 10-member international officiating team led by Grand Slam supervisor Kerrilyn Kramer, of Australia, will be working at the event. Sheetal Iyer, of India, will be the referee of the event while Leena Nageshkar will be the chief of officials for the event,” Mr. Iyer stated.
Mr. Iyer further added, “Apart from L&T, we would like to thank MMRDA (Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority); the Department of Sports; CIDCO; MHADA (Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority); the Official Medical provider, Sir H.N. Reliance Foundation Hospital; Energy Drink partner Enerzal; Aqua partner Amrete Low Deuterium Water; and official Radio Partner Radio City.