New Delhi: The organisers of the Champions Tennis League (CTL) on Tuesday emphasised that the upcoming leagues should not be construed as glorified exhibitions and these initiatives may actually turn out to be the way forward for the sport.
ATP Executive Chairman and President Chris Kermode had recently, at Shanghai Masters, termed Mahesh Bhupathi's IPTL a series of 'glorified exhibitions'. (IPTL: Marin Cilic Joins Novak Djokovic in UAE Royals Team)
Nothing was said of CTL, which is a joint initiative of legendary Vijay Amritraj and All India Tennis Association (AITA), but AITA chief Anil Khanna said he does not agree with Kermode. (Also read: Bhupathi plays down ATP chief's comments)
"It's serious tennis. I don't believe in what Kermode said. IPTL and CTL have distinguished players and they will represent teams. It's wishful thinking on part of ATP. When players like Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer will play, I don't think they will cheat fans (by not playing with intensity)," Khanna, who is also President of the Asian Tennis Federation (ATF) told a select group of journalists.
"This is also one way of showcasing tennis and I am sure the governing bodies (ATP, WTA) will be closely watching," Khanna said adding that ATP 250 tournaments were losing charm and have actually become loss-making propositions.
Amritraj, flanked by Khanna, said CTL was a "great alternative" to watch top tennis stars in action in six Indian cities.
"It's a strong field and never ever has such initiative been there. Players such as Caroline Wozniacki (World No.8) will travel to India for the first time and the tennis fans have a chance to see them in action and in person," the 60-year-old said.
Adding to that, Khanna said "these leagues could be the way forward for many nations such as Thailand, which has lost Thailand Open, in future."
Amritraj was also of the view that this league, starting November 17, will be an opportunity to woo people from across the world to India and provide great experience to India's junior players, who will be part of the league.
"Tennis is a global sport, all 192 nations in the UN play tennis and India has to be presented in the right way. This game is incredibly global and we have a chance to promote India worldwide. It will promote India as a whole. It is to show the people in America and Europe that the place to visit is India and enjoy its incredible hospitality," he said adding that he would try to get stars like Venus Williams to visit specific places and speak about them on TV.
"And the junior players would not have got this opportunity (to rub shoulders with top stars) unless they make the top-25. It's a great boost for Indian tennis and junior players," he said.
The tickets have also been priced in an affordable manner, available in three denominations -- Rs 600, Rs 1000 and maximum of Rs 2000.
In Delhi, which will also host the final on November 26, the matches will be held at DLTA Complex, in Chandigarh at CLTA stadium, in Chennai at SDAT stadium, in Pune at Balewadi Sports Complex, in Bangalore at KSLTA Stadium and the venue for Mumbai was still being worked up.
At least one Indian player, including Somdev Devvarman, Saketh Myneni, Sanam Singh, Ramkumar Ramanathan, Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and Sriram Balaji will be part of the playing squad in each team while the junior Indians would be there to learn "work ethics" of top stars.
The league has also signed up three reserve players in Briton's Heather Watson (world number 48), Taipei's Yen Hsun-Lu (world number 42) and former top-10 Albert Costa from Spain.
"They are like doctor on call. They will be sitting in their homes and will be required if injury happens to some player on court," Amritraj said.
He also revealed that cities like Indore, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Thiruvananthapuram were also interested in having a team in the league.