Mumbai, March 24: Mumbai and India’s tennis fans will get a rare opportunity to see the country’s best players in action when the 3rd edition of the Tennis Premier League will be played at the Celebration Sports Club, Mumbai later this year. Ramkumar Ramanathan, Prajnesh Gunneswaran, Yuki Bhambri, Saketh Myneni, Divij Sharan, Purav Raja, Ankita Raina, Rutuja Bhosle are some of the senior names, besides a host of the younger emerging players, who have been signed up for the eight teams that will feature in this unique event, which is being supported by AITA and MSLTA.
Ramkumar emerged the surprise pick of the auction, garnering the highest bid of the day of Rs 4.5 lakhs, and was picked by the Mumbai Leon Army, co-owned by Leander Paes and Shyam Patel.
The enhanced TPL 3.0 will have participation from six international women players, who are Samantha Murray Sharan from Great Britain, ranked 206, Diana Marcinkevica of Latvia, ranked 262, Thailand’s Peangtarn Plipuech, ranked 294, Sabina Sharipova of Uzbekistan, ranked 317, Valeriya Strakhova of Ukraine, ranked 379 and Sofia Shapatava of Gerogia, ranked 388.
India’s top ranked men’s player Prajnesh Gunneswaran was picked by Rajasthan Tigers for Rs 3.70 lakhs, while Saketh Myneni went to Pune Jaguars for Rs 4.40 lakhs. Divij Sharan was picked by Gujarat Panthers for 4.10 lakhs, while Purav Raja went to the Chennai Stallions for 3 lakhs. The other two Grade A players, Arjun Kadhe and Jeevan Neduncheziyan were picked for Rs 2.60 lakhs each by Hyderabad Strikers and Bengaluru Spartans respectively.
Ankita Raina garnered the highest price for women’s players, picked by Hyderabad Strikers for 4.10 lakhs, while from the other Indian women in the auction, Rutuja Bhosle was picked by Pune Jaguars for Rs 3 lakhs
While each team picked two men’s and one women’s player at the auction, another male and women’s player for each team will emerge from the Talent Days, to be played from June onwards.
Besides the owners of the respective 8 teams, co-owners Leander Paes, Rakul Preet Singh, Sonali Bendre Behl and Divya Khosla Kumar were present to select the best players for their respective teams. The auction also saw the presence of prolific director Vishal Bhardwaj who is an avid supporter of the league and also present was actor Suniel Shetty, whose company Body First is the hydration partner for the Chennai Stallions.
Founders Kunal Thakkur and Mrunal Jain promise an enthralling championship this year and aim to create an environment which is the perfect amalgamation of sports and entertainment.
Kunal Thakkursaid, “We are excited that this year we will also be having international players playing in the League. We are so happy that the entire tennis fraternity comes forward every year to make this league a success. The intention is to make tennis win.”
“We are thankful to all our owners and sponsors who have shown such faith in our league. All I can say is that this is just the beginning..we intend to make the league one of its kind in India,” said Mrunal Jain.
Leander Paes commented “The Tennis Premier League has seen a tremendous growth since its inception and I’m very excited for its third season now. We have 8 strong teams in the league and we have seen encouraging response in the past two years, which only promises that this season will be much larger at scale.”
Producer Actor Divya Khosla Kumar said, “We had such an exciting auction and it was a great experience. All teams have managed to get great players and this year the matches are going to be very enthralling and nail biting.”
Actor, writer, cancer survivor Sonali Bendre Behl said “I’m extremely thrilled to see Tennis Premier League back again with its third season. With the growth of Tennis as a sport in our country, it serves as a great platform for all the truly talented players we have. Our Pune team were victorious last year and this year we are back with full energy and prep. Looking forward to see how this championship unfolds.”
Actor Rakul Preet Singh said “Sports has always been an integral part of my life and im happy to see what Tennis Premier League is doing for tennis. Tennis deserves a push in our country as we have such talented players. Me and my team are all set for the championship this December.
Mumbai Leon Army: Ramkumar Ramanathan, Nikki Poonacha, Sofia Shapatava (Georgia)
Delhi Binny’s Brigade: Yuki Bhambri, Manish Sureshkumar, Peangtarn Plipuech (Thailand)
Chennai Stallions: Purav Raja, Sidharth Rawat, Samantha Murray Sharan (Great Britain)
Bengaluru Spartans: Jeevan N, N Sriram Balaji, Sabina Sharipova (Uzbekistan)
Hyderabad Strikers: Arjun Kadhe, Vishnu Vardhan, Ankita Raina
Rajasthan Tigers: Prajnesh Gunneswaran, Aryan Goveas, Diana Marcinkevica (Latvia)
Gujarat Panthers: Divij Sharan, Vijay Sundar Prashant, Valeryla Strakhova (Ukraine)
Pune Jaguars: Saketh Myneni, Ishaque Iqbal, Rutuja Bhosle