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HomeSportsWTA event likely in 2022, ATP may follow, says Amritraj

WTA event likely in 2022, ATP may follow, says Amritraj

Express News Service

CHENNAI: The Chennai Open may be back in a new avatar as early as later this year. This was according to Vijay Amritraj, president of the Tamil Nadu Tennis Association (TNTA). Speaking to reporters after the association’s annual day function inside the SDAT tennis stadium in the city on Monday, Amritraj said: “I had a very good meeting with the honorable chief minister and he wants an event this year,” Amritraj said. “Hoping we will be able to make an announcement soon.”

Amritraj met several high-ranking officials of the state government, including chief minister, MK Stalin, sometime in the last month. The CM, during an address in the assembly last week, had announced the government’s intentions to revive the Chennai Open, an annual ATP 250 event that had its final edition in the city in 2018.

It’s likely that the new event, or the first of several new events, will be a WTA 250 meet. While finding a slot in the calendar may be difficult — especially as most of the events in the Asian swing have been wiped out thanks to the pandemic — Amritraj expressed hope the first WTA 250 meet to be scheduled in the city could be staged later this year sometime after the US Open (September 2nd week) and before the start of the Northeast monsoon (middle of November). “We will start with a WTA tour 250 event this year and hopefully get an ATP event next year. Chennai has not had a women’s event and it is important for us to encourage the girls in the state.”

This isn’t the first time that Amritraj has spoken about hosting a women’s tour level event. He had spoken about his desire to conduct one but the onset of the pandemic put paid to it. With the contract for the ongoing ATP 250 meet in Pune expiring after the 2023 season, there was some speculation as to whether Chennai may be interested in getting that event back. However, Amritraj said it would be a new event independent of what happens to the Pune Open. “No, it would be a different one. They are drawing up the calendar as we speak. It will be nice if Chennai can follow the Pune event.”

Conducting elite level tennis meets in India is difficult because of sponsorship. In fact, no Indian city has been able to host ATP and WTA tour level events in the same year. To try and achieve it, the funding model would be a mix of public and private. “We want the blessing of the CM and then it is up to us (TNTA)… We want to put the city and the state front and center globally.”

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