Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), the global governing body for men’s tennis, is providing partial financial backing for the conduct of the Challenger Tour events in the country for the first time ever, said Tamil Nadu Tennis Association President Vijay Amritraj on Sunday.
India is hosting four Challenger Tour events in a single year for the first time since 2015. The first leg - a CH100 (the winner gets 100 ATP Ranking Points) - finished on Sunday in the city with Sumit Nagal lifting the title at the SDAT Stadium and breaking into Top 100 in the ATP Rankings. Bengaluru (CH100), Pune (CH100) and New Delhi (CH75) are the next in order, taking place in consecutive weeks.
“All the Challengers in India at this point will get some (financial) help. That’s why they also have the Challenger TV (free streaming service) carrying these events. There is a reason for that, and they are fully aware of it,” said Amritraj on the sidelines of the Chennai Open.
“They are managing the production cost for all the four Challengers,” added the former World No. 18.
Amritraj revealed that this is the first time that the ATP is providing such support for the Challengers. “This is the first year they have started doing this for the Challengers and it has a lot to do with what they do with the content of Challenger TV. There is a monetary aspect to it that they benefit from. They’re able to then transfer some of that to us to offset some of our costs. That’s the way it works,” said the 70-year-old, who has previously served as the president of the ATP Player Council.
Tennis in Asia needs to grow again
Big-ticket tennis in Asia is not as frequent when compared to the playing days of Amritraj, a time when almost every Asian capital had a Tour-level event. The fact that men’s and women’s tennis bodies are looking at conducting more of ATP and WTA 500 events does not help either.
As per the 2024 calendar, Asia has only nine Tour-level events for men. For women, the number is 15 with China hosting six of them.
“Tokyo is the only license holder. Seoul does not even have a license. It’s a tournament leased from IMG. If we have more Challengers, at least across this part of the world, we can work our way up to 250s,” said Amritraj.
“The meat and potatoes of the tour needs to be the 250s and the Challengers. For 500 and Masters events, we have to rise to be good enough to play in it.”
Amritraj suggested that December can be a window to host more Challengers in the country.
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