Chennai may host WTA event in 2020, says Amritraj

Vijay Amritraj, president of TNTA said that talks have been initiated with WTA to host a tournament in the city, early in 2020.

Vijay Amritraj, president of TNTA, is working hard to get a WTA event to Chennai by 2020.   -  M. VEDHAN

For close to two decades from the late nineties till 2017, the final weeks of the year was filled with the promise of top quality tennis for the people of the city with the annual Chennai Open ATP tournament ushering in the new year. The tournament was shifted to Pune from this year and the city, once known as the cradle of tennis in the country, has been left without a premier tournament.

But those things could change as early as 2020 with Indian tennis legend Vijay Amritraj, who was instrumental in getting the ATP event to India and Chennai, working hard to get a WTA tournament.

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Amritraj who was elected as the president of the Tamil Nadu Tennis Association in September this year said, “within days of taking over, I made a request to the WTA to host a tournament here, probably in February after the Australian Open. I spoke to the WTA CEO and other officials and they are keen to come on board. We want to be in the front of the line if anything is coming up.”

The 65-year-old added, “We have even started discussions with the government immediately after I took over because their support has been very important in the past too.” The event will be similar to the ATP 250 event that was held in Chennai and Amritraj said it will help attract higher ranked players while costing only half of the men’s event.

A quarterfinalist in both the Wimbledon and U.S. Open, Amritraj said that the association is also planning a legends event next year in September after the U.S. Open to improve the profile of the sport in the State by getting former players like Patrick Rafter, Mark Philippoussis, Goran Ivanisevic, depending on their availability to name a few.

“These are kinds of events that will inspire the next generation; a clinic run by these legends and getting tips from them, corporate pro-ams will really help,” Amritraj added.