Chennai's love affair with tennis to continue

The answer came from M. A. Alagappan, President, Tamil Nadu Tennis Association (TNTA), but not before the suspense continued for a while.

Stan Wawrinka kisses the trophy after winning the Chennai Open for the fourth time and completing a hat-trick.   -  AP

It was the question on everyone's lips: will Chennai continue to host the ATP-250 event, or has the last ball been hit?

The answer came from M. A. Alagappan, President, Tamil Nadu Tennis Association (TNTA), but not before the suspense continued for a while. He began by congratulating the Chennaiites for showing resilience and bouncing back from the floods which ravaged the city in December, and had words of appreciation for Stan Wawrinka for making his eighth appearance in the tournament before moving on to the topic.

“As you all know, the contract between IMG, IMG-Reliance and the TNTA comes to an end this year. With the support of the Government of Tamil Nadu, sponsors Aircel and the others, we will be continuing the tournament in Chennai,” said the TNTA president to thunderous applause from a capacity crowd (5892). The contract has been renewed for three years, which means that the event stays in Chennai till 2019.

“Such a relief!” said the awards ceremony anchor, Charu Sharma, as soon as the announcement was made.

Many fans were happy that their links with tennis as well as the tournament would continue for a few more years. None was more delighted than T. Gnana Sambandham, a retired manager (Indian Bank). He has been visiting the SDAT Stadium for all the 20 editions, not missing a single day's action.

“Chennai is the tennis capital of India and I am happy that my association with the tournament would continue. The Chennai Open is well organised and the players are also satisfied with the preparations and facilities,” said Gnana Sambandham.

It is the supporters who have made the tournament an enduring affair, a fact acknowledged by Stan Wawrinka, who completed a hat-trick of triumphs on Sunday. Asked to cite three reasons for being a regular at the Chennai Open — he made his eighth appearance this time - the Swiss replied: “Fans, fans, and fans.”

There's no doubt that the legion of fans who flocked to the stadium on the final day would have returned home thrilled, knowing that high-quality tennis will continue to be played in their backyard.