In the world of Indian tennis, the Fenesta National championship is an oasis in a desert.
The National grass court championship has been non-existent for some time; there is little to look forward to in terms of tournaments or prize money in the domestic circuit. The Fenesta National championship provides the only glimmer of hope.
Yet, there is always an attempt to make the tournament better. Ajay Shriram, the chairman and managing director of the DCM Shriram Group , is keen to listen to the feed back from the players and others associated with the game.
Upon Sania Mirza’s suggestion, the DCM Shriram Group has been offering equal prize money for men’s and women’s champions for the last few years. The champions ₹300,000 each and the runners-up get ₹200,000.
Attractive only for finalists
While that is an attractive purse for the players who are busy travelling around the world through the year in search of ATP and WTA points, those who do not reach the finals do not gain much. It is ₹40,000 for the semifinalists, and ₹24,000 for the quarterfinalists. The first-round loser gets ₹9,000 and the pre-quarterfinalist fetches ₹15,000.
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Already, the tournament offers about ₹10 lakh for the men’s field and an equal amount for the women’s field. A proportionate increment for the early rounds would go a long way in making the tournament attractive for everyone, automatically strengthening the field, as many top players would find purpose in playing the event.
A symbiotic association
There is already a suggestion for a bigger purse for the champions to help them use the same for training and travel, which is under consideration. There is also an attempt to revive the mixed doubles, which was once won by Rohan Bopanna and Sania Mirza, all in the hope of improving the health of Indian tennis.
With the organisers honouring some of the former champions, and then bringing out a Coffee Table Book to mark the 25th edition of the premier championship in a pictorial fashion, there is no doubt that the DCM Shriram Group is quite proud of its healthy role in Indian tennis. There will also be "live streaming" of the women’s and men’s finals, starting at 8.30 a.m. on Saturday, so that Indian tennis fans can watch the action anywhere in the world.
Yet, there is always scope for improvement.