Kolkata: International Premier Tennis League’s exhibition tour starts at Netaji Indoor stadium in Kolkata today. The West Bengal capital’s Chief Minister Mamata Bannerjee and Sports Minister Arup Biswas are present at this tennis festival. After this match these super Tennis stars will meet tennis students in Kolkata and give them some important tips about tennis. In this match Mamata Bannerjee gives a hand to Sania marking the onstart of the tennis festival.
Tennis aficionados of Kolkata gets a rare opportunity to witness the game’s stars in action when Grand slam winners Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi, Sania Mirza and the legendary Martina Navratilova play an exhibition match here on Wednesday.
Titled ‘Masters Kolkata’, the event is part of the International Premier Tennis League’s exhibition tour where the player’s next destination is to Hyderabad and New Delhi on consecutive days ahead of the season of the franchise-based tournament beginning in Kobe on December 2.
The build-up tour has its founder and Indian tennis legend Bhupathi teaming up with his former mixed doubles partner and current doubles World No 1 Sania in a rare engagement against Paes, who will play alongside the most successful women’s tennis player of all time, Navratilova. Paes and Navratilova had won the mixed doubles title at the 2003 Australian Open and Wimbledon.
The exhibition match will also see Bhupathi reuniting with Sania, with whom he had won two Grand Slam mixed doubles titles — Australian Open in 2009 and French Open in 2012.
“Season 1 of IPTL brought Indian tennis fans closer to tennis akin to Grand Slam action like never before. Yet, not everyone was able to experience that action up close and personal. The understanding and familiarity between the four of us has resulted in Grand Slam finals appearances and titles won. This will only contribute to the quality of competitive tennis being played on this tour,” Bhupathi said.
On how the promo tour lines up with his vision for the IPTL, which will begin its second edition on December 2 in Japan, Bhupathi said, “The response from season 1 was overwhelming and season 2 can only exceed expectations. The addition of a new franchise and stars like Rafael Nadal and Leander joining the ranks will surely make for some wonderful tennis on the cards.
“Ultimately it is about connecting tennis fans in India and Asia with some of the world’s best across the singles and doubles format. This exhibition tour is simply a taste of what to expect from IPTL Season 2,” Bhupathi added.