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Monday, December 1, 2014

After IPL success - it's time for International Premier Tennis League [ITPL]

Cricket, Hockey, Football,  Badminton, Kabbadi and Tennis – wondering what connects – Premier Leagues. In 2008 Indian Premier League followed European Soccer league and proved to be resounding success.  Tennis and Soccer  players earn much more than most other sporting disciplines – Indian kabbadi team may not collective earn part of individual earning of players – yet there is a money spinning league floated around !

Can you imagine best players descending at Manila to play in a glitzy brand-new exhibition tournament – and that list includes - Novak Djokovic , Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova ….. it is IPTL - which goes until Dec. 13, is a round-robin tournament across four cities, consisting of four teams: the Manila Mavericks, the Singapore Slammers, the Indian Aces, and the UAE Royals. The star players are distributed across the four teams— Andy Murray and Sharapova are on the same side. 

Teams play five sets: a men’s singles, a women’s singles, a men’s doubles, a mixed doubles, and a legends match, featuring people like Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras. Sets are won by being the first to six games, but rather than the set continuing if it’s a 5-5 tie, there’s instead a five-minute timed face-off to decide the set.

The IPTL [International Premier Tennis League]  will be hugely lucrative for the tennis players.  The downside is it leaves no rest for players who of course are willing to encash that rest.   The IPTL  brings together current champions, tennis legends and upcoming talent in a format that’s never been seen before. Over 80 players participated in the official draft held in  March, 2014 in Dubai, drawn by the League’s innovative and competitive format. A total of 29 players were added to the 4 franchise teams – The Philippines, Singapore, India and the UAE.  From 28th November to 13th December, 2014, the teams will play a total of 24 matches in a round robin format to determine the inaugural IPTL League Champion.  The Managing director is Mahesh Bhupathi. 

The format is slightly tampered in tune with round robin leagues.  Each match features 5 sets (Men / Women Singles / Mixed doubles / Men’s doubles and Men’s legends singles).  Each set is played first to six games with a 5 minute shoot-out, if 5 all.  Each game won counts as 1 point. The team that wins the most games, accumulated from all five sets, wins the match. If a match is tied after five sets, the Super Shoot-out determines the match winner.

At the start of each match, a coin toss decides which team serves first, in the first set of each match. The team that served last in the last game/Shoot-out of the previous set will automatically be the receiver in the next set. There is a shot clock  that manages the  time between points, shoot-out, change overs, time outs -  can be set, stopped and re-started only by the Chair Umpire.  Then there is the ‘power point’  where the  receiving player can call  Power Point once every set, indicating that the next point counts double.

The International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) is sponsored by Coca-cola and is officially the Coca-Cola International Premier Tennis League.   Cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar was to be  the original franchise owner with a plan to play home matches in Mumbai, now the present owner Micromax has the games played at Delhi.  The  Teams in the fray are : Manila Mavericks, UAE Royals, Indian Aces and Singapore Slammers. 

The Indian Aces has : Roger Federer & Pete Samparas (Icon players); Gaël Monfils; Fabrice Santoro,  Rohan Bopanna ; Ana Ivanovic &  Sania Mirza.  A day before, Indian Aces notched up their third win on the trot with a 28-20 victory over UAE Royals in the battle of two unbeaten sides and  topped the table after the Manila leg to emerge early front-runner in the high-profile tournament.  More to happen….

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

1st Dec 2014

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