IPTL comes to S'pore

IPTL comes to S'pore

The Coca-Cola International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) begins its first year with an ambitious goal to change the face of tennis for all its fans worldwide.

Gone will be the restrictive comments of "quiet please!". Instead, the crowd will be encouraged to create a lively atmosphere with cheering, music and entertainment.

Twenty-eight tennis stars will take part, including 21 Grand Slam champions, 14 former and current world number ones and rising talent in the tennis world.

They will be divided into four teams which correspond to the hosting countries: DBS Singapore Slammers, Manila Mavericks, Micromax Indian Aces and UAE Royals.

Fans can expect the league to last from Nov 28 to Dec 13 with 24 matches played in a round-robin tournament.

The Singapore leg of the league will be played from Dec 2 to 4. The home team, DBS Singapore Slammers, is sponsored by DBS and chaired by well-known cricket player Sunil Gavaskar.

Said Gavaskar: "Although I played a lot of cricket, I'm excited about being involved in other sports, such as tennis and badminton."

Said DBS Bank's group chief executive officer Piyush Gupta: "We look forward to being part of an event that brings top-level sporting talent to Singapore, in a high-octane tennis and entertainment format that Singapore has never experienced before."

Fans can expect to see World No. 1 Serena Williams make a return to Singapore as a member of the DBS Singapore Slammers, after her recent win in the Women's Tennis Association Singapore.

Indian tennis star Sania Mirza will also be in town to play for the Micromax Indian Aces. Other notable players include Andre Agassi, Caroline Wozniacki, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Ana Ivanovic among others.

IPTL founder and managing director Mahesh Bhupathi is a 12-time doubles and mixed doubles Grand Slam Champion and pioneer of the Mahesh Bhupathi Tennis Academies.

His experience as a player and a tennis manager make him a great pioneer for a new kind of league that aims to break the conservative boundaries of the sport to increase its prospective audience.

Bhupathi said every match of the IPTL will be accompanied by music and dance from entertainers DJ Irie and Freelusions.

He said he hoped that, by bringing in a fun atmosphere into the tournament, he can modernise the game to attract the younger generation, inspiring youths to pick up their rackets and follow their dreams.

"One of the ultimate objectives of the IPTL is to use the league's unique format to grow the game of tennis around the world and to attract new fans and players into the game," he said.

With a new face for tennis, the league also brings some new IPTL-specific rules. Unlike more traditional tournaments, players are no longer playing for their individual glory, but instead have to work with their team to succeed.

Matches will be played with five sets of six games each. Each game won will score one point for the team, while a match won will score four points.

The team with the highest number of points by the end of the league wins the tournament.

The league will also introduce the "shoot-out" rule, a timed variation of the traditional tie-breaker played at five-games-all instead of seven-games-all, where the player who scores the most points within the four minutes wins the set.

Matches will divide the four teams into five categories: Men's singles, women's singles, men's doubles, mixed doubles and legend's singles.

The IPTL will begin in Manila from Nov 28-30 before heading to Singapore. It will be in Delhi from Dec 6-8 and end in Dubai where it will be played from Dec 11-13. The grand prize for the winning team is US$1 million.

tabla@sph.com.sg


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