Tennis: Slammers co-owner Gavaskar targets S'porean for IPTL team

Tennis: Slammers co-owner Gavaskar targets S'porean for IPTL team

Franchise owners in the inaugural four-team International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) may have the option to move their teams to other cities, but the Singapore Slammers co-owner Sunil Gavaskar wants to keep his team in the Republic for the long term.

And the Indian cricket legend hopes that a Singaporean can play for the Slammers in the league in the near future.

"We are hoping that in four or five years, we will have someone from Singapore taking the world of tennis by storm and be part of the Singapore Slammers," said the 65-year-old Gavaskar at the Marina Bay Financial Centre yesterday.

"That is a genuine thing, I am not saying it just for the sake of media consumption, I really, really hope it (IPTL) will excite young players here and, in four to five years, we can have a Singapore born-and-bred player to play for us."

"That will give me the biggest kick," added Gavaskar, who is keen to keep the Slammers in Singapore because of the "wonderful" facilities that the country offers.

The Slammers received a boost yesterday when they confirmed DBS Bank as their team sponsor, for an undisclosed sum of money, in the inaugural season, which starts in Philippines on Nov 28.

The Singapore Indoor Stadium will host the second leg rom Dec 2 to 4, with the Singapore team headlined by women's world No. 1 Serena Williams and former men's world No. 1 Andre Agassi.

The series moves to India, and the inaugural season ends in the United Arab Emirates.

DBS Bank Group CEO Piyush Gupta says he receives a lot of proposals to sponsor various events, but found the IPTL a good fit for the bank's brand.

He said: "Everyone asks me to do the Singapore golf open, for example. When we look for stuff to do, I am actually looking for things that go back to the kind of brand we want to be... something with a twist, something quirky and different."

UNUSUAL TOURNAMENT

"The IPTL is actually quite an unusual tournament that is a mix of sports and entertainment," added Gupta, who is hopeful that the Singapore event can grow into one that rivals the Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix.

"It (Singapore Slammers) appeals to us because it relates extremely well to what we, at DBS, are trying to do - to be innovative, path-breaking, and to be fun and joyful in what we do."

As part of the partnership, DBS and POSB customers will enjoy discounts off tickets for the Singapore event, while the bank is also planning initiatives for its customers and employees, as well as corporate social responsibility programmes.

"There will be opportunities to interact with the Singapore Slammers players, creating an interest and awareness of the game far greater than it has been so far in Singapore," said Gavaskar, who added that programmes involving schools and clubs are in the pipeline next year.

Having been involved in the inception of cricket's Indian Premier League (IPL) - which IPTL adapts its concept from - in 2008, Gavaskar is confident that the IPTL will take off.

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