WTA event returns to Pune

The WTA event, carrying a prize money of $125,000, has returned to Pune and will be played at the Balewadi Sports Complex from November 6 to 12.

The tournament was scheduled to be held at the DLTA Complex in Delhi, owing to the commitment to the original sponsor, but the equations had apparently changed recently. The organisers expressed confidence in finding a new sponsor and the backing of the Pune government, for the venture despite having little time on their hand.

With the total prize money having already been paid up front to the WTA, it was decided to salvage the tournament, rather than let go of it.

Though the tournament does not figure in the WTA calendar as yet, as November and December are scheduled to be off-season, it was stated that the event would have a high cut-off ranking for entry.

Since none of the Indian players can make it to the event with their world ranking, there will be a few wild cards for them.

In fact, the women’s winner and runner-up of the National tennis championship, Prerna Bhambri and Rishika Sunkara, have already been promised wild cards for the main draw and qualifying event respectively.

The young Rutuja Bhosale, who had won the national women’s title last year apart from the Asian junior championship, may get a wild card. Another National champion who has been training in Pune, Ankita Raina has also been tipped to get a doubles wild card with the seasoned Rushmi Chakravarthi.

The Pune based organisers hoped to make an announcement about the event and reveal the entry list soon.

It may be noted that only the Chennai Open has been able to stay in the calendar regularly from 1997, and the Tamil Nadu government had extended support at a tricky stage.

The ATP Tour event, with a prize purse of $430,000 had originally started in Delhi in 1996, but had moved to Chennai owing to a ‘no tolerance’ rule of the Delhi government then, towards tobacco advertisement.

Multiple Grand Slam champion and five-time Olympian Mahesh Bhupathi had conducted a few ATP and WTA events in Mumbai and Bangalore, but was unable to sustain the good work.

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