Hyderabad: Taking cue from the inspirational form of their star player Martina Hingis, the Hyderabad Aces on Tuesday promised to win this year’s edition of the Champions Tennis League (CTL), to be played from November 23 to December 6, with the final scheduled to be played in the city.
“We missed out on the final last year by the narrowest of margins against Pune Marathas,” said Hyderabad Aces owner Rajesh Dandu. “This year, with Martina (Hingis) in such good form, I’m sure we’ll win the title,” he vowed.
Hingis leads a star-studded array of players for the Hyderabad team, including the big-serving Ivo Karlovic, Thomas Johansson and India’s Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan.
“We are very happy to have Martina back with us,” Rajesh said. “We had the option of retaining one player, and we picked her without hesitation,” he added. CTL chairman and promoter Vijay Amritraj echoed the sentiment.
“Martina has been in tremendous form. She’s always been a classy player — becoming the youngest-ever World No.1, several Grand Slams. She then took a long hiatus before making a triumphant return.
“To play as well as she is playing right now, winning nine doubles titles this season (with Sania Mirza) shows tremendous self-belief,” Amritraj said. “And I believe her stint at the CTL last year contributed to her success this year. She played really well, defeating Venus Williams twice. It must have given her the confidence that she can go head-to-head with the current generation. And it paid off.
Apart from the senior players, two junior players — a boy and a girl — will accompany each side to dip in a deep reservoirs of experience. For Hyderabad, the juniors are local girl Sama Sathwika and Adil Kalyanpur.
Amritraj was gung-ho about the League making a splash this year, much like it did with the previous edition. “It was a great success last year. I have always said that we only had the Chennai Open as the international tennis event in India. Now, the CTL brings world-class tennis to different cities across India.
Last year’s format has largely been retained, with slight tweaks to produce even more exciting tennis. This time, each set will be played to five games with a tie-breaker to decide matters when the scores are 4-4. Six teams will be split into two zones, with the winners of each zone taking each other on in the final which will be played in Hyderabad on December 6. Apart from the Aces, the other teams in fray are Punjab Marshalls, Mumbai Tennis Masters, Raipur Rangers, Nagpur Orangers and a yet-to-be-named sixth franchise.
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