Harpal Singh Bedi
Top players of the country and five international women players will form part of the eight teams which will be seen in action in the revamped in the Tennis Premier League 3.0, which will be played in Mumbai later this year. The eight participating teams are Mumbai Leon Army, Rajasthan Tigers, Pune Jaguars, Gujarat Panthers, Chennai Stallions, Hyderabad Strikers, Delhi Binny’s Brigade, and Bengaluru Spartans,
Five international women players, who will taking part are Samantha Murray Sharan from Great Britain, ranked 206, Diana Marcinkevica of Latvia,(262) Sabina Sharipova of Uzbekistan, (317), Valeriya Strakhova of Ukraine,(379) and Sofia Shapatava of Georgia, (388) .
“The Tennis Premier League has seen a tremendous growth since its inception and I’m very excited for its third season now. We have 8 strong teams in the league and we have seen encouraging response in the past two years, which only promises that this season will be much larger at scale.” said veteran tennis star Leander Paes who is also the promoter of the event.
Yuki Bhambri will lead the challenge of Delhi Binny’s Brigade, co-owned by Sneh Patel and actor producer Divya Khosla Kumar.
At the auction conducted at the Celebration Sports Club in Mumbai, Yuki was picked for Rs 4.20 lakh after the base prize for Grade A players was set at Rs 2.5 lakh. Also finding a place in the team was Manish Suresh Kumar, while the women’s slot was filled by Thailand’s Peangtarn Plipuech, ranked 294 in the world.
While each team picked two men’s and one women’s player at the auction, another male and women’s player for each team will emerge from the Talent Days, to be played from June onwards.
The highest bid of the day was in favour of Ramkumar Ramanathan, who was picked for Rs 4.5 lakhs by the Mumbai Leon Army, co-owned by Leander Paes. India’s top ranked player Prajnesh Gunneswaran was picked by Rajasthan Tigers for Rs 3.70 lakhs, while Saketh Myneni went to Pune Jaguars for Rs 4.40 lakhs. Divij Sharan was picked by Gujarat Panthers for 4.10 lakhs, while Purav Raja went to the Chennai Stallions for 3 lakhs.
Ankita Raina garnered the highest price for women’s players, picked by Hyderabad Strikers for 4.10 lakhs, while from the other Indian women in the auction, Rutuja Bhosle was picked by Pune Jaguars for Rs 3 lakhs.
Besides the owners of the respective 8 teams, co-owners Leander Paes, Rakul Preet Singh, Sonali Bendre Behl and Divya Khosla Kumar were present to select the best players for their respective teams. The auction also saw the presence of prolific director Vishal Bhardwaj who is an avid supporter of the league and also present was actor Suniel Shetty, whose company Body First is the hydration partner for the Chennai Stallions.
Founders Kunal Thakkur and Mrunal Jain said “We are excited that this year we will also be having international players playing in the League. We are so happy that the entire tennis fraternity comes forward every year to make this league a success. The intention is to make tennis win.”
“We are thankful to all our owners and sponsors who have shown such faith in our league. All I can say is that this is just the beginning. We intend to make the league one of its kind in India,” said Mrunal Jain.