India may lose Pune Challenger in wake of ATP Challenger Tour revamp

Vastavam web: A country which is already struggling to host enough tennis tournaments for its top men’s players could see the Pune Challenger going off the calendar next year due to additional financial burden, expected to be caused by the revamp of the ATP Challenger Tour.The TNTA and the KSLTA are willing to the take the pinch, though.Among the wholesale changes announced by the ATP, from 2019 the singles main draw size will increase from 32 to 48 players and the hosts will have to provide hotel accommodation to all main draw players.

“We are already a hosting a lot of tournaments on the ITF circuit for both men and women. We are also hosting the ATP World Tour event Maharashtra Open and one WTA event. Now if we have to provide accommodation to 16 extra players, we have to rethink about hosting it in 2019,” MSLTA secretary general Sunder Iyer told.”The rupee is already falling. One dollar is now close to 70 INR. It’s not easy to raise sponsorship money for tennis. So, the Challenger won’t be commercially viable for us. It’s a bad move, it will be a burden on organisers.”

MSLTA, the most active state association in the country, spent USD 8.5 lakh (approx 6 crore INR) last year to conduct all the tournaments, including the Maharashtra Open.There has been a steady fall in number of tennis tournaments in India since 2015 when it hosted four ATP Challengers, apart from 19 men’s ITF Futures and 16 women’s ITF events.The Challenger tournaments in the country have benefitted the Indian players a lot as Yuki Bhambri re-entered the top-100 after winning the 2015 edition of the Pune Challenger and Sumit Nagal won the Bengaluru Open last year to make a significant jump in the rankings list.

Sunil Yajaman, Tournament Director for Bengaluru Open, says they are committed to host the event for five years, till 2020.”I know the cost will increase but our players need tournaments, so we will continue with Bengaluru Open. It will surely be difficult for MSLTA since they are hosting lot of tournaments,” he said.amil Nadu Tennis Association (TNTA), which lost the Chennai open after hosting the tournament for 21 years (1997-2017) due to financial crunch, has welcomed the revamp.

“It is a good move despite the fact that it will increase the hosting cost of the tournament. We need better tournaments. Why everybody is talking about Ramkumar today, because he made the final of the Newport. Our players need to compete against better players in bigger tournaments and only then will they grow,” said TNTA Secretary Karti Chidambaram.”There is no great competition in ITF Futures. The rankings in 300-350 bracket are misleading. There are no quality players. The dynamics of tennis is changing. After revamp only quality players will play on the Challenger Tour. We will continue to host our Challenger despite that there be more expenses,” he said.