Harpal Singh Bedi
New Delhi: Former junior World No. 1, Yuki Bhambri will spearhead Delhi Binny’s Brigade challenge in the star-studded, eight-team competitive field in the 3rd edition of the Tennis Premier League, to be played at the Celebration Club, Andheri, Mumbai from December 9 to 14.
Announcing this, TPL Co-Founders Kunal Thakkur, ex-National Player, and Mrunal Jain told media persons at the DLTA, here, which was also the first of the two Talent Days held in the city to pick the rest of the Delhi Binny’s Brigade squad.
Kashish Bhatia won the women’s event at the Talent Day and will fill the second women players slot for Delhi Binny’s Bridge, while runner-up Prerna Bhambri will turn out for Chennai Stallions.
Also present on the occasion were Ankita Bhambri, mentor of the Delhi team, Nandan Bal, Ex-Davis Cup, and Fed Cup coach and mentor of the Chennai Stallions, Zeeshan Ali, Davis Cup coach, Rohit Rajpal, Captain of the Davis Cup team, and Aditya Khanna, Captain of the over-35 Indian team and a member of the Delhi squad.
Team owners Sneh Patel, of Delhi Binny’s Brigade and Shailesh and Sonal Alagiya of Chennai Stallions, were also present.
Yuki, winner of the 2009 Australian Open Junior Championship and flagbearer for the Indian Davis Cup squad for many years, will have Manish Sureshkumar and Thailand’s Peantarn Plipuech as teammates.
Davis cuppers, Saketh Myneni (Pune Jaguars), Ramkumar Ramanathan (Mumbai Leon Army) Purav Raja (Chennai Stallions) Jeevan N (Bengaluru Spartans) Arjun Kadhe (Hyderabad Strikers) Prajnesh Gunneswaran (Rajasthan Tigers) Divij Sharan (Gujarat Panthers,) will lead their respective teams.
The enhanced TPL 3.0 will have India No. 1 Ankita Raina and Rutuja Bhosle, besides participation from six international women players, who are Samantha Murray Sharan from Great Britain, ranked 206, Diana Marcinkevica of Latvia, ranked 262, Thailand’s Peangtarn Plipuech, ranked 294, Sabina Sharipova of Uzbekistan, ranked 317, Valeriya Strakhova of Ukraine, ranked 379 and Sofia Shapatava.
In the player’s auction, held in Mumbai in March this year, Ramkumar Ramanathan emerged the surprise pick, garnering the highest bid of the day of Rs 4.5 lakhs, and was picked by the Mumbai Leon Army.
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 Rutuja Bhosle was picked by Pune Jaguars for Rs 3 lakhs
While each team picked two men’s and one women’s player at the auction, another men’s and women’s player for each team will emerge from the Talent Days.
Kunal Thakkur and Mrunal Jain promise an enthralling championship this year and aim to create an environment that is the perfect amalgamation of sports and entertainment.
Kunal 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 and we are extremely grateful to AITA and MSLTA for their unconditional support.”
“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. The live telecast of all matches will be something very exciting for Indian tennis players and their fans,” said Mrunal Jain.
A total of 250 players have already registered for the Delhi Talent day in various categories, who will be vying for the different age group slots on the Delhi team.
Mumbai Leon Army: Ramkumar Ramanathan, Nikki Poonacha, Sofia Shapatava (Gerogia)
Delhi Binny’s Brigade: Yuki Bhambri, Manish Sureshkumar, Peangtarn Plipuech (Thailand)
Chennai Stallions: Purav Raja, Sidharth Rawat, Samantha Murray Sharan (Great Britain)
Bengaluru Spartans: Jeevan N, N Srirama Balaji, Sabina Sharipova (Uzbekistan)
Hyderabad Strikers: Arjun Kadhe, Vishnu Vardhan, Ankita Raina
Rajasthan Tigers: Prajnesh Gunneswaran, Aryan Goveas, Diana Marcinkevica (Latvia)
Gujarat Panthers: Divij Sharan, Vijay Sundar Prashant, Valeryla Strakhova (Ukraine)
Pune Jaguars: Saketh Myneni, Ishaque Iqbal, Rutuja Bhosle.