A GRAND gathering of international tennis stars is set on November 28 to 30 in Manila when the International Premier Tennis League holds its inaugural leg at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Maria Sharapova, Andy Murray, Serena Williams, Ana Ivanovic, and Lleyton Hewit head the players expected to grace the spectacle and give Filipino fans a treat of world-class tennis.
Sharapova, arguably the world’s most recognizable female netter, and Murray, one of the top-ranked men’s players, banner the Manila Mavericks, who will also have Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Carlos Moya, Daniel Nestor, Kirsten Flipkens, and top Filipino player Treat Huey.
Eugenie Bouchard, Patrick Rafter, Goran Ivanisevic, and Tomas Berdych, among others, are also expected to strut their stuff in Manila, playing for the other three teams in the competition — the UAE Royals, the Indian Aces, and the Singapore Slammers.
The teams are vying for a US$1 million prize.
“We have some of the biggest players in the world playing,” IPTL founder and managing director Mahesh Bhupathi said on Thursday in a press conference at Edsa Shangri-La.
After the Manila leg, Singapore hosts the event from December 2 to 4, New Delhi from December 6 to 8, and Dubai from December 11 to 13.
Bhupathi said they decided to pick the Philippines as one of the venues because its passionate sports fans.
“We felt it was a good market,” the Indian tennis great said in a chat with Spin.ph. “They love their sports here and people understand entertainment totally. With our concept of sports marrying entertainment, we thought it would be a good destination.”
Unlike in most tennis formats, however, the IPTL has a unique setup, with changes in scoring format to single-set to no-add scoring, which is designed to speed up the matches, plus a running shot clock. Players are also allowed to call timeouts, announce a “power point,” and play a “shootout” to decide the winners.
“The IPTL format will be very attractive to broadcasters and fans alike,” Bhupathi said. “There are features which will ‘Break the Code’ of the traditional etiquette of tennis to attract a new audience to the sport.”
“It was time for innovations in tennis,” he added.
Tickets will go on sale early next month, with IPTL Eric Gottschalk mentioning a “sensitive pricing strategy for the tickets” to make the event more accessible to as many fans as possible.