Heartily praising India’s tennis queen Sania Mirza, former Davis Cup captain Vijay Amritraj on Wednesday said that the Hyderabadi has been instrumental in taking the game of tennis to the front page of newspapers with her grand exploits on the women’s circuit.
“For me what is so wonderful is when our sports gets on the front pages. Sania has put our sport on the front pages and that’s what is important, not just for girls’ tennis, for tennis across the board, sports across the board especially for girls,” Amritraj told reporters here.
“She has shown what you can achieve not by just winning the matches but also by being able to put us further on the map and telling the youngsters that you can do it too, that it’s not out of the question, this is the profession you can embrace and that even if you don’t make it to world class you can still get scholarships to universities.”
Amritraj said Sania and her doubles partner Martina Hingis, with whom she has won back to back Grand Slam doubles crowns this year at Wimbledon and US Open, complemented each other perfectly.
“Doubles is complementary. The way Anand and I played – he was conservative and I was aggressive. That’s why Leander (Paes) and Mahesh (Bhupathi), who was consistent while Leander made the moves.
“Martin and Sania getting together is a perfect complementary aspect of how they play. Sania goes for broke from the back of the court with her extremely powerful forehand and Hingis is extremely deft with her volleyes and her racquet work at the net. Having won Grand Slam singles, it’s so unique that it gives her (Hingis) a great advantage.
Talking about the Champions Tennis League, his brainchild, Amritraj said the purpose of today’s players’ draft was to make it an even playing field for all the teams.
“Our goal was to make all teams even. Every match is going to be tight. You want to have all players in the world’s top 25 as far as possible and we have done all that.
“We literally go down the rankings list to see who is available to play and if the budget works in the proper manner to bring them to India. But all these boys and girls make so much money playing close to home, they really don’t need to come and play here.
“I do the personal video in an invitation to literally state to them two things that I wanted to play the game so that I wanted to be the best I could be but also to visit the countries in the world I have never been to. I want you to come, be my guest in India and see India through my eyes. That’s my mantra to them. I am glad they accepted
“Last year’s feedback was spectacular which is why half of them actually called their agents to call us to see whether they can be a part of CTL this year. Accepting the players this year was a little easier than last year.
About the CTL’s prize catch, US Open champion Flavia Pennetta of Italy, Amritraj said she had been roped in before her triumph in the last Grand Slam of the year.
“We got her before she won the US Open. I understand the pressures on someone once you won a major, it happens to everyone and we don’t question. You get some players at an early stage when their ranking is high and they got a bad year and the ranking drops or vice versa like Flavia when the ranking moves up.”
He conceded there were some problems with last year’s owners of the Pune franchise and had to drop them, adding he was looking at eight teams as the ideal composition as compared to the six at present.
“On Pune, we had a clear problem with the owner. It was very simple and straightforward and we had to let them go. Others (like Delhi) have gone their own way, no problem. The optimum number of teams to have is eight.”