Major Tennis Players In Favor Of New International Premier Tennis League In Asia
Thirty-eight-year-old Indian doubles tennis player Mahesh Bhupathi, who has "a strong head for business," is pushing ahead with his Asian tennis league project, according to Christopher Clarey of the NEW YORK TIMES. Bhupathi believes that Asia "is under-served by high-level tennis and that many players, despite their long, grueling seasons, are genuinely prepared to surrender some well-earned rest in the quest for more earnings." On Friday, in Paris, he and his partners plan to introduce to the public the Int'l Premier Tennis League, or IPTL, "with the intention of starting play" in late '14. It is to be a team tennis league with franchises in six "as-yet-unspecified Asian cities." It is "modeled in part on something relatively new" (the Indian Premier League in cricket, which began in '08) and on something relatively old (World Team Tennis, the U.S. league founded in '73). The IPTL "appears to have a surprising level of preliminary support" from major stars. Bhupathi said that "those who have committed to the project include Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka." Bhupathi said that he expects Murray and Djokovic to have an equity stake in the league, "and that investors include former players like Justin Gimelstob, a member of the A.T.P. board, and Boris Becker." The cities "being considered for franchises are Singapore, Tokyo, Mumbai, Delhi, Hong Kong, Manila, Seoul, Dubai, Jakarta and Doha, Qatar" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/23).