Mahesh Bhupati’s International Premier Tennis League(IPTL) will be back in December with a new team from Japan. The league, which is in its second season, is still to break even, but organisers say interest in the sport is rising.
Japan Warriors, a team owned by a consortium from Dubai and Japan joins the league this year while Coca Cola retains its position as title sponsor. Qatar Airways too has returned as the presenting sponsor at four times the investment it made in the first season reveals tennis legend Mahesh Bhupati. “In the first season, brands were not sure how things will go. But the close games last year and the competitive spirit proved that it’s a serious tournament. We have more brands showing interest and the ticket size has also gone up. We want to get more global brands so that they can benefit from engagement across venues in the five countries of IPTL,” he adds.
The IPTL season 2 is scheduled between December 2 and 20 this year. The league matches in India are slotted for December 10-12. The league format will be the same as in the previous year with the teams competing in a round robin format of matches in each of the five host countries (India, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore and UAE).
The defending champions Micromax Indian Aces will host all competing teams at the Indira Gandhi Sports Stadium this year. Indian Aces had Micromax as the lead sponsor last year too and the team hopes to break even in December 2016. Apart from Japan, the league has teams from Singapore (Slammers), the Philippines (Mavericks), UAE (Royals) and of course, India. Gulshan Jhurani, co-owner, Indian Aces says, “The season tickets are priced between Rs 4,000 and Rs 48,000.” The general seats start at Rs 4,000 while the corporate boxes are expected to go for Rs 48,000 for the entire season (three days in India).
The league decided not to increase its ticket price even though as Jhurani says, “the introduction of the service tax in July means that we will have to suffer lower income from the ticket sales.” The early bird tickets went on sale a couple of weeks back, the special corporate box tickets will go on sale from November 12 and the general tickets will sell from November 13.