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Gujarat Panthers meet Pune Jaguars in TPL 3 opener

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Mumbai, Dec 13 (IANS) Gujarat Panthers taking on Pune Jaguars in the opening match of the third season of Tennis Premier League (TPL) with stars like doubles specialist Divij Sharan, Vijay Sundar Prashant, and Ukraines Valeyrla Strakhova of Gujarat taking on Saketh Myneni, Ishaque Iqbal and Rutuja Bhosle of Pune.

Also coming on the court later will be players like Ramkumar Ramanathan, Pranesh Gunnneswaran, and Yuki Bhambri, to name a few, turning out for their respective teams.

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The third season of the TPL was inaugurated here with teams owners, co-owners, and the country’s leading men’s and women’s tennis players, along with international women’s players promising five days of exciting tennis.

Present on the occasion were co-owners Leander Paes, Aditi Rao Hydari, Sonali Bendre, Divya Khosla Kumar, and Sania Mirza, mentor of the Finecab Hyderabad Strikers. Also present was ace filmmaker and tennis enthusiast Vishal Bharadwaj. Goran Ivanisevic, former Wimbledon champion and current coach of world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who joined the proceedings through a video call.

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“It’s my first year at the TPl and I’m very excited to be here as the mentor for Hyderabad Strikers,” said Sania. When asked how the pandemic has affected sportspersons across the globe, Sania said, “I can’t speak for everybody but I know that a lot of sportspersons, myself included have struggled through this period. There was always this fright about falling ill, travel restrictions while getting to events, and many more issues. Hence I feel along with keeping fit physically, focusing on mental health was very important and continues to be so.”

Paes promised to keep making effort to make the TPL bigger and better and took on the role of an anchor while speaking to Ivanisevic.

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“I was excited to come and be a part of the TPL but with the new quarantine rules, I was forced to drop out. Next year, even if I have to come in a week early and quarantine, I promise to be there,” Ivanisevic was quoted as saying in a release on Monday.

He said that it was indeed an honour for him to be coaching the World No.1. “According to me Novak is the greatest tennis player, and I get to learn something new every day from being around him,” said Ivanisevic. Even though being Novak’s coach was a very stressful job, Ivanisevic said he is enjoying himself thoroughly.

The enhanced TPL 3.0 will have participation from six international women players, 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, besides Sofia Shapatava.

Founders 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.

Paes commented. “The Tennis Premier League has seen a tremendous growth since its inception and I’m very excited for its third season now. We have 8 strong teams in the league and we have seen encouraging response in the past two years, which only promises that this season will be much larger at scale.”

The teams:

Mumbai Leon Army: Ramkumar Ramanathan, Nikki Poonacha, Sofia Shapatava (Georgia)

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, Karman Kaur Thandi

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

–IANS

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