India’s top ranked women’s player, Ankita Raina, will lead the challenge of Finecab Hyderabad Strikers, co-owned by Brijgopal Bhutada and actress Rakul Preet Singh in the Tennis Premier League 3.0, which will be played in Mumbai later this year. At the auction conducted at the Celebration Sports Club, Mumbai Anikta garnered the highest prize among the women’s players, picked for Rs 4.10 lakhs. Also finding a place in the team was Arjun Kadhe, who was bought for 2.60 lakhs and Vishnu Vardhan, who was bought for Rs 2.05 lakhs.
The enhanced TPL 3.0 will have participation from six international women players, who are Samantha Murray Sharan from Great Britain, ranked 206, Diana Marcinkevica of Latvia, ranked 262, Thailand’s Peangtarn Plipuech, ranked 294 in the world, Sabina Sharipova of Uzbekistan, ranked 317, Valeriya Strakhova of Ukraine, ranked 379 and Sofia Shapatava of Georgia, ranked 388.
The highest bid of the day was in favour of Ramkumar Ramanathan, who was picked for Rs 4.5 lakhs by the Mumbai Leon Army, co-owned by Leander Paes. India’s top ranked men’s player Prajnesh Gunneswaran was picked by Rajasthan Tigers for Rs 3.70 lakhs, while Saketh Myneni went to Pune Jaguars for Rs 4.40 lakhs. Yuki Bhambri was picked by Delhi Binnys Brigae for Rs 4.20 lakhs, Divij Sharan was picked by Gujarat Panthers for 4.10 lakhs and Purav Raja went to the Chennai Stallions for 3 lakhs.
Besides Ankita, from the other Indian women in the auction, Rutuja Bhosle was picked by Pune Jaguars for Rs 3 lakhs.
While each team picked two men’s and one women’s player at the auction, another male and women’s player for each team will emerge from the Talent Days, to be played from June onwards.
Besides the owners of the respective 8 teams, co-owners Leander Paes, Rakul Preet Singh, Sonali Bendre Behl and Divya Khosla Kumar were present to select the best players for their respective teams. The auction also saw the presence of prolific director Vishal Bhardwaj who is an avid supporter of the league and also present was actor Suniel Shetty, whose company Body First is the hydration partner for the Chennai Stallions.
Founders Kunal Thakkur and Mrunal Jain promise an enthralling championship this year and aim to create an environment which is the perfect amalgamation of sports and entertainment.
Kunal Thakkur said, “We are excited that this year we will also be having international players playing in the League. We are so happy that the entire tennis fraternity comes forward every year to make this league a success. The intention is to make tennis win.”
“We are thankful to all our owners and sponsors who have shown such faith in our league. All I can say is that this is just the beginning..we intend to make the league one of its kind in India,” said Mrunal Jain.
Leander 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.”
Actor Rakul Preet Singh said “Sports has always been an integral part of my life and im happy to see what Tennis Premier League is doing for tennis. Tennis deserves a push in our country as we have such talented players. Me and my team are all set for the championship this December.”