Retired Indian Tennis player Leander Paes hopes the Tennis Premier League (TPL) will prove to be a massive springboard for the upcoming generation of the sport. Paes iterated the example of the Indian Premier League (IPL) and how it has triggered the growth of cricketers enormously.
TPL season four finished with eight teams:
The TPL, which started back in 2018, will witness its fifth season in December 2023. The 2022 edition saw eight teams (Mumbai Leon Army, Delhi Binny's Brigade, Plipuech Chennai Stallions, Bengaluru Spartans, Hyderabad Strikers, Punjab Tigers, Gujarat Panthers, Pune Jaguars) participate, with the Strikers emerging victorious.
When asked how significant TPL might have been during his earliest playing days, Paes recalled how no international tennis tournaments weren't in India in the 80s.
"I think the more relevance you have and the more exposure you give to the youth, the better experience they will have. So, I feel like when I grew up in the 80s, there was zero international WTA and ATP tournaments in the country. I feel like we have these sort of leagues like IPL, ISL, Table Tennis league, Badminton League, with these events how many great players are emerging," Paes told the Free Press Journal in Mumbai on Monday during the launch of the new and ninth team Bengal Wizards for TPL season 5.
The 49-year-old conceded how well the IPL has done for cricket and hopes TPL can do something similar for tennis, adding:
"Let's look at the simple question of the IPL. For cricket, we can confidently say we have three playing elevens in the country. You look at the quality of cricketers coming up, the quality of football players, the quality of badminton players because of the leagues and exposure. Likewise, I think Tennis Premier League will be a great boost to the morale and confidence of the youth to come up and play better quality tennis."
'Sport is a great vehicle to bring communities together' - Leander Paes
Paes also thanked Yatin Gupte, the chairman of Wardwizard group and Dr. Vijay Shah for joining him in what he described as a mission to use tennis and bring different kinds of people together.
"Also I would say this that sport is a great vehicle to bring communities together. Be it Tennis ball, cricket ball, or a football. It doesn't understand religion, caste, color, creed, dialect, language. What it gets is effort, hard work, passion, and passion for life. For me Tennis as a sport, brings communities together."
"And that is why I like to say humbly thank you to these two men (Mr. Yatin Gupte and Mr. Vishal Shah) for coming forward and joining me to not just for this tennis premier league, but also bringing their passion and business acumen, their passion for the community to the state of Bengal and bringing Tennis for the whole of the country."
Paes retired from professional tennis in 2021, having won eight men's doubles and ten mixed doubles grand slams.
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