Mumbai: Ramkumar Ramanathan emerged the surprise pick of the auction, garnering the highest bid of the day of Rs 4.5 lakhs, and was picked by the Mumbai Leon Army, co-owned by Leander Paes and Shyam Patel, to spearhead their challenge in the Tennis Premier League 3.0, which will be played in Mumbai later this year with the support of AITA and MSLTA.
At the auction conducted at the Celebration Sports Club on Tuesday, Ramkumar, currently ranked 202 in the world, will have for company Niki Poonacha and Sofia Shapatava of Georgia, ranked 388 in the world.
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, Sabina Sharipova of Uzbekistan, ranked 317, Valeriya Strakhova of Ukraine, ranked 379, besides Sofia Shapatava.
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. Divij Sharan was picked by Gujarat Panthers for 4.10 lakhs, while Purav Raja went to the Chennai Stallions for 3 lakhs.
Ankita Raina garnered the highest price for women’s players, picked by Hyderabad Strikers for 4.10 lakhs, while 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 eight 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 Thakkursaid, “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.
Mumbai Leon Army: Ramkumar Ramanathan, Nikki Poonacha, Sofia Shapatava (Gerogia)
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, Ankita Raina
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