Vijay Amritraj attends the Walt Disney Concet Hall's 10th Anniversary Gala at the Walt Disney Concert, Los Angeles. (AFP Photo)
The Champions Tennis League must not be perceived as competition to the Mahesh Bhupathi-launched IPTL as CTL is the only way to bring international tennis to India due to a crammed calender, says tennis legend Vijay Amritraj.
After veteran star Bhupathi announced his ambitious league, in which the biggest tennis stars will feature, AITA and Amritraj together launched CTL.
The format of the two leagues is similar but there will be no auction in CTL as a draw will decide the team compositions and it will be over in just 10 days.
"How do you counter something else, there are tournaments back to back. One tournament does not compete with the next tournament. The tournaments end up making a tour.
"The great thing here is that Mahesh has taken initiative to do international tennis across Asia, which is fantastic for Asian cities. We are doing it in India, which will be great for India cities, that's the key element and driving force," Amritraj told PTI from Los Angeles.
Asked if it was mere a coincidence that the two leagues will be played around the same time, Amritraj said, "There is only that much of a window to do it. The advantage is that players can play one or both. If they don't want to play either, it's up to them."
While CTL will be played between November 17 and 26, the IPTL has been scheduled from November 28 to December 20.
Amritraj, who reached the singles quarterfinals at the Wimbledon and the US Open in 1973, said a lot of people have been trying to get another ATP tournament to India but the efforts were not fructifying. Chennai Open is the one and only ATP 250 event the country has.
"The international calender is very full. It's difficult to get an ATP or WTA tournament, so when we were discussing this concept, we were trying to put it together so that we are able to get international tennis in different cities in India.
"This is something I have played in the 1970s in the US and it was very popular. We tweaked the format to able to make it palatable for India and include both foreigners and Indians," the 60-year-old, who is now a popular commentator, said.
Amritraj said CTL, which is expected to have players ranked between 5 and 25 competing, will benefit Indian tennis in three big ways.
One, that at least 18 Indian players, including 12 juniors, will be involved. Second, international tennis will reach at least six Indian cities and third, it will help promote the game at grassroots level.
"We are exposing tennis both domestic and international across the country. It's not one city. The problem is we have one ATP tournament in India for 18 years and that's in Chennai. It will be great to have international tennis in cities where people don't get to watch international tennis live.
"And it gives a chance to our juniors to gain experience by practising and travelling together with the international players. And it gives encouragement to youngsters to play the sport. Playing across India is very important to promote tennis in the country at grassroots level as well."
Amritraj said each of the six teams will have at least one male Indian player while one Indian boy and a girl will get exposure.
He said five cities - Delhi, Chandigarh, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai - have been confirmed. The sixth city could be Kolkata. However, he kept the identity of the confirmed players and team owners under the wraps saying, "We don't want to put three names. We will put all the names together."
Amritraj also informed that it will be CTL which will pay the players and not the team owners and that they expect to make profit from the league from its third edition.
"There will be tickets. Each owners will be able to sell tickets," he said.