IPTL kickoff leg gives Philippine tennis smash hit | Inquirer Sports

IPTL kickoff leg gives Philippine tennis smash hit

/ 12:14 AM December 26, 2014

Philippine tennis is hoping to cash in on the success and popularity generated by the multimillion-dollar International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) which held its very first leg here in Manila last month.

After global superstars Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams and Andy Murray played for three days at Mall of Asia Arena, Philippine Tennis Association officials expressed optimism that a new generation of tennis followers would support the sport with the tremendous response by fans.

Philta vice president and Davis Cup administrator Randy Villanueva said they are planning to work hand in hand with IPTL franchisee Manila Mavericks to hold side events which will employ the league’s innovative rules with local players seeing action.

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The matches, telecast live on both cable and free TV, featured fun rules like the five-second service shot clock, power point, mid-play timeouts and substitution and the five-minute shootout.

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The innovations, designed to lighten up the otherwise strait-laced sport, speed up its pace and make it more TV-friendly, proved a hit as the matches pulled in the crowd at the 16,000-seat MOA Arena despite the steep ticket prices that fetched as much as P58,000 for VIP seats.

“Tennis in the Philippines was very productive in 2014,” said Villanueva. “For one, the dream of many Filipino tennis fans finally came true when more than 30 world-ranked players led by superstars and grand slam winners visited the Philippines.

The country, according to Villanueva, was gripped “with tennis fever.” He added: “We at Philippine tennis are very happy that a big and world class league like the IPTL has recognized the tennis market in the Philippines.”

Villanueva said the Philippines has now presented itself as viable venue for more tournaments like the Futures and Challenger events that feature world-ranked players and included in the ITF circuit.

The country hosted just one Futures event in 2014, where Filipinos Ruben Gonzales and Patrick John Tierro figured prominently. Gonzales made the finals of the men’s doubles in tandem with Thai Sonchat Ratiwatana, while Tierro reached the semifinals in men’s singles.

The Philippines also produced another women’s champion in Khim Iglupas. The Philippine Tennis Academy stalwart won her first singles crown during the first leg of the Phinma international juniors held here. Also emerging from the age-group scene are promising young talents like Monica Therese Cruz, Jackie Tan-Ho and Rafaella Villanueva.

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Philta is also hoping to win at least two gold medals in the Singapore Southeast Asian Games in June. Villanueva said the country is highly favored in men’s doubles and mixed doubles with doubles specialist Treat Huey.

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The country will also try to get back into Group 1 of the Davis Cup Asia/Oceania. The Philippines takes on Sri Lanka in the first round on March 6-8 in a new venue which Villanueva refused to announce yet.

TAGS: International Premier Tennis League (IPTL), Tennis

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