The Tamil Nadu Tennis Association (TNTA) hopes to rope in more sponsors in a bid to retain the Chennai Open.

The TNTA has been associated with the Chennai Open, India’s only Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) world tournament, for 17 years now. The agreement with IMG, the owners of the tournament, ends in 2013.

“IMG has the opportunities to take the tournament to other countries also. But TNTA is discussing with IMG so that the tournament stays in Chennai. For this, we need to commit ourselves to hosting it for a period of at least five years,” said M. A. Alagappan, President, TNTA, at a press conference to announce the 18th edition of the Chennai Open.

“We hope Aircel (the title sponsor) will be with us; we will also need additional sponsors to come in,” said Alagappan.

On whether Aircel would continue its association, Renuka Jaypal, National Brand Head, Aircel, said this was “under consideration.” (The previous title sponsors include Gold Flake and Tata).

The Aircel Chennai Open (from December 31 to January 6) carries a prize money of $430,000. The tournament will feature four of the world’s top 20 players, including world number six Tomas Berdych, Marin Cilic (winner of the Chennai Open singles title in 2009 and 2010) and Stanislas Wawrinka, who won a gold in men’s doubles at the Beijing Olympics. Indian players Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi, Rohan Bopanna and Somdev Devvarman will also participate.

Other sponsors are the Government of Tamil Nadu, Indian Bank, United India Insurance, Murugappa group and IOB. Tickets will be sold from December 1 on

The Tamil Nadu Government has hiked its support to the Chennai Open from Rs 1 crore to Rs 2 crore, said Mohammed Naseemuddin, Secretary, Department of Youth Welfare and Sports.

The Government has also stepped up its overall budget allocation to sports, he said. In 2008-09, the State had allocated Rs 28 crore. This year, it is Rs 103 crore, apart from the Rs 40 crore that will be spent on the Asian Athletics Championships in Chennai.

(This article was published on November 22, 2012)
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