Aircel to sponsor Chennai Open


Chennai: Aircel, the leading telecom player in Tamil Nadu, has come to the rescue of ATP Chennai Open tennis tournament by signing a two-year sponsorship deal with the Tamil Nadu Tennis Association (TNTA) to the tune of Rs.50 million.

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The contract was signed here Tuesday by TNTA president M.A. Alagappan and K.V.P. Baskar, Operations Director – South. The tournament will be held at SDAT Tennis Stadium, Nungambakkam, here Jan 4-10.

Vice-president All-India Tennis Association and tournament committee chairman Karti P. Chidambaram said Aircel will be the “principal” sponsor and the tournament will continue to have the backing of a consortium of secondary sponsors made up of several public sector units and the Tamil Nadu government.

The tournament, previously backed by ITC and Tata Group, each for five and three years since the International Management Group (IMG) brought the event to India in 1996 when it was first held in Delhi, sponsored by the UB group, before being shifted to Chennai, was supported by a consortium headed by the TN government for the past five years.

Speculation was rife last year on the future of the tournament with the possibility of it being moved out of Chennai. Under the circumstances, Aircel’s involvement as the principal sponsor has ensured the continuation of the event in Chennai, at least for the next two years.

Under the terms of agreement, IMG is obliged to guarantee participation of at least one top-10 player and two from top-20. However, Ravi Krishnan, IMG’s Managing Director – South Asia and Senior Vice-president Worldwide, said it was far too early to name the players.

“We have to first see who is playing where since there are three other tournaments on the same dates besides an exhibition competition. Although Roger Federer dominated this season, many other players have performed well. We are in talks with a few of them,” said Krishnan.

Speaking on behalf of the sponsors, Baskar said the Chennai Open was a good fit for Aircel in the context of targeting the youth besides providing the company better visibility.