On Tuesday, the Women's Tennis Association (WTA), via a statement, announced that China is set to host events next year. The statement added that the year-ending Finals would be held in Shenzhen in 2023.
The organisation had suspended events in the country following Peng Shuai's disappearance from the public eye after her sexual assault allegations against a retired government official. The pandemic also contributed to a lot of events being postponed or cancelled.
China getting back on the WTA calendar — they last hosted a meet in January 2020 — which will mean a couple of things. From an Indian point of view, retaining the right to host the Chennai Open could be problematic. As it stands, Chennai only has a one-year contract to host the tournament.
This is where the feedback given by the WTA Tour Supervisor for this week — Kerrilyn Cramer — is going to be crucial. According to the Australian, 'there will be favourable feedback'.
"As part of my job (she's one of the dozen or so WTA Supervisors on the tour), I do a report. It would be favourable," she says.
"It certainly isn't my decision whether the tournament comes back. What I can say from my side as the WTA Supervisor this week... we have been very happy with what has been put on here. The tournament has, to me, met all our requirements. We would happily say that the tournament would be more than welcome if there was a license available to come back here next year."
That has been a familiar song this week. Why has that been the case? Cramer, a former chair umpire, explains. "This is the third tournament I have worked in India," she says.
"I find that whenever you come to events in India, the hospitality, enthusiasm... people are so proud of their city, they want everyone to have a wonderful experience. They go above and beyond. The hospitality stands out. One of my other roles is to ensure everything is running smoothly for the players. Is there anything we need to fix for them? The other day I got a 'no, no, this is fantastic' (from the players). So happy that the WTA is back in India. It's a country where the WTA should have a tournament. Hopefully this (event) will be able to continue."
Tamil Nadu Tennis Association (TNTA) president, Vijay Amritraj, had said a few weeks ago that he was looking at options to keep a women's event in the city. The options included the idea of potentially hosting a 500 event. Cramer said the main stadium 'is big enough to host a 500'.
"This is the perfect venue for a 250. The Centre Court is probably large enough for 500. But, yes, you would probably need a second stadium (one of the plans could be to erect temporary stands on one of the outside courts to fulfil that criteria). Once again, from the WTA's point of view, there needs to be a license."
There are already three requests to hold this event in 2023, something Laura Ceccarelli, chief operations officer (COO) of APG (license-holders of the event), revealed on the day of the draw.
The tournament has seemingly done all that it can to be part of the calendar going forward. Whether it will stay or not depends on other factors.