After receiving a ‘sanctioning fee’ of about $40,000 every year for the Chennai Open ATP Tour event for the last 17 years, the All India Tennis Association will no longer be paid the sum by the Tamil Nadu Tennis Association which hosts the event.
The state body, which has reached an agreement with the International Management Group (IMG) to keep the event in Chennai for the next three years, has secured the requisite permission from the Government, bypassing the AITA. In fact, the TNTA has also sought subsidisation for the country’s biggest tennis event, as in the case of the smaller ITF men’s and women’s tournaments.
After the first edition of the tournament was held in Delhi in 1996, it had to be shifted to Chennai owing to restrictions on tobacco advertising in the Capital. The tournament continued to pay the ‘royalty’ to the AITA until some of the officials in the organising committee realised that it was unnecessary expenditure, as ATP tournaments do not come under the ambit of the national federations. It was also pointed out that the AITA did not charge any such fee for the $10,000 and $15,000 events that were being conducted in the country, nor for the $125,000 WTA tournament held in Pune last year.
The AITA has countered this with the argument that the TNTA was not authorised to seek government clearance without going through the National federation.
The tension between the National body and the State association over this and a few other issues seems to also have caused some collateral damage: it is perceived that the Asian junior champion Snehadevi Reddy, who is supported by the TNTA, being denied a wild-card for the National championship is a fall-out of this.