Special Correspondent

BANGALORE: The Chief Minister, H.D. Kumaraswamy will pick the first draw of the $175,000 Sony Ericsson WTA International tournament at a colourful function in the Vidhana Soudha on Saturday at 5 p.m.

Preceding the draw ceremony, the players will be taken from Chancery Hotel to Vidhana Soudha in a motorcade of vintage cars. The car entourage, will pass through some of the main thoroughfares of the City including Residency Road, M.G. Road, Cubbon Road and reach Vidhana Soudha on the Dr. Ambedkar Veedhi.

All players who are expected to reach Bangalore on Saturday, including Australian Open champion Serena Willams, will attend the draw at Vidhana Soudha. Serena flies into the City in the early hours on Saturday. In a rare gesture, the Government of Karnataka has decided to treat Serena as a State Guest.

The qualifying rounds begin on Saturday and the draw of 32 comprises 10 Indian contenders including the promising junior Poojashree Venkatesh besides Asha Nandakumar and Arthi Venkatraman of Karnataka, who have been given wildcards in the qualifying draw. Sophie Ferguson of Australia was also given wildcard.

The other Indian girls in the fray include Isha Lakhani, Rushmi Chakravarthi, Ankita Bhambri, Saana Bhambri, Archana Venkatraman, Megha Vakharia and Sandhya Nagaraj. Besides, Indo-American players, Neha Uberoi and Sunita Rao are also to vie for the four slots in the main draw. The qualifying rounds start at 9 a.m.

Main draw

Meanwhile the organising committee, which went into huddle over the schedule of the main draw ties for Monday, after consulting Tour Supervisor, Melaine Heuer, has settled for a 6 p.m. start on the first day.

The KSLTA, however is keeping its fingers crossed on a good turn out, though the Karnataka bandh ends at 6.30 p.m. on that day.

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