Bangalore to host Super Slam event

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Bangalore, Feb 25: Bangalore will host country's first ever Super Slam-A combined men's and women's Tennis tournament during 2011-12 with prize money of more than USD five million.

Karnataka State Lawn Tennis Association (KSLTA) Karnataka Department of Youth Services and Sports Authority of Karnataka have joined hands to make this dream become a reality. In their attempt to popularise, promote and take the game of tennis to the next level, they have come together to build a world class tennis stadium at a cost of Rs 200 crore to host the mega event.

Department of Youth Services Commissioner Amar Kumar Pande, who is also Sports Authority of Karnataka Director General, said today that the government was happy to support and partner with KSLTA to realise the dream of hosting a Super Slam Tennis tournament in Bangalore.

"It is important that we as a country should aspire and create platform for our sports person and athlete to compete and excel on world stage," he said.

KSLTA Hon Secretary Sunder Raju said that the cooperation from government organisation would certainly give a boost in the attempt to popularise tennis in the state.

"We are extremely pleased with the support we are getting from the Karnataka government. Our aim is to produce top tennis players in the country and this partnership is a step towards making this a reality," he said.

Mr Raju said that Maria Kirilenko was ranked 26 on the WTA computer. If her exploits on the tennis court are anything to go by, she is going to be a major attraction here. The 21-year-old Russian lass could find herself as a strong contender who will challenge the Williams sisters and other major contenders in the field which includes Patty Schnyder, Agnes Szavay and Sybille Bammer.

As one who loves clay and hard courts, Maria said in her confirmation, "I have been to India before for some WTA tours. I played some exciting tennis in India. My experience there should give me a little edge over my opponents. I am keenly looking towards an exciting tournament." Maria had proved her credentials Down Under last month when she made it to the fourth round of the Australian Open defeating enroute sixth seed Anna Chakvetadze in three sets. Her next opponent was Daniela Hantuchova, to whom she lost in the fourth round in the match that went full distance.

In 2002 Kirilenko became one of the youngest winners of the Canadian Open and the US Open junior tournaments. From later that year she started participating in WTA events. She made a lot of progress in WTA events but was setback by injury in 2004 and dropped down the rankings, whilst missing out on valuable experience.

At the end of 2005 she had climbed right up the rankings and won her first title in Beijing. She has been recognised as one of the up and coming players of 2006. Despite being off her best form during the summer, she broke into the top 20 for the first time in 2006.

In January 2007, she advanced to the third round of the 2007 Australian Open, before being defeated by third-seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, immediately after which she competed in the 2007 Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, where she advanced to the second round upsetting seed 15 Shahar Peer of Israel, before being defeated by Ai Sugiyama.

Off the court, Maria is a fun loving person, who loves music and football. She has great admiration for Jennifer Capriati, obviously because of her tenacity and former Russian star Yevgeny Kafelnikov.

Maria started showing a passion for tennis at the young age of five but it was difficult to get the practice in while she was attending school.

Her father enrolled her in a tennis school, and hours of fierce training started to pay off as she won several tournaments. When she was 12 years old, an Honored Master of sports, Elena Brioukhovets, saw her while training. All the next year Elena watched Maria making progress and then offered to work together with her. A three-year program was made and a special team was selected.

In less than three years Maria became the number one in her age group and the number two in the group under eighteen. The well-known tennis-players Yevgeni Kafelnikov, Andrei Olhovskiy and Max Mirnyi, who had created an organization supporting young tennis-players, helped Kirilenko to arrange her training-process and to attend tournaments.

Replying to a question, Mr Raju said that Indian upcoming tennis players Isha Lakhani and Sunita Rao had applied for Wild Card entry.

WTA had requested to reserve one WC for foreign player.

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