Aurangabad: Ankita Raina, India`s top woman tennis player, has been given the top billing in the USD 10,000 MSLTA ITF women`s championships, organised and played at the EMMTC Tennis Centre at Garkheda here from Monday.
Maharashtra`s Prarthana Thombare is seeded second behind Ankita, ranked 298th in the world. According to Ankita, the ITF event being held in the very first week of this year is a boon for Indian as it would help them start the new year with points.
"I was 590 at beginning of 2013 and playing events like these helped me to rise faster," said Ankita who is to take on Malaysian qualifier Theiviya Selvarajoo in round one.
"It took me around 10 months to get my first WTA point and this event will help younger players to get important points. Also, the event will be a test for Indians in fray with the upcoming Fed Cup tie and the (upcoming) Asian Games (to be held in Incheon, South Korea, later this year) team selection," said Prarthana.
Sixth seed Prerna Bhambri, who didn`t enjoy a good 2013, is to take on Aashima Garg in round one and then is drawn to clash with Ankita in the quarterfinals. Wild Card Rutuja Bhosale, back to India on vacation, would clash with Anushka Bhargava and is expected to trouble fifth seed Shweta Rana in round two. In the opening round, Shweta is to play against Teertha Iska.
In an interesting first round tie, India`s Sharmada Balu would take on Japanese Chihiro Nunome.
Singles seeding: 1. Ankita Raina, 2. Prarthana Thombare, 3. Rishika Sunkara, 4. Emi Mutaguchi (Japan), 5. Shweta Rana, 6. Prerna Bhambri 7. Natasha Palha, 8 Nidhi Chilmula.