Pune: Multiple Grand Slam winner Leander Paes on Tuesday backed the proliferation of leagues in different sporting disciplines as vehicles to promote the players and the sport itself.
The tennis veteran singled out the Amanora Premier Tennis League (PTL) being held here as an ideal example for providing the platform for Indian players to play, learn and earn from the sport they live for.
"What PTL has done is fantastic. It has provided one platform for the cream of Indian tennis players to come together and play as a team," said Paes during a media interaction at the Deccan Gymkhana here.
Paes said that bringing so many future Davis Cup players together is itself an achievement for the PTL. "I saw a few matches being played on Deccan Gymkhana courts. There is Saketh (Myneni) playing. There is Jeevan (Neduncheziyan) and Sanam (Singh). They all will be part of the Davis Cup team in the near future and to give them such a platform is a brilliant idea," said the seasoned Davis Cupper.
Asked about the sustainability of the tennis leagues given that India is playing host to three different leagues ? the Champions Tennis League of Vijay Amritraj, the International Tennis Premier League of his former doubles partner Mahesh Bhupathi and the PTL here ? Paes said it all depended on how well they were run and received.
"The sustainability of the leagues will depend on how they are received by the fans and the franchisee owners. The fans need to enjoy what they watch and the owners need to get returns, tangible or otherwise," the 41-year-old player said.
Paes took the opportunity to announce his men's doubles partnership with Raven Klassen of South Africa, his 99th partner in his 28-year tennis career. "Klassen and me will be starting the partnership from the Australian Open in Melbourne, but before that we will also play one of the warm-up events, either in Chennai, Brisbane or Dubai. We haven't taken a call yet," he explained.
Paes, however, refused to reveal his mixed doubles partner for 2015 but hinted that the women player is a former Czech national. On the Rio Olympics, Paes said there was still time to decide on, adding he would like to be ready physically and mentally to be a medal contender and not a mere participant.
"To play seventh Olympics is in itself will be a record, but I don?t want to be in Rio just as participant. I want to be a medal prospect," Paes said.