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After a gap of four years, international tennis returns to the historic city of Gulbarga as the Karnataka State Lawn Tennis Association, in association with Zygosports Unlimited, is set to conduct the USD 10,000 ITF Gulbarga Open Women's Futures from September 24 to 29.

Gulbarga twice hosted ITF Men's tournament in the past, but it is the first time that an ITF Women's Futures is being held in the city, some 589 kms away from here, KSLTA secretary C S Sunder Rajum told reporters.

The championship offers a great chance for Indian girls to earn ITF points at home and enhance their ability to step into the big league of WTA, he said.Wang Yu Vanise Chan of Hong Kong, who is ranked 366, heads the main draw list followed by Emily Webley of Great Britain, who is ranked 388. Another notable contender is Zi Yang of China (610).

The Indian challenger will be spearheaded by Kyra Shroff, ranked 535 and other Indian girls, who are in the main draw, include Rishika Sunkara, Ankita Raina, Nidhi Chilmula, Rutuja Bhosle, Shivika Buran, Natasha Palha, Prerna Bhambri and Shwetha Rana.

Bharati Cements, ACC Ultra Tech Cements and Chettinad Cements are the associate sponsors for the championship, he said adding that the venue will be Dr Chandrashekar Patil Stadium, which has three synthetic courts and is being spruced up for the event in a big way.

Zygosports CEO and tournament director Sunil Yejaman said, "We have seen high quality entries into the tournament which goes a long way to prove that Karnataka has become the tennis destination in India."

Principal secretary to chief minister and KSLTA vice president, Laxminarayana said it has been a constant endeavour of KSLTA to promote tennis in rural and moffusil areas in the state and holding the ITF women's championship in Gulbarga reflects that philosophy.

"I hope more and more children in Gulbarga take up the game after witnessing the event," he added.

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    Basavaraj Harsur


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