Peter Johnston: 'What we would love to see is more Malaysian players with increasing world rankings; the tournament is committed to foster that.'
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia should take advantage of the vast interest of the tennis fraternity in Asia Pacific by nurturing and growing the stature of tournaments – specifically the WTA-sanctioned BMW Malaysian Open.
Tennis has been growing in the region with seven brand new tournaments in China alone this year, and the recent announcement that Singapore will be hosting the season-ending WTA Championships over the next five years.
Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) managing director of Asia Pacific Peter Johnston stressed it is all about quality not quantity.
“As a global tour with the biggest women’s sporting league in the world offering a US$118mil (RM393mil) prize purse in total (including the Grand Slams), we want to be in the great cities of the world. We’re in the entertainment business and so we want to entertain great cities like Kuala Lumpur,” said Johnston, who was in town on Tuesday to oversee the preparations for the BMW Malaysian Open which will be held in April.
“KL is already host to two tennis tournaments (the other is the ATP 250 Malaysian Open) ... not many countries in this region can say that. We’re not in the business of just adding tournaments. We’re trying to make a tour, each event presenting the best in terms of prize money, player services and public profile.
“The BMW Malaysian Open has all the ingredients of a great tournament and it’s important to maintain and continue building the profile of the tournament here. What we would love to see is more Malaysian players with increasing world rankings; the tournament is committed to foster that.”
Besides that, Johnston says the Asian swing of WTA events will be a catalyst to further develop the sport as it will provide opportunities for regional players to gain more exposure.