The 4 Wild-cards for the qualifying draw of the ING Vysya Hyderabad Open 2004 were announced today at Hyderabad by the Tournament Director, Mr. Krishna Bhupathi. The wild-cards were given to 3 bring young Indian talents, Ankita Bhambri, Iciri Rai and local girl Poonam Reddy, along with the recently crowned Australian Open Junior Champion, Shahar Peer of Israel, who experts rate as a future Top 5 player.
Organised by Globosport with support from the Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh, the ING Vysya Hyderabad Open is the only WTA event in South Asia and one of the biggest sports events in the country.
According to Mr. Krishna Bhupathi “The whole idea of bringing the WTA Tour to India was to support the emerging boom in women’s tennis and provide our talented youngsters with a level of exposure that they would never get anywhere else in the world. The Tournament is a platform to identify and support the best young players in India and the world, and the Wild Cards have been given taking that into account”.
He organisers also announced that in case any of the Wild Card entries were unable to play at the qualifiers, the first alternate for a Wild Card will be the popular Indian player Sonal Phadke.
Ankita Bhambri is one of Indian Tennis’ brightest hopes. Aged just 17 she already is a winner on the ITF Circuit and is looking to capture several more, much like her idol Steffi Graf.
Poonam Reddy, the Junior National Champion, is a local favourite being supported by the Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh. Like her state-mate Sania Mirza, she is expected to soon be making waves on the senior circuit.
Ranked in the Top 1000, 18-year old Icici Rai is fresh off a training stint with renowned international coach Bob Brett that has helped her game reach a new level. She looks forward to applying Bob’s advice on the actual WTA Tour.
16-year-old Israeli Shahar Peer is fresh off her first Grand Slam title, the Australian Open juniors, where she comprehensively outplayed third seed Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic in straight sets 6-1, 6-4. As far as all the experts are concerned, this is just the tip of the iceberg for this outstanding young talent.