The Manila Mavericks Is the Best Team You'll Ever See
Andray Blatche isn't the only world class athlete playing for the Philippines. Come November, tennis heavyweights Andy Murray and Maria Sharapova will represent the country in the upcoming International Premier Tennis League. Are these tennis superstars naturalized Filipinos too? No, they're just playing for the Philippine team.
That makes no sense, as neither of them are Filipino. Everything has to do with the format adopted by the IPTL when the competition drafted the teams earlier in the year. The IPTL is the brainchild of Indian player Mahesh Bhupati, and takes inspiration from the Indian Premier League.
The competition brings together tennis legends, Grand Slam champions, and talented prospects in a head-to-head team competition format that's never been seen in the sport before. The tournament is meant to change the face of the sport in the region - if not the world. This is an exciting time to be a tennis fan, since this will be a new unexplored chapter for the sport.
There are twenty-eight players representing four franchise teams: The Philippines, India, Singapore, and the UAE. The teams will play each other in a round robin format from November 28 to December 13 to decide the Inaugural IPTL Champion and million-dollar bounty to boot.
Why the Philippines though? Saying that tennis doesn't have much interest from the country's mainstream sports programs is a terrible understatement. Truth be told, the Philippines wasn't even supposed to get a team. The slot originally belonged to Thailand, but had i transferred because of security concerns involving the aftermath of the coup d'etat.
It's their loss quite frankly, because now tennis fanatics in the country can cheer on team Philippines, and nothing gets fans screaming than the world's best slugging it out and winning.
The athletes representing the Philippine team include Olympic gold medalist Andy Murray, World No. 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Belgian Sportswoman of the Year Kirsten Flipkens, doubles legend Daniel Nestor, former World No. 1 Carlos Moya, female sports icon Maria Sharapova, and our very own Treat Huey.
That's a considerable lineup for any tournament, but the other teams aren't pushovers either. Especially since the likes of Serena Williams, Ander Agassi, Pete Sampras, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic are representing the other teams. Just looking at the big names will make the IPTL resemble a Grand Slam tournament in the best way possible.
These gifted athletes will be part of the Manila Mavericks, which will be playing for more than a trophy and a million dollars. Their presence is expected to bolster tennis interest in a country obsessed with boxing and basketball. In fact, the whole point of having this tournament is bringing world class tennis to regions in Asia that demand higher quality competition.
The Philippines host the first leg of the tournament from November 28-30 at the SM Mall of Asia.