Tennis in India is set to return next month with 78 tournaments, including the pending 2020 National Championships and six International Tennis Federation tournaments set to be played across the country after a halt in action caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

After the 2020 calendar was disrupted by the pandemic, the All India Tennis Association is clearing the backlog and has scheduled the men’s and women’s National Hard Court Championships from March 15. The other age category Nationals will be played through the month.

There will be 45 ranking series events too – 10 Talent series, 3 Championship series and one National series, according to the AITA’s planned calendar.

The ITF tournaments will begin with the men’s $15,000 event in Lucknow and a similar prize money women’s event in Delhi from March 1. The DLTA will also host a $15,000 men’s event from March 29.

The March 8 week will see $15,000 men’s event in Indore and $25,000 tourney in Pune, which will also host a $15,000 men’s event from March 22.

For the first time ever, the state of Haryana will host the senior National Hard Court Championship, which will be held in Gurugram at The Tennis Project. The academy, owned by India’s Fed Cup captain Vishal Uppal, has six flood-lit courts.

The Rs 10-lakh prize money event (for both men and women), beginning March 15, is offering a financial reward of Rs 62,000 to the winners. It is less than the Rs 5 lakh prize purse that is given to the winners at the regular Fenesta Nationals but the players will get much-needed practice ahead of the ITF tournaments.

“It’s a big responsibility for us since Haryana has never hosted a senior national before. It’s a big deal for us. Considering that ITF events are coming up, it will help the players get match-ready and sharp,” Uppal told PTI.

“All the players will have to produce negative RT-PCR test reports and either a parent or a coach will be allowed to accompany the player. All ITF guidelines will be followed. We are also organising Haryana Open before the Nationals,” he said.

The prize money for the winners could be raised, it has been learnt.

The sports ministry has chipped in by providing financial support through the ACTC (Annual Calendar for Training and Competition) funds, making the job of the hosts a bit easy since finding sponsors for tennis tournaments has never been a simple task for the stake-holders.

AITA secretary general Anil Dhupar said the national federation is committed to help the players and also acknowledged the assistance offered by the government.

“We are resuming the action. In the ACTC meeting with the sports ministry officials, we were asked if we will be able to prepare a roadmap quickly. We presented them the proposal and it was approved immediately,” Dhupar told PTI.

“The players are getting an opportunity to play competitive tennis after 10 months. We are committed to play our role, that’s why we decided to have two Nationals this year. Fenesta will be back later this year for the 2021 championships.”

Pune will host the Under-12 (March 8-14), Under-14 (March 14-22), and Under-16 (April 5-11) National hard court championships, while Indore will organise the Under-18 event from March 29.

The AITA has also lined up a Super Series, Rs 1 lakh men’s and women’s events apart from the tournaments for seniors and wheelchair players and juniors.

With PTI Inputs