Johannesburg - The innovative International Premier Tennis League, currently taking place in four countries and featuring many of the world's leading players in four competing teams, has exceeded all expectations and is here to stay.
This is the view of South African Davis Cup captain John-Laffnie de Jager, who is captain-coach of one of the UAE Royals, and is the only South African representative at the event being staged from November 28 to December 13.
De Jager likened the event to cricket's IPL and said it had proved a huge and enthusiastic crowd puller at all the venues thus far.
"Let's make it clear, the IPTL format will in no way effect the regular tennis calendar and tournament schedule which will carry on as it has done over many years.
"But it's a great way to end the tennis year and we have been surprised not only by the response of the crowds, but also the players. They've taken to it like ducks to water and brought out a real desire to perform at a team level instead of as individuals."
Taking part as enthusiastically as anyone are many of the world's top men and women's players like Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Serena Williams, as well as legends of the past Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and Goran Ivanisevic.
Just past the halfway stage, the tournament leaders are the Indian Aces, including Federer, Gael Monfils and Sampras. De Jager's Royals, which includes Djokovic and US Open champion Marin Cilic, is in second position.
"The tournament remains open for the eventual team prize of over R11-million, with at least three of the four teams likely to remain in contention through to the end," De Jager said.
Three rounds of matches in the pressurised programme are being staged in each of Singapore, Manila, Delhi and the UAE, with the four teams -- the Indian Aces, the UAE Royals, the Manila Mavericks and the Singapore Slammers -- all playing each other in each of the four countries.
De Jager said it was also quite possible that the IPTL could extend beyond the regions where it is presently being held.
"But that is something for the future," he said.