I wanted to write this post a couple of days ago but needed more time to dig info.
If you don't read local paper The News Straits Times, probably you've missed a couple of articles about bringing a WTA women's tennis event to Kuala Lumpur.
The first article was published in September but I first read about it in tennisforum.com.
The initial plan was this: a makeshift tennis stadium to be erected at the Twin Towers' open car park specially for the event.
Very ambitious indeed! And I was super excited!
Now this event was said to be a US$400,000 event and expected to play in the second half of the year 2009.
Okay, that was the first article.
Then there was this second article three months later in December 2008 saying that the Malaysian Open will be held on Feb 23 to March 1.
And this time the venue was: a makeshift tennis stadium to be erected at the Bukit Kiara Equestrian Club (BKEC) in Hartamas!
The article said the organiser was trying to raise the total prize money from USS225,000 to US$400,000 to attract top names for the hard court tournament. Some of the names mentioned including Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic!
Now the event is cancelled.
There are no proper explanation or statement from the organiser or LTAM to the media. Probably because this event is still considered to be in a planning stage and it's not a responsibility to explain what had happened or gone wrong.
From what my source told me, the organiser here is Carbon Group, who has the reputation of managing events like A1GP Malaysia and other motor sports and golf events.
I don't really mind their lack of experience in managing tennis events because you can always engage with the experts from overseas particularly from our neighbouring countries who organise WTA or ATP events every year.
Besides Malaysia has organised tennis exhibitions twice that featured tennis players like Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer as well as legends like Pete Sampras and Bjorn Borg. Although the tennis exhos were organised by different company, you have seen how they worked, roped in sponsors and made it happened.
And not forgetting, Malaysia has organised WTA tournaments back in 1999 and 2000 before it was moved to Bali.
Now what surprises me is that the article stated this: "The local organiser managed to outbid 16 other countries for the WTA Tour event about a month (in November?) ago."
How can you outbid other countries when you know you don't even have enough of the money?
Did the organiser realise the consequences of doing this?
And do they ever think they can organise a huge event like this in just 2-3 months?
And why not make the National Tennis Centre the main venue? This place has been used for ITF Futures and Challenger events! I believe earlier booking and renovation to upgrade the place would be sufficient to turn this place into an international tennis tournament venue.
Supposed 2 weeks from now tennis fans would be able to watch a women's tennis event in Malaysia. And looking at Jelena's schedule, she's free during that Feb 23-March 1 week. She could have travelled here!
Now I wonder if there's any chance for other local organisers to bid for a WTA event like this in the future because of the failure of Carbon Group to put up the show here.