Dubai: The UAE has accepted a request to stage the Group III and Group IV Davis Cup fixtures in Dubai later this summer.
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) had approached Tennis Emirates urging it to assess the possibility of staging the two Davis Cup fixtures following continual political upheaval in Myanmar that led to the postponement of the matches in April.
The new Tennis Emirates board of directors met on Monday at the residence of Shaikh Hasher Al Maktoum, president of Tennis Emirates, and decided that hosting the Davis Cup would be an honour.
However, an official was quick to add that there was no added pressure on the UAE to perform since the team would be playing at home. “We are realistic of our chances this year. With the squad we have at our disposal, we would be more than happy to stay back in Group III until such time we are ready to make a move upward,” Abdul Rahman Falaknaz, vice-president, Tennis Emirates, told Gulf News after the meeting.
Last week, a top official from the ITF visited Dubai to ascertain facilities for hosting the two Asia-Oceania Davis Cup group matches from September 9-15.
The UAE will be joined by Cambodia, Hong Kong, Iran, Malaysia, Oman, Vietnam and a team from the Pacific Oceania region for the week-long Group III competition.
The UAE has also been selected as the host city to stage the 101st annual general meeting of the world governing body on September 24, 2014. The ITF official also called on Dr Ahmad Sa’ad Al Sharif, general secretary, Dubai Sports Council (DSC), to size up possibilities for cooperation with Tennis Emirates in staging next year’s meeting.
“The challenge for us lies in cultivating our grassroots programme. We thought we had produced players, but we have not and this is being reflected in the national team. There needs to be a continuity and that is missing,” Falaknaz said.
Ensuring an exclusive tennis centre for the national team is also among one of the current board’s priorities. “It’s tough to go about asking either Al Nasr or the Aviation Club to allow the national team to train. Even a small country like Bangladesh has its own tennis centre and we don’t despite being one of the richest countries in the world,” he said.
“The future is looking bright and all the board members are comfortable working with each other. The challenges are many but we are willing and excited to work,” Falaknaz added.