More than 200 children from schools across the UAE took to the courts on Monday on the first day of play to kick-start the celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the WTA Tour hosted by the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
Children from six schools enjoyed the WTA JP Morgan Kids’ Day, which included a tennis clinic for kids of all skill levels along with photo opportunities and the chance to meet top WTA players Petra Martic and Karolina Muchova. The two-hour-long clinic was led by tennis coaches from the Clark Francis Tennis Academy and gave kids an opportunity to learn about the sport and gain some new skills.
Martic and Muchova were delighted to interact with the children and gave tips on how to improve their game. They even joined the kids in their practice sessions and spoke about some basic techniques for those interested to pursue tennis in the future.
“Those kids gave me a great warm up for my practice today, now I feel ready! Hope they had as much fun as we did and enjoyed playing tennis!” Martic said.
Muchova added: “It’s always exciting being a part of Kid’s Day and seeing some of these kids try something new for the first time. Looks like there may be a few future stars coming up soon.”
Emma Penock, PE teacher from Dubai British School, said it was good to see children motivated through sport.
“They have had an amazing morning having professional coaches give them some tips on the basics of the game and even got the opportunity to meet the WTA professionals,” she said. “The kids have definitely left this place enthused about tennis and that is great in itself, we will 100 per cent come back next year as well.”
For Milan Radjenovic, the head coach at Clark Francis Tennis Academy, it was his eighth year of bringing the kids to Dubai Duty Free Kids’ Day.
“I think it is a really good day for the kids to learn the basic techniques and even get excited about being able to hold a racket and hit the ball over the net to the other side,” he said. “I can see that some of the kids already know how to play tennis and some of them are being introduced to the game, it is lovely to see so many smiling faces around and it is definitely good to see the kids enjoy their time at this very well organised event every year. The WTA is celebrating 20 years and it is a pleasure to have over 200 kids attend the clinic and I hope some of them will continue to play tennis after getting involved in this wonderful opportunity.”
On being asked how the experience was, a student from Victoria International School said, “Today was very fun, I like playing sports with balls and I even got an autograph from one of the players. I have never played tennis before this, so the coaches explained to us how to hold a racket and hit a ball and I really liked it and want to join tennis classes soon.”
“We are thrilled to sponsor the JP Morgan Kids Day at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships for the sixth consecutive year,” commented Karim Tannir, joint-senior country officer for Mena and head of Investment Banking Mena at JP Morgan. “It’s a great opportunity for children in the UAE to acquire new capabilities on and off the court, such as establishing team skills with the ball kids and learning about the competitive sport of tennis from the tournament players.
Tournament Director, Salah Tahlak said: “We would like to thank JP Morgan and the CF Tennis Academy for supporting the kids clinic year on year to give several children from local schools an opportunity to learn the basic techniques of the sport and interact with world renowned players as part of the sessions. We hope that our commitment to supporting such activities inspires and encourages kids in the future to take up the sport and dream of becoming future tennis stars.”