Dubai: Emirati Abdulrahman Al Janahi’s run in the Dubai Tennis Championships might have been cut short after the first-round loss, but the UAE player is confident about the future of the sport in the country and says the key to the growth is enjoying the sport.
“This is my fourth year in Dubai championships and though I am more of a singles player, I definitely did enjoy the doubles partnership with Kareem Al Allaf,” said the 28-year-old Emirati, who shifts his time between tennis and his work as an engineer in Abu Dhabi and South Korea.
Different level of focus
“One of the nice things when Dubai Open comes around every year is that we’re in the environment of the tournament. Whether we’re hitting partners or getting wild cards into the tournaments, we get to interact with the players a lot. Getting to practice with them, you see how different the level is, the level of focus it takes, the commitment,” Al Janahi said.
American Al Allaf is a former Abu Dhabi resident who lived in the UAE and played the junior tournament for Syria before moving to the US and playing at the University of Iowa.
Dream come true
“It’s a dream come true for me. I grew up in Abu Dhabi. I played all the junior tournaments here. I tried to ask and see if I could ever get into this tournament. I felt like this was my chance. Thanks to Salah Tahlak and the UAE Tennis Federation, especially Abdulrahman Al Janahi, for helping me get a wild card into singles, qualifying. Today we got to play doubles at home in front of friends, family. It was a great experience,” Al Allaf said
The first-time partnership for the wild cards did not have the ending that they might have hoped for, but still, there were plenty of learning from the match against Tomislav Brkic and Gonzalo Escobar, who won 6-1, 6-3.
“As of the doubles today, you just see how focused their game is on the doubles game so we said let’s pick up on those things,” added the UAE star.
Al Janahi feels with the golden generation of UAE players, headed by former UAE No 1 Omar Behroozian, moving ahead in their lives, the efforts of UAE Tennis Federation will yield results in finding the right talent in the next few years.
“Searching for talent is the key priority right now. We did have a lot of talent from Kareem’s generation, they were the prodigies of UAE tennis. We did have our golden player, Omar Behroozian, No 1 in the UAE, the highest-ranked UAE tennis player, let’s say. Following that we had Hamad and after that it is just me. For the juniors at the moment, we don’t have any prospects, but we will have something in the next few years,” he added.
The UAE Tennis Federation has been conducting various local tournaments in the last couple of years to increase the pool of gen-next players. Al Janahi feels one crucial factor that he would like to see is less pressure on these budding stars and make them enjoy the game.
“Over last year and this year, they’ve been building that back up again where every two weeks there’s a tournament, a local tournament happening. It’s just about getting the youngsters to enjoy the game. A lot of them, the youngsters, don’t enjoy because of the pressure that’s put on them, a lot of expectations. Getting them to understand and focusing on how they can enjoy it more can help with that,” he concluded.