Dubai: Shaikh Hasher Al Maktoum has envisaged a brighter future starting with grassroots development of tennis in the UAE following the ratification of a new domestic rankings system on Saturday.
The President of the governing body for tennis in the UAE welcomed the launch of a calendar of events for players based in the country. The calendar consists of nearly 100 tournaments with much of the emphasis on competitions for juniors starting with the under-12s.
This is the first time after over a decade that the governing body has put together a calendar of events that got under way with various age-level leagues getting under way from November 11. The competitions will continue every weekend till the middle of May next year with players winning rankings points at each tournament depending on their results.
“This shows that we are headed in the right direction with our grassroots. We have already done a lot of work behind the scene starting with the registration of players and academies in the UAE,” Shaikh Hasher told Gulf News.
“From a series of nearly 100 competitions we have nearly 20 tournaments solely for the juniors. We have also made sure the men and veterans are not neglected during the season. We are keen to take up the development of tennis starting with grassroots and such competitions can only assist in the process,” he added.
Of the total 112 tennis academies and institutions, only 36 have registered so far. However, the process is on to convince the bodies that even they stand to benefit in the long run if they do associate with the governing body. “We want nearly all academies and coaches to come along and get involved and engaged in this project,” Shaikh Hasher noted.
The Tennis Emirates president also took the opportunity to acknowledge the efforts of all past and present officials who were on the board of Tennis Emirates by presenting them all with certificates of merit. A total of 32 officials were invited by Shaikh Hasher including the likes of past vice-president Abdul Rahman Falaknaz, Dubai Tennis Championships Tournament Director Salah Tahlak and Ahmad Abdul Malik, the current general secretary of Tennis Emirates.
Of the 32 invited, two — Aqil Fikree and Ali Mohsin Barrakat — have expired, while most of the others attended the felicitation at the hands of Shaikh Hasher. “This period is like a new chapter for tennis in the UAE,” Abdul Malik said.
“We needed a fresh direction for our sport, and one of the most certain ways to secure a bright future is to attend to the younger generation of players,” he added.