Dubai: The desire to discover Emirati tennis talent is under way with the launch of the Dubai Sports Council Tennis League across all age categories.
Initiated by Tennis Emirates (TE) with support from Dubai Sports Council (DSC) and General Authority of Sports, the league will have competitions taking place in nine boys, girls and mixed categories starting with Under-12s up to Under-16s.
The league was revived on a trial basis after a 10-year gap in three age categories last season. A total of 38 teams participated in the competition that started on November 7 and concluded on May 12.
Given the success of this initiative, TE has now decided to increase the number of age groups to include the younger lot of players. “And from next season we want to see at least one Emirati player in each of the participating teams,” Sara Baker, Board Member of TE told media at the DSC headquarters on Thursday.
“First of all we need to build our trust with the academies who are the ones to deliver us with players at the moment. We will need time to build up on this league and perhaps in a matter of ten years we will be able to have a pool of Emirati tennis players across all age categories,” she added.
Baker was joined by Ali Omar from DSC, Murad Ahmad from sponsors Jebel Ali Resorts and Hotels and Slah Bramly, Technical Director of TE. As the governing body for tennis in the UAE, Tennis Emirates is currently in the process of registering all academies operating within the country. “The UAE Ministry of Education and Ministry of Sports have both made it mandatory for us to have a database of academies. Until and unless these academies don’t come forward and register with us, it will always be a tough task,” Baker said.
“Perhaps, we also need to approach clubs in the UAE to restart tennis as one of their sports. And then if we have the cooperation from all the academies, we are confident we can reach our goals.”
Each participating team is required to submit a list of four to six players to compete in a Davis Cup-style format of two singles and a doubles. The men’s category has already attracted 11 teams, the boys U16s has 14 teams, the girls U16s has seven and another 10 teams in the boys U12s.