Dubai: UAE padel stars Fares Aljanahi and Abdullah Ahli were all smiles while walking back to their change rooms after finishing their first day matches in the World Padel League at the Coco Cola Arena. It was an overwhelming experience that they will cherish for some time now. The duo got to play in the inaugural edition alongside some of the world’s best padel players. “It was a great experience,” Fares, who plays for Panthers, said. “Initially, I was all nervous, but the team was all welcoming and friendly. It made me comfortable,” he added.
Abdullah, who represents the Cheetahs, also voiced a similar opinion. “It was a great start for us. We learnt a lot from them. It was a new experience for us.”
Compare their games
Four UAE players — Abdullah Abdulaziz Abdullah and Salem Alhouli being the other two — have got a chance to participate in the league where they get to play along with a professional player of their respective team in the Special Doubles.
The experience no doubt was fruitful. It gave the UAE players the opportunity to analyse and compare their games with the top professionals. “I feel the different about them is how they prepare mentally before the games. They seem more calm, more relaxed and don’t think too much because they are used to these big stages. I think these type of events, and looking at them, give us the confidence to become stronger mentally. But when it comes to preparations and fitness, I think we are very similar,” UAE’s eighth-ranked Fares said.
“We usually play tournaments as a team, which have only us from the national team. But this is the first tournament we are getting to play with the professionals. It allowed us to see how they interact before the match, how they keep their calm. But interestingly I was happy when, despite being the stars, they still took our advice and listened to us. That was really big for us,” added Abdullah, who is ranked No 4 in the UAE and has won the Nad Al Sheba International Padel Championship, the Arab Champions Cup and the GCC Padel Cup.
The players believe that more such competitions will allow them to mingle with the top-ranked players and enable them to compete at the highest level.
“After this experience we realised that if we want to compete at the highest level we got to be in that environment with these players. This will allow us to get to their level and compete with them,” said Fares, adding that Dubai had all the resources of taking padel to greater heights.
Consistency and discipline
“I think to become a professional player you need consistency and discipline. We have all the resources here in Dubai, we have a great team, coaches and a good support system. However, the environment is not as strong as Spain and Argentina. But we are progressing well.”
Both the UAE players thanked the World Padel League, Dubai Sports Council and Coco-Cola Arena for providing them with an opportunity to play in the event.