Nasser Al Marzouqi, General Secretary of UAE Tennis Federation (second left), poses with winners of a junior event in Dubai. Image Credit: Supplied picture

Dubai: The UAE Tennis Federation (UAE TF) is in advanced stages of talks for the addition of another two ITF-level tournaments for juniors in the country.

The UAE TF board of directors participated in a remote meeting, chaired by its president Shaikh Hasher Al Maktoum earlier this week and one of the proposals that will be fast-tracked will be that of two more junior-level competitions on the UAE calendar.

“The coronavirus pandemic has partially affected our annual calendar, but we will be back in a more determined manner once this situation passes us,” Nasser Al Marzouqi, General Secretary, UAE TF, told Gulf News from Saudi Arabia.

“We were in advanced talks to add another two ITF tournaments to our calendar for next season, but now we will have to return and put a finishing touch to both these events,” he added.

The UAE TF already organizes World Team Tennis (WTT) tournaments in Fujairah and Dubai earlier in the year, alongwith two ITF competitions in the same locations that are normally scheduled in the winter months of December and January.

“We have been in discussion with two privately owned tennis academies that want to host two international ITF events. This a wonderful piece of news to all aspiring juniors here as these events will give them more opportunities to contest and see where they stand against international competition,” Al Marzouqi noted.

“We are here to serve and help players, irrelevant of which nationality they belong. Everyone has a role to play in developing the sport of tennis here, and I would encourage more like-minded people to step forward and assist us,” he added.

Last year, the UAE TF additionally pitched in to host the ITF West Asia U-13 Championships that could not be held in Lebanon, and filled in in as a last-minute substitute for the Asian Fed Cup in the first week of March before the coronavirus pandemic forced a global closure.

One of the board members on the Asian Tennis Federation (ATF), Al Marzouqi is aware that tennis in the UAE will have to look beyond the Omar Bahroozian era. “We admit there are big gaps as far as the development of tennis goes in the UAE. But we have to pursue our grassroots programme either through the JTI [Junior Tennis Initiative] or by keeping a calendar of events that will be beneficial to everyone in the UAE,” the official noted.

“The ITF has been more than helpful to us and we should look to derive maximum benefits for the sake of the players and our sport. This is where the private academies can help by just cooperating with us. Finally, we are all in the same boat,” he added.