Dubai: One of the top officials from UAE governing body Tennis Emirates is convinced there will be minimal disruption in the domestic tennis activities due to the enforced break due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The UAE tennis season normally runs over an eight-month period from October to May each year with February normally kept free to accommodate the annual Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships that hosts various activities on the sidelines for youngsters.
In fact, this year was a bit different as the final of the two weeks of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on February 29 was followed by an additional week to accommodate the six-nation Asia leg of the 2020 Fed Cup.
“Our normal season starts on October 1 and goes on till the end of May when schools have their annual break. But this year it’s going to be a little different as we have so far lost just two-and-a-half months due to the COVID-19 situation,” Slah Bramly, Technical Director of Tennis Emirates told Gulf News.
“So half of March is gone along with April and May. But then, we have to realise that this year’s calendar was a bit different as we had not kept too many competitions during these two summer months, more because of the holy month of Ramadan. So, technically we are good to go and start a fresh calendar from October with various age group competitions,” he added.
Tennis Emirates has an entire folder of nearly 250 developmental level events starting with the age group-run UAE Rankings Tennis Circuits. This circuit includes 157 competitions in the development and JTI (Junior Tennis Initiative) category meant for Under-8, 9, 10, 12 and 14 players, along with another 52 competitions for the U-16s and 18s.
In addition, there are another 35 competitions conducted through the year for the adults, including tournaments for men, women and veterans.
“Our goal at Tennis Emirates is very clear at the moment. We simply want to take the next step from being a recreational sport to a performance sport where we can get Emirati youngsters coming through the development system that we have put in place,” Bramly noted.
At the moment, of the 142 bodies operating within the country, a mere 41 have been affiliated to Tennis Emirates. Further, of the 250-odd coaches, only 155 have been registered with the governing body making it a huge task to achieve.
“There are some challenges here that we need to deal with. But, these can be attended to later at the government level wherein we can get all involved in tennis on one page. For the time-being our task is to ensure we have a well-planned calendar of events so that our development programmes continue without a break,” he observed.
Tennis Emirates also owns and organises development criteriums for U-8s and 10s as part of the UAE Leagues’ Team Championships. So far, four of these have been held starting with the first two at Al Nasr Leisureland on January 19 and February 15 followed by another two during the course of the Dubai Tennis Championships in the second half of February.
In addition to the annual Dubai Tennis Championships, Tennis Emirates has a long list of international competitions held during the course of the season, including ITF junior circuit events in Fujairah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Asian Tennis Federation competitions, Nations Cup and the Mubadala Exhibition series in Abu Dhabi.
“The board of directors of Tennis Emirates are planning a meeting in the next two days and we will be sure what direction tennis activities for the new season are headed. Next we start with fasting, so the calendar will not be affected all that much,” Bramly related.
The next most important activity for the UAE will be their Asia/Oceania Group IV Davis Cup encounter initially scheduled to be held in the first half on June in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.
EVENTS FROM TENNIS EMIRATES
Development and JTI (total 157 events)
— Under-8 to 10 (67 events)
— U-12 UAE Ranking Circuit (48 events)
— U-14 UAE Rankings Circuit (42 events)
Juniors (52 events)
— U-16 UAE Rankings Circuit (24 events)
— U-18 UAE Rankings Circuit (28 events)
Adults (35 events)
— Men’s UAE Rankings Circuit (10 events)
— Women’s UAE Rankings Circuit (8 events)
— Veterans UAE Rankings Circuit (7 events)
— World Team Tennis Junior Fujairah Cup
— WTT Junior Dubai Championship
— ITF West Asia U-13
— ITF 100K Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge
— Mubadala WTC Exhibition
— ITF Fujairah Championship
— ITF Al Nasr Leisureland
— Nations Cup
— Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships (WTA & ATP)
— Asia Oceania Fed Cup G1
Development Criteriums (U-8 and U-10)
— Criterium 1 @ Al Nasr Leisureland (January 19)
— Criterium 2 @ Al Nasr Leisureland February 15)
— Criterium 3 @ Dubai Duty Free WTA Open (February 18)
— Criterium 4 @ Dubai Duty Free ATP Open (February 25)
Scheduled UAE Leagues (Run by DSC and ADSC)
— UAE League U-12 Boys
— UAE League U-16 Boys
— UAE League Men
— UAE League U-16 Girls
— UAE League Women
— Abu Dhabi Community Cup for Men and Women