Dubai Duty Free Tennis: Rising UAE stars impress doubles stalwarts

More than 20 promising boys and girls attended a coaching clinic with Zhang Shuai and Giuliana Olmos

By Team KT

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UAE youngsters pose with Zhang Shuai and Giuliana Olmos. — Supplied photo
UAE youngsters pose with Zhang Shuai and Giuliana Olmos. — Supplied photo

Published: Tue 21 Feb 2023, 10:26 PM

Last updated: Tue 21 Feb 2023, 10:27 PM

Rising stars of the UAE tennis scene were given a taste of life as a top professional during a morning clinic on Tuesday organised by the UAE Tennis Federation, Tennis Emirates, and the WTA, the world’s governing body for women’s tennis which is overseeing this week’s ongoing Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

More than 20 promising boys and girls between the ages of eight and 17 were treated to a coaching clinic with Zhang Shuai, a two-time Grand Slam doubles champion, and Mexico’s Giuliana Olmos, who has won five doubles titles on Tour and is ranked No.7 in the world for doubles.

The pair are partners on the circuit and seeded fourth for this week’s tournament at Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium.

Shuai and Olmos, who received a bye to the Round of 16 this week and will start their tournament on Wednesday, put the youngsters through their paces with a number of drills and mini doubles matches. And were left impressed by what they saw.

“There was some really good talent on the court,” said Shuai. “Some of these kids are so ready to play tournaments. I would encourage them to play more tournaments and hopefully one day we can be watching them playing here. The most important thing is to practice and day-by-day focus on every shot. That’s the best way to get better. The second thing is to really concentrate and never give up.”

Olmos, who has admitted she never truly enjoyed playing until she was 11, added: “It’s great for these kids to get a chance to participate in these clinics. I remember being that kid who wanted to get involved and play in a clinic and I think it’s really important for us to give back and hopefully inspire these youngsters.”

One of those to benefit from time on court with the professionals was Saida Ismail, who attends Victoria English School in Sharjah and is ranked as the UAE’s No.1 player at both Under-12 and Under-14 level.

“I really loved it,” said 11-year-old Ismail. “I hit a lot of rallies with the players, and they were kind and generous. It’s always great to get the chance to play with professionals from the WTA. I practise every day for three-four hours so it’s nice to get the feedback from the players. It really inspires me to continue getting better.”

Mohamed Hichem Bramli, Head Coach of the UAE National Team at Tennis Emirates, said it was, once again, a great opportunity for his players to learn from professional players.

“We are really thankful for this clinic every year. I think they really benefit from these clinics and they really help us build on our base as we try to attract more kids into tennis. This is a great sport and it is good to see it becoming more popular right across the UAE, which will help in our aim to build national teams – especially juniors – to able to compete in international events.”

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