Special needs clinic enjoyed by all

To see kids take to courts is inspirational, says McLoughlin

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Published: Thu 20 Feb 2014, 11:10 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 9:53 PM

The sound of laughter could be overheard from courts 4, 5, and 6 at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium today as over 50 special needs children participated in the annual Dubai Duty Free Special Needs Tennis Clinic. In partnership with Dubai Duty Free and the Clark Francis Tennis Academy, the 2 hour clinic served up lessons, lunch, and a visit from two top WTA doubles players Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears, for children from Al Noor School and The Dubai Centre for Special Needs.

A unique programme, the Clinic invites multiple schools to participate in a fun exciting day specifically designed for children with special needs. Ikram Jalali, Senior Manager of Physical Education at Al Noor commented on how his students were enjoying the day. “It’s a great opportunity and a lot of fun for the kids. We’re here in the morning until the evening matches starting at 7pm.”

The children were delighted to be joined by WTA players Abigail Spears and Raquel Kops-Jones who took to the court to lend a helping hand, sharing tennis tips and plenty of high-fives. Tournament mascots Ace and Annette also joined in the fun.

For several of the schools, these tennis clinics are something they look forward to all year. As Santi, a pupil from Dubai Centre for Special needs said, “I love tennis. This is so much fun. I even had a chance to play with Abigail Spears, who autographed my hat.”

Paul Espie, Assistant Director of Tennis at Clark Francis Tennis Academy, expressed his enthusiasm for the event noting that, “It was a wonderful morning. We do the Special Needs Day twice in the two weeks and it’s the most satisfying and pleasurable experience that any coach could be involved in.”

Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman of Dubai Duty Free, the tournament owners and organizers, was impressed with the clinic and the obvious enjoyment of the participants, commenting “To see these children take to the courts is inspirational. Some of them have had to endure some hardship in their life and it is so good to see the smiles on their faces today,” he added.

Tournament Director, Salah Tahlak highlighted the fact that the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is not just for the elite players. “Tennis is a sport that everyone can play and we are delighted that we can offer opportunities like today’s clinic to such wonderful people, and it’s great to see them having so much fun” he said.

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