Over three hundred school children from across the UAE took to the courts today at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium to help usher in this year’s tournament with excitement and energy.
Children from six schools in the Emirate participated in the Kids’ Day which included a tennis clinic for all ages and skill levels, entertainment, the opportunity to meet top players, and the chance to win prizes.
Held under the instruction of tennis coaches from the Clark Francis Tennis Academy, the two hour clinic gave kids an opportunity to interact with the players; all while having fun and learning more about the sport.
Clark Francis Tennis Director Jon Guntley said “The kids’ day went extremely well and ran very smoothly today. Many of the kids managed to play on the same court as the pros, and with some of the top juniors in the UAE. The kids absolutely loved being here and being a part of world class tennis.”
WTA players Abigail Spears and Raquel Kops-Jones were special guests at the Kids’ Day and enjoyed being on court with Dubai’s young tennis enthusiasts this morning. The dynamic US doubles pair, who together have 10 doubles titles, gave the children some coaching tips.
“It’s fabulous to be here in Dubai and hopefully inspire these young people to take up tennis. This tournament does so much to engage the local community that it is really lovely to see. Clinics like these are great for the game of tennis and I’m lucky to have been a part of it. It was fun and spoke to them about enjoying the game as well as being motivated to play more tennis,” said Spears.
After an on-court lesson, Sakshi Pitre, 13, from the Indian High School said “I was very excited, it was a lot of fun and we learnt some new moves and won some fun prizes. I learned that is takes a great deal of practice and know more about the rules now of the game.”
Neha Sharma, one of the teachers from the Indian High School commented “We love coming to the event with our students as the atmosphere around the stadium is inspiring for the kids. This is a reward for kids and their attendance and work ethic. Every year we have a lineup of kids that want to come so it’s a great incentive for the kids to keep up with their school work.”
“I feel that they learned that sport is also about having a good time, and they are motivated to strive to do better in their physical education class.”
Tournament Director, Salah Talak was delighted with the turn out and enjoyed seeing the smiles on the children’s faces. “These community activities are part of our program to develop tennis in the region. Hopefully this experience will inspire these children to take up the game of tennis and ideally one day we will see them competing on center court.
“The quality of the field is superb this year, and this is a great chance for our young tennis enthusiasts to enjoy watching the world’s elite compete” said Tahlak. “This year our community outreach program has reached over 30 schools with almost 3,000 participants, and this is an important aspect of our support for the game of tennis in the UAE.”
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships WTA event takes place between 15th and 21st February and features defending champion Venus Williams, Wimbledon champion and 2013 Dubai winner Petra Kvitova, French Open and WTA Finals runner-up Simona Halep, former Dubai winners Agnieszka Radwanska and Caroline Wozniacki, Brisbane runner-up Ana Ivanovic, Australian Open semi-finalist Ekaterina Makarova and recent Sydney semi-finalist Angelique Kerber.
Play then continues between 23rd and 28th February with the action-packed ATP tournament which stars world number one and Wimbledon and Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic, defending Dubai champion Roger Federer, Australian Open runner-up Andy Murray and two-time Dubai finalist Tomas Berdych.
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free, and held under the patronage of H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Tickets for the event are available from the Box Office at the Dubai Tennis Stadium, Garhoud which opens from 9am to 9pm daily. Tickets are still available for every day of the women’s week, and start at just 75dhs for the first three days of play, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Tickets are also still available for the first three days of the men’s week.Grandstand tickets can also be bought online at http://www.timeouttickets.com/. For further information about tickets, prices and the tournament visit www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com.