The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships attracts a stellar cast list of world class players each year but DDF is also investing in grassroots tennis and the potential stars of tomorrow. Iain Spragg reports
If an edifice is only as strong as the foundations on which it is built, the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is certainly on solid ground as the tournament continues its innovative work with young tennis players throughout the UAE.
This year alone thousands of school children were given the chance to attend free tennis clinics at the Aviation Club with stars of the WTA and ATP and the organisers of the championships hope they will be inspired to follow in the footsteps of the game’s great players.
“The number of kids that take part in our sessions continues to grow year on year and this showcases the passion for the sport,” says Tournament Director Salah Talak. “We are grateful that children from across the UAE have the opportunity to interact with some of the best players in the tournament.
“We continuously aim to encourage participation in the game and sessions like these are the perfect platform for them. It brings the game alive and they get a glimpse into what it really takes to be a professional. We hope to see many of today’s budding tennis players become stars in the future like their idols.”
The WTA’s Christina McHale and Lauren Davis and the ATP’s Dustin Brown and Gilles Muller were all on hand this year to hand out some top tips at the J.P. Morgan Kids’ Days, which preceded the women’s and men’s competitions in Dubai and are run by the acclaimed UAE-based Clark Francis Tennis Academy.
“We are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the tournament this year and our community programmes are an important part of creating a fantastic legacy from this event,” says Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free. “The tournament is always keen to spread awareness of the game and working with the Clark Francis Tennis Academy and ATP has allowed us to provide an exciting morning for so many children.”
The chance to take to the court was also on offer for children from the Dubai Autism Center, Dubai Center for Special Needs and Al Noor Training Centre when the tournament held the Lacoste Special Needs Tennis Clinic. Over 70 youngsters took part with world top 20 doubles player Chan Yung-Jan of Taiwan the star attraction.