Badminton World No 1 Saina Nehwal tries her hand at tennis

Currently ranked World No 1 by the BWF, badminton star Saina Nehwal tried out some new sports as part of her visit to Dubai, as well as cheering on young badminton hopefuls at a Shuttle Time Dubai event

Although Saina Nehwal temporarily took to the tennis court and Jumeirah Beach’s running track in a recent trip to Dubai, it was clear that badminton was the sport that would always have her heart.

Nehwal made history earlier this year, when she became the first Indian player to take the top spot in the world rankings and was the first Indian to win the Yonex-Sunrise India Open. She reached the semi -finals of the Dubai World Superseries Finals in 2014, and expressed excitement at returning again in December.

“The Superseries is almost tougher than the World Championships because you have only the top eight players, so every game is very challenging,” she said.

For this visit, as well as trying her hand at some new sports, Saina watched as Dubai’s best young shuttlers put their skills to the test last week at the first Shuttle Time Dubai Schools Championships held at Fitness First, The Meadows.

Nehwal presented the medals to the winning teams and conducted a coaching clinic with the children, before signing autographs for the hundreds of fans at the Championships.

“It is fantastic to see so many enthusiastic children here today enjoying playing badminton” said Nehwal. “The skill level is very impressive, the girls in particular were hitting very strong shots. It is great to see so many children taking up the sport in Dubai after the World Superseries Finals here last year."

"It’s really important for the children to start playing when they are young, and now that they have these competitions they have something to work towards."