Dubai: Over 200 children from local schools across the UAE took to the courts today on the first day of play to kick-start the celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the WTA tour hosted by the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
Children from six schools enjoyed the WTA J.P. Morgan Kids’ Day which included a tennis clinic for kids of all skill levels along with photo opportunities and the chance to meet top WTA players Petra Martic and Karolina Muchova. The two hour long clinic was led by tennis coaches from the Clark Francis Tennis Academy and gave kids an opportunity to learn about the sport and gain some new skills.
Martic and Muchova were delighted to interact with the children and gave tips on how to improve their game. They even joined the kids in their practice sessions and spoke about some basic techniques for those interested to pursue tennis in the future.
Martic said: “Those kids gave me a great warm up for my practice today, now I feel ready! Hope they had as much fun as we did and enjoyed playing tennis!”
Muchova said: “It's always exciting being a part of Kid's Day and seeing some of these kids try something new for the first time. Looks like there may be a few future stars coming up soon!”
Emma Penock, P.E teacher from Dubai British School said, “We thank you very much for this opportunity and as a PE teacher and a parent, it is so good to see kids motivated through sport. They have had an amazing morning having professional coaches give them some tips on the basics of the game and even got the opportunity to meet the WTA professionals. The kids have definitely left this place enthused about tennis and that is great in itself, we will 100% come back next year as well!”
Milan Radjenovic, Head Coach, Clark Francis Tennis Academy said, ‘This is my eighth year of bringing the kids to this absolutely fantastic clinic at the Dubai Duty Free Kids’ Day and J.P. Morgan being a long partner to this tournament has always been supportive of this initiative. I think it is a really good day for the kids to learn the basic techniques and even get excited about being able to hold a racket and hit the ball over the net to the other side.
“I can see that some of the kids already know how to play tennis and some of them are being introduced to the game, it is lovely to see so many smiling faces around and it is definitely good to see the kids enjoy their time at this very well organized event every year. The WTA is celebrating 20 years and it is a pleasure to have over 200 kids attend the clinic and I hope some of them will continue to play tennis after getting involved in this wonderful opportunity.”
On being asked how the experience was, a student from Victoria International School said, “Today was very fun, I like playing sports with balls and I even got an autograph from one of the players. I have never played tennis before this, so the coaches explained to us how to hold a racket and hit a ball and I really liked it and want to join tennis classes soon’.
“We are thrilled to sponsor the J.P. Morgan Kids Day at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships for the sixth consecutive year,” commented Karim Tannir, joint-senior country officer for MENA and head of Investment Banking MENA at J.P. Morgan. “It’s a great opportunity for children in the UAE to acquire new capabilities on and off the court, such as establishing team skills with the ball kids and learning about the competitive sport of tennis from the tournament players.
Tournament Director, Salah Tahlak said: “We would like to thank J.P. Morgan and the CF Tennis Academy for supporting the kids clinic year on year to give several children from local schools an opportunity to learn the basic techniques of the sport and interact with world renowned players as part of the sessions. We hope that our commitment to supporting such activities inspires and encourages kids in the future to take up the sport and dream of becoming future tennis stars.”
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, which 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, begins with the 20th anniversary celebrations of the WTA event which runs from 17th to 22nd February and then continues between 24th and 29th February with the ATP tournament which features reigning Wimbledon and Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic, eight-time Dubai winner Roger Federer, 2019 ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas and 2018 Dubai winner Roberto Bautista Agut.