Former world No1 Jelena Jankovic hosted a kids’ clinic at the Habtoor Grand Beach Resort and Spa this week in Dubai alongside Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov, where scores of youngsters got to hit with the tennis pros.
Dolgopolov, who peaked at No13 in the world last year but slipped to a current ranking of No57, has been doing his pre-season training at the hotel for the past few weeks, while Jankovic is a frequent visitor to Dubai and a regular guest at the Habtoor Grand, which plays host to the ITF women’s tournament, Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge.
Launched by Khalaf Al Habtoor, Chairman of the Al Habtoor Group, who is a keen tennis enthusiast, the tournament has been running for 16 years and it kick-started Jankovic’s career when the Serb won it back in 2003.
Returning to the site where she has had lots of success in her early years as a tennis pro, Jankovic was happy to give back to the Dubai community.
“It was lovely seeing such a large group of children attend today’s clinic,” said the 28-year-old. “I hope we have inspired them to enjoy the sport. It was the beginning of my professional career when I won the tournament here.
"When you win it gives you inspiration to win more events and become better. Winning Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge was a great start for me and it will stay in my memory forever.”
Jankovic is coming off a stellar season where she returned to the top-10 after reaching the quarterfinals at Roland Garros, winning Bogota, making the finals in Charleston and Beijing, and finishing the year with a semi-final appearance at the WTA Championships.
This isn’t the first time a kids’ clinic has been held at the hotel this year. Earlier in 2013, former players, Fabrice Santoro and Selima Sfar also spent time hitting with children from across the UAE.