Inaugural Ritz-Carlton Tennis Open brings together UAE’s finest players

Denzil Pinto 13/05/2014
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Holding court: UAE-based tennis players will compete for local bragging rights.

Super Sports Events are to hold the first ever Ritz-Carlton Dubai Open tennis tournament later this month and are urging players to sign up before tomorrow’s registration deadline.

Sanctioned by the UAE tennis federation, the tournament will take place between May 22 and June 14 in the Ritz-Carlton’s grounds.

The singles category is open for both ladies and men, while there is also a men’s doubles competition.

For the juniors there will be under-10, under-14 and under-18 tournaments for both boys and girls.

And with some of the UAE’s best domestic competitors taking part, strong fields are expected in every category with some top prizes also up for grabs.

Tournament organiser, Rain Lutjens, said: “The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai is an amazing tennis venue with four floodlit hard courts.

“What makes it even better is that they have committed over Dh30,000 worth of prizes for the tournament which range from weekend stays in their luxurious resort, family beach passes, as well as restaurant, spa and fitness vouchers. It’s definitely a tournament worth entering.”

The male categories are limited to 16 entries each while the female section consists of eight players per draw.

With the majority of the matches being played on weekends, players need to be available to compete on designated days and times.

While the rules and regulations adhere to the International Tennis Federation (ITF), the results will not contribute towards the overall UAE rankings.

Each match will be best of three tie-break sets with the decisive third set being a 10-point tie break.

The entry fee for an adult is Dh150 and Dh100 for juniors per person per event.

The draw and match schedule will be released after tomorrow’s closing date.

Ole Brom, recreation manager of Ritz-Carlton, is delighted the hotel is hosting the tournament.

“It will be the first time we are doing an event like this and we thank Super Sports for their initiative in setting it up and organising it on our behalf,” he said.

“We are looking at making this an annual event and hope the tennis community will get behind it and enter all the different categories on offer.” 

The tennis tournament is just the latest new venture by Super Sports.

Founded in 1998, the organisation aims to bring various sports to adults and juniors of all abilities, and their aquathlon and triathlon events have been particularly successful.

What: Ritz-Carlton Dubai Open tennis tournament.
Where: Ritz-Carlton, Dubai Marina.
When: May 22 to June 14.
Contact: To register contact Florian Pisacreta (adults) on 056 2212065 or [email protected]; or Rain Lutjens (juniors) on 056 1392904 or [email protected] Registration closes on Wednesday, May 14.

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Clark Francis winners get set for Roland Garros trip

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Paris calling: Winners of the CF Tennis Swiss Adidas Junior Masters Series Finals.

Eight young players have earned themselves a trip to Roland Garros after winning their respective categories in the Clark Francis Tennis Swiss Adidas Junior Masters Series Finals.

Cameron Francis, Coumba Ben, Jack Goddard, Angel McLeod, Miguel Nau, Lojaine Adel, Karan Manghnani and Samar Al Bakry will fly to Paris next month.

In Paris, the eight youngsters will go sight-seeing, watch the first day of the French Open quarter-finals seated in the Adidas VIP box before heading to Euro Disney.

The Series was founded by Clark Francis over 10 years ago and has since sent dozens of young players on this dream trip to Roland Garros.

In order to make it to the finals, players accumulate points throughout the season, which kicked off last September, with the top seeds in each category then slugging it out to make the trip to Paris.

Two of the eight winners this season – 12&Under Girls’ champion Angel McLeod and 14&Under Boys’ champion Miguel Nau – have won the Series on more than one occasion and have thus been on the trip before, while it will be the first time for the remaining six.

“Miguel is a veteran in Paris now,” joked tournament director Andres Gimeno – the son of 1972 French Open champion Andres Gimeno. “He has won his categories several times before and this will be his third trip with us to Paris.

“We are really very happy and satisfied with the season. We had more players than ever, more participation in all the categories. Also, the level of the players has increased.

“I’d like to believe we also have been offering better quality of service from our side to the players and the parents.”

Gimeno explained how the tournament has become more regional than local, with several players coming to Dubai from Qatar, Oman and Saudi Arabia throughout the season to take part in the weekly matches.

According to the Spaniard, there were several surprise winners this season.

“We have Cameron Francis, who won the 10&Under. I’m very, very happy for him because he wasn’t in the top-three in the rankings throughout the season. But in the last couple of months he trained really hard and stepped up [his game]; he really deserves it. That’s one of the surprises,” said Gimeno.

“Lojaine Adel, she has been training with me all year and she too did great, finally getting her ticket to Paris – that was huge for her.

“We have Samar Al Bakry from Oman. She was travelling to Dubai every weekend and now she has won the open junior category. The fact that she won shows that people from other countries can come and win [here].”

The winners will travel to Paris on June 3 and return on June 6.

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Down the line: Quest continues for Arab stars like Jaziri

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The world’s best have been battling it out in Miami this fortnight but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been keeping an eye on the Arab players scattered around the world, working hard to try and gain some valuable ranking points.

Here’s a quick look at what they’ve been up to:

Lamine Ouahab (MAR) 

The 29-year-old was ranked as high as No4 in the world as a junior having made the semis in Roland Garros in 2001, beating the likes of Robin Soderling and Richard Gasquet, and was a Wimbledon junior finalist in 2002, taking out Rafael Nadal in the semis. 

Ouahab is originally Algerian, but problems with his federation forced him to switch nationalities and he’s been representing Morocco from the start of 2014.

He peaked at No114 in the rankings back in 2009 and is currently in the middle of a comeback, which has taken him up to No257 in the world (third-highest ranked Arab). He’s playing a Futures event in Croatia this week, where he’s seeded No4.

Ons Jabeur (TUN) 
The Tunisian teenager, a former Roland Garros junior champion, is coming back from ankle surgery and is playing only her third tournament since October last year.

She lost her opening matches in her first two events back and will be looking to get her first win of the year when she faces Switzerland’s Viktorija Golubic in the $50,000 event in Croissy-Beaubourg today.

Jabeur is currently ranked 140 in the world.

Malek Jaziri (TUN)
The Arab No1 qualified for the Miami Masters for the first time in his career but lost in the first round to Colombia’s Alejandro Gonzalez.

He’s playing in the Guadalajara Challenger this week in Mexico, where he is unseeded. The world No118 opens against France’s Pierre-Hugues Herbert.

Omar Behroozian (UAE)
The UAE No1 is looking to get some practice ahead of the Davis Cup in Iran and is playing a Futures in Bahrain this week. He got two wins to qualify for the main draw and opens against Great Britain’s Matthew Short.

Mohamed Safwat (EGY)
The Arab No2 is seeded No4 in a high-level field in a Futures in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. He’s made back-to-back finals there in the last two weeks, including one title, and is hoping to re-enter the top-200. He’s currently at 207.

The 23-yearold stars against fellow Egyptian Mazen Osama.

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