Dubai-based academy Tennis 360 has joined forces with Judy Murray, mother of tennis superstars Andy and Jamie Murray, to bring her popular Miss-Hits programme to the UAE later this year.
Judy, the former Great Britain Fed Cup captain, who coached both her sons in their formative years and has of course seen both Andy and Jamie go on to lift Wimbledon titles among many other triumphs, is excited to bring her Miss-Hits concept to the Middle East region.
Miss-Hits was founded by Judy in association with the Lawn Tennis Association to make tennis more welcoming and exciting for girls aged between five and eight – and ultimately attract more young girls and female coaches to get involved with the game.
Now, in partnership with with UAE-based Tennis 360, a world-class tennis academy at Meydan headed by Business Development Director Gwen Sproule, Miss-Hits is set to expand its reach and help to boost participation among girls across Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Later this summer, Judy will visit Dubai to see Miss-Hits and Tennis 360 combine to offer a range of sessions.
Tennis 360 will launch the programme at Dubai Sports World – a popular indoor training facility set up each summer at Dubai World Trade Center.
Indeed, parents can look forward to enrolling their children in programmes that are designed to deliver fun, girly and colourful tennis lessons – with the aim of being non-forceful introductions into the sport’s basics.
In the very near future, the Tennis 360 academy is going to start running Miss-Hits sessions. Full details on the course options in the UAE will be released soon.
“With Tennis 360’s help, we are going to get a feel for the Miss-Hits programme in the UAE over the next few months and I’m looking forward to coming out to train some coaches later this summer,” Judy told Sport360.
“The whole reason I set Miss-Hits up was because it was a problem and concern that not enough girls were playing the sport at entry level so we have programmes that are attractive and easy to learn.”
Fun, friends, fitness. The reasons girls do sport.— Miss-Hits (@Miss_Hits) May 22, 2017
Team activity is crucial. Create the right environment 4 girls. pic.twitter.com/7RkGuASdIw
Having coached across the length and breadth of the sport for over 20 years – Judy knows a thing or to about the challenges of getting girls playing tennis and how to keep them there.
For those kids looking to play the game – they may not know the Serena Williams’ and Maria Sharapovas of this world – but, instead – Judy designed interactive tennis characters to help them learn the principles of the game, shots and scoring-systems.
Indeed, ‘Selena Serve’, ‘Bella Backhand’ and ‘Valentina Volley’ are names that stand out and children associate them with the shot they are playing.
These characters, in situ with the practical Miss-Hits sessions that come in two separate six-week chunks and a supplementary online app that supports tennis play, have already helped hundreds of girls take up tennis in the UK.
“Girls love being with their friends – it’s critical that there’s a girls’ only option for them with Miss-Hits, because so often, tennis is played in mixed groups,” said Judy.
“Boys are more noisy, physical and competitive than girls and more often than not – that puts girls off and is intimidating. With Miss-Hits, we’ve put together all the things little girls like to do in one, cuddly toys, cartoon characters, being with their friends, pinks and purples and so forth – are all added to the skill-building activities that are needed to play tennis.
“Gwen and her team saw it as a really good fit and the ultimate goal is to obviously get more girls playing tennis but to create a product here that encourages more women to take part in the programme – and you don’t need any technical qualification to teach it.
“You just need an aptitude and desire to work with children. I think also in the UAE there are very few female coaches so this product might encourage some mums, students, older students, PE and primary school teachers to actually say ‘here’s a nice simple product to teach and help get more people involved with tennis’.”
Valentina Volley balloons. Red hearts! Available from Tiger Feet. pic.twitter.com/ccCd9Le88D— Miss-Hits (@Miss_Hits) May 20, 2017
For a region blessed with near perfect weather all-year round besides the hot summer time, Murray feels there is tremendous potential to deliver Miss-Hits and make a big impact.
Murray also feels that Miss-Hits is not only a great opportunity for young girls to play tennis – it’s also a fantastic chance to get more female coaches involved and working in the UAE.
‘The facilities here are great and the ambition, with Tennis 360 too, is to get more girls playing tennis. It’s about being contemporary and trying to give girls what they want – if they don’t do that – they will find something else to do that is more appealing.
“We want more girls playing tennis in their own backyard, it’s about getting them in and retaining their love for tennis.”
Judy, who has watched son Andy – in particular, the world’s number one ranked player – handle the attention of the media spotlight since he was a teenager and taste success of the highest order – is well aware of how important role models are for youngsters coming through in the sport.
Although she maintains examples of success and professionalism are critical for young children to admire – the 57-year-old believes there has to be a basis of which to build from where young girls and players are sticking to tennis – before their mid-teens where so often than not many branch off into other areas.
She said: “In the UK, we’re very fortunate we now have Johanna Konta as a contender at major events and she is a driving force in British tennis. Role models are one thing but any sport is only good as it’s grassroots so if somebody watches Wimbledon on television and are inspired, there needs to be a local facility in place where you can play and the activity can stimulate you.
“But I’m a big believer in role models as well to get more girls playing, especially in the UAE – it’s an area that needs more female tennis coaches. I think they are able to understand how to work with little girls so much better, the changes their bodies are going through and the way they start to react and respond to things – this can really help the retention of more girls playing tennis further down the line.
“I’m hoping the Miss-Hits programme can inspire more women to take up a possible coaching career and that can only be good for the game.”
The great news for tennis lovers in the UAE is that Miss-Hits is very much open to all – whether you’re a parent looking for a new activity for your little girl or interested in becoming a Miss-Hits coach – with their website providing full details of how you can get involved.
All equipment is provided at the sessions and prices vary – visit www.miss-hits.co.uk for more information.
With Ramadan soon approaching, there’s no reason not to get active with Zayed Sports City’s (ZSC) new adults tennis programme for beginners.
Administered by ZSC Academy, you can develop your basic skills and knowledge over six sessions on Sundays and Tuesdays between May 28 and June 13.
Adults of all ages with an interest in the sport, whether with previous experience or not, will benefit with each class focusing on a goal, including development of technique, tactics, and rules. On the final night, participants can put their practice to the test by facing their coaches in casual games.
Classes take place between 22:00 and 23:00 and Barry Bremner, general manager of ZSC insists there’s plenty of positives by signing up.
“Maintaining health is a year round commitment, and we are proud that ZSC Academy is offering this new programme during Ramadan,” he said.
“Tennis is becoming more popular in the Emirates and while starting a new sport can be intimidating for adults, this format removes any fear factor. We want to encourage new people into the game – it’s a sport that can be played well into old age and can play a key role in lifelong health.
“I believe that our coaching team is the best in the city. We’ve recruited people with previous experience as high performance players who have now become coaches. On average, our coaches have been at Zayed Sports City for four seasons and their dedication to the site, the sport and their students is very apparent and has made ZSC Academy standout from the others.”
Wilson, the sponsor of ZSC Academy’s tennis programme, will also be offering discounted tennis starter kits to ensure players have the equipment necessary to grow in the sport.
The fee for the programme is Dh600 and registration can be done by emailing [email protected] or calling 02 403 4222.
“Everyone would agree that they would benefit from more fun and more physical activity in their lives,” added Bremner.
“We want to help people maintain their health during Ramadan when physical activity has a tendency to decline, and enjoy themselves in the process.”
If you live in Abu Dhabi and are interested in playing tennis for leisure or want a training program to improve your skills, these courts and clubs are the best the capital city has to offer for your racket sports experience.
The Abu Dhabi Country Club has nine tennis courts open for leisure and training purposes. The club offers a wide variety of instructional and competitive clinics, in addition to private and group lessons. The courts should be booked an hour in advance for walk-ins.
COURT FEES: 125 AED for two people / 175 AED for four per hour.
ADDRESS: Shakbout Bin Sultan St., Al Mushrif, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
TEL: +971 26577777
The host venue for the annual Mubadala World Tennis Championship, one of the region’s most anticipated sporting events, the Zayed Sports City Complex offers outdoor hard surface courts for reservation and walk-ins as well.
COURT FEES: Before 9AM: 60 AED / Day time: 100 AED / Evening: 150 AED
ADDRESS: Zayed Sports City Stadium, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
TEL: +971 24034222
EMAIL: [email protected]
The hotel offers floodlit courts in addition to a cushioned hard court for players to enjoy. The courts are ideal for all levels of play, and should be booked a day before – as per hotel requirements. All facilities are reserved for guests and members, however, you can access the courts with a daily pass to enter the hotel.
COURT FEES: Week days: 300 AED / Weekends: 400 AED.
ADDRESS: Emirates Palace, West Corniche Road, Ras Al Akhdar, Abu Dhabi.
TEL: +971 26907311
EMAIL: [email protected]
The Club features four floodlit tennis courts that can be enjoyed by members. The trainers at the club offer tennis clinics for adult and juniors, plus fun tournaments and social events. If you are interested in becoming a member visit the club’s page for more information.
COURT FEES: 70 AED on week days / 100 AED on weekends.
The Rotana Academy has resident professionals that will help you improve your game at all levels. Take advantage of the two floodlit courts and all the club has to offer. Non members can get access through a daily pass and must book a court when they arrive depending on availability.
COURT FEES: 155 AED on week days / 220 AED on Weekends.
ADDRESS: Beach Rotana, 10th Street, Al Zahiya Area, Abu Dhabi.
TEL: +971 026979302
EMAIL: [email protected]
Enjoy the Sheraton’s outdoor tennis courts and scenic view in Abu Dhabi. The hotel offers their courts for walk-ins and guests with daily passes as well. Check out the fitness facilities membership page for further information on becoming a member.
COURT FEES: 100 AED per hour / reserve a day prior for court availability.
Guests and walk-ins are welcome to use the tennis court and the rest of the facilities. However, guests will have to pay for a daily pass and reserve the court a day prior to as the resort only has one tennis court.
COURT FEES: Daily pass: 77 AED on weekdays / 115 AED on weekends.
The InterContinental offers state-of-the-art floodlit tennis courts, overlooking a private marina. The hotel offers walk-ins and booking for non-guests and members of the facilities. To make sure the courts are available book over phone with reception.
COURT FEES: 100 AED per hour.
ADDRESS: King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud Street, Abu Dhabi.
TEL: +971 26666888
EMAIL: [email protected]
Whether you are an advanced player or a mere beginner, this tennis academy offers clinics for all levels. The programs give players a chance to improve their skills in a fun way. Advantage tennis academy in Abu Dhabi operates from different venues across the city. You must contact the academy to book or register on their website for a booking.
COURT FEES: Private lessons: 300 AED per hour.
The resort has one floodlit tennis court and accept walk-ins. The hotel has a partnership with the aforementioned Advantage Sports Club and offers tennis lessons for adults and juniors.
COURT FEES: two persons per hour: 100 AED / four persons per hour: 200 AED.