New UAE tennis tournament series sees Lumba and Mehra crowned champions in opening leg

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Eshaan Lumba won the Boys U18 final in the FuturePro Series.

Eshaan Lumba and Vipasha Mehra were crowned the Under-18 boys’ and girls’ champions in the opening leg of the ongoing FuturePro Talent Series.

The boys’ Under-16 tournament was also held over the UAE National Day weekend, and it was Garv Bahl who emerged champion.

Held at the Kings School Al Barsha tennis courts and part of the newly-formed UAE National Ranking Tennis Tournaments of the UAE Tennis Federation, theFuturePro Talent Series has proved to be a huge success with nearly 110 budding stars taking part in the five age category events that have taken place so far.

The tournament, which is being hosted by the FuturePro Tennis Academy, one of the fastest growing academies in the UAE, continues this week with the men’s, women’s and veterans’ tournament.

In the boys’ Under-18 final, the tall Lumba prevailed over a spirited Karan Manghnani. The 15-year-old from Dubai American Academy did not drop a single set in his four matches, but after taking the first set 6-1, was stretched in the second before winning 7-5.

“I really enjoyed playing the tournament and it is a great initiative from the UAE Tennis Federation. I have been in Dubai for the past three years and it was getting a bit frustrating not to be able to play regular tournament tennis. But with the UAE National Ranking Tournaments, that issue has been addressed,” said Lumba.

Mehra, an ITF-ranked player who trains at FuturePro, was equally impressive in her victory. The 15-year-old southpaw was a 6-2, 6-3 winner over Russia’s Rosaleen Alioussef in the title decider. Her only worry during the week when she won all her matches in straight sets was a first-set tiebreak against the girls’ Under-14 champion Stefania Bojica in the second round.

The finalists of the U18 Boys and Girls divisions pose with their trophies.

The finalists of the U18 boys and girls divisions pose with their trophies.

In the boys’ U-16 finals, Bahl was a 6-3, 6-0 winner over the U-14 champion Elias Anwar.

FuturePro will be hosting five legs of National Ranking Tournaments until May 2018 as part of the official UAE National Tennis Calendar.

Rahul Tulpule, co-Founder & CEO of FuturePro Tennis Academies, which also has presence in India and Argentina, said: “It really has been a fantastic response to our tournament and it is great to get the feedback from the players and their parents so far. FuturePro is working very closely with UAE Tennis Federation and has taken up the maximum slots in the UAE Ranking Tournament Calender for the 2017-18 season.

“With a formal National Ranking System in place, it will help the players with opportunities for international sports scholarships and other opportunities.”

With an objective to encourage adults to take up the game and enjoy it as a recreational and fitness activity, the Academy has also launched the FuturePro Amateur Series for beginners and intermediate players.

All details and entry forms of the tournaments can be accessed at www.futureprotennis.ae.

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Singles and doubles winners crowned at third edition of Fujairah ITF Junior Championships

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Photo finish: The winners at the Fujairah ITF Junior Championships.

Russia’s Marat Sharipov and Latvia’s Darja Semenistaja won the boys’ and girls’ singles trophies respectively at this year’s Fujairah ITF Junior Championships, completed over the weekend.

Sharipov was forced to work hard for the trophy at the Fujairah Tennis & Country Club, eventually prevailing from a set down to win 5-7 6-4 6-1 against Eric Vanshelboim of Ukraine in the final.

Meanwhile, Semenistaja cruised to a straight sets victory in Saturday’s showpiece match, downing India’s Muskaan Gupta in quickfire fashion, 6-4 6-1.

After winning the boys’ singles crown with a narrow three-set victory, Sharipov said: “The opponent was strong but I believed that I could win the match. I never gave up and that’s why I won.”

Rising stars: Darja Semenistaja (l) and Marat Sharipov (r).

Having scooped the top girls’ prize Semenistaja credited her win to the support she received off the court.

She said: “My mom and sister have always been a strong support for me and to have them both at the match made me very confident.”

In the girls’ doubles, it literally was a double for Semenistaja, who fresh from her singles triumph, teamed-up with Merija Semenistaja to down India’s Malikaa Marathe and Mahin Qureshi of Pakistan 6-2 6-2.

Meanwhile, the boys’ doubles final was won by pair Joe Leather and Yusuke Tamaki.

The Brit-Japan double-act saw off Poland’s Mikolaj Lorens and Hungary’s Peter Sallay in a closely-fought contest, 7-5 7-5.

The tournament concluded with a prize giving ceremony by Tennis Emirates officials as well as Sarah Clay, the club manager of the Fujairah Tennis & Country Club and July Tabora, the club’s head tennis coach.

On-court: The prize giving ceremony.

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From Djokovic's return to Nadal's first year sans Toni - Five storylines to look out for at Mubadala Championship

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Return date confirmed: Novak Djokovic.

The Mubadala World Tennis Championship (MWTC) line-up went from good to great on Tuesday following the announcement that Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka are joining Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem, Milos Raonic and Pablo Carreno Busta in Abu Dhabi this December.

The 10th edition of the capital showpiece takes place from December 28-30 and the return of Djokovic and Wawrinka from their lengthy injury lay-offs will no doubt provide a major boost.

Here are five intriguing storylines to look out for at this winter’s MWTC…

Novak’s comeback

Abu Dhabi will be Djokovic’s first appearance in nearly six months. The Serb’s last outing was a quarter-final exit from Wimbledon in July and he ruled himself out from the rest of the 2017 season to recover from a lingering elbow problem he says has been plaguing him for almost a year and a half.

All eyes will be on Djokovic next season, not just because he’s coming back from a long hiatus, but because he stepped away from the sport following a puzzling and surprising dip in form experienced over the previous 12 months.

Will the 30-year-old manage to get back to his Grand Slam-winning ways? That will be the million-dollar question in 2018, and UAE tennis fans will get an early taste of Djokovic’s intentions when he swings by Zayed Sports City in December.

Another mouth-watering prospect is: Will he show up with his coach Andre Agassi in tow? Just imagine watching those practices from the cosy outside courts of the MWTC!

Will Stan still be the man?

Wawrinka made the Roland Garros final, then lost his opener at Wimbledon, and hasn’t played a match since, missing his US Open title defence to recover from double knee surgery.

The Swiss is one of several top players who have pulled the plug early on their 2017 term and considering he’s not one to take long breaks from the game, it’s going to be interesting to see how Wawrinka bounces back from that injury setback, especially with the likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Sascha Zverev finding consistent form this year.

A Toni-less Rafa

The MWTC has been the unofficial season opener for Nadal for eight of the past nine years but this time things will be a little different for the Spaniard. 2018 will be his first season without his uncle Toni Nadal coaching him on tour and although Nadal usually comes to Abu Dhabi with his other coach Francis Roig, rather than Toni, this will still mark the start of a new era for the world No. 1.

How will life on the road sans Toni feel like for the 16-time Grand Slam champion? His first major without him will be quite telling.

Will Thiem rise to the top?

The talented Austrian has already separated himself from the rest of the chasing pack, along with Zverev, with some great results, including back-to-back French Open semi-final appearances in 2016 and 2017. Thiem is currently No. 4 in the Race to London behind Nadal, Federer and Zverev.

The 24-year-old is at a career-high No. 6 in the world rankings but can he push forward next season when Djokovic, Andy Murray and Wawrinka are all back in the mix?

A big year lies ahead for Thiem.

Peaking Pablo

For so long, people have been wondering whether any young Spaniard will be able to carry the baton from the likes of Nadal, David Ferrer, Feliciano Lopez and Co.

Carreno Busta’s name was mentioned many times in the past as a possible candidate but he never really lived up to such expectation. Until this year, when he made the quarters of Roland Garros, the semis of the US Open and Indian Wells, and cracked the top-10 for the first time.

Granted, he is 26 and is not in the same league as Nadal or a peak Ferrer, but kudos to him for keeping up his results this season, and position himself as a strong contender for the ATP World Tour Finals in London.

His heroics this year earned him a spot in the MWTC, which is typically exclusive to the game’s top stars, and the tournament can perhaps give him some confidence to start the new season in such elite company.

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