DUBAI // Young tennis fans realised a dream of playing against some of the legends of the game yesterday. It isn't every day that you have the opportunity to volley past Stefan Edberg or fire an ace against Jim Courier. The players of the Legends Rock Dubai tournament took time out of their schedule to train with 300 children, many with autism or special needs, as part of their commitment to support the Dubai Autism Centre and Dubai Centre for Special Needs.
Jim Courier, a former world No 1, explained what it means to the players to interact with the community and help develop a younger generation. "The players really enjoy this part of the event. To be able to give something back is really special," he said. "These children have so much enthusiasm and perhaps today we have seen some future champions. "The kids day is a key part of the tournament concept. I really look forward to working with the children. It brings the inner child out in all of us."
Naylor Thani, a mother of a participant, admitted that she wasn't sure who was more excited - her son or her. "It is a wonderful idea especially with the need to raise awareness of exercise and living a healthy lifestyle. My son has been so excited. But to be honest so have I. The fact that the players give their time so generously is brilliant." As well as tennis, a range of activities were organised to help develop skills, coordination and fitness. The day is one of a number of initiatives organised throughout the tournament to help raise more than Dh500,000 to provide facilities and support for children with autism.