DUBAI // The finals of the first UAE Development Circuit tournament are to be held tonight after rain delayed matches over the weekend. Staged at Al Wasl Club and organised by head coach, Francois Danican, the event marks the first tournament to be held under new regulations implemented by the governing body, Tennis Emirates (TE). With the boys and girls' categories in under 12s, under 14s, under 16s and under 18s as well as doubles, the event is the first phase in a national plan aimed at promoting tennis and raising the standard of the sport.
"The goal for this tournament and all the others on the calendar is to expose more youngsters to tennis," said Eric Gottschalk from sports management company, Mediapro Middle East, handling the changes for TE. "The UAE has some good young players but they need to play more matches and also to get more competitive experience of doubles." Danican, a former coach at the Harry Hopman Tennis Academy in the United States, agreed.
"In eight years of coaching tennis in the UAE I haven't seen many changes," he said. "But now they are trying to organise things in such a way that will develop the sport in this country. There are still things to review but this is a very positive step." Gottschalk said he was hopeful that more government-run sports clubs would follow Al Wasl's lead and start a tennis programme. "Al Ain has been a powerhouse in tennis in the past before they started to concentrate only on football," he said.
"They are definitely coming back to tennis which is very good news and we are hopeful that Al Shabab and Al Ahli may also join up." The finals get under way at 6pm at the Al Wasl Club tennis courts. firstname.lastname@example.org