x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Karim Najia is a cut above the rest

The dedicated 11 year old, who regularly beats tennis players older than him, is ahead of the curve.

Karim Najia, whose favourite player is Roger Federer, loves to play football, handball and badminton. But he is so devoted to tennis that the sport consumes most of his time and energy all week.
Karim Najia, whose favourite player is Roger Federer, loves to play football, handball and badminton. But he is so devoted to tennis that the sport consumes most of his time and energy all week.

Like most child prodigies, Karim Najia picked up his skill from watching his father.

Now, aged 11 and a pupil at the Lycee Georges Pompidou in Dubai, Karim is winning tournaments and plaudits as one of the most promising young tennis player in the country.

"I used to accompany and watch my father [Aboudi] play at the Aviation Club," Karim said. "I would have been around four when I started to play tennis. I was seven when I had more understanding of the game and trained at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel."

Karim won an Under 12 title, as a nine year old, at the Dubai Duty Free Barclays Junior Tennis Championships in 2010.

He won a recent Under 16 final at the Aviation Club in Dubai, was runner-up in the Mubadala Junior Championship at the Le Royal Meridien in Dubai and also showcased his skills two years above his age group at the Asian Junior Championship in Qatar.

"I know I am playing against stronger opponents but the experience of playing against older boys has helped me improve my game," he said.

Born in Dubai to Lebanese parents, he is the eldest of two boys and a girl. His family have been living in the Emirates since 2001 after moving from England. Karim is registered with the French federation and the UK and has a British passport as well as a French one.

"Tennis is his passion and we try to provide him as many opportunities as possible for him to play," Claudine, his mother said.

"He is a shy person and doesn't like a lot of attention. He loves to spend more time in tennis. He spent the weekend playing in two different tournaments. And all I had to do was to drop him in the morning. He is able to look after himself and of course most of the players are his friends, so he enjoys the time with them."

Karim, whose favourite player is Roger Federer, is now a member of Al Wasl Club where he works under Jean-Francois Danican, the club coach. Previously he was schooled at the Peter Burwash International Tennis centre at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel in Dubai.

"I train six days a week and the weekends are usually competitions," Karim said. "I play football, handball and badminton at schools but tennis is my first love and I want to pursue a career on it."

Karim has travelled to the Czech Republic, Croatia, France and most recently to Qatar.

"I have been lucky because my parents have provided me with everything that I need to work on my tennis as well as my studies. I am always looking forward for the training and the tournaments that may come," Karim said.

"I wish I could win a tennis scholarship someday and then I can spend more time in the sport and would possibly look at making to the top flight in the junior circuit."

apassela@thenational.ae


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