x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

UAE's top players deserve better fan support

Tennis Emirates has upped its game over the past year, but it is a pity the revived UAE Tennis Ranking Masters tournament should be shunned by enthusiasts of the sport.

Tennis Emirates has upped its game over the past year. The installation of Jorge Martin, a highly experienced Spaniard, as coach of the national squad, coupled with the development of a slick publicity department overseen by Slah Bramly, the organisation's technical director, and Eric Gottschalk, its chief executive, has injected a greater degree of professionalism.

What a pity, then, that a carefully planned final day of the revived UAE Tennis Ranking Masters tournament at the excellent but shamefully under-used venue at Abu Dhabi's Zayed Sports City should be shunned by enthusiasts of the sport.

When the main singles event of a varied programme - the men's final between leading Emiratis Omar Behrouzian and Mahmoud Nazer - began on Saturday evening, one spectator had taken his seat on a court bedecked with banners publicising the sport.

By the middle of the opening set the "gallery" for a free-admission event had increased to six, while as Behrouzian closed out his 6-3, 6-1 success, there were 26 fans witnessing his latest success.

The same complex will be packed when Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer play in the New Year exhibition featuring six of the world's top 20 men.

If a small proportion of those paying customers had taken the trouble to drop in last weekend, Tennis Emirates would have gained greater reward for the effort put in on behalf of the nation's tennis welfare.

 

wjohnson@thenational.ae