KUWAIT: KTF President Sheikh Ahmad Al-Jaber (third left) presenting the memento to ITF President David Haggerty (second left). Also seen are Honorable President of KTF Sheikh Jaber Al-Abdallah (left), US Deputy Chief of Mission Patricia Fietz, (third right) KTF Technical Director Abbas Al-Busairi (second right)and Sheikh Meshal Al-Jaber. — Photo by Yasser Al Zayyat

KUWAIT: Kuwait Tennis Association Honorary President Sheikh Jaber Al-Abdallah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah received President of International Tennis Federation (ITF) David Haggerty at his Bneid Al-Qar diwan.

Director General of Public Authority for Sports (PAS) Dr Humoud Fulaiteh Al-Shimmari, USA Deputy Chief of Mission Patricia L. Fietz, Honorary President of the Arab Tennis Federation (ATF) Sami Al-Brahim and other dignitaries were in attendance.

Haggerty was in Kuwait at the invitation of President of Arab and Kuwait Tennis Federations Sheikh Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Abdallah Al-Sabah.

Sheikh Ahmad Al-Jaber said the ITF president makes his first visit to Kuwait to have a look at the new site of Sheikh Jaber Al-Abdallah Al-Jaber International Tennis Compound, currently under construction, adding the visit was very productive, as he saw full presentation for the project. Sheikh Ahmad added that ITF President Haggerty said the project is one of the best projects in the world.

He thanked the President of Tamdeen Group Moammad Jassim Al-Marzouq for his commitment and interest he expressed since the contract was signed. He said the project is a qualitative move of tennis in Kuwait.

He said, as the compound will be ready by the middle of next year, we look forward to see the best players of the world participate in Kuwait Tennis Open. We hope to attract the youth and juniors as well as the entire Kuwaiti family to play tennis, as the compound have covered courts, and this is a factor that will attract entire families.

Sheikh Ahmad said the project is progressing ahead of schedule which was scheduled to be completed at the end of next year, but the opening will take place in the first half of next year.

Meanwhile, ITF President David Haggerty was impressed with the project saying it is among the best worldwide, adding that ITF will support the project through organizing ITF events here and provide all is necessary to ensure its success of such a distinguished facility.

Speaking to Kuwait Times, he said it all comes together in developing the future generation of tennis, as there are certain elements in leadership, we have management, communications and collaborations, so some of the important elements sit in the core of our mission to grow the sport.

He said that Davis Cup and Fed Cup are premier competitions, it is a team event, the grand slam of team sport and the Olympics which we hold so high.

Huggerty said "one of the best elements of our ITF 2024 vision is to take tennis from cradle to grave, in other words we start the players at a young age as juniors to play in national events, then ITF events as they make their way to circuit events, then they go to the ATP or WTA then they are seniors that is when they come back and play tennis in ITF senior events all the way up to age 95." He added our job is to ensure that we have over 15,000 competitions, events and tournaments that we run every year.

When asked how he sees Kuwait's tennis especially in Davis Cup, he said "I see great opportunity for Kuwait to continue to grow and improve. I think you had a challenge of not having an indoor facility, and no place for players to train, while in Europe it is the opposite, and now that there is an indoor training and players will have the advantage of being able to play year round and be able to continue and this will help elevate the level of tennis.

He said "you have good juniors, 12 and under, 14 and under and we need to take them further up the pyramid so that they can continue to play and go to professional carriers and help the team in Davis Cup.

When asked to comment after visiting Jaber Al-Abdallah Al-Jaber Tennis Compound he said "amazing, I cannot wait to come back for the opening, my minds is just racing from the great presentation. There are elements that are considered for this project, so it will be part of the community after it is built, and will attract high level players, whether it will be juniors or professionals to come to play here. It is a great atmosphere with the 5 star hotel that will be there, as players will not have to leave the facility and do their conditioning right there at the facility. He added that with the amount of green that is interwind within, that makes you feel as if you were outdoors. Having the academy there, as well as areas for fitness, is one of the best facilities that I have seen, and cannot wait to come back and be able to see it when it is completed. Having the first indoor courts in Kuwait is game changer for Kuwait juniors and be able to now think about this as a carrier than having to spend a lot of money to travel to another part of the world to train for half a year.

By Abdellatif Sharaa