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Kazakhstan: New Tennis Power
02.05.2015

Tennis is associated with people and something prestigious and inaccessible, almost as well as golf. What is being done by Kazakhstan Tennis Federation to break this stereotype?
 
Every year tennis in Kazakhstan becomes increasingly popular, and one of the objects of the Federation to make tennis a mass, and, of course, a favorite sport in our country. As everyone knows, the Federation has been active in many areas of the development of tennis in our country. One of them is the implementation of our six year program of the International Tennis Federation “Tennis 10 and under”. Through this program, children in pre-school and school across the country have an opportunity to play tennis on the lessons of physical culture. At present the program "Tennis 10 and under" works in 12 regions of the country, it’s involved in 40 schools and 34 kindergartens where more than 2,500 thousand children may play tennis for free.
 
The development of infrastructure is also necessary for availability of tennis. I must say that in such a short time during only past 7 years, with the support of the president of KTF Bulat Utemuratov, the Federation developed infrastructure and tennis courts. At the moment, there are tennis courts in accordance to the world standards almost in all regions of Kazakhstan - in Astana, Almaty, Shymkent, Karaganda, Pavlodar, Kokshetau, Aktobe, Taraz, Oskemen, Kyzylorda, Taldykorgan, Ekibastuz. On December 16, 2014 a tennis center in Uralsk that corresponds to all international standards was officially opened. In this center KTF plans to hold international tournaments. In 2015, we expect the opening of the tennis centers in Aktau and Kostanay cities. I think that young athletes of Kazakhstan will take a maximum from the opportunities given to them, train hard and achieve a lot.
 
Also, we hold tournaments of all levels and ages. We prepare and train coaches and referees. Currently Kazakhstan has more than 200 coaches. A number of athletes involved in taking a systematic part in the competitions is over 3000 people. It is planned to bring the number of tennis players to 10 000 people.
 
By the way, Kazakhstan Tennis Federation is one of the few organizations in Kazakhstan which pays attention to the children’s sport. Tell us what activities are carried out in this direction?
 
The development of children's tennis is one of the main objects of the Federation. As I said earlier, the KTF has been realizing the program "Tennis 10 and under" for 6 years. This year the project was supported by Kazakhstan Holding Raimbek Group trademarked Junior. We acquired equipment for children's tennis lessons on the fund of the company, also they have been helping to hold tournaments of the program "Tennis 10 and under" - Red, Green and Orange Balls. In addition to the competitions of various levels and categories, master classes and exhibition matches from the top tennis players in the world are necessary. The biggest event was held in September 2014 in Astana, where the KTF organized a master class and an exhibition match with the participation of world stars - "King of soil" Rafael Nadal and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, entering in TOP-10 tennis players of the world. Especially for the match we invited young tennis players from all regions of Kazakhstan in order to motivate them for further success and effective training. Also, two years ago, the famous Swiss tennis player Martina Hingis, the ex-first racked Dinara Safina, and our compatriots - Elena Likhovtseva and Irina Selyutina came; in August 2014 in Shymkent city a master class with the ex-eighth racked Guillermo Canas was held.
 
Also, in 2014 we organized workshops all over Kazakhstan with members of the National team of Kazakhstan - Yaroslava Shvedova, Galina Voskoboeva, Mikhail Kukushkin, Kamila Kerimbaeva. Similar master classes perfectly motivate young athletes. I think in the future of these children we will see professional tennis players.
 
How many tournaments are held by KTF? What tournament is paid with more attention by the federation?
 
Of course, we focus on the children's tournament. KTF holds tournaments for tennis players of all ages wishing to earn world ratings of ATF, WTA, ATP, ITF. It is very important that the Kazakhstan tennis players had an opportunity to gather a world rating, without leaving to foreign countries. Through numerous international tournaments, we invite top tennis players from all over the world. For example, in 2014 President's Cup in Astana brought together representatives of 31 countries. In 2014, the Tennis Federation held around 50 international tournaments of ATF, ITF series and the ATP Challenger Tour, as well as 80 national scale tournaments. Besides that, more than 100 tournaments are according to the program "Tennis 10 and under".
 
You said in an interview that your Academy had students who would be able to replace an older team in the future. Can you call their names? What are their results?
 
Yes, in 2008, the Federation has launched one of its main projects - the Academy «Team Kazakhstan», which selected the strongest young tennis players from all regions and attracted leading foreign experts. Now the Academy transformed into «Team Kazakhstan» and numbered 32 sportsmen of primary and substitute groups where all the conditions are met for the effective training and participation in tournaments. I would like to mention a student of the project «Team Kazakhstan» Gozal Aynitdinova, who in 2014 became a champion of international tournaments in Abu Dhabi, Doha and a finalist at Kuala Lumpur and Cairo. Today, she is in the top 138 best world juniors under 18 years old and she's only 16. Also, I want to mention 14-year-old Zhibek Kulambaeva and 16-year-old Arina Taluenko, who in 2014 made significant progress and have already proven themselves in international tournaments, becoming champions in Sri Lanka and Kyrgyzstan respectively. It is necessary to mark out our young men and juniors. The leader here is Mamyr Bolat, who in 2014 won 4 international tournaments (2 in Armenia and 2 in Kazakhstan) and is in the top 156 best juniors. Also, I want to note Tashbulatov Dostanbek, who this year entered the top 10 of the best young men of Europe. Among adults, this year we are pleased by Dmitry Popko (ATP ranking 598), Khabibulin Timur (ATP 924) and Roman Khasanov (ATP 954), who have managed successful transitions from junior tennis into the adult.
 
The project «Team Kazakhstan» is fully justified because this year Dmitry Popko became the fourth number of the national team of Kazakhstan in the Davis Cup, Kamila Kerimbayeva also became the fourth number of the national team of Kazakhstan in the Fed Cup.
 
One of the directions of the federation is the development of amateur tennis. What work is being done in this direction?
 
Good question. Of course, amateur tennis is very important in the overall development of tennis in the country, and as a result, the formation of a healthy way of life of the inhabitants of our country. For each message, the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev focuses on the improvement of the nation and the development of a healthy lifestyle in Kazakhstan. I think that the KTF fully carries out this task.
 
Also, later the children of amateur tennis players may be followers of their parents and will have an opportunity to become tournament champions of various ranks. A number of amateur tennis players have grown over the last 5 years, their number in Kazakhstan increased from 120 to 700. Under the auspices of the Federation there were four large rating amateur tournaments held, including the Championship of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
 
How do you prepare for the quarterfinal match of the Davis Cup? Where do you plan to carry it out? As far as I know, rivals chose the grass, and our children prefer the hard …
 
- Our players can play on any surface. Of course, we go only for a victory. We have an excellent chance to enter the semi-finals of the tournament where we've never been. The team of Australia is a very strong team. Australians have young talented players, such as the leader of the national team and the operating 26th racket of the world Bernard Tomic, and also Nick Kiryos, Takhanasi Kokkinakis, and the ex-first racket of the world, the winner of "Wimbledon" in the single category Leyton Hewitt. They have a very perspective and young team. But we proved to the whole world that our solid team can win against any team. Before a quarterfinal match against Australia, we plan to determine the national team while we consider one of the Australian cities. You know, in the Davis Cup we have never played on the grass. But players will arrive just after Wimbledon which will pass in July. We are ready to fight!
 
What are the strengths of our tennis players can you call in the match against our future competitors?
 
Of course, it is unity. Our players always up to the end give all the best in matches for the national team. We have a fighting and playing team. All the players can show themselves as Andrey Golubev did against Switzerland and Belgium, Mikhail Kukushkin against the Czech Republic and Uzbekistan and, as a month ago, Alexander Nedovyesov proved himself against the Italians by winning the fifth match.
 
In 2016 the Olympic Games in Brazil will be held. I understand that in a year a lot of things might change; but nevertheless, what opportunity do we have if speaking about the Olympic Games?
 
For the first time our tennis players participated at the Olympic Games in London in 2012. Each professional tennis player dreams to get to the Olympic Games. Yaroslava Shvedova, Galina Voskoboyeva and Mikhail Kukushkin participated in London three years ago. Then we had chances in the doubles. In comparing with other sports the license for the Olympic Games in tennis can be obtained only at the expense of a rating. And the rating for June 6, 2016 will show whether our tennis players get to the Olympic Games in Brazil. For this purpose a tennis player has to be in TOP-56 of the world rating. If Yaroslava, Zarina and Mikhail continue to show results, they will have chances to get to the Olympic Games in 2016. For now, according to the current rating, they get to the Olympics.


Magazine "Business Emirates»

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