UAE tennis targets Davis Cup success ahead of Expo 2020
Dubai: The UAE tennis squad has been training seriously for their upcoming Asia/Oceania Group IV competition to be held in Amman in the week of September 9. The goal before them is clear — give their best and gain a promotion into Group III to coincide with the country’s hosting of Expo 2020.
Though the Davis Squad squad has not yet been formally announced by Tennis Emirates, it is expected that the experienced Omar Bahroozian Al Awadhi will once again lead the charge alongside the talented Al Janahi brothers, Hamad and Fahad Abbas, while youngsters Fares Al Janahi and Abdul Rahman Al Janahi may possibly join them at a later date. Mahmoud Khalifa Al Baloushi will double up as the non-playing captain and coach.
Jordan will host the event in Amman 9 with the hosts being joined by teams from Pacific Oceania, Oman, Jordan, UAE, Cambodia, Mongolia, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan, Iraq, Bangladesh, Guam, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.
“Our first goal has to be to play to our strengths,” Bahroozian told Gulf News on the sidelines of a training session at the indoor Al Habtoor Tennis Centre along Shaikh Zayed Road. “I am convinced that if we stick to the plan then the results we want will follow automatically.”
The plan, of course, will be to alternate in the singles between Bahroozian and Fahad, while using the left-handed Hamad in the doubles alongside either Bahroozian or one of the two younger players Fares or Abdul Rahman.
“We suffered a bit last year as I had to play the singles and the doubles on all days. That took a lot away from me personally and eventually that led to us missing out on a promotion back into Group III,” Bahroozian said.
The UAE narrowly missed out on a promotion into Group III in 2018 when they went down 2-1 to Singapore in Muscat last year. Abdul Rahman lost in straight sets only to see his cousin Fahad win in three sets to level the scores. However, Fahad and Fares went down in three sets in the crucial doubles as the UAE missed out on promotion.
Missing out for a major part of the competition was Bahroozian due to an injury midway in Muscat. Bahroozian featured in just two ties — against Bangladesh and Kyrgyzstan — but had to watch from the sidelines as the UAE struggled to find their rhythm with three youngsters.
“We could have gone through into Group III last year itself, but we needed that one extra player at least for the singles,” Fahad said.
“Omar was out and that proved to be crucial in the end.”
However, this year will be definitely different for the UAE as Bahroozian is fully fit and raring to go along with another experienced hand Hamad Abbas. After first turning up for the country as a 14-year-old in 1996, Bahroozian now has the best singles win-loss record of 59-27.
“Hopefully, we will have better options this time where we can alternate among ourselves in the singles and the doubles,” Bahroozian said.
“After spending a couple of weeks in the UK playing tournaments I feel that I am physically fit and mentally prepared to take on the challenge this year. We need a promotion back into Group III, and with the handful of youngsters coming through I feel even more confident,” he added.
The UAE first competed in the Davis Cup in 1993 and their best finish was a third place in Group III way back in 2002. “We need to build on this set of players. I can’t be playing forever. We need to ensure these players lead the country in challenges ahead,” Bahroozian noted.
“The future looks bright no doubt. But for the time-being we’ve got to pay attention at giving off our best and ensuring we take the next step forward,” he smiled.
The UAE squad will continue training in Dubai and embark for their Davis Cup tie to Amman in the first week of September.
Dubai: The UAE’s chances of a promotion into Group III very much depends on the luck of the draw.
Of the 14 teams in the fray in Amman this time, the UAE is the fourth-best ranked nation at No. 104. Pacific Oceania is the best at No. 101 followed by Oman (102) and Jordan (103).
“We need to get lucky with the draw,” UAE captain Mahmoud Khalifa Al Baloushi told Gulf News.
“We have been going through a tough training regimen, and we have the players who can make a difference this year.
“At this stage of the competition, the rankings really don’t matter as all teams are nearly at the same level. We don’t need to concentrate on what the others will do. We need to just stick to our game plan and deliver.”