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A revolutionary push for Egypt's tennis
Published in The Egyptian Gazette on 20 - 05 - 2011

CAIRO - The January 25 revolution seems to be having a positive effect on sports in Egypt, particularly tennis.
The Egyptian Tennis Federation (ETF) is considering honouring the women's team who participated in the Africa/Europe Zone Group of the World Fed Cup Championship, which ended last week.
Although the Egyptian women's team failed to make it into the next round of the tournament, they acquitted themselves remarkably well against fierce competition.
They even beat Ireland and Norway in the tournament, hosted by the Smash Academy.
“The results they achieved were historic, especially as they were playing these teams for the first time in the history of the tournament,” Israa el-Sanhouri, the President of the Egyptian Tennis Federation, told the Egyptian Mail.
In this year's tournament, there were 16 countries in the second and the third groups. The second group comprised Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Portugal, Turkey, Finland, Georgia and Morocco, while there were nine countries in the third group: Moldova, South Africa, Ireland, Montenegro, Algeria, Tunisia, Lithuania, Norway and Egypt (the host country).
The Fed Cup is the premier competition in women's tennis, first launched in 1963 to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the International Tennis Federation (ITF).
The national team didn't win the title, but, apparently galvanised by the Egyptian revolution, they reached the final, narrowly losing 2-1 to South Africa. “We beat some big names who were above us in the world rankings, such as Norway [2-1], Moldova [also 2-1] and Ireland [2-1 again],” Israa proudly told this newspaper.
Egypt, who have been participating in this competition since 1986, are currently No. 77 in the world rankings.
“The ETF, last week, decided to launch the first championship for wheelchair tennis in Egypt. It will be held in July at the Smash Academy,” Israa, who was the Vice-President of the ETF from 2000-2004, explained.
She added that all the details of the wheelchair championship were being fine-tuned by Ahmed Abdou, an ETF member and chairman of the wheelchair committee.
“The competition will witness the participation of around 16 players. We're looking to invite an international wheelchair player from the United States to perform in an exhibition match with an Egyptian player, but we haven't decided on a particular player so far,” Israa said.
She added that the main objective of this forthcoming championship was to let the world know that Egypt was safe, beautiful and a land of civilisation.
The Egyptian Tennis Federation, established in 1920, joined the International Federation in 1923.
Tennis demands a combination of strength, balance, energy and co-ordination of muscle, and is performed on a special court. A skilled tennis player has basic shots in his or her repertoire such as the serve, forehand, backhand, overhead smash, drop shot and lob.
The Egyptian Federation holds training courses and programmes for players, coaches and referees, in order to improve and develop the game nationwide.
"The ETF also organises training camps for the players, inside and outside of Egypt," the talented official, who has been playing tennis since she was 19, added.
Israa, the first woman in Egypt's history elected to lead a major sports federation, said that tennis was being widely played in ten regions across the country: Cairo, Alexandria, Giza, Port Said, Assiut, el-Minya, Ismailiya, the East Delta, the Red Sea and 6th October City.
"There are around 5,025 players registered in the Egyptian federation, representing 77 clubs all over the country," said Israa.
Worldwide, there are millions of players, while hundreds of millions of people follow tennis as a spectator sport, especially the four Grand Slam tournaments (sometimes referred to as the 'majors'): the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open.
Earlier this month, the ETF decided to appoint Tamer el-Sawi as the technical director for the first national team in preparation for the Europe/Africa Zone Group III of the 2011 Davis Cup, due to be held in Egypt in July.
“ETF has great confidence in the ability of Tamer to lead the team to achieve good results in this important tournament,” Israa told this newspaper.
El-Sawi, now retired, was a noteworthy Egyptian player before he moved to the United States and established a tennis academy there.
“We have chosen six players for the Davis Cup team: Mohamed Safwat, Sherif Sabri, Karem Ma'amoun, Karem Mohamed Ma'amoun, Omar Hedayet and Karem Hossam,” Egypt's official Middle East News Agency (MENA) quoted him as saying.
El-Sawi's highest Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) ranking was 128; on February10, 1997, his highest United States Tennis Association (USTA) rank was 117.
El-Sawi, who was born in 1972 and made his debut for Egypt in the Davis Cup at the age of 16, pointed out that on July 6, he will announce the names of only four out of the above-mentioned six players, who will represent Egypt in the tournament.
“After the January 25 revolution, I feel determined to do something noticeable for my country leading the national team to do very well in this Davis Cup," el-Sawi added.

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