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Tennis eyeing world cups
Published in The Egyptian Gazette on 21 - 06 - 2011

CAIRO – Egypt's national U14 and U16 tennis teams are competing in the First African Junior Championships, being held at the Smash Academy in Cairo, starting today and running until June 26.
“These championships are very important for Egypt as they are the qualifiers for the World Tennis U14 Cup for junior boys and girls, to be held in August, in the Czech Republic, and the World Tennis U16 Cup, due to be held in Spain in September,” Israa el-Sanhouri, the President of the Egyptian Tennis Federation (ETF), told the Egyptian Mail.
Israa added that the ETF is pinning its hopes on our juniors qualifying for these world cups.
“The competition will be fierce among the ten African countries participating,” she added.
The countries are Egypt, South Africa, Tunisia, Morocco, Zimbabwe, Congo, Mauritius, Algeria, Nigeria and Ghana. They are all members of Confederation of African Tennis (CAT), a continental sports organisation which gathers 50 African countries.
Kareem Zaher, the technical coach for Egypt's U16 team, has chosen four boys for the tournament: Mazen Osama Mohamed, Omar Sharif Gamal, Ahmed Mohamed Kamal and Youssef Sherif Mahmoud.
The four girls he has chosen to play are Mayar Ahmed Sherif, Marina Nader Albert, Nour Emad Tuhami and Habiba Mohamed Shaker.
Moustafa Naeim, the technical coach for Egypt's U14 boys' team has chosen the following four players for the tournament: Nabil Mohamed Fouad, Mohamed Ihab Sabri, Hatem Abul Qassem Mohamed and Youssef Mohamed Makhlouf.
Ali el-Sherbini, the technical coach for Egypt's U14 girls' team has chosen the following: Sandra Sameh Samir, Sarah Ismail Mohamed, Hanaa Ahmed Murtaja and Habiba Ali Lachin.
The ETF will hold a press conference this afternoon at 2:00 to unveil the latest arrangements of the championships.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian Federation is considering honouring the women's team who participated in the Africa/Europe Zone Group of the World Fed Cup Championship, which ended last month here.
Although they 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 explained.
In last month'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 national team didn't win the Fed Cup, 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.
“The ETF recently decided to launch the first championship for wheelchair tennis in Egypt. It will be held next month 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 are 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,” she added.
Israa, the first woman in Egypt's history elected to lead a major sports federation, added that the main objective of this forthcoming championship is to let the world know that Egypt is safe, beautiful and a land of civilisation.
The Egyptian Tennis Federation, established in 1920, joined the International Tennis Federation in 1923.
The highly experienced official added that tennis is 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.
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.
Earlier in May, 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 next month.
“ETF has great confidence in the ability of Tamer to help the team do very well 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.
El-Sawi's highest Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) ranking was 128; on February 10, 1997, his highest United States Tennis Association (USTA) ranking was 117.

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