Oman race to perfect start

MUSCAT, JAN 29 – Hosts Oman raced to a 3-0 win against Bangladesh on the opening day of the Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group IV tournament in Muscat on Monday. Mohammed al Nabhani blanked Bangladesh’s Sree-Amol Roy 6-0, 6-0 in the opening match to give a rousing start for the hosts in just 55 minutes. Next up for Oman was young Abdullah al Barwani who made it 2-0 by overcoming Dipu Lal 6-0, 3-6, 6-3. In the doubles rubber, Mohammed al Nabhani and Younis al Rawahi comfortably overcame Ranjan Ram and Mohammed Rana 6-1, 6-3 to complete a 3-0 victory.
Earlier, the tournament was opened with a simple but elegant ceremony in the renovated courts at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex. Shaikh Rashad bin Ahmed al Hinai, Under-Secretary at the Ministry of Sports, was the chief guest in the presence of top ministry officials and Oman Tennis Association (OTA) office bearers. The players from the participating 12 countries lined up under their country names with International Tennis Federation (ITF) umpires for the ceremony.  In the other Group A match, UAE posted a 3-0 win against Kyrgyzstan. In Group B, Turkmenistan also blanked Tajikistan 3-0.

‘TIGHT COMPETITION’
Oman captain Siddiq al Hashmi while expressing happiness in the smooth opening win said that the all the countries in the Group IV tournament are competitive enough.
“Though we had a decent win against Bangladesh, it was not that easy in the middle. Our experienced player Mohammed al Nabhani gave us a nice start,” the Oman non-playing captain told Oman Daily Observer.
“In the second match, Abdullah al Barwani had a great start in the first set with a 6-0 verdict. But he suffered a back cramp in the second set and conceded the set 3-6.”
“After some treatment from our physio, Abdullah then managed to pocket the third set 6-3.”
Oman will meet Iraq in the next match on Tuesday. The matches will start from 10 am.
“Iraq game will be a challenging one for Oman. Our players have to be at their best to get a good result. But I am sure the boys will be ready for the challenge tomorrow,” Siddiq al Hashmi added.
Young Abdullah said that he found it little difficult with the humid weather as he had returned from a training camp in Nice, France.
“Though the weather is good overall, I found it uncomfortable with the humidity at 12 o’clock and had a back cramp.”
“I was okay after some treatment from our physio and could win the third set and the match.”
Abdullah’s condition will be monitored before the match against Iraq, said Al Hashmi.
13-year-old Muneer al Rawahi, the younger brother of Younis, will get a chance if Abdullah is not fit to play.
Meanwhile, OTA Chairman Khalid al Aadi expressed his delight with the perfect start for Oman and the tournament itself.
“I am happy to see our team win the first match. I am also satisfied that we were able to stage the big tournament in Oman.”
The OTA chief said development works will continue in the tennis courts after the Davis Cup tournament also and their target is to make the courts ready to host top ITF tournament.
“Some more expansion and facility will come in the near future and I’m sure that we will be able to host bigger events soon.”
OTA Executive Director and Tournament Coordinator Salman al Balushi said: “It was a great start for Oman. As organisers we have all top facility in place as far as the courts and other aspects are concerned.”
The Group IV competition concludes on February 3 when the winner of Pool A will play off against the runner-up in Pool B and the winner of Pool B will play off against the runner-up in Pool A to determine which two nations will be promoted to Asia/Oceania Zone Group III in 2019.

Anuroop Athiparambath