Anuroop Athiparambath –
MUSCAT, Jan 23 –
Oman gears up for competitive tennis action when the country will host the 2018 Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group IV tournament this month end.
The Oman Tennis Association (OTA) will host the competition at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex from January 29 to February 3 with the participation of 12 teams.
Apart from hosts Oman, other participating teams are: Bahrain, Bangladesh, Guam, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Myanmar, Singapore, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
OTA Chairman Khalid al Aadi said the OTA is delighted to host such a big event.
“We are delighted to host an event of this magnitude in Oman. This is a Davis Cup competition and we will be hosting as many 12 teams, including the players, their captains, coaches and other officials of their respective associations. This is definitely the biggest international event the Oman Tennis Association will be hosting after the development of our tennis facilities at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex.”
Oman are ranked third in the event. The draw for the tournament will be held on January 28.
On the prospects of Oman in the tournament, Al Aadi voiced hope of home team making it to the next level.
“We sincerely hope that playing at home and at the new facilities will boost our national team and they will achieve promotion to Davis Cup Group III.”
Tournament Director and OTA General Secretary Mundhir al Barwani said that Oman have been missing out narrowly in last two occasions of the tournament.
“Last year, we lost to Cambodia and the previous year we missed out against Jordan. This year, the players are all the more determined to seal the qualification to the next level,” Al Barwani said.
The 12 teams will be divided equally into Pool A and Pool B. In the group stage, matches will be played on round-robin league basis.
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.
“During the course of the tournament, the matches will be played simultaneously on all seven courts at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex,” Al Barwani added.
Being the hosts Oman will be given the privilege of playing their matches on court one.
OTA Executive Director and Tournament Co-ordinator Salman Al Balushi said: “All arrangements are in place to host a successful competition. We are ready to welcome the teams and their accompanying officials from the 11 other countries.
PLAYERS IN GOOD SHAPE
Oman national team players, Mohammed al Nabhani, Abdullah al Barwani, Younis al Rawahi and Muneer al Rawahi are all in good shape and are undergoing a training camp at the EURL Noren Coaching Academy in Nice, France.
Non-playing captain Siddiq al Hashmi, OTA General Secretary, is accompanying the players.
Salman al Balushi said the team is expected to return in two days’ time.
“Our national team will soon return to Muscat after their training camp at the EURL Noren Coaching Academy in Nice, France.”
“We are also happy to announce that Oman Air, Aquafina, Top Fruit and Pocari Sweat have come forward to sponsor us. We are very thankful to all the sponsors.”
Salman Al Balushi added: “We are confident of hosting a successful tournament. We want to showcase our new tennis facilities and our organisational abilities. Hopefully the success of this tournament will lead to Oman getting an opportunity to host more such international competitions, especially the ITF junior events and Arab level championships.”
There will be 12 chair umpires, including ITF-appointed chief umpire Essam Saleh from Egypt, officiating during the tournament.
The list of umpires: Essam Saleh (Egypt), Wael Abbas (Egypt), Sergei Dubrov (Belarus), Leo Wang (China), Saman Hassani (Iran), Saibal Banerjee (India), Sina Ebrahimian (Iran), Karthikeyan Venketeson (India), Mohammed Abdullah (Qatar), Ali Almutairi (Kuwait), Jassim Akakah (Saudi Arabia) and Ronald Oduor (Kenya).
A total of 40 line umpires – 20 Omanis and 20 expats – will be assisting the chair umpires during the course of the tournament.
The OTA will be conducting a course for line umpires on January 24 and 25. The course will be attended by 40 Omanis, 20 of whom will be selected to officiate the matches.
There will also be 40 ball kids selected from expatriate schools, colleges and university as well as Omani junior players. All the selected ball kids will attend a two-day workshop from January 25.