Oman all set to host Davis Cup competition
January 23, 2018 | 4:46 PM
by A. SESHAGIRI RAO / [email protected]
Oman Tennis Association chairman Khalid Al Aadi, centre, speaks during a press conference at Sundus Rotana on Tuesday. Photo - TALIB AL WAHAIBI / Times of Oman

Muscat: In what can be described as the largest tennis event to be organised in Oman, the Oman Tennis Association is gears up to host the 2018 Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group IV competition here from January 29.

While hosting of the prestigious event will provide the ‘home advantage’ for Oman national team in their quest to climb up in the Davis Cup promotion ladder, the Sultanate’s tennis governing body is also looking at it as an opportunity to showcase the new facilities at the iconic Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex.

According to the Oman Tennis Association (OTA) chairman Khalid Al Aadi, ‘all arrangements are in place and we are just eagerly waiting for the action to begin next Monday’.

Speaking at a press conference organised at Sundus Rotana on Tuesday, the OTA chief said: “We have prepared well to host this Davis Cup competition. All our committees, technical and administrative have been working tirelessly to make it a grand success. We we are just eagerly waiting for the action to begin next Monday.”

Stating that the OTA is ‘delighted to host an event of this magnitude’, he said: “We had hosted higher level of Davis Cup tournaments, including Group II competitions, in the past. But in terms of the number of teams, this Group IV competition will be the largest Davis Cup event to be held in Oman.”

Oman Tennis Association chairman Khalid Al Aadi, centre, and other officials inspect the facilities at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex.

“We are really happy to be organising this competition as we will be hosting as many 12 teams, including the players, their captains, coaches and other officials of their respective associations. This is also definitely the biggest international event the Oman Tennis Association is hosting after the development of our tennis facilities at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex.”

“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,” he added.

In preparation for the competition, the OTA has sent a four-member Oman team to France for a training camp.

The team, Mohammed Al Nabhani, Abdullah Hamdi Al Barwani, Younis Tufail Al Rawahi and Muneer Tufail Al Rawahi, and non-playing captain Siddique Al Hashmi, are scheduled to return to Muscat on Wednesday.

12 teams

The competition, which runs till February 3, will see 12 teams vying for two promotional places in the Group III.

Besides hosts Oman, the other participating teams are Bahrain, Bangladesh, Guam, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Myanmar, Singapore, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and United Arab Emirates.

The 12 teams will be divided equally into two groups. After single round robin league matches, the top two matches will make it to the next stage.

The winners of each group will play the second placed team of the other group. The winners of those two ties will be promoted to Asia/Oceania Zone Group III in 2019.

Meanwhile, Tournament Director and OTA General Secretary Mundhir Al Barwani said: “During the course of the tournament, the matches will be played simultaneously on all seven courts at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex.”

“Being the hosts Oman will be given the privilege of playing their matches on court one,” he added.

A view of tennis facilities at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex.

Oman Tennis Association 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.

“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.”

Umpires workshop

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.”

The matches will be officiated by as many as 12 chair umpires, including ITF-appointed chief umpire Essam Saleh from Egypt.

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.

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).

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