With the tennis pros battling it out for this year’s big prize at Wimbledon, Benita Adesuyan heads to the blue courts of Dubai Sports World, to learn a thing or two about serving up an ace.
Wimbledon is undoubtedly the highlight of the tennis season. The world’s best players demonstrate the power and skill of the game, and whether it’s a devastating backhand from Petra Kvitová or a championship serve from Novak Djokovic, the event inspires like no other. With the women’s final taking place on Centre Court on Saturday July 11, and the men’s the day after, we felt inspired to take to the (indoor) court at Dubai Sports World (DSW), and take part in Tennis 360’s training academy, to see if we could learn to smash it like Serena.
Tennis 360 has been teaching in Dubai for more than five years, from its base at Meydan Tennis Academy. Over the summer, the company heads indoors to host its academy for adults and children on the blue rubber courts of DSW. The courts measure 14m by 32m, and the surface is the same as the one used for the International Premier Tennis League, which was held in Dubai last year, so novices play on the same surface that hosted Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic –and if it’s good enough for the world’s top seeds, it’s good enough for us.
We meet Sergio Gaoni, the academy’s director of tournaments and events, on court for the afternoon session. He takes us through a gentle warm-up before setting up drills to teach the basics of tennis, starting with the forehand. He shows us how to grip the racquet and demonstrates the correct finishing positions. Sergio was one of Australia’s top junior players and, aged 17, he was a semi-finalist at the Junior Australian Open. He also achieved a top 30 ITF World Junior singles ranking. Sergio has been coaching for 13 years, so when our erratic shots threaten to hit him, he takes it all in his stride. ‘Don’t worry about the direction for now,’ he reassures us. ‘Just focus on getting your arms in the right position and finishing properly.’
Sergio patiently corrects our baseball-style swing, and ensures that we hold the racquet properly and finish the forehand shot with the racquet over our shoulder. The classes are run by a team of experienced coaches from around the world who can teach all levels – from kids aged four through to experienced players who want to practise technique or have a good game with someone of the same level.
‘Having the indoor courts here is great for us,’ says Sergio. ‘It enables us to continue to reach out to new players and give our regular students somewhere to come during the warmer months. Tennis is traditionally an outdoor sport, and we still run outdoor sessions in the late evenings at Meydan, but this really motivates kids and adults who are in Dubai to keep practising and training. We are seeing more newcomers as well.’
Tennis 360 also run a cardio session, which focuses on movement and fitness, with very few tennis shots. The coaching session flies by and, as we leave the court, groups of families approach Sergio to sign up for classes. So it seems that as Wimbledon reaches its finale in London’s SW19, tennis may be starting to take centre court at DSW. From Dhs140. Daily 8am-4pm.
Until August 29. Dubai Sports World, Dubai World Trade Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.tennisthreesixty.com (04 447 8960).
Look the part on court
Lacoste tennis dress, Dhs759, Lacoste, The Dubai Mall (04 339 8294).
Puma Tennis collection T-shirt, Dhs150, Puma, The Dubai Mall (04 434 0204).
Mission EnduraCool cooling sleeves, Dhs145, Stadium Sports, The Dubai Mall (04 434 0641).
Burn 100S Wilson racquet, Dhs895, Stadium Sports, The Dubai Mall (04 434 0641).
Lacoste tennis shoes, Dhs433, Lacoste, The Dubai Mall (04 339 8294).