Tennis: Ball kids to have special training for Abu Dhabi WTA Women’s Tennis Open

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Dubai: Practice sessions for ball kids will get under way over three days starting from January 2 at the Zayed Sports City Tennis Complex in preparation for the season-opening Abu Dhabi WTA Women’s Tennis Open.

The inaugural WTA 500 event has already attracted a top field with four of the world’s top-10 on the entry list led by Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin, WTA No. 5 Elina Svitolina, former world No. 1 Karolina Pliskova, and Aryna Sabalenka, winner of the last two WTA titles of the 2020 season.

Joining that quartet of top 10 players are former Roland Garros champions Garbine Muguruza, Jelena Ostapenko and Svetlana Kuznetsova. Among the game’s rising stars on the entry list are Coco Gauff, Elena Rybakina, Elise Mertens and Marketa Vondrousova when the event is held from January 5-13.

The first of the players to arrive will be for the qualifying rounds that are scheduled to be held two days prior to the start of the main draw.

Organisers are still looking out for ball kids who are more than 14 years old to serve during the entire course of the competition, including the qualifying rounds.

There will be special practice sessions for the ball kids starting on January 2 from 10am to 1pm, followed by another two sessions between 4pm and 6pm on January 3 and 4.

Ball kids will be expected to work during both playing sessions once the tournament gets under way on January 5. Play in the morning session will be from 10am to 4pm, while the evening session will be from 4pm until end of play later in the evening. Reporting time for the ball kids will be at least 30 minutes before each session.

Organisers have made necessary arrangements to serve pre-packed meals for lunch and dinner and refreshments while adhering to COVID-19 protocols laid down by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council. Each ball kid will receive sets of uniforms, shoes and a cap.

The inaugural edition of the Abu Dhabi tournament has also attracted 2020 Roland Garros semi-finalist, Nadia Podorska and two-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist and the Arab world’s highest-ranked player, Ons Jabeur along with No. 12 Belinda Bencic and No. 22 Maria Sakkari.

In the doubles, Mertens and Sabalenka head the field alongside the Czech partnership of Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova.

Former world number one and UAE favourite Sania Mirza of India will team up with Andreja Klepac, while Kateryna Bondarenko and Nadiia Kichenok are the two pairs who have received entry into the doubles main draw using a protected ranking.