CAIRO: After 99 single matches and over 240 sets, Russia’s Galina Fokina emerged as the winner of the Palm Hills International Ladies Tournament after the finals on Saturday at the Palm Club in 6th of October City.
With over 100 players from more than 20 countries, it broke attendance records for locally organized international tournaments (usually around 40-50 players), noted International Tennis Federation (ITF) Supervisor Dr Ashraf Hamouda.
Fokina, a coach at the Gezira Sporting Club, had retired from the pro circuit some five years ago, but took the opportunity to play with the pros at the local tournament. With her Ukrainian partner, Alyona Sotnikova, she also took home the doubles trophy.
The tournament was held at Palm Aroussy Tennis Academy (PATA) at the Palm Club in 6th of October was part of the ITF’s Women’s Circuit, and in association with the Egyptian Tennis Federation.
Although $10,000 in prize money was up for grabs, the greater incentive for the players was to compete on the international circuit to improve their world rank.
The ITF Women’s Circuit provides entry-level tournaments enabling players to eventually reach the WTA TOUR. The ITF Women’s Circuit offers some 400 tournaments in 60 countries worldwide.
The organizers are permitted to enter four Wild Card players, and chose Menna El Nagdy, Yasmin Ebada, Nihal Tarek-Saleh, and Rana Sherif Ahmed to represent Egypt. While they didn’t compete at the finals, Hamouda pointed out that this gives the Egyptian players a good opportunity to interact with foreign players locally.
They gain the same experience without having to incur the costs of traveling to tournaments abroad, he added.
As PATA director as well as the tournament director, Hassan El Aroussy is passionate about nurturing the sport of tennis among Egyptian youth as the sign on his office bulletin board indicates: “Wimbledon 2011. But he notes that it’s more than about grooming a tennis champion; he wants to “build up the tennis community surrounding the academy.
“It’s another way to motivate the young kids who are watching and learning from these top players, he added.
The PATA members and their families attended the final matches during the weekend, creating a warm atmosphere as they watched the matches from the sidelines, taking a break to chat with friends or grab a snack at the food stalls.
And he’s quick to note the support of his local partners. Their main sponsors – Mercedes, TE Data, McDonald’s, and Anchor – are year-long sponsors and have given their support for the academy’s annual calendar of events. Whereas the supporting sponsors – Novotel, Headline printing and design, and Qatar Airways – have offered their services.
“These partners are supporting our activities and efforts to promote tennis as a healthy sport for kids, a sport that plays a role in developing the kids’ personality on and off the court, El Aroussy pointed out.
This is the third international tournament the Palm Aroussy Tennis Academy has organized and hosted since it opened in June 2006. The Palm Club at Palm Hills, 6th of October provides international quality tennis facilities and is “one of the best in Egypt according to the ITF Supervisor.
“The players are happy, and that’s the most important thing for me, Hamouda commented.
For El Aroussy the success of the week-long tournament was marked by more than the record number of participants and the positive feedback on the event’s organization.
“We’ve had a big demand for another ladies’ tournament in 2009. So we may be planning another tournament in autumn with larger prize money of $25,000, El Aroussy told Daily News Egypt.