Mubadala World Tennis Championship aim to leave lasting impact in Abu Dhabi
Greg Sproule, managing director of organisers International Management Group believes the tournament is far more than a three-day exhibition for leading players such as Rafael Nadal
Star names may give the annual Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi lustre, but its ‘greatest’ achievement is its lasting impact in the community.
Greg Sproule, managing director of organisers International Management Group (IMG), told Gulf News that the December 31-January 2 tournament is far more than a three-day exhibition for leading players such as Rafael Nadal.
Speaking last weekend at Yas Mall after the draw for the event, which features six of the top players in the world, he said: “It’s a three-month-plus event before and after in terms of the community events.”
Sproule and his fellow organisers are keen to leave a legacy for tennis and grow the game through grass roots schemes such as the Mubadala Tennis in Schools (MTiS) programme. The community initiative, championed by tournament title partners Mubadala, gives local students aged 7-10 from across all Abu Dhabi schools the chance to play tennis each week at International Tennis Centre, Zayed Sports City.
The programme, organisers say, provides pupils with coaching within the professional tennis environment they need to nurture a lifelong passion for the game from an early age and encourage an active and healthy lifestyle.
Sproule added: “I think the greatest thing [about the tournament] we’ve accomplished was what we saw yesterday with a young Indian boy [Garv Bahl], who we identified in the Mubadala in Schools programme about four or five years ago and who just won the 12-and-under division in the Mubadala Cup. That is to me the proper definition of what we can bring to the community, which is so important to Flash Entertainment, our event owners, and so important to Mubadala, as our title partners.
“That means we are doing the right things in the community to grow the game and that’s really important to our stakeholders.”
Meanwhile, tournament ambassador Pat Cash, the 1987 Wimbledon champion, said the appeal of the tournament lies in its “relaxed” feel.
During all three days of the event, players hold coaching clinics and autograph sessions for fans.
The eighth Mubadala World Tennis Championship will begin at 4pm on Thursday, December 31 at Zayed Sports City Tennis Stadium with a match between world number seven David Ferrer and the flamboyant Frenchman, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
The winner of that clash will play 14-time grand slam champion Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals on January 1, with the overall champion the following day receiving $250,000 (Dh918,187).
World number 12 Anderson and Canadian Raonic, ranked 14, will meet in the second match at 7pm on the opening day for the right to meet 2015 French Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka in the other semi-final.
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