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Mon 8 Dec 2008 04:00 AM

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Legends urge clubs to focus on kids

Tennis champions former world number one Jim Courier and former world number six Mansour Bahrami, both recently in Dubai for the Emirates NBD The Legends Rock Dubai tournament, have emphasised the need to focus on coaching children in order for the region to produce future tennis stars.

Tennis champions former world number one Jim Courier and former world number six Mansour Bahrami, both recently in Dubai for the Emirates NBD The Legends Rock Dubai tournament, have emphasised the need to focus on coaching children in order for the region to produce future tennis stars.

Courier said: "The key to tennis is to get the best athletes with rackets in their hand at a very young age because tennis is a very specific sport; it's not as simple as who runs the fastest, who's the strongest, who jumps the highest, or who throws the furthest.

"Some sports can be taught later in life. With tennis if you want to excel at a global level you need to start early, so if you get young raw athletes on a tennis court at the age of seven, eight, nine, or 10 years old, and you get them with the right teacher, you're going to have a real shot at making a great tennis player there," he continued.

"You need raw athleticism and you need good instruction but when you put those two together you can certainly make great players and I'm sure there's a great many raw athletes in Dubai - it's a question of which sports they migrate into."

Iran-born Bahrami, who became involved with tennis as a ball boy at the Amjadieh sports complex in Tehran without ever having a professional lesson, said:

"I think you need many years to promote tennis to bring youngsters into the sport. What we have to do here is to really involve the kids from the schools; bring them tennis lessons when they are three or four years old. The more kids you have playing tennis the better chance you have of getting them to a high level."

The Legends Rock Dubai, which is organised by Delwood, was held from November 17 to 22 at Dubai Tennis Stadium at The Aviation Club. Courier was the winner after defeating Stefan Edberg 6-3; 6-4 at the final, while Bahrami and Paul Haarhuis defeated John Fitzgerald and Wayne Ferreira in the doubles.

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