Thursday, 6 March 2008

Dubai Tennis Championships 2008: Andy Murray

I've been following the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships this year with eager eyes on our very own Scot Andy Murray. However, he has just lost to Nicolay Davydenko in the Quarter Finals:( Andy did manage to beat the Number 1, Roger Federer, in the first round which is a great achievement. A moment for us all to be proud of him, well done Andy!

As some of you may know, I am an LTA (Lawn Tennis Association) Umpire! I've been line umpiring at several tournaments up and down the country. Last summer I was umpiring the Wimbledon Qualifying Tournament which was just fantastic and also most tournaments in Scotland! The road to Wimbledon Championships for an umpire is not an easy one and I have been working hard trying to gain enough credits and grades to be selected this year! I will keep you all posted on that one.

I think we all need an escape from time to time and playing tennis and umpiring at tournaments is certainly mine. I don't have to think about the politics of living Islam in Scotland or what I am going to be writing next for university, all I need to concentrate is on a line! I also had the honor of Chair Umpiring the final of a mixed doubles match at the Scottish Veterans last week at Scotstoun Tennis Centre in Glasgow. This was my first chair and I have to say it was pretty scary and I was very nervous. Folk were saying to me that they found it strange how I would be nervous to do something like that. Hmmm, 'hardly a shrinking violet' said one! I think public speaking or media work is not quite the same as chairing a tennis match. In the chair you have to be aware of all the lines and even though I had two line umpires on court I had to keep an eye on the service line which is not as easy as you may think. I guess we all get nervous about different things, it's just that we need to face up to them and move on.

In another part of the world the Bangalore Ladies Tennis Tournament is under way. There is one person who has not made an appearance, Sania Mirza (Indian Muslim). The 32nd seed in the world is upset at the controversy that in a press conference she had rested her feet which were aimed towards the Indian flag. She faced prosecution under the Prevention of Insults to National Honor Act. In February 2008 Mirza said that she would not play in any Indian tournaments. Mirza has also had death threats by Muslim conservatives who complained that her 'dress was un-Islamic'. I feel sorry for Mirza because she is another great role model for aspiring tennis champions in South Asia. I hope she returns to play in India and continues to ignore these ignorant and narrow minded people!

I found a few pictures of the Dubai Tennis Championship which give an idea of the splendor and pomp that the Emiraties put on for the tennis champions. The tennis court at the top of the 7* Burj al-Arab Hotel looks just amazing, usually a helicopter landing pad!

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