Sunday, July 3, 2016

Tennis in Oman pt. 1: post in progress

Today is the start of Wimbledon... Tennis, in other words.

Despite growing up literally next to the Tennis courts in any country I have ever lived in, I am a horrible misfortunate player. I killed a bird once, instead of hitting the ball, and that was the end of my attempts at the sport. I am not a "sporty" girl. I wear heels, not sneakers. Still... I am going to post about tennis nonetheless, and those more avid in the sport will have to forgive me for any errors.

Still whenever Wimbledon comes around... I begin to miss the land far and away just a little... in particular, one of my Aunts, who was actually a badminton player, but is a person totally obsessed with Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. She is actually quite famous notorious, because she was one of the first female baseball players in our city, and one of the first girls to protest for permission for girls to wear pants to school (in her time, you had to wear a skirt or a dress). She's the sporty one in the family, obviously.

Every Wimbledon she'd have a Wimbledon party, and watch all the matches. I wonder if she will this year (she is currently suffering memory loss due Alzheimer's so I have to wonder). In her honour, and in the honour of other female grounder-breakers who happen to side towards tennis-fanatic tendencies, I will try to write something about Oman and tennis.

If you do happen to be in Oman, I am working on rounding up a list of some of the best places to play, learn, or watch tennis this month:
Omani Tennis Player
Oman does have a famous female tennis player actually, and she is 24 year old Fatma Al Nabhani. I remember my husband having a cute freak out moment in the mall, where he was torn between Omani male modesty and general societal privacy, and the wish to go up and ask for the autograph of Fatma. In the end he decided to leave her alone;) but I still remember the incident.

Fatma was the first female pro tennis player in the GCC. Last year she made history when she won a doubles match at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship, the first GCC woman to do so at a Premier 5 event. I think it was at age 19 when she ranked #362 in the world?

...She attributes her success to her family first, then to the freedom women have in Oman, and then to her sponsor, Nike, who accept that she wears longer sleeves and leggings;). There's a documentary movie about her and other Arab women in sport, where Fatma's achievements are featured.

Definitely impressive.

Playing and Learning (Omani):
Oman does have a tennis association. They can be reached apparently (no guarantee, since this is a government thing;)) by email: tennis@omantel.net.om or by phoning 2475 1402. I am assuming their facilities are in the main Ghubra/Baushar sports complex. I will try to check and then update this. If you are Omani you can probably read Arabic better than I;). The Arabic version of the website does seem to have much more information and some links that actually work.

Playing and Learning (Expat and Omani):
PDO's Ras Al Hamra Tennis club is one of the largest (they have 2 indoor courts as well if I remember correctly), and reminds me of things my parents tried to force me to get into;). : http://www.tennis.pdorc.com/
Al Bustan Hotel has 4 tennis courts, and offers annual and 6 month memberships to guests and non-guests, as well as various activities including group and private lessons, matches for all levels and ages. I had a look at their prices, and a lot of the activities and lessons were actually very reasonable  : www.ritzcarlton.com/albustanpalace and phone: 2479 9666. Their Wimbledon coverage will be in the "Summer Lounge" just off from Al Khiran terrace...so a lovely way to take in the game.
Juices and cocktails, from 2-3.5 omr, and an A la carte menu (snacks, burgers, sandwiches, sharing finger foods). Open from 6:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.

Intercontinental Hotel has 2 tennis courts at their Palm Beach Club and their courts are open from 6:00 am to 11:00 pm. Bookings for the courts can be done on the same day by calling the hotel extension# 8507 and booking online is possible www.pbitennis.setmore.com . Lessons with a Tennis pro are available annually from September to June. I have no idea yet as to their fees or other activities, or Wimbledon coverage as of yet.

The Chedi, Muscat, offers guests full coverage of Wimbledon from their hotel rooms. As most of the marketing and events people there are on vacation the best I could find out so far for facilities is that there are tennis courts, and that they are available for single or double games from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00p.m with advance booking. No idea yet, how exactly to make a booking, cost, lessons if any, if they are open to guests only or if outside non-staying guests can book them for a fee nonetheless.

...post in progress, to be continued through-out today

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