RIYADH: The Asian Tennis Federation’s 14&U Grade A tournament concluded on Saturday in Riyadh, the first event of its kind to be held in the Kingdom.

The tournament was hosted by the Saudi Arabian Tennis Federation at the Mahd Academy, and featured 57 leading female and male junior players from 20 countries, including Iran, India, Hong Kong and Thailand.

The “A” category is the highest-grade system within the ATF, with the winner of the singles competition earning 1,200 points.

The week’s top winners were Dharma Pantaratorn from Thailand and Kiyarash Sadghi from Iran.

Many of the junior players, such as 12-year-old Aylara Kakabayeva from Turkmenistan, were visiting Saudi Arabia for the first time.

“I took seventh place. It was really good. It feels very good playing here. It feels like you’re playing in a pro tournament like the Grand Slam,” she told Arab News.

The tournament proved to be a meeting point for the youth taking part. Saudi national team player Hamza Elmansoury, 11, said that his best moments were making “friends from different nationalities like Georgian India, Syria and Iran.”

Saudi tournament referee Reham Almansour said: “My favorite part was seeing and watching these talented players coming from all around Asia.”

The tournament is part of the STF’s drive to develop and promote competition for local talents.

STF development officer Pablo Mosquera said that the event allowed local players to get ranked without traveling long distances and making huge investments.

“So, they have, basically, in their backyard, an opportunity to get points,” he said.

“The whole point about tennis is bringing everyone together, especially in these international tournaments, especially the age group of under 12 or 14,” STF technical director, Hassan El-Aroussi added.

The federation plans to host more international tournaments, particularly junior competitions, in cooperation with the International Tennis Federation.

These expansive goals are driven by “our love of tennis,” El-Aroussi said. 

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