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Bulat Utemuratov: "Tennis in Kazakhstan Is for All"
When Bulat Utemuratov joined the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation, this organization was stagnant. The tennis players did not show impressive results and the officials did not know how to improve the current situation. Utemuratov brought to KTF a modern approach to setting and achieving goals that is used in business. Multifaceted goal setting was to radically change the slow tide of tennis life in Kazakhstan.
After leading the Federation in 2007, Bulat Utemuratov expressed the long-term plans adopted by the International Tennis Federation. The main one was the transformation of tennis into a mass sport. For this, it was necessary to work in three directions in total: infrastructure development, training and support of trainers, participation in competitions. They began to translate plans into action without delay.
Tennis courts across the country
As of 2006, there were 60 courts in four regions of Kazakhstan. The courts did not meet the requirements of international standards and did not meet the basic needs of athletes. Under the leadership of Utemuratov, the construction of courts began in all regional centers of the country. Currently the field reached almost 250. Modern tennis centers have been built in each of the 15 regions of Kazakhstan. These are objects that meet all the requirements of the sports infrastructure; they can organize both national and world level competitions.
The recently opened “Ace” tennis center in Almaty has 4 indoor courts and 6 outdoor courts with a total area of 8100 square meters with a “hard” coating. All courts have lighting that meets the requirements and standards of international television broadcasting. The center can host ATP Challenger tournaments during the summer. The amount of investment in the project, including construction, equipment and landscaping, exceeded 5 million dollars.
Bulat Utemuratov believes that tennis infrastructure should be easily accessible and available on demand, so courts are being built within walking distance of densely populated areas. So, given that the fee for training sessions is moderate – these now range from $18-30 per month for 12 sessions in the regions to $45 in the capital. The number of people who want to play sports is growing geometrically: in 2007, only about 500 people were engaged in lawn tennis, today – more than 6,000.
Programs for children as a basis for the popularization of sports
In the role of head of the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation, Bulat Utemuratov pays special attention to children’s sports. The “Tennis under 10” program is a social project aimed at educating a new generation of athletes capable of defending the country’s honor in the best world tournaments. The main idea of the program is to start the training process as soon as possible. It is for this reason that the program began to work in kindergartens in different regions of Kazakhstan. “Tennis under 10” unites 40 schools and 24 preschool institutions. The “Tennis under 10” program is included in the international ITF Junior Tennis Initiative program for children under 12 engaged in tennis. Bulat Utemuratov fully funded this project and the competitions for the next 3 years.
The second large-scale program for children is the Tennis in Schools Initiative. The project started in 2008. It aims to increase the number of tennis players across the country by introducing tennis to children aged 4-6 in preschools and 6-10 in schools through mini-tennis. Mini-tennis allows you to master the basics of the game on the court in a fun and entertaining way, using the game approach to training.
Kazakhstan Tennis Academy – the melting pot of champions
The Kazakhstan Team project was launched by the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation in 2008. Its field of activity is the education of future national team participants in the Davis Cup and Fed Cup. Full funding is provided by FKT. In September 2008, the first admission students of the Kazakhstan team and the coaching staff were sent to the Gorin Tennis Academy, USA, to improve their skills. In 2009, Dutch expert Eric van Harpen was invited as head coach. In the same year, one of the world’s leading experts, the Polish Michislav Boguslavsky, joined the project as the head coach for youth body conditioning and general sports training. Since then training camps were held at Bruguera Tennis Academy (Barcelona, Spain), World Pro Tennis Academy (Miami, USA), Gorin Tennis Academy (California, USA), Val Tenis Tennis Academy (Valencia, Spain).
Young athletes have already shown good results in international and national competitions. Among them, Gozal Ainitdinova, Dostanbek Tashbulatov, Timur Khabibullin.
Students of the Kazakhstan Team Academy won more than 80 international tournaments, including various Grand Prix. In 2017, the Kazakhstan team in the “under 12” category became the champion of Central Asia. The tennis player from Kazakhstan Gozal Aynitdinova is the champion of Asia in the “up to 14 years” category. Kazakhstan’s youth tennis representatives regularly receive awards in Europe.
Victories, achievements, results
The Kazakhstan men’s team has repeatedly entered the quarterfinals of the prestigious Davis Cup tournament, defeating such eminent teams as the Czech Republic (2011), Austria (2013), Belgium (2014), Italy (2015), and then the champion of the world Argentine in 2017 and returned to the World Group. In February 2018, a team of Kazakh tennis players defeated the Swiss team early and reached the quarterfinals of this prestigious tournament. In the Fed Cup, the Kazakhstan women’s team went to the playoffs twice.
About 40 international ITF, ITF Futures, ITF Juniors, ATF and ATP Challenger tournaments are held annually in Kazakhstan. The biggest tournament in Kazakhstan is the President’s Cup. This tournament is part of the ATP Challenger series, while the women’s tournament is in the ITF series. Also, Kazakhstan has repeatedly hosted the international Davis Cup and Fed Cup World Group tournaments.
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