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Mutassim to focus on revival of tennis
September 19, 2013 , 11 : 05 am GST
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Looking ahead: OTA chairman Mutassim Al Zadjali
Oman Tennis Association (OTA) chairman Mutassim Al Zadjali has called for a long-term plan to revive tennis in the country following Oman's relegation from Group III Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Zone that concluded in Dubai this week.
Speaking to Times Sport yesterday, Mutassim defended the national team players Khalid Al Nabhani, Mohammed Al Nabhani and Mudrik Al Rawahi despite the dismal show they put up, leaving Oman at the bottom of the group at eighth position, relegated alongside Pacific Oceania. "I do not want to blame our players. I don't think they could have done much. Khalid is pursuing his studies in the US and Mohammed is working; so we cannot expect much from them," he said.
"Our players were not in the best of their form. Had if we skipped the tournament, the ITF could have imposed a severe fine on us, hence it was necessary that they participated," he said.
The soft-spoken OTA chief admitted that there has been a "huge gap" in finding a right combination of players. "There is certainly a huge gap that we are looking to fill but that is going to take a long time," he said. "We are very much depending on Khalid and Mohammed. I must tell you that they have done an exceptional job for the country and we really value their services. But we cannot fully depend on them because they too have their limitations. We need to look beyond these two players in order to fill that gap," Mutassim pointed out.
The 31-year-old Khalid was honoured with a certificate and a gift by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) in Dubai for representing the country in 60 Davis Cup matches. "He is no doubt among the great players of our country. It's a great honour not only for Khalid but also for the OTA," he said.
Heaping praise on the two brothers, Mutassim said both Khalid and Mohammed have done a commendable job in helping Oman stay in the Davis Cup top group for many years.
"They played a crucial role in helping us always stay on top but this time it was not their mistake. Time has come when their level of sport is not at par with others. We could have prepared much better," he said.
According to Mutassim, OTA has been propagating the game across the country with a long-term plan. "We have done a study as per which it will take at least three to five years to fill that gap. I am sure that by then, our junior players will be able to fill that gap.
Our team is committed to spreading the game in the country. I am sure that in the coming years, we will attain the same level as in our good old days and will make the country proud," Mutassim added.
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