UAE Under-10 Tennis Champ Aims for World #1

Eight-year-old Haniya Al-Dughaither is the UAE number one under-10 tennis player, with a dream of being world number one. Next year promises to her biggest yet with competitions around the world.
UAE Under-10 Tennis Champ Aims for World #1
By Veathika
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Dubai resident Haniya Al-Dughaither is the UAE's number one Under-10 tennis player. The eight-year-old athlete started playing tennis when she was just three and a half years old, copying her father, a tennis coach, during a practice session with one of his students.

A pupil at Hartland International School, in Dubai, Haniya wakes up at 6:00am every morning to get ready for school. After she finishes school at 3:00 pm, she goes straight for training for up to three hours every day at Apex Sports Academy.

“It is very difficult because I have little time left during the day for anything else apart from school and tennis. It’s not easy to manage studies and work so hard on improving my game, but I'm very happy with the school. The teachers are very supportive. I really want to be the best female tennis player from this part of the world. I want to inspire a lot of other girls to take up sport.”

Haniya’s father Mohammed Al-Dughaither is also her coach and sometimes there’s a fine line between the two roles he told

“Haniya sometimes confuses my being her father with my role as her coach and that’s where the ‘not listening part’ happens! 

She listens enough however, evidenced by her recent winning of an under-10 Tennis tournament in Dubai. She was the only girl to enter.

In 2019, Haniya will have even more opportunities to succeed:

“Next year I am very excited to fly to different countries starting from February until December 2019. I will be participating in the Junior World Championships called Pro Ten Global Junior Tour, which involves nine international tournaments held annually in Europe and the US.”

"Financially it is very difficult to keep up with everything," Haniya's dad told us. "The fitness coaching, special food, tournaments and racket restringing - it goes on . That’s just the small portion of the whole thing." Fortunately however Haniya has recently signed a sponsorship deal with Travezy that will allow her to travel around the world for every tournament for free.  Mr Al-Dughaither admits they have been blessed.

"Our goal now is to make Haniya play international events to get more exposure and experience. Here in the UAE, unfortunately the level is not as high as we hoped for. I hope she can represent the UAE or Pakistan one day."

While obviously climbing up the rankings is important to father and daughter alike, as a dad, Mr Al-Dughaither just wants to keep life as normal as possible for his daughter. "Haniya works very hard each day and has to make a lot of sacrifices to be able to achieve her goal of being the best tennis player in the world.

"At this point in time I’m trying my best to make sure she can still be a little girl, and have fun, and follow her dream."

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