To many of us, mention of name “Syria” throws up images which might be of wars and conflict, but there is another aspect to this country, which largely remains unnoticed, completely overshadowed by the news of so many other happenings doing the round all the time.
This write up is about three young boys, their families, their coaches and the system which supports them, with the help of which these boys have managed to remain focused and dream of achieving big things, despite the turmoil in their country.
Aous Abou Hassan, Taym Alazmeh and Pierre Djaroueh; just navigated a rather important part of their junior tennis careers with great strides.
It all started last year in Amman, Jordan, during the ITF 13&Under West & Central Asia Development Championships 2016. Taym Alazmeh, Pierre Djaroueh & Aous Abu Hassoun were picked up by the Syrian Tennis Federation, to represent their nation in the Asian Regional Championships event for the 13&Under, organized by the International Tennis Federation, the Asian Tennis Federation in conjunction with the Jordanian Tennis Federation.
Due to their outstanding performances in the two weeks of 13&U events in Amman, two of the boys, Taym Alazmeh & Pierre Djaroueh were selected up by the International Tennis Federation, to be a part of the West & Central Asian Team, which would travel to the ITF Asian 14&Under Division 2 Development Championships to Bangkok, Thailand.
These initiatives of the International Tennis Federation are supported by the Grand Slam Development Fund (GSDF), and have given some outstanding results ever since their inception. In the ITF Asia Division 2 Championships in Bangkok, again some sturdy performances by both the boys saw them getting another call for being a part of the Division 2 team, which traveled to the ITF Asia Division 1 Championships in New Delhi. All in a span of three months.
If this was not to be enough, the three talented kids got a call from the Syrian Tennis Federation to represent Syria in the Pre Qualifying rounds of the World Junior Tennis Competition (Boys) to be held in New Delhi. The team’s efforts helped Syria to end in the top two spots thus earning them the distinction of qualifying for the Asia Oceania Regional Final Qualifying Round of the World Junior Tennis Competition for Boys, which was again to be held in Bangkok.
In the words of their coach, Wassim Zinnia, the Boys knew it was a God sent opportunity, which would establish Syria in the Final Qualifying round of the event, if the Boys were to make it to the Top 14 teams, as the teams finishing on the 15th and 16th spots get relegated to the Pre Qualifying event for the subsequent year.
Taym Alazmeh, Pierre Djaroueh, Aous Abu Hassoun, The two Boys accompanied by their team mate Aous Abou Hassan this time, once again rose to the occasion, losing to only Japan in their league group, humbled Philippines & New Zealand to make it to the Quarter Finals stage of Top 8. Although they played their first match of the Quarters stage with China and eventually lost out finishing 8th in the event, the Syrian Boys had weaved their magic and established Syria in the top 8 Boys team, thus keeping Syria in the Final Qualifying of the Boys WJT event for 2018. Here is a small excerpt of our chit chat with Taym Alazmeh, Pierre Djaroueh:
1. What does tennis mean to you? What do you think about the game?
Taym Alazmeh – Tennis means a lot to me because it’s not just tennis to me but I made almost all of my friends through tennis. The tennis court is where I feel most comfortable and confident because I feel like that is where I belong. I think that tennis is such a complex sport because you need to have great concentration great physical abilities and very good mental strength. So to be a tennis player you have to work on all of these things.
Aous Abu Hassoun — Tennis is everything to me, it’s my life and future. The game is so interesting at the same time not an easy game, it needs skill, physical fitness, speed and mental toughness. However I adore it.
Pierre Djaroueh – I love tennis as it’s become the most important thing in my life, my favorite sport. I met almost all of my friends during the tennis tournaments. Tennis is a very tough sport, you need to work hard and practice every single day. For sure mental workout and fitness is very important to improve my game.
2. At what age, you started playing tennis? How many hours a week / day do you get to play?
Taym Alazmeh – I started tennis at the age 4 in Syria and I played there until the age of eight when we left because of the situation. Now I practice in Doha Qatar and I practice two and a half hours of tennis and fitness for six days a week.
Aous Abu Hassoun— I started playing tennis at 6 years old, and I used to play daily in summer time. During winters and school in session, I play 3—4 times a week. It’s my only sport so I like to play all day and night if possible.
Pierre Djaroueh – I started tennis at the age of 7 in Syria until the age of 9 when we left the country due to the current situation in Syria to Lebanon and continue my tennis their till now with my Syrian coach. Now I train around 8 hours a week From L—R Syrian Coach Wassim Zinnia, Taym Alazmeh, Aous Abu Hassoun, Pierre Djaroueh ”THE THREE MUSKETEERS” ASIAN TENNIS FEDERATION (MAY-2017)
3. Any difficulties you have faced in your tennis careers up till now?
Taym Alazmeh – I have had a little injury in my elbow and it has sometimes prevented me from preforming as well as I can in practice and sometimes in matches. But now it hasn’t hurt me for a while so I’m hoping it has recovered.
Aous Abu Hassoun— There are many difficulties we face. First, as we don’t have an indoor court so we miss many practice session during winter because of rain and cold weather. Second, I would like to play more international tournaments outside Syria, but that costs me a lot, so unfortunately, I play only limited tournaments during the year which is not enough, as I’m a national level player, so we get supported from our federation, but I still wish there was more support for me to play.
Pierre Djaroueh – I had an injury in my lower back that made me stop for 2 month of recovery. It’s not easy to play tennis and study at the same time, but I do my best to balance both traveling so much, and my schooling. It’s quiet a problem for me, but I always try to solve it by carrying my books alongwith and do my homework even during tournament to avoid school problems,
4. Where do you see yourself three years from now, and / or 7 years from now?
Taym Alazmeh – In three years from now I see myself competing on the ITF Circuit, I want to get a high ranking and I hope to be playing some Futures tournaments as well and of course play Junior Davis Cup for Syria. In seven years from now I see myself playing Challenger and ATP tournaments and also hope to play Davis Cup for Syria.
Aous Abu Hassoun — I’m looking for a good opportunity to come up. I hope to be a famous player like Federer or Nadal. If I have a chance, I see myself getting a good rank after a few years.
Pierre Djaroueh – My next target is to start playing ITF tournaments to achieve a good ranking in Under 18, I’m still 14 years old and I have big ambitions. I feel so proud to represent my lovely country Syria in so many events, recently we just finish 8th position in Thailand playing the Final Qualify WJT. Me and my friends feel so good with our performance, we will keep fighting to show a good image about Syrian tennis. Taym Alazmeh Pierre Djaroueh Aous Abu