Adam Hurrell rediscovers his love of the game as he takes to the court under the guidance of Pro Tennis Oman
As a child and teenager, I was a regular at my local tennis club. Saturday mornings were occupied with lessons, group classes and matches with friends. We played on grass and hard courts, all in preparation for the annual summer tournament. A serious road accident and one knee operation later, however, and tennis was sadly off the cards for me. Having not played properly since the age of 13, a lesson with Andrew Razvan, head tennis coach at Pro Tennis Oman was a potential tall order. You see Andrew is the former Romanian number one seed.
Any nerves were soon put at ease as Andrew was welcoming and tailored the lesson to suit my ability perfectly. He explained that footwork and agility were just as important as actually hitting the ball. “There’s no point having the technical skill to hit the ball if you can’t get to it first.”
As the game of tennis has progressed over the years, the physical requirements have dramatically changed. The ability to serve with power and speed have come to play a more dominant role, Andrew explained to us. This aspect was something that Andrew struggled with as the difference between playing as a junior and an adult pro is vast. Between the ages of 15 and 17, the physical ability of the player often determines whether they can progress further within the sport and not having the tall physique often seen in top players such as Novak Djokovic, the pro game was tantilisingly out of reach for Andrew. But this setback has not dampened his enthusiasm. “I still love the game,” he says. “Unfortunately, it didn’t work out the way that I wanted, but I still have a passion for tennis. I play every day of my life and wouldn’t have it any other way.”
The 29-year-old coach is now on a mission to raise the profile of tennis in Oman, pushing others to succeed as he searches for a future star.
He talked us through how to hit the ball and why it was so important to swing the racket through the body and avoid jerky movements. Controlling the ball is about smooth body movements, especially in the shoulders and the wrist action, he told us.
From the basics, we moved on to playing points from the baseline. Andrew is an excellent coach and a real credit to the Pro Tennis Oman academy, which he co-owns with his business partner. In under an hour he had my colleague Kate, and I, returning balls with accuracy and confidence. As the lesson progressed, we did too, with fewer balls leaving the court in wild directions. We were soon playing a tag-team type game, taking it in turns to return a shot initially played by Andrew. This game emphasised Andrew’s point about dexterity and movement when playing tennis. We were forced to really move around the court, making pre-emptive decisions about where the ball would be coming from and how best to play it back. Our rather lacklustre fitness levels were seriously highlighted here and after our 60-minute lesson, both Kate and myself were feeling rather out of breath.
Omani tennis does have one leading light; Fatma al Nabhani, the 23-year-old female professional who has won four singles and four doubles titles on the International Tennis Federation tour to date. Andrew and the seven coaches that work with him are keen to promote tennis at a grassroots level, creating future professionals to join Fatma on the world circuit.
“Tennis is growing in Oman,” said Andrew. “When I first began [coaching in Oman] three years ago, it was only for an hour. Now I teach up to seven hours a day and every year we bring more coaches in. We are getting more Omanis playing and we are talking to the Oman Tennis Federation about possible programmes.” They also have a session at The International School of Choueifat in Muscat every Saturday with about 80 children taking part. Overall, roughly 150 children and 100 adults attend lessons held by the academy. Andrew is also involved in coaching youth players in national and international tournaments and works with children and adults from a wide range of cultural backgrounds.
Over the weekend of November 20-21, Pro Tennis Oman held a successful junior tournament at the Golden Tulip Seeb. In total, 80 players took part and it was a great opportunity for the academy to show off the fruits of its coaching and showcase the burgeoning talent within its ranks.
Andrew has been playing tennis since a very young age and for him it’s not only a job, but also a way of life. His passion and enthusiasm for the sport is infectious and it certainly sowed the seed in my mind about possibly getting back into tennis. It’s funny how we forget how much we enjoy things in life until we try them again.
● Pro Tennis Oman offers group and individual tennis coaching lessons. They teach everyone from beginners to elite players and also offer competition and tournament support
● They operate on courts at The Crowne Plaza Hotel Muscat, Golden Tulip Seeb, The Desalination Plant, Al Sarooj, Sultan Qaboos University and the International School
● 1-hour individual lessons: RO15 (with head coach Andrew Razvan)
● 1-hour group lessons: RO5
● Contact: email@example.com
Mob: +968 97608960 / +968 97608572
● www.protennisoman.com or search for “Pro Tennis Oman” on Facebook