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. Setting multifaceted goals had to fundamentally change the slow tide of tennis life in Kazakhstan.
Having headed the Federation in 2007, Bulat Utemuratov expressed the long-term plans approved by the International Tennis Federation. The main one was to turn tennis into a mass sport. For this, it was necessary to work in three directions together: develop an infrastructure, train and support trainers, participate in competitions. They began translating plans into action without delay.
On every tennis court in the country
In 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 centers of the country’s provinces. Currently, the courts number almost 250. Modern tennis centers have been built in each of the 15 regions of Kazakhstan. These are facilities that meet all the requirements of the sports infrastructure; They can host both national and global competitions.
The recently opened “Ace” tennis center in Almaty has 4 indoor and 6 outdoor courts with a total area of 8,100 square meters with a “hard” coating. All courts have lighting that meets the requirements and standards of international television broadcasts. The center can host ATP Challenger tournaments in the summer. The amount of investments 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 request, which is why courts are being built a short distance from densely populated places. So since the fee for training sessions is moderate, they now range from $ 18-30 per month for 12 sessions in the regions to $ 45 in the capital. The number of people willing to play sports is growing geometrically: in 2007, only about 500 people participated in lawn tennis, today, more than 6000.
Programs for children as a basis for popularizing the sport
In his role as director of the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation, Bulat Utemuratov pays special attention to children’s sports. The “Tennis under 10 years” program is a social project aimed at training 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 operate in kindergartens in different regions of Kazakhstan. “Tennis under 10” units 40 schools and 24 preschool institutions. The “Tennis for Under 10s” program is included in the ITF International Youth Tennis Initiative program for children under 12 playing tennis. Bulat Utemuratov fully funded this project and competitions for the next 3 years.
The second large-scale program for children is the School Tennis Initiative. The project was launched in 2008. Its aim is to increase the number of tennis players throughout the country by introducing tennis for children aged 4 to 6 years in preschools and 6 to 10 years 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 in training.
Team Kazakhstan Tennis Academy – champions foundry
The Team Kazakhstan project was launched by the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation in 2008. The field of its activity is the education of future participants of the national team in the Davis Cup and Federation Cup. Full funding is provided by the KTF. In September 2008, the first students and coaching staff of the Kazakhstan Admissions Team were sent to the Gorin Tennis Academy, USA, to improve their skills. In 2009, the Dutch expert Eric van Harpen was invited as head coach. That same year, one of the world’s leading experts, the Pole Michislav Boguslavsky, joined the project as head coach of youth body conditioning and general sports training. Since then, training camps have been held at Bruguera Tennis Academy (Barcelona, Spain), Pro World Tennis Academy (Miami, USA), Gorin Tennis Academy (California, USA), Tennis Val 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 Team Kazakhstan Academy won more than 80 international tournaments, including several Grand Prix. In 2017, the Kazakh team in the category “under 12 years old” became the Central Asian champion. Kazakh tennis player Gozal Aynitdinova is the Asian champion in the category “up to 14 years”. Representatives of the tennis youth of Kazakhstan regularly receive awards in Europe.
Victories, achievements, results
The Kazakh men’s team has repeatedly entered the quarterfinals of the prestigious Davis Cup tournament, beating such eminent teams as the Czech Republic (2011), Austria (2013), Belgium (2014), Italy (2015) and later to world champion Argentina 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 quarter-finals of this prestigious tournament. At the Fed Cup, the Kazakh women’s team made the playoffs twice.
Approximately 40 international ITF, ITF Futures, ITF Juniors, ATF and ATP Challenger international tournaments are held in Kazakhstan each year. The biggest tournament in Kazakhstan is the President’s Cup. This tournament is part of the ATP Challenger series and the women’s tournament belongs to the ITF series. In addition, Kazakhstan repeatedly hosted the international Davis Cup and Federation Cup World Group tournaments.