To many of us, mention of the 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 story is about two 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.
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, the two boys, Taym Alazmeh & Pierre Djaroueh were picked 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 the 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 two talented kids got a call from the Syrian Tennis Federation to represent Syria in the Pre Qualifying rounds of the World Junior Tennis Competition; where they stood in the top two nations to qualify 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.
The two Boys accompanied by their team mate Aous Abou Hassan once again rose to the occasion, and lost to only Japan in their league group, and humbling Philippines and 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:
- 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 most feel 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.
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 though sport, you need to work hard and practice every single day. For sure mental and fitness is very important to improve my game.
- 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.
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 too. Now I train around 8 hours a week
- What difficulties have you faced in your tennis career 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
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 but I do my best for both traveling so much during school time it’s quiet a problem for me, but I always try to solve it by carry my books with and do my homework even during tournament to avoid school problems,
- 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 men’s Davis cup.
Pierre Djaroueh – My next target is start playing ITF tournaments to achieve a good ranking under 18, I’m still 14 years old and I have big ambitions. I feel so proud to represent my lovely country Syria in many event, recently we just finish 8th position in Thailand playing the Final Qualify WJT. Me and my friends feels so good with our performance, we will keep fighting to show a good image about Syrian tennis.