Bulat Utemuratov: “My dream is to see Kazakh athletes the winners of the Grand Slam”!

Apr 09. Kazpravda

By Oleg Taran

Bulat Utemuratov: “My dream is to see Kazakh athletes the winners of the Grand Slam”!This person does not need a special introduction – his name is well known in the country and abroad. In 2007 the head of state assigned the task to develop Kazakhstan’s tennis. Leading RK Tennis Federation Bulat Utemuratov has done much for that, but the main thing is that this sport in our country is actively developing and Kazakhstani tennis players have significantly increased their level and won the right to participate in prestigious international competitions, such as Davis Cup.

– Bulat Zhamitovich, did you think then that it would take only six years to reach the present results?

– When in 2007 I chaired the Tennis Federation of Kazakhstan it can be said that it did not exist in fact and de-jure. Moreover, all relations with the International Tennis Federation were broken off, which had a negative impact on the image of our sport organization. We had to start from scratch.

The Federation’s structure was established in the regions – directorates and affiliates, which today effectively work, managing through strong vertical ties in all major cities; tennis courts were built and tennis clubs – opened. We support young promising athletes – this is our future.

Five years ago I for the first time as the chairman of RK TF met with Francesco Ricci Bitti, President of the International Tennis Federation. We talked about the promotion of tennis in Kazakhstan and he asked me about our plans. I told him that our goal is to play in the World Group. He was surprised, and said in reply that it would take time: you need to build courts and to prepare good coaches who will grow future champions, he said. And most importantly – it is necessary to be patient, because results will not be fast to come. But I did not agree with his last statement…

…Did you choose your own way?

– I understood that there were only two promising players then – Alexey Kedryuk and Syrym Abdukhalikov. We especially supported Abdukhalikov, but having won the champion title in Kazakhstan, he did not justify our hopes in future. And Alexei Kedryuk is already an age player, although he is a good athlete and works a lot.

How could be break into the international competitions? It remained to find and invite promising tennis players who could adequately represent Kazakhstan in the international arena and through their success will promote tennis in the country and attract young people.

Of course, no one would give us the world No 1 in tennis, but with the help of Shamil Tarpishchev, president of the Russian Tennis Federation, we had an opportunity to invite such players, who were not able to show their full strength then, as Yuri Schukin, Mikhail Kukushkin, Andrey Golubev and Evgeny Korolev. The women’s team included Yaroslava Shvedova and Galina Voskoboeva and was “enhanced” by Bulgarian athlete Cecil Karatancheva.

We had an individual approach to each player, and discussed with them the prospects and opportunities. Of course, we created all conditions that we had promised, including training process and good psychologists, and never claimed to their prize money… We all work together on the result, as one team.

– Bulat Zhamitovich, we have talked about the past and present of Kazakh tennis. And how do you see its future?

As known, it takes several years to prepare a strong tennis player and it’s better to begin training when a boy (or a girl) is 5-6 years old, since some experts believe that 8 years is too late.

We created our Tennis Academy of boarding type in Astana – with the secondary schooling, accommodation, training, excellent conditions and 4 meals a day. Children work with the coaches, teachers, and psychologists. Parents believe in us and trust their children to us. Similar bases were set up in the cities of Almaty and Shymkent.

– The main task is to promote our sport in the country, to make it mass sport. For that we build new courts, organize tournaments and workshops, and prepare coachers.

As for my own dream, I want to see our Kazakh tennis players the winners of the Grand Slam. Let it be tomorrow, but I’m sure that it will come true! And our federation is doing its best for that.