One of the highlights of my life, or rather our life in Doha is when there is an International Tennis Tournament going on in Doha. Normally Doha organises two tournamens each year. One for the Men and one for the Ladies. Last week was the Year Ending WTA (Women Tennis Association) Championship. The biggest prize money for Women Tennis for any event this year and only invited players can compete. Which means each player must earn certain points to be invited to take part and only the top 8 players can enter the tournament.
Year in, year out during our lives in Doha, we never miss any singles tournament. Not only because it’s our sport, but also because it’s cheap for such a world class tournament . Where else could I watch this? In Jakarta? I think Jakarta is out of the loop for world class sporting events except fmaybe for Badminton. In the UK…. well, that means it’s Wimbledon, but we currently dont’ live there and I bet it will be very expensive to watch. However, watching tennis in Doha is cheap. The first year we watched was January 2006, it was totally free; we only needed to picked up a daily ticket before we enter the stadium. The stars we watched were players like Roger Federer, Andy Murray including their hangers on. and the ladies who come to Doha were the likes of the William sisters, Justine Hennin etc.
For the last three years, Doha hosted the Year End’s WTA Championship, where the best 8 players of the year were invited to the tournament. They play round robins in the first round before semifinals and final. However, I think Qatar Tennis Federation has organised the tournaments very well, from a free to watch International Tournament, gradually they introduced paid tickets. From selling season tickets for a small area out of 5000 capacity stadium for as little as QAR 300.- a week, which they introduced in 2007. Now we need to pay daily for each seat, with prices from QAR 50 for the first round to QAR 500.- for the best seat in the final.
It was also here that I witnessed Caroline Wozniacki still a nobody a few years ago, and now she’s rank No. 1 in the world. I also watched Elena Dementieva’s last tournament, and after her last game she surprised all of us by announcing her retirement from the WTA Pro Tour to pursue her next carreer. That was really an emotional moment for her and for some of the girls as I watched the other players give here tributes and big hugs as she left the tournament.