It is always inspiring to meet athletes with a strong will to succeed despite all adversities. One of these athletes is Sarah Behbehani, a Kuwaiti tennis player intent on succeeding in her sport of choice, one which is not highly recognized in her home country.
Unfortunately, it's a simple fact that many Arab countries, Gulf states included, don't put as much effort and finance into sports, which results in aspiring athletes either giving up, or settling for competing in the local arena instead of competing internationally. Even more discouraging is that more attention is given to male athletes than female athletes.
With all that said, athletes like Sarah Behbehani aren't giving up. We spoke to the young tennis player about tennis, the local sports scene, and her future plans.
When did you decide to play tennis professionally?
I've always wanted to play professionally, that was always my dream. I started playing tennis when I was 9 years old but when I was about 16 it really hit me that I could do this professionally. However, unfortunately in Kuwait the support we have for women in sports limits us to reach our goals. To play tennis professionally a player needs 25 hours of tennis and fitness a week, plus players should spend the weekend competing in tournaments. In Kuwait we are lacking this type of practice and therefore we can't become professional tennis players.
What is an ordinary day in the life of Sara?
A usual day for me now is tennis from 9-11 in the morning and fitness from 11AM-12PM then some more tennis from 5PM-6:30PM and then end the day with one more fitness session from 6:30PM-8PM. Other than tennis I hang out with friends and family.
How many times a week do you train?
I train with a private coach almost 3-4 times a week which makes it impossible for me to qualify for international competitions.
What are your rituals when preparing for a match?
I try to get a lot of practice in, playing singles/doubles, depending on the tournament. I avoid the risk of getting sick by eating healthier foods during the week.
What do your future plans include?
Keep improving and working as hard as I can every day and really give it my all. One big goal for me is to end the year with is to play at least three WTA tournaments and keep moving forward.
What advice do you have for other young aspiring tennis players?
Have fun with the game. Most importantly always love the game, it will make working towards your dreams that much more exciting.
– Fajer Al Farsi
Images courtesy of Sarah Behbehani