Month: May 2021

“Tennis under 10” programme. How to develop a child’s interest in playing and motivation to stay in sports without pressure

Branches of the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation throughout the country continue admitting the youngest sportsmen to children’s groups (from 3 to 5 years old). They do so in order for children to develop the basic skills of a tennis player at a very early age. Then, by the age of five, it will be much easier for a child to start its journey in the “Tennis under 10” programme.

What “Tennis under 10” is

40 schools and 34 kindergartens throughout the country are involved in teaching children through the “Tennis under 10” international programme in Kazakhstan. More than 2,600,000 children play tennis free of charge. With the financial support of the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation, educational institutions are provided with 5,000 balls, 2,000 rackets and 240 mini-nets annually.

The “Tennis under 10” programme is structured into three levels that are optimal for the development of children. They are named after the color of a ball the children play: red, orange and green. This system allows players to progress according to their age and abilities. The court size, racket length, and ball speed change from one level to the next one. The player is gradually prepared for the transition to the standard court with ordinary yellow balls.

Use of multi-color, lighter or slower balls makes the game more interesting for a child.  Quite often children who start training with yellow balls would finish playing tennis soon because the ball goes too fast, jumps off above their heads; accordingly, rallies become very short, no adequate game can be played really, and children spend their training time running to collect balls. After such training, interest in the game is quickly lost. When children play more with light balls, their motivation to stay in tennis increases, and the risk of injury decreases. At the same time, smaller courts are used, because, playing on the entire court, children simply cannot apply certain tactical decisions.

From cheerful games to serious tournaments

Consistent work of the Tennis Federation helps to develop infrastructure for young athletes in all regions of Kazakhstan. Tennis centres attract a great number of children and teenagers, there are already 26 centres throughout the country. The centres meet international standards, are suitable for holding a big number of tournaments. Thanks to this, tennis is becoming more accessible and attractive for children.

David Miley, KTF Executive Director for Tennis Development, notes that to improve the level of Kazakhstani tennis, they constantly work to improve the skills of the coaching staff, and national tournaments are regularly held for children and teenagers.

“We also need to engage our professional players to continue to popularize tennis in Kazakhstan. Looking at such Kazakhstani tennis players as Alexander Bublik, Zarina Diyas, Mikhail Kukushkin, Aleksandr Nedovyesov, Yulia Putintseva, Yaroslava Shvedova, young people will be able to seriously get involved in tennis,” believes David Miley.

No pressure is put on little children at the preparatory stage. They just play with each other, and there could be about ten people on the court at the same time. Thus, tennis becomes more understandable and available for children. If training begins to turn into a professional track, more stringent requirements will be imposed on the child.

“Every child who starts to be trained in tennis is a talent in his way,” says David Miley. “At first, we observe his movement on the court, his work with the racket and conduct various tests on running, jumping and coordination. At the age of 9-10, children are already quite adapted to the game, understand its basics and are ready for competitions. We hold tournaments for them, but there is still no pressure: at this stage, the children are not assigned ratings so that young athletes are not demotivated due to possible failures.”

Winners of the “Orange Ball in Almaty” tournament
Winners of the “Orange Ball in Almaty” tournament

Coaches watch how the child behaves at such tournaments, how he gets up for the game, how he applies techniques and tactics that he has in his arsenal. And only in adolescence, mentors pay attention to the progress and results of the player. It is only from 14 years old that tennis players are assigned ratings based on the results of participation in competitions.

What else a child can learn from tennis

Tennis for a child is not only an excellent way to develop his physical skills that put on the job all muscle groups, but also a priceless psychological experience. David Miley, Executive Director of the Tennis Federation, calls this sport the most honest and fairest.

“Tennis teaches players to be honest towards a rival. The outcome of the game is decided by the mastery and intelligence of the player, and not by various return services and unnoticed violations of the rules. Being on the court face-to-face with the opponent, a person learns to react to the current situation and independently solve problems that arise during the game. Tennis teaches you to be ready for anything: a matchpoint does not guarantee the victory, and a player who is lagging behind in a score should not give up ahead of time. Tennis teaches you never to give up, whatever the situation is on the court. The tennis court can be compared to a microcosm with its own micro situations, where almost everything that happens in life can happen,” says David Miley.

Photo by the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation

How to enter the top world universities? Success stories of Haileybury School graduates

What distinguishes graduates of Haileybury Schools in Kazakhstan and how to get an educational grant.

Haileybury Almaty and Haileybury Astana are private schools, where education is organised in the best tradition of British education. Senior pupils are taught according to special programmes that helps them enter the best universities of the world.

Schools are not a commercial, but a social project. The income is reinvested in creating better conditions for students, and part of it is allocated for scholarships for the free education of talented children. Therefore, Haileybury in Kazakhstan is not a story about expensive private education, but about gifted students, their hard work with the support of professional teachers.

What distinguishes Haileybury Schools

You will recall that the shareholders do not get dividends from the schools, therefore the administration distributes income on its own, directing it to material fitting out and attraction of the best teachers. Haileybury Almaty, for example, is the only school in Kazakhstan that has connected gas equipment and received permission to use gas in scientific laboratories.

The schools hire the best foreign teachers, build additional facilities to develop not only mental but also physical capabilities. So, in 2019 Haileybury Astana opened a new sports centre of 1,851 square metres, and last year they have finished reconstruction of the school theatre.

The schools plan to develop STEM, currently the most modern direction, – an abbreviation that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.

Who can get a grant to study at Haileybury Schools

One can enroll in a school based on the results of competitive testing on a paid basis. Gifted Kazakhstanis from the age of 16 can study for free, having received a grant to study in high school. Each year, at the initiative of the principal shareholder, both schools allocate 10 free slots each for the 12th and 13th years of studies.

In the last grades, students are prepared to take tests according to the international pre-university qualifications A-level (in Haileybury Almaty) and the international baccalaureate programme IB (in Haileybury Astana). The schools team cooperate with  the World’s TOP Universities Counselling and advice service, which helps students enter some of the world’s most competitive universities, including Oxford, Cambridge, Russell Group universities and the US Ivy League.

One of the students who won a grant is Shyngys Bilyalov. The young man studied at one of the public schools in Almaty, and is now a student at the University of Cambridge.

“There is a huge difference between public schools and Haileybury. There are only 10-12 pupils in a class, thus everyone has a chance to be actively involved in lessons. The most exciting and tense moment is the time of making applications to universities. It would be almost impossible to enter Cambridge without Haileybury Almaty assistance,” believes Shyngys Bilyalov.

From the new academic year (2021/2022) Haileybury Almaty plans to expand the grants programme: now 13-year-old students will also be able to participate in the competition.

How to enter world top universities

Upon results of the last academic year, five students of Haileybury Almaty got the highest A-level points in all subjects. One of them, Aiganym Raimzhanova, received invitations from several US and British educational institutions at once.

“In the end I was choosing between the University College of London and the Brown University in the USA. Decided to settle on Brown. The process of enrollment at American universities is much more complex: if for British universities I have passed just IELTS and one essay, then for enrollment at the American ones  – SAT, SAT Subject and essays for each university,” tells Aiganym Raimzhanova.  

Another Haileybury graduate Gaukhar Alzhanova received an invitation from the Yale University that is one of the Big Three most prestigious universities in the USA.

“This is the school’s merit. Because  it is here that I was taught, apart from international educational programmes, to be engaged in charity, was given an opportunity to take part in the British Science Olympiad and to take the pre-university course in engineering. Teachers gave their references that is so important for applying to study abroad. I think that a combination of factors brought me to my dream – to become a student of one of best world universities,” says Gaukhar Alzhanova.

She advises those willing to enter the top universities to pay a special attention to writing their essays.

“Before starting to draw it up, I advise applicants to seriously think about the main question: “What have I done and am doing to make this world a better place?” After all, it is precisely such students who can bring something special to the student life are looked for by the Ivy League universities,” the girl emphasizes.

Narxoz University held Ryskulov readings

Three days of lectures, 10 participating countries, 86 scientists and practitioners and more than 300 guests – this is how the Ryskulov Readings-2021 took place at the Narxoz University. The scientific forum had to be held online due to the pandemic, but this only expanded the event boundaries.

Ryskulov Readings are held annually at the Narxoz University for a reason. In 2000, the name of the brightest representative of the Kazakh intelligentsia, Turar Ryskulov, was given to the Kazakh State Academy of Management. Since 2006, the Ryskulov Readings have been held here, and in 2016 the university was renamed as the Narxoz University. This year the unchanging tradition celebrates its 16th anniversary. Over time, only the format of the readings changes.

“This year we changed the format,” says Deputy Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs Aigerim Raimzhanova. “We didn’t want this to be yet another research and scientific event, so we changed the format to a discussion platform. We brought together speakers from all over the world in thematic areas and gave them topics for discussion so that they have food for thought. As a result: people began to collaborate with each other, world class experts met on the same platform and they have common thoughts for further cooperation.”

Triumph of Kazakhstani female tennis players in Argentina: the national women’s team won the dramatic match of the Billie Jean King Cup

The Kazakhstan national team has once again demonstrated to the whole world the high level of tennis in our country having gained victory over Argentina in the Billie Jean King Cup match. This is the largest international team competition in women’s tennis. Until 2020, the tournament was called the Federation Cup, and after that it was given the name of the legendary American tennis player.

The play-off round match, in which the Kazakhstanis were opposed by the Argentina national team, took place on April 16 and 17 in the city of Cordoba – on the home court for our rivals.

The team included Elena Rybakina, Yulia Putintseva, Zarina Diyas, Anna Danilina and the playing captain Yaroslava Shvedova. The national team of Kazakhstan was called the undisputed favorite before the match, because at once three of our tennis players are in the top 100 of the world rating.

Before the match, the Vice-President of the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation, Yury Polskiy, noted that the even and strong line-up of our team would allow us to effectively build the tactics and strategy of the whole match.

The first rival number was the 45th racket of the world Nadia Podoroshka, she fought for the victory together with Maria Lourdes Carle, who is in the fifth hundred of the rating, But this duel cannot be called easy for Kazakhstan. The first point, taking the decisive game against Nadia Podoroshka to zero, was brought to the national team by Yulia Putintseva (2: 6, 6: 4, 6: 0). After that, it seemed that the victory was closer than ever.

Yulia Putintseva
Yulia Putintseva

However, feeling sick Elena Rybakina could not play at her full strength with Maria Lourdes Carle (6: 4, 3: 6, 6: 0). The first day ended in a draw with an unpleasant aftertaste from doubts whether Lena would be able to recover by the next game day.

But fortunately, after the rest, a completely different Rybakina came out onto the court. The tennis player no longer had such catastrophic problems with making it into the court and coped with Nadia Podoroshka in two sets (6: 4, 6: 4).

Elena Rybakina
Elena Rybakina

Yulia Putintseva had all chances to win an early victory for Kazakhstan but even here some bad luck interfered: Yulia was unable to complete the game against Maria Lourdes Carle because of the incessant spasm (6: 7 (3: 7), 7: 6 (7: 3) and refused to continue the game. Singles have not revealed a winner.

Our female tennis players showed a team spirit at a difficult moment. When Yaroslava Shvedova realized that Putintseva had serious problems and that she needed to go and warm up before the decisive doubles match, Zarina Diyas took over the duties of the captain.

“She’s so smart: she supported, geared up, encouraged,” Yaroslava Shvedova said later.

In the deciding game, the same Podoroshka and Lourdes Carle played for Argentina, and Kazakhstan was represented by the pair of Yaroslava Shvedova / Anna Danilina. In the first set, they severely defeated the Argentines, loosing no single game to them. And then the rivals came to their senses and made the Kazakhstani tennis players and their fans nervous. In the tense ending of the second set, captain of the national team Shvedova simply could not serve in the second square because of this emotional stress, but at the sixth try the girls none the less took this most important game over, and then the set (6: 0, 7: 5). Kazakhstan came out of this meet as the winner with a total score of 3: 2.

“The game turned out to be good, with wild energetics – both for me and Anya, and for the entire national team. We had to go out and fight, we understood the full responsibility not only to the team, but also to the country. We played great as a team these two days, we did our best. Our strength was unity. What happened in Cordoba is a real miracle!” said Yaroslava Shvedova after the victory.

Kazakhstan national tennis team
Kazakhstan national tennis team

The Kazakhstan national team not only retained its registration in the World Group but also got the right to play in the closing qualification for the 2022 final.

The captain of the women’s team stressed that Kazakhstan has assembled an almost perfect team.

“We need to work on confidence. But with such a team we have the power to make it not only into the final group stage of the Billie Jean King Cup, but also to win the trophy,” believes Yaroslava Shvedova.

Photo by Andrey Udartsev

Nur-Sultan is ready to become a permanent location for big tennis competitions: two challengers were held at the ATP 250 tournament level

This February and March the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation held two ATP tournaments in Nur-Sultan at once. Forte Challenger 100 and Forte Challenger 125 were held on the courts of the National Tennis Centre, the winners received 100 and 125 world ranking points, respectively.

The general sponsor of the two tournaments was Forte Bank, official partners – companies Kazzinс, Terra Motors and Aqua Rossa.

Last autumn Kazakhstan got its first experience in holding a tournament of the ATP 250 series. Participants and managers of the Association of Tennis Professionals themselves highly appreciated the level of organisation of competitions in the context of the pandemic when great attention is paid to the compliance with health safety measures in particular.

As at the beginning of 2021, due to the pandemic, many competitions around the world were still cancelled, the ATP asked the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation to hold two tournaments at once. This created an excellent opportunity for players who completed their performance at the Australian Open to immediately come to the capital of Kazakhstan and play two challengers.

The tournaments gathered a strong line-up of players. Emil Ruusuvuori, Mackenzie McDonald, Denis Istomin, who are well known to Kazakhstanis after their performance at the ATP 250, arrived in Nur-Sultan. Participants also included Kwon Soon-Woo and Tomas Machac – players famous among tennis fans.Kazakhstan was represented by almost the entire men’s team: Mikhail Kukushkin, Aleksandr Nedovyesov, Dmitry Popko, Timofey Skatov, Denis Yevseyev, Grigoriy Lomakin, Dostanbek Tashbulatov. Unfortunately, in singles, Kazakhstani tennis players left the tournament at the initial stages. The most successful was Aleksandr Nedovyesov, who, together with Ukrainian Denis Molchanov, won the Forte Challenger 100 in doubles.

Aleksandr Nedovyesov and Denis Molchanov
Aleksandr Nedovyesov and Denis Molchanov

American tennis player Mackenzie McDonald became the triumphant of the Forte Challenger 100 in singles.

“When an opportunity came to play in Nur-Sultan again, I did not doubt it for a minute. Last October, at the Astana Open tournament, I managed to make it through to the quarterfinal where I fell to my opponent. My second visit to the capital of Kazakhstan was successful. I enjoyed every minute as a guest in this beautiful country,” said McDonald at the award ceremony.

Mackenzie McDonald
Mackenzie McDonald

The Forte Challenger 125 final was won by Czech Tomas Machac.

“I like Kazakhstan, I am here for the fourth time and will be glad to come back again,” he said after the victory.

Tomas Machac
Tomas Machac

Taking into account the increased sanitary and epidemiological safety measures during the tournament, the games were played without the admission of spectators and within the framework of a strict protocol. Athletes could not just walk around the city and moved only from the hotel to the courts. But this will be another reason to return to the capital of Kazakhstan.

An important innovation was introduced at the Forte Challenger tournaments: broadcasts of all matches in excellent quality were available not only on the QazSport TV channel, but also on the website of the Tennis Federation.

The tennis players were able to get a little away from their routine during a charity photo session with dogs from the capital’s shelters. The organizers held this action to draw attention to the problem of homeless animals.

Aleksandr Nedovyesov with a shelter dog
Aleksandr Nedovyesov with a shelter dog

The costs incurred by the organisers to hold the two tournaments were actually not big, as Yury Polskiy, Vice President of the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation told. 

“The prize fund of both tournaments is known – 260 thousand dollars in total. But these expenses were fully covered by the ATP. Organisation of the tournaments costs about the same amount. Of course, we ourselves would not undertake to hold such tournaments, because it is very expensive. However, the ATP gave us a reasonably large grant, so our actual costs were low. Basically, we paid for the accommodation of players and coaches or other accompanying persons for the duration of the tournament,” says Yury Polskiy.

The players noted that the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation, having paid certain efforts, managed to hold the challengers at the ATP 250 tournament level.

The ATP is definitely interested in continuing cooperation. The Federation has applied for a permanent licence to host tournaments in Nur-Sultan. Due to the instability caused by the pandemic, the calendar may occasionally give chances to host a tournament on a one-off basis.

“We don’t want to work on such conditions, simply because that if the president of our Federation, Bulat Utemuratov, starts something, then he puts it on a permanent basis. We have to be sure that a tournament will definitely be held, not least because we need to be able to come to arrangements with sponsors for a long haul. There is interest now, but potential sponsors want to know that the tournament is not a one-time action, but a long-term project,” added Yury Polskiy.

Photo by Andrey Udartsev, KTF

Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation will allocate 1 million tenge to each family affected by fire and left homeless in Ridder

Families affected by fire in Ridder will get 1 million tenge each from Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation within the “Aid Card” project implemented jointly with the Red Crescent of Kazakhstan and ForteBank.

A large-scale forest fire unfolded in Ridder on 10 May. According to preliminary data, the blaze destroyed 31 residential houses, 7 household buildings and 1 car repair shop. An elderly woman was killed, two people were injured.

Bank cards of 1 million tenge value each will be given to all affected families over the coming days, as soon as the Red Crescent Disaster Response Team completes an assessment of the situation and the needs of the affected people. 

Having found out about the fire occurred in Ridder our team couldn’t step aside and decided to immediately look for ways to support those who were in trouble. And, for the aid to be timely and appropriate, we decided to provide financial support in the amount of 1 million tenge to each family left without a roof over their heads. To our deepest regret, the fire was not without casualties. I express my deep condolences to the family and friends of the perished Galina Filaretovna Spivakova,” said Marat Aitmagambetov, Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation Director.

The joint charity project “Aid Card” has been successfully implemented from 2018 rendering assistance to victims of natural and man-made disasters. Through the “Aid Card” project, Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation provided financial support for the total amount of about 1 million dollars.

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