Month: April 2024

Elena Rybakina wins eighth WTA title in her career

Elena Rybakina won the WTA-500 tournament in Stuttgart, Germany.

In the final, the Kazakhstan’s No.1 defeated world’s No. 27 Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk, with confidence, 6:2, 6:2. For 1 hour and 9 minutes of playing time the Kazakh managed to realize four break points out of six.

In the semifinals, Elena defeated world’s No.1 Iga Swiatek and thereby interrupted her potential hat-trick (the Pole won in Stuttgart in 2022 and 2023).

Photo: Kazakhstan Tennis Federation

For winning the WTA Porsche Tennis Grand Prix 2024, Rybakina received 500 ranking points and a Porsche car. At the awards ceremony following the match, Elena thanked her team, coach and President of the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation  Bulat Utemuratov, who flew to Stuttgart to support Rybakina:

President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev congratulated Elena Rybakina on her victory (

Elena won her first title on the WTA Tour in 2019, which was the WTA 250 tournament in Bucharest. In 2020, she won the WTA 250 event in Hobart. In 2022, Rybakina became the Wimbledon champion. The year 2023 brought her two WTA 1000 trophies – Indian Wells and Rome. Earlier this year, Elena won the WTA 500 in Brisbane, followed by the victory in the event in Abu Dhabi a month later.


Bulat Utemuratov Foundation supports World Autism Awareness Day with initiatives across Kazakhstan

ALMATY, Kazakhstan, April 8, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — On 2 April, the Bulat Utemuratov Foundation marked World Autism Day by announcing it would be using the month to raise awareness of autism. This initiative forms part of its wider mission to develop and implement a progressive support system to improve the quality of life of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

Over the month of April, the Foundation’s Asyl Miras Autism Centers, which operate in 12 cities across Kazakhstan, will hold open days to educate visitors about ASD. Activities will include site tours for those who want to learn about ASD, including regional state officials, activists, and others. Additionally, there will be practical seminars for parents, teachers and specialists across the health, social welfare, and education sectors.

Marat Aitmagambetov, Director of the Bulat Utemuratov Foundation said, “In recent years we have seen an increase in parents requesting autism diagnostic consultations for their children. This growth in awareness among parents is a positive trend, as there is a direct correlation between early autism detection and higher chances of a child’s successful integration into society.”

Over the last decade, around 16,000 families raising children with ASD have used the services of the centers, and most recently the Foundation launched three new Asyl Miras Centers in Karaganda, Astana and Semey, where all the services are provided free of charge. The Foundation’s resource center which was established in 2022 oversees the activities of the autism centers and is responsible for providing support and training to social workers.

Further, the Foundation has also placed video ads on billboards across the country aimed at educating the public on the early diagnosis of autism and will conduct trainings for airports’ personnel so ground staff can identify passengers with ASD and create an inclusive environment.

According to the World Health Organization, around 1 in 100 children has autism, and there remains an urgent need to correct the misconception that autism is a disease, rather than a condition that can be managed through educational and training programs. Effective ASD management can significantly improve the social skills of children with the condition, and the Foundation remains committed to supporting Kazakhstanis with autism.


New Asian Tennis Federation head Yuriy Polskiy aims to replicate Kazakhstan’s winning formula in other Asian countries

  • Developed by a domestic programme that has grown over the past 20 years, Kazakhstan has produced a Wimbledon champion
  • Polskiy believes the Asian era in tennis is not far off, as the continent is already producing a large number of talented players

New Asian Tennis Federation president Yuriy Polskiy believes his federation’s members need to start looking beyond their own borders to help the sport grow | Photo: ATF

When tennis boss Kitsombat Euammongkol stepped down from his role as head of the governing body for the game in Asia last December, the regional federation turned to Kazakhstan for its next leader.

Yuriy Polskiy, vice-president of his country’s tennis federation, was handed the task of building on Kitsombat’s tenure, and raising the profile of the game in the continent.

In one respect, Polskiy came in with an advantage the likes of Kitsombat and board member Philip Mok Kwan-yat, the former Hong Kong Tennis Association president, never had.

While Hong Kong has hosted the game’s best players from the ATP and WTA tours, it had, until recently, lacked the players to make an impact on the world stage.

Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina won the Wimbledon singles title in 2022 | Photo: Kyodo

Kazakhstan, in contrast, has a Wimbledon champion in Elena Rybakina, developed by a domestic programme that has grown rapidly over the past 20 years.

It has also produced highly ranked male players such Alexander Bublik, who has won four ATP Tour singles titles and reached as high as No 18 on the tour.

Polskiy believes it is that achievement that led to his becoming the new president of the Asian Tennis Federation (ATF), and one he hopes to help others replicate during his time at the helm.

“From a country where tennis was just starting to develop, we became a country that was home to grand slam winners,” the 36-year-old said.

“We are trusted because we were successful in creating a functioning, sustainable system for developing players and the sport, and we can share our expertise with others.”

Asia is not without its stars. China has had Li Na and Peng Shuai; before Naomi Osaka there was Kimiko Date from Japan; and Thailand’s Paradorn Srichaphan was the first man born in the region to crack the world top 10.

But the pipeline has not always enjoyed a constant flow, and until Coleman Wong reached the main draw of the Miami Open, no man from Hong Kong had reached that stage at a Masters 1000 tournament before.

Developing the game beyond the occasional success is certainly at the heart of Polskiy’s role, and he believes his federation’s members need to start looking beyond their own borders as part of that growth.

“Many large Asian countries, such as Japan, China, India, Thailand and South Korea, have traditionally focused more on domestic, rather than international, tournaments,” he said.

Coleman Wong became the first man from Hong Kong to reach the main draw of a Masters 1000 tournament at the Miami Open | Photo: AFP

“We are trying to change this. We are working to make countries more open, to get them to host more international tournaments and to send their players to other regions of Asia more often.”

Investment is key to that, and while countries spend money trying to attract the game’s elite, he wants money focused further down the pyramid, as Kazakhstan did when it was taking tennis from being something considered “exotic and inaccessible” into the mainstream.

“One of our main objectives is to get other members of our Asian family to embrace the idea of creating and integrating a sustainable system for the development of tennis, from the construction of courts to the establishment of a support and motivation programme for juniors,” he said. “This is the foundation that will make it possible to prepare new generations of players.”

China has made the growth of youth tennis one of its main priorities, and the Hong Kong, where the federation has its headquarters, has a strong infrastructure built alongside its ability to host its Open tournaments.

Still, Polskiy is little more than three months into his initial four-year term, and laying the groundwork for what he hopes to achieve has taken up much of his time since.

That does not mean he has not outlined his main goals for the year, one of which is to try to secure an Asian qualifier for one of the game’s four grand slams.

He and his team also have designs on building on the foundation for junior tournaments in the region, doubling those available for under-14s and adding another 30 to the schedule for the best at the under-16 level.

“This kind of intraregional competition would, on the one hand, greatly reduce the cost of player development and, on the other hand, enrich the entire region by spreading a greater variety of styles and approaches to the game,” he said.

Yuriy Polskiy wants money focused further down the pyramid rather than just the elite | Photo: ATF

Polskiy, who began his journey in 2014 as the CFO at the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation (KTF), said success, both short and long-term, would be ensuring the ATF was “financially secure and has the necessary resources to develop tennis in the region”.

The annual US$1 million grant from Bulat Utemuratov, vice-president of the International Tennis Federation and president of the KTF, would certainly help with that. And Polskiy said some of the funds would be used to pay for players’ travel costs.

It is not just the elite of the game he wants to help; success for the new president would also mean children in the region having a legitimate expectation of being able to pursue a career in the game.

“I believe that the Asian era in tennis is not far off, as Asia is already producing a large number of talented players,” he said. “I will consider it a huge success if we can make sure that every child playing tennis in Asia believes in their tennis dream and believes in what they can accomplish.”


Bulat Utemuratov Foundation donates $1.5 million in aid to support victims of severe flooding

ALMATY, Kazakhstan, April 5, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — On April 1, the Bulat Utemuratov Foundation donated $1.5 million to help the victims of severe flooding across 12 regions of Kazakhstan.

Photo Credit: Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Republic of Kazakhstan (PRNewsfoto/Bulat Utemuratov Foundation)

Photo Credit: Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Republic of Kazakhstan / PRNewsfoto / Bulat Utemuratov Foundation

The snowmelt floods, caused by abrupt and unexpected warm weather, have affected thousands of people. At least 19,000 people, including more than 8,000 children, have been rescued and evacuated, while residential and commercial buildings, as well as roads and bridges, have been destroyed. Emergency rescue operations continue in the Aktobe, Akmola, Pavlodar and West Kazakhstan regions, which have suffered significant damage.

“Today, like millions of our fellow citizens, we empathize deeply with those people whose lives have been devastated in the flood-affected regions. We hope that these funds will enable them to purchase basic necessities and provide vital support during these challenging times”, said Marat Aitmagambetov, Director of the Bulat Utemuratov Foundation.

The Bulat Utemuratov Foundation provides humanitarian assistance to Kazakhstanis affected by natural and man-made disasters, and since 2018, in conjunction with the Red Crescent and ForteBank, has provided targeted financial support to victims of flooding.

Over 6 years, the Foundation’s Aid Card project in particular, has provided financial aid to people in areas affected by disasters including floods, fires, and dam failure, and more than 16,000 Kazakhstani people have received targeted financial support. In total, the Aid Card project has provided $2.6 million in financial assistance.

Since the Foundation’s inception, Kazakhstan has experienced numerous natural disasters, and the Foundation recognizes the importance of forming partnerships with other organizations to address them. The Foundation remains focused on allocating funds to those most in-need and is well-positioned to continue supporting the people of Kazakhstan.


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