Four Saudi players – Ammar, Saud, and Yara Alhogbani, and Lara Bukhani – will share the Diriyah Tennis Cup stage with the likes of Daniil Medvedev, Nick Kyrgios, and Stefanos Tsitsipas in an exhibition match on Saturday 10th December.
“It’s a dream come true” said Yara Alhogbani, the younger sister of Ammar and Saud and winner of the Saudi Games earlier this year.
“Having this event with these players is the best thing to happen for Saudi tennis. The impact is a lot greater than can be put into words. It’s so important for people to see the sport they love at its highest level.”
Female sporting participation in Saudi Arabia has increased by 149% in the last six years with three high performance tennis centre open across the country following the first Diriyah Tennis Cup in 2019.
Yara is the younger sister of Ammar and Saud and the first female professional tennis player from Saudi Arabia – as well as being the first female player to achieve international ranking.
“In the future, I hope to also see WTA events come to Saudi,” added the 18-year-old.“We’re seeing more females joining tennis and sports, and having players we, as females, can relate to here in Saudi would inspire even more.”
Her brother Ammar, who also works for the Saudi Tennis Federation, emphasised the importance of local fans watching tennis live.
“Every athlete aspires to play at the highest level so seeing that live is very encouraging. Every fan dreams of seeing their idols play live and Saudi tennis fans deserve to have that chance. This is exactly what Saudi needs and I’m so honored to be a small part of the event this week.”
Hosting the Diriyah Tennis Cup is part of Saudi Arabia’s wider investment into the development of sport in the country with the aim to inspire future generations to live healthier lifestyle and develop world-class talent.
Saud Alhogbani, the younger of the brothers, spoke on the changes he has witnessed, “The country has achieved so much in the past couple of years, all the way from the grassroots work to their support of current elite athletes has really made a tremendous difference on the Saudi sports field. We have people just starting out in their respective sports but we also have Olympic medalists. It’s a very beautiful thing to witness.
“I am ten times the better player due to Saudi’s investment in sport. Not only has the training been elevated but also there’s no better feeling than competing when you have your country’s support. You rise to the occasion and are pushed to compete at a higher level.”
The talented Alhogbani family inspire each other along the way but that doesn’t mean they go easy on each other. “It means the absolute world. I look up to Ammar and Saud so much.” said Yara, “They’ve paved the way and I’m so glad I get to join them on the journey to popularize tennis in Saudi. The support is still there but we are athletes at the end of the day so we definitely want to win.”
The three siblings and Lara Bukhani will compete in the exhibition match at 6pm on Saturday, ahead of the final match of the $3 million US dollar tournament to determine the second victor of the Diriyah Tennis Cup and winner.
Tickets are still available to watch the Saudi stars and best players in the world on www.diriyahseason.sa.