Aara Aasal Azim, 14, the champion of three categories in last month’s Mary Brown Tennis Championship, did not fare as well in the beginning of her career in open division tournaments. Her father, Moosa Azim said that in the year 2019, after doing her training in Malaysia, Aara became ill. She was diagnosed with pneumonia.
She did not recover even after being admitted to the hospital. Numerous tests done locally, did not specify the type of pneumonia she had. Crestfallen, Aara’s family was forced to make the decision to go to Thailand. The doctors there were able to diagnose her properly and Aara quickly regained her strength.
Azim said that the trip to Thailand was not only about her getting the medical help she needed. It soon became a pathway to reach milestones in her aspiring tennis career.
"Having pneumonia, Aara was not able to participate in the local tournaments and her ranking in tennis fell significantly. After recovery from her affliction, Aara wanted to join a top-notch training academy in Thailand", Azim relayed.
"I thought it was best that Aara made use of her time in Thailand in a beneficial way. We were informed earlier that the training academy only took on students who were at a certain level. However, we took her there in the hope that it won’t be the case for Aara’".
As predicted, the head coach at the academy sternly refused at first to let Aara join the academy. However, Azim did not waver. He was able to convince the head coach to let Aara have a try out at Thailand Impact Academy. Impressed with her skills, the academy enrolled Aara after her try out.
Upon her return to the Maldives after one month of intensive training, she participated in the local tournament, winning championship in three categories.
Despite her being the champion of four tournaments held in Sri-lanka, Aara was not eligible to represent the national team. The association denied her entry into the national with the underlying factor being her age. Aara was in the same boat as other potential players who weren’t able to join the national team because of their age.
Azim did not give up on trying for Aara to be on the national team. "This would open doors for other players as well", He said while speaking about Fathimath Dheema Ali, the young table tennis player who brought fame to the nation after being selected for the senior national team.
Soon after, the Executive Committee of Tennis Association Maldives decided to give Aara the chance to be on selection rounds.
Aara went on to win all her matches at the selection tournament, defeating some of her opponents who were above 30 years.
Her love for sports does not stop at tennis. She was an active table tennis, basketball, handball, swimming and athletics sports person. In basketball and handball she was a great team player. She became interested in playing tennis after being inspired by watching table tennis tournaments on the television.
Currently studying at Billabong International School, Aara excels in her studies as well. Her studies are currently being conducted online as she is getting trained in Thailand. Aara mentioned that she follows a strict schedule to balance both her education and training.
The Tennis Association of Maldives acknowledged the skilled young female players in the team.
"In the first ITF tournaments, Aara was defeated time and again. But she never gave up or showed any negativity. Her stance was that she was going to win soon", Azim said.
Aara’s target in her aspiring tennis career is to win at ITF and ATF tournaments. She is also driven towards obtaining gold medals in future for the Maldives.
- Pegasus Reef Cool Tennis Tournament 2018 (Sri-Lanka) : Green Ball Girl’s Single Champion
- Women International Club Cool Tennis Tournament 2018 (Sri-Lanka) : Green Ball Girl’s Single Champion
- Cool Tennis Tournament 2018, (Sri-Lanka) : Champion
- Raintree Red and Orange Tennis Championship 2019, (Malaysia) : Red and Orange Ball Category Singles Champion
- Mary Brown Tennis Championship 2019 : Open Singles Champion
- National Team Selection Tournament 2020, 1st in Ranking
- Mary Brown Tennis Championship 2022, 1st in 3 categories
Translated by Rabeeha Amir