Wednesday 21 August 2019

Young gun Elamin aims to follow Carr's path from Mullingar to professional circuit

 

Ammar Elamin. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Ammar Elamin. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Barry Lennon

Barry Lennon

Simon Carr may soon be joined on the rocky road of professional tennis by a fellow Mullingar man as Ammar Elamin eyes a career in the paid grade.

The 17-year-old aims to follow his club-mate, and son of former Dublin football player and manager Tommy, having first picked up a racquet alongside him a decade ago.

Though their old stomping ground of Mullingar Tennis Club is outside the competitive Dublin Leagues, it could soon boast two professionals.

"I don't know, it just happened to be like that. My family have known them (the Carrs) since we started tennis, since I was like six and Simon was maybe nine," recalls Elamin, who plays on the ITF Junior Circuit. "We've never played against each other in competition. Maybe we will in the future when I'm playing in the pros, but we'll see."

While the Carr family's links between Dublin football and the tennis pro game via Mullingar may be unusual, the Elamins' journey has been unique.

Dad, an architect from Sudan, and mum, from Mongolia, moved to the midlands town just before Ammar was born and have since made Co Westmeath their home. They encouraged Ammar (below), his older brother Haitham and younger sister Noor to take up sport, participating in football, athletics and swimming alongside tennis.

However, Ammar excelled on court and in time wanted to go to the next level.

When the property bubble burst, construction work slowed, allowing his father Mohamed more time to help design his son's burgeoning career.

Now he coaches Ammar himself and accompanies him aboard, finding ways to foot tournament bills, which can cost up to €1,000 once flights and accommodation are factored in.

He has also helped to tailor a training regime which allows Ammar to observe Ramadan - the Muslim holy month during which devotees abstain from food and water during daylight hours.

"My dad is always with me when we're training so he knows what we're doing. It's good. My dad does a lot for me. Both my parents do a lot for me," says Elamin.

While brother Haitham has opted to study engineering in DCU, Elamin remains focused on following Carr's path to the paid game.

"He (Haitham) was good. He was always able to play and was able to compete with me. Although, he never did really well at the tournaments. He decided to study."

The secondary school student, however, doesn't entertain the idea of university for now, despite opting for a route which Carr has described as "cut-throat".

"No, no. That (university) is not the first priority. I'm trying to become a professional. That's not what I really want," Elamin insists.

"It's just a little bit of delay, going to college. It delays you a few years. Though it's still an option."

The school holidays allow him free rein to compete in tournaments, such as the Irish Open in Carrickmines which begins tomorrow and in which his old club-mate Carr also competes.

And though the Leaving Cert looms large next year, CBS Mullingar - which boasts Olympic silver medallist boxer John Joe Nevin among its alumni - has been accommodating.

"During the year I go to school once per week and the rest I study on my own. I find school OK. I don't struggle too much," he reflects. "They're quite good at supporting me, unlike other schools that are quite strict. They're happy to let me pursue my career."

Though losing in the second round of last week's European U-18 Championships, Elamin approaches tomorrow's tournament with some form, having beaten Bjorn Borg's son Leo in Qatar in March before victory in an ITF Junior competition there.

"I've played a few tournaments beforehand without the win. I've played a few finals beforehand but finally getting that win was special."

Irish Independent

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