Hyderabad, INDIA – The southern Indian city of Hyderabad is preparing to host the Qatar Airways Challenge, which begins tomorrow with the world’s leading female squash players ready to do battle on court.
Among a galaxy of star players taking part this week are defending champion and World Number 3 Rachael Grinham, from Australia, who won last year in Doha, and Malaysia’s Nicol David, the current World Champion.
Prize money worth US$80,000 is up for grabs as 40 players from 16 countries vie for the winning trophy. The Qatar Airways Challenge is one of the biggest events on the WISPA (Women’s International Squash Players Association) World Tour, and moves from Doha – where it has been held for the past two years – to India for the first time.
Addressing a press conference at the Taj Krishna Hotel in Hyderabad today, Mr Ali Al Rais, Qatar Airways Senior Manager Commercial Operations Arabian Peninsula and Indian subcontinent, said it was a great pleasure for the airline to welcome wonderful talent for what promises to be an exciting and exhilarating tournament.
“For the past two years, the Qatar Airways Challenge has been held in Qatar. But this year, for the first time, the Qatar Airways Challenge has moved to India. And we are extremely honoured to fly most of the players to this historic city of Hyderabad,” he said, with star players Nicol David and Vanessa Grinham also in attendance.
“Qatar Airways is committed to the development of sport and is delighted to be backing squash, a young energetic and vibrant sport. Here is a sport which is gaining recognition and reputation around the world as an exciting and thrilling competitive sport.”
Added Al Rais: “Sport is a global commodity and Qatar is emerging as a centre for sporting excellence in everything from track and field athletics to soccer and other ball games such as tennis and squash.
“Like Qatar Airways’ philosophy of operating in a healthy and competitive environment, we hope all 40 squash players this week will engage in the real spirit of healthy competition.
“As Qatar Airways strives towards the top and strives to be the best in its field, we hope too that the players continue to strive for excellence.”
Al Rais explained that squash will be one of the many sports at the 15th Asian Games, taking place in Qatar at the end of the year.
“I am sure we will see some of these young talented players competing this week here in Hyderabad, travelling to Qatar to represent their countries for what will be a sporting extravaganza and the biggest-ever Asian Games to be held, “ he said.
The six-day Qatar Airways Challenge takes place between July 4 – 9.
The early rounds will be played at the Secunderabad Club in Hyderabad. But in an exciting innovation that is expected to draw crowds, the final rounds will be played in an all-glass outdoor court specially erected in front of the Falaknuma Palace, an historic building set on a hill overlooking the city.
Qatar Airways currently flies four times a week to Hyderabad, one of five key Indian cities served from the airline’s hub in Doha, capital of the State of Qatar.
India is strategically an important market for Qatar Airways which also serves Mumbai, Cochin, Trivandrum and Delhi with a total of 30 scheduled flights a week – to and from Doha.---
Doha-based Qatar Airways will operate a fleet of 110 aircraft by 2013 – almost double the existing size. Qatar Airways has ordered 80 Airbus A350s, 60 Boeing 787s and 32 Boeing 777s, with deliveries of the latter having started in November 2007. The airline is a launch customer of the twin-deck Airbus A380 ‘super jumbos’ with five aircraft on order and scheduled for delivery from 2010. Qatar Airways moves to the New Doha International Airport in 2010, when the first phase of the new facility opens. For more information, visit www.ndiaproject.com
Qatar Airways is one of only six airlines in the world with a Five Star ranking for service and excellence awarded by Skytrax, the independent aviation industry monitoring agency. Skytrax also named Qatar Airways’ cabin crew as Best in the Middle East for the fifth year running in 2007 following a survey of more than 15 million passengers worldwide. For more information, log onto www.qatarairways.com
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