From Being one of the top womens professional tennis players and Home grown Champion at Tashkent Open , to now the General secretary of the Uzbekistan Tennis Federation (UTF) , Iroda Tulyagonov

24 September, 12:02

From Being  one of the top womens professional tennis players  and Home grown  Champion   at Tashkent Open  ,  to now the General secretary of the Uzbekistan Tennis Federation (UTF) , Iroda Tulyagonova's journey has been fascinating .

In an interview  to Sunder Iyer  of the Tashkent Open Media Team on the side lines of the 21st edition of Tashkent Open , Iroda Speaks on her journey so far and the future of Tashkent Open and Uzbekistan Tennis


Q Your thoughts from being a Champion to now the   Administrative Boss  of the Tashkent Open 21 years of Tashkent Open?

I don't believe that Tashkent Open is 21 years old , I have grown up with the event from a junior player  to  now the position of Secretary General . The tournament is the pride of our nation and I'm very happy of how the federation has  grown the tournament over years.

As a local player it always felt nervous to play at home because all attention was on you and people wanted you to win every time you carried the aspirations of the whole country , well a a player I  used to just play and didn't think much of the efforts behind the event

But now as an administrator  I realize the hard work being put m the number of people working behind the scenes , our  officiating department , the tournament director , the efforts put in by so many people  to ensure  a successful event , as a player you don't think about these things

The event has always taken good care of every stake holder of the event , the tournament is  known for our hospitality across the globe Being  player myself  this year I have   ensured that the event is more player friendly and want it to be a festival of tennis rather than just a tournament , I want many more people to come a watch the event and we are making lot of efforts to ensure this


Q.What is the future of Tashkent Open

We want to keep it , the name may be different we will keep the event , we may have a $125K event , I will make all attempts to ensure that the event will keep going


Q. You are probably the first professional women tennis player to take charge as a secretary general of any national tennis federation

I always have tried to do something different in my life , I never dreamt of becoming a  secretary general of the federation or the  association in my playing days , I always dreamt of having a tennis school and having free time , but when I started tennis school   I saw the system from close  and wanted to do something bigger to improve the tennis in the country .

There were so many things in my mind , I really didn't know if I would be able to handle it, my mom was a great support , to take this place I knew I had to give it 100% there was so much learning to be done .

My Mom always said may be you will do it , I told her I need time to learn from everything , by the end of the year i thought I'm ready , when I got the opportunity I said yes .


Your Vision for Uzbek tennis ?

Our federation has done a great job and tennis is one of the top sports in the country , when I was playing after me there was list of good juniors like Akgul , Nigina , Sabina , they were playing at good level , at the moment the women's tennis in our country isn't  showing  good results and does  not look promising , we need to change something to make ensure that players keep coming out regularly

In my times when I was playing the Asian Games were not as tough with only 2/3 Asian countries like Japan , Thailand , India  having players China was not with the best players, I was one of the top players then . But  now Asian tennis grown  very much tennis and  developed all over  , there are top players in China  , Taipei , , but comparatively Uzbek women's tennis has not risen with times  and that is the reason why I want to change the system for the girls to get the opportunity for the future

My aim is to see we have good crop of girls playing tennis and  have a line of tennis player to take over mantle from the senior tennis players

As far the men's  tennis is concerned it is better at the level , we still have Denis playing , we have our top junior at 24 , the guys are playing on a good level , but have lot of financial constraints in playing tournament abroad.  I'm thinking of creating opportunities through the federation to ensue that they can play enough tournaments and can increase in rankings


On your Efforts being put into Promotion of tennis in the regions  ?

The  UTF has done great work in this area , a lot of international events have been organized but only in few cities of the region we also have lot of other beautiful cities and historical cities where we can do events .

When I travelled to see what was the status of tennis in the other regions i saw there  was good tennis  infrastructure a lot of courts were built during the Presidents Cup event , the Mayors of the cities had invested a lot of money to build courts and infra ten , but they have now got damaged over the last 20 years some of the cities also have no tennis courts anymore , so we need to carry massive repair work

I want to start activity in each city . want to get international events, working with ITF to start the JTI (Junior Tennis Incentive)  program in the region where we go to regions  and ensure children play tennis ,   me and Davis Cup coach Farrukh Dustov  will be traveling and giving master class  and giving away equipment's like balls and racquets  to the local federations in the city so children can come and start playing , so that they don't have to buy racquet they can just come and play  .


 Message for Young tennis players  specially young  girls

Young girls   have lot of things and years of hard work , even if they show good results they still have to wake up next day and go to work , complacency has no place in professional tennis , one should not think I have won one tournament you can relax , you have to be focused  set a goal and go for it , and not stopping even winning few tournament .

One  has to go go go , and always think of  not setting limits , any sportsperson who puts a limit has  to stop , we can't put limits to our sports lives and goals. they have to work hard  every day

I remember an incident when I was young  , I was very angry with my father   .  I had won the Tashkent open and the family had organized a big dinner to celebrate my win ,  we were all sitting , at 10pm my father said I have to leave the party and go home because   tomorrow  , you have a day off for tennis , but  will have to do fitness.

I was angry with him I just won a tournament ,  I was star everyone was talking about me I wanted to have breather , sleep a little bit relax , but my father told me I was a professional player .   But he told me Because if one is professional tennis player and you win a tournament , tomorrow is another day and yesterday is history.  Today I appreciate and understand my father for what he told me .