MOSCOW – The head of the Russian Tennis Federation says he wants to use the annexed Crimea to help develop players.
Shamil Tarpishchev says Crimea's balmy climate is ideal for tennis, and the sport would raise the profile of the disputed peninsula, which Russia took from Ukraine last year.
Crimea "beats all of Europe in terms of climate conditions" for tennis, allowing players to train year-round, Tarpishchev told Russian agencies.
Fifteen coaches who have fled Donetsk in war-torn eastern Ukraine now "want to work in Crimea," he added.
However, Tarpishchev conceded that many of the courts at Crimea's Soviet-era resorts would need extensive renovation to be playable.
On-court success would shape the region's identity under Russian rule, he suggested, describing tennis as "the face of Crimea."