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New era for tennis in Kazakhstan as juniors reach international level

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Amir Omarkhanov is first Kazakh player to ever reach the Australian Open Junior Championship quarterfinals
Amir Omarkhanov is first Kazakh player to ever reach the Australian Open Junior Championship quarterfinals

Elena Rybakina’s victory at Wimbledon in 2022 was a milestone for tennis in Kazakhstan. Her success caused a mixed reaction, however, raising questions among many observers.

Where were all the tennis players who had been developed in Kazakhstan? Would any of the juniors trained at tennis centres across the country be able to play for national teams, and did Kazakhstan even have a pool of homegrown talent?

To answer these questions, you just need to look at the world rankings. Ten Kazakhstanis finished the 2023 season in the top 100. While some of the players that compete for Kazakhstan in the professional rankings were born elsewhere, all the players in the junior rankings were born and trained in Kazakhstan. Amir Omarkhanov, who in 2024 became the first Kazakh player to ever reach the Australian Open Junior Championship quarterfinals, is ranked 16th in the ITF junior rankings, and Asylzhan Arystanbekova, who made it to the quarterfinals at the junior doubles tournament this year is ranked 53th.  

In 2022, Kazakhstan’s 14U team competed for the first time at a world team championship, where they reached the semi-finals. At the Billie Jean King Cup Juniors Finals in Córdoba, Spain, the Kazakhstani team finished in 9th place among the best 16 teams in the world. This was the first-ever world championship competition for Kazakhstan’s 16U girls team. Meanwhile, the 16U boys team also finished in the top 10 at their debut world championship.  Even back in 2021, juniors from Kazakhstan won a record 37 ITF Juniors tournaments in singles and doubles and reached the finals in 44 others. In Tennis Europe 14 & Under tournaments, players from Kazakhstan won 19 tournaments and reached the finals in 15 more.

These achievements would not have been possible, of course, without proper training and, most importantly, accessible infrastructure. Players who are now 14–16 years old began playing tennis about 10 years ago. Bulat Utemuratov, President of the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation (KTF), played a key role in making tennis accessible to children when he became head of the Federation in 2007. Not long after taking over leadership of the KTF, Utemuratov spearheaded an ambitious effort to build state-of-the-art tennis facilities across the country. Home to only 7 tennis centres and 60 courts in 2007, Kazakhstan now boasts 48 modern facilities with 364 courts, most of which are indoors.  

According to the KTF, the average hourly cost for court rental has decreased from $50 in 2007 to $10 at present. The number of children playing tennis has grown from 900 in 2007 to 30,000 in 2023, and 3,500 of the most talented young players are given an opportunity to train free of charge and have access to the equipment they need as well as tournament support.

In addition to building the required infrastructure, the KTF has also been active at every level, starting with grassroots tennis for 5–7-year-olds.

A great deal of attention is paid to the 10 & Under Tennis project, where children learn the foundations for further growth. KTF experts attend the main tournaments for players 10 and under in order to scout the most promising players in this age group. The Federation also has a targeted programme that provides financial support for more than 100 young players aged 11–14 years old from all over Kazakhstan.

In addition, an important part of the junior development system is the Team Kazakhstan Academy, which was created in 2008 for promising juniors 14 and up. More than 300 of the country’s most talented children, juniors and young tennis players have already passed through the Academy.

The results we have seen from our junior players suggest that investments in the development of tennis infrastructure and targeted programmes for children have helped make tennis in Kazakhstan more accessible and taken it to a qualitatively new level, while also laying a solid foundation for training talented young players. They are the ones who will represent Kazakhstan at professional tournaments in the future, and the country won’t have to bring players from elsewhere.

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Samsung’s ‘Newfound Equilibrium’ design exhibition closes today

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Samsung’s ‘Newfound Equilibrium’ design exhibition closes today
“Newfound Equilibrium" is showcasing the brand’s user-centered design philosophy

Samsung Electronics today announced that it will hold its design exhibit at Milan Design Week’s Fuorisalone 2024 from April 16 to 21.

A design exhibition located at Le Cavallerizze, in the Leonardo da Vinci National Museum of Science and Technology in Milan, Italy, will come to an end this evening.

Samsung’s Corporate Design Center’s exhibition, “Newfound Equilibrium,” is showcasing the brand’s user-centered design philosophy, “Samsung Design Identity 5.0: Essential∙Innovative∙Harmonious.

“Design must fully take the human experience into consideration, and Samsung’s design principles achieve this,” says TM Roh, President and Head of Corporate Design Center at Samsung Electronics. “With our human-centered design philosophy, we aim to create a future that harmonizes with the lives of our customers through innovation with purpose.”

The multi-sensory experience, featuring immersive installations, guides visitors through five spaces that express Samsung’s design identity. The spaces are titled “Essence,” “Innovation,” “Harmony,” “Infinite Dream” and “New Dawning.” As visitors approach the screens in the spaces, translucent elements change into specific shapes and textures, and the shapes beyond the window appear as if they are approaching onlookers, allowing them to immerse themselves in the dream of an infinite future drawing nearer.

Through collaborations with the human craftsmanship of ceramic masters MUTINA, and wood veneer wizards ALPI, the Bespoke Refrigerator and AirDresser have also been reimagined considering the co-existence of people and technology.

Samsung’s “Newfound Equilibrium” exhibition is located at Via Olona, 6 bis, Milan and offers free entry until 6 PM today.

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10 European travel influencers to follow on Instagram in 2024

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A female travel influencer taking a selfie outdoors
84% of adults in the United States turned to travel content creators for recommendations when planning their trips.

They seem to be living the best lives, always jumping from one city to another and sipping cocktails while posting photos of sunsets.

Welcome to the travel influencer world, one of the most popular niches for content creators across the web. And while taking perfect pictures of their whereabouts, influencers continue to inspire even those traveling on a less generous budget: a 2023 study revealed that a remarkable 84% of adults in the United States turned to travel content creators for recommendations when planning their trips.

With 2 billion monthly active users, Instagram remains one of the favourite social media platforms for travel influencers to share their latest adventures – despite decreasing engagement and the ever-changing algorithm game.

Pack your luggage. Here is a curated list of 10 European travel influencers to follow on Instagram in 2024.

Murad Osmann

@muradosmann

Dubai-based Murad Osmann gained fame for his “Follow Me To” series, where he captures stunning travel moments as his wife leads him by the hand to iconic destinations worldwide. Named by Forbes a top influencer to follow, his photos offer a unique perspective on popular landmarks and showcase the beauty of different cultures.

Jack Morris

@jackmorris

Jack is a British travel originally from a town called Bolton, near Manchester. When he left high school at 17 he started working as a carpet cleaner and did this up until he turned 21.  Nowadays, he is mostly known for photography and adventurous spirit. His Instagram account showcases stunning landscapes and destinations, encouraging followers to explore the world and embrace new experiences.

Leonie Hanne

@leoniehanne

Leonie is a German fashion and travel influencer known for her impeccable style and luxurious travel experiences. Her Instagram feed features glamorous photos from high-end destinations across Europe, providing inspiration for both fashion and travel enthusiasts.

Christina Tan

@sassychris1

Christina, a Swedish travel influencer, is known for her captivating landscape photography and adventurous spirit. Her Instagram feed features stunning shots from her travels across Europe and beyond, inspiring followers to explore new destinations and embrace the beauty of nature. Named top 25 hotel influencer 2024.

Louis Cole

@louiscole

Louis is a British filmmaker and travel vlogger known for his adventurous spirit and positive energy. Through his Instagram account and YouTube channel, he documents his global travels and encourages followers to pursue their passions and embrace the world around them.

Janni Olsson Delér

@jannid

Janni, a Swedish fashion and travel influencer, shares her glamorous travel experiences with her followers through her Instagram account and blog. Her stylish photos and travel tips provide inspiration for fashion-forward travelers seeking luxury experiences around the world.

Tom Jauncey

@tomjauncey

Tom, a Scottish travel influencer and founder of Beautiful Destinations, shares breathtaking travel photography and videos from around the world. Through his Instagram account and media platform, he promotes sustainable travel and encourages followers to discover the beauty of our planet.

Anna Everywhere

@anna.everywhere

Anna Karsten is a Polish travel blogger and influencer known for her vibrant and diverse travel content. Her Instagram feed showcases stunning photos from destinations around the world, along with insightful travel tips and recommendations.

Nelson Carvalheiro

@nelsoncarvalheiro

Nelson is a Portuguese travel and food influencer who showcases the best of Portugal and beyond. His Instagram feed is filled with mouthwatering food photos, scenic landscapes, and cultural insights that celebrate the beauty and diversity of travel.

Jeanne Damas

@jeannedamas

Jeanne is a French fashion and travel influencer known for her chic style and global adventures. Her Instagram feed features photos from destinations around the world, along with fashion inspiration and lifestyle content.

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TIFF announces Writers’ Studio Class of 2024

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TIFF announces Writers' Studio Class of 2024
Writers’ Studio will take place April 15–19, 2024, at TIFF Lightbox.

TIFF has unveiled the lineup for the 2024 Writers’ Studio, an annual program fostering the next generation of storytellers. This year marks the 13th edition of the collaborative, five-day intensive lab, designed to empower Canadian and international screenwriters and writer-directors. From a pool of more than 200 submissions, TIFF has selected a cohort Zhannat Alshanova, Aram Collier, Rebecca Fisseha, Sophie Jarvis, Amy Trefry, and Asia Youngman.

The Writers’ Studio is a space to consolidate skills, exchange ideas, and navigate challenges, while participating in workshops, artist talks, peer-to-peer mentorships, and one-on-one project development consultations guided by industry experts. Writers’ Studio will take place April 15–19, 2024, at TIFF Lightbox.

“Programs like the Writers’ Studio continue to ignite and drive talent, both in Canada and on the global stage,” said Anita Lee, Chief Programming Officer, TIFF. “At TIFF, our commitment to fostering new talent will continue to grow with a focus on providing industry expertise and unparalleled access to industry leaders, ensuring the program’s enduring impact year after year.”

This year’s lab will support the development of feature-film scripts through dedicated one-on-one discussions with international story consultants Trey Ellis and Christina Lazaridi. Additionally, the participants will engage in daily artist talks and workshops facilitated by renowned filmmakers and industry experts including Ashley Comeau, Brad Fraser, Howard Wiseman and Emma Donoghue. Canadian actors, Getenesh Berhe, Vivien Endicott-Douglas, Thomas Antony Olajide and Ajuawak Kapashesit, will join for a full-day workshop of the projects in development.

New this year, the Sloan Science and Technology Writer Fellowship will offer a project development grant and targeted creative support for one emerging to mid-level feature film screenwriter whose project explores themes of science and technology. This year’s selected recipient is Amy Trefry for her project Lenin’s Embalmers, co-written with playwright Vern Thiessen. Funding for this programme is provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s Public Understanding of Science and Technology program.

Now in its third year, the Renee Perlmutter Memorial Fellowship for Literary Adaptation provides a Writers’ Studio participant focusing on adapting literary work for the screen with an additional grant toward developing their project. This year’s Renee Perlmutter Memorial Fellow is Rebecca Fisseha, who is working on an adaptation of her own debut novel Daughters of Silence.

Four participants from the 2024 class will also be awarded a grant generously supported by CHANEL, through the CHANEL Women Creators’ Network, to further the development of their feature-length script.

Notable TIFF Talent alumni include filmmakers Meredith Hama-Brown (Seagrass), Fawzia Mirza (The Queen of My Dreams), D. W. Waterson, and Devery Kawennáhere Jacobs (Backspot), Pier-Philippe Chevigny (Richelieu), Jasmin Mozaffari (Motherland), Lillah Halla (Power Alley), Álvaro Gago Dias (Matria), and Johanna Pyykkö (My Wonderful Stranger). Following their involvement in TIFF Talent Development programmes, many of these filmmakers have gone on to present their films at the Toronto International Film Festival, the Berlinale, and Cannes.

2024 TIFF Writers’ Studio participant biographies:

Portrait of Zhannat Alshanova
Zhannat Alshanova (UK)
Present Perfect
Originally from Kazakhstan, Zhannat is a London-based writer, director, and producer. Her short films has been screened at numerous international film festivals, such as Cannes, Sundance, TIFF, Locarno (Pardino d’Argento award for the Best Short Film). She is a London Film School (MA in Filmmaking) and Berlinale Talents alum.

Portrait of Aram Collier
Aram Collier (Canada)
Intro to Swimming
Aram’s feature, documentary, and experimental films have played festivals across North America and internationally. Collier is a mixed-race Asian Canadian/American originally from San Francisco, now based in Toronto, Canada. His Asian diasporic stories deal with race and class through a humanist lens of observed ironies.

Portrait of Rebecca Fisseha
Rebecca Fisseha (Canada)
Daughters of Silence
Rebecca Fisseha is an Ethiopian Canadian writer whose short stories, creative non-fiction, personal essays, and articles appear in various publications, most recently in Addis Ababa Noir, the Humber Literary Review, and Tongues: On Longing and Belonging Through Language. Born in Addis Ababa and raised there and in Austria and Switzerland, Rebecca is now based in Toronto, where she is working on the screenplay adaptation of her first novel, Daughters of Silence (Goose Lane Editions, 2019), and on completing her second novel, Only Because It’s You (Doubleday Canada, Spring 2025). Fisseha is a graduate of the Vancouver Film School’s program in Writing for Film & Television.

Portrait of Sophie Jarvis
Sophie Jarvis (Canada)
Taking the Waters
Sophie Jarvis is a Swiss Canadian filmmaker whose feature debut Until Branches Bend (TIFF ’22, SXSW ’23, Locarno ’23) earned her a nomination for Best Original Screenplay at the Canadian Screen Awards in 2023. Jarvis’ background as a production designer deeply informs her practice as a writer and director.

Portrait of Amy Trefry
Amy Trefry (Canada)
Lenin’s Embalmers
Amy Trefry is an emerging Canadian filmmaker, who elevates marginalized voices as a queer, non-binary storyteller. Their Masters in Environmental Sociology and upbringing on a Peregrine Falcon breeding facility fuel narratives entwining social and environmental themes. They are a 2022 graduate of the Canadian Film Centre, and were selected as one of ten emerging Canadian Television Producers by RDV Canada in 2021. Collaborating with playwright Vern Thiessin and guided by industry mentors, Trefry blends science and filmmaking, striving for cinematic inclusivity and representation.

Portrait of Asia Youngman
Asia Youngman (Canada)
Until It’s Time to Go
Asia Youngman is an award-winning Indigenous (Cree-Métis) filmmaker. She co-wrote, co-directed and executive produced I’m Just Here for the Riot (2023) for ESPN’s 30 for 30 series. Her previous short films include N’xaxaitk’w (2022) and This Ink Runs Deep (2019), both of which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.

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