THE TOURNAMENT: ITF WOMENS President’s Cup
From 07/17 to 07/23
Prize money: $ 100,000 + H
Surface: Hard outdoor
Tournament location: Astana National Tennis Center – Turan 4/2 , Astana , 010000, Kazakhstan
Practical info: National Tennis Center is a modern sport complex with a central court for 2700 seats. There are 3 additional tennis courts for trainings with snack bars, dressing rooms and showers. It’s located just 3 km from Baiterek Tower and about 16 km from Astana International Airport.
Past champions: 2016 Alyona Sotnikova (Ukr) – 2015 Natela Dzalamidze (Rus) – 2014/2011 Vitalia Diatchenko (Rus) – 2013 Nadiya Kichenok (Ukr) – 2012 Maria João Koehler
Entry list: Shuai Zhang (Chn) – Magdalena Ribarikova (Svk) – Vitalia Diatchenko (Rus) – Naomi Broady (Gbr) – Veronika Kudermetova (Rus) – Polina Monova (Rus)– Tara Moore (Gbr) – Alla Kudryavtseva (Rus) – Varvara Flink (Rus) – Harriet Dart (Gbr).
THE TOWN: Astana is the capital of Kazakhstan. It is located on the Ishim River in the north portion of Kazakhstan. The 2014 census reported a population of 835,153 within the city limits, making it the second largest city in Kazakhstan. Astana is a planned city, like Brasília in Brazil, Canberra in Australia, and Washington, D.C. in the United States. The master plan of Astana was designed by Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa. As the seat of the Government of Kazakhstan, it is the site of the Parliament House, the Supreme Court, the Ak Orda Presidential Palace and numerous government departments and agencies. It is home to many futuristic buildings, hotels and skyscrapers.
Lonely Planet writes: “The country’s new capital has risen fast from the northern steppe and is already a showpiece for 21st-century Kazakhstan. It is scheduled to go on rising and spreading into a city of over 1 million people by 2030. Its skyline grows more fantastical by the year as landmark buildings, many of them by leading international architects, sprout in a variety of Asian, Western, Soviet and wacky futuristic styles. Several spectacular structures are open to visitors and it’s hard not be impressed by the very concept of the place. Astana was just a medium-sized provincial city known for its bitter winters when President Nazarbaev named it out of the blue in 1994 as Kazakhstan’s future capital. It formally took over from Almaty in 1997. The old centre north of the Ishim (Yesil) River, known as the ‘pravy bereg’, right bank, lives on as a commercial and services centre. South of the river (the ‘levy bereg’, left bank), governmental and business buildings are going up, and also cultural, sports, leisure and shopping centres, hotels, a university and eye-catching residential developments. Some have dubbed Astana the ‘Dubai of the steppe’. The city began life in 1830 as a Russian fortress called Akmola (Kazakh for ‘white tomb’). In the 1950s Akmola became the headquarters of the Virgin Lands scheme and in 1961 it was renamed Tselinograd (Virgin Lands City). After the USSR collapsed, Akmola got back its old name. In 1998 it was renamed again, as Astana – Kazakh for ‘capital’. Reasons cited by Nazarbaev for the change were Astana’s more central and less earthquake-prone location than Almaty, and better transport links with Russia. He may also have wanted to head off secessionist sentiments among northern Kazakhstan’s large ethnic Russian population. Some find Astana an impersonal place, but Kazakhstan’s ambitious and talented are increasingly drawn here. It’s easy to question the spending of billions on prestige architecture, but many citizens are clearly proud of their new capital.“
TOP 3 ATTRACTIONS IN ASTANA:
- The Baiterek Tower
- Palace of Peace and Reconciliation
- Fountain Circus
TOP 3 HOTELS IN ASTANA:
- Belon Lux Hotel. Set in the administrative centre of Astana at 3 minutes walk from Baiterek tower and 5 from President’s Palace, this wonderful *** hotel, rated 9.2 on Booking, offers free wifi and tasteful breakfast buffet. Prices for a standard double room in b&b is 109€ per night, for a junior suite 134€ per night..
- Diplomat Hotel & Business Center. Fantastic **** hotel located in the heart of Astana at 500 mt from Circus Fountain. This accomodation features a spa with a gym, a swimming pool, a sauna and 4 on-site restaurants which offer dishes of Kazakh, Argentinian, Chinese, Japanese and European cuisine. The price for a 32mq2 double room is 214€ per night with breakfast, wifi and parking included.
- Rixos President Hotel Astana. Excellent boutique ***** hotel, rated 9.0 on Booking, and located in Astana’s government district, this 5-star hotel has 2 elegant restaurants and a large spa with pool. A deluxe double room with magnificent breakfast included costs 498€ per night. Wifi and parking are free for customers.