A visit to an ice hockey game in Nur-Sultan ahead of the inaugural WTA Astana Open beginning on Monday has reaffirmed for Zarina Diyas her belief in the importance of teamwork.

Diyas has been a member of Kazakhstan’s national team for a decade and is a firm believer that the support provided by her coaches and teammates has been vital in her WTA Tour success.

The 27-year-old noted similar traits when attending an ice hockey match featuring Barys, the local side in Nur-Sultan, with Astana Open top seed Yulia Putintseva and Yaroslava Shvedova.

The World No. 112 was delighted to have the opportunity to attend the game and was fascinated by the pace and strength of the players involved. 

George Kopylov

“This is my first time [at] hockey," Diyas  said. "Finally it happened. I like this atmosphere and energy. There is a stubborn struggle and such active fans. [It is] very cool.”

“When I come to Astana the next time, and I have free time, I will definitely come to a match. I really liked the ice hockey.”

The Billie Jean King Cup teammates were honored at the ice hockey match ahead of what is a significant week for Kazakhstan tennis. 

Barys vice-president Arnur Alsherov presented the local stars with jerseys with their surnames emblazoned across the back.

Diyas is among the four Kazakhstan entrants in the WTA 250 Astana Open headed by Putintseva, who is chasing her second tour title for this season.

She plays qualifier Anastasia Zakharova in her opening-round match. Putintseva has drawn Ekaterine Gorgodze in her first-round outing.

Kazakh wildcards Anna Danilina and Zhibek Kulambayeva are also intent on performing strongly in the first WTA Tour event to be held in Nur-Sultan. 

But both have testing first-round matches.

Kulambayeva will play second seed Alison van Uytvanck, while Danilina has drawn Kristina Mladenovic.