ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) in collaboration with a local hotel will organise the highest prize-money National Tennis Tournament from December 6 to 12 here at Senator Dilawar Abbas PTF Tennis Complex.

Addressing a press conference here Thursday, PTF president Salim Saifullah Khan, flanked by Aisamul Haq Qureshi, Aqeel Khan, Khalid Rehmani, Iftikhar Rasheed, Shaharyar Khan, Jahanzeb Ghafoor, Shahida Kausar, announced that the championship would be contested in seven different categories and would carry record Rs 0.7 million prize money, in which all the top seeds male and female players would be seen in action.

“We have tried our level best to engage our international star Aisamul Haq also in the event, but he had other commitments as he is going to perform Umrah, but he would very much present on the finals along with the chief guest Punjab Governor Malik M Rafique Rajwana,” he said.

“We have conducted a record 24 national events this year and are planning to add more events in our calendar, just to attract youth towards playing tennis. Last year, we have conducted 17 national events and this year, we have added three more national tournaments, including Serena Hotels, Governor KP and Shaheed Benazor Bhutto ranking championship starting from December 19, he added.

“We have requested Chinese ambassador, met with foreign office officials and also requested Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif to spare time for meeting to convince China to play Davis Cup Group-I tie in Pakistan. China is a very close friend of Pakistan, and we hope Chine will be agreed to play Davis Cup tie in Pakistan while the ITF will also provide us chance to host tie in Pakistan. The signs are very encouraging, and I would request media and others to also play their role and urge China to come and play in Lahore. We will provide them red-box security. People of Pakistan have special relation with Chinese and I am sure the Chinese will not break hearts of millions of Pakistanis and will come and enjoy our hospitality,” Salim asserted.

“There are a few positive developments in the recently-concluded Asian Tennis Federation (ATF) meeting as they have appointed Senator Dilawar Abbas as senior vice president, and was also included in the ITF development committee. I was also handed responsibility as member in senior committee,” he added.

The PTF chief requested the Punjab CM to allocate piece of land to Aisamul Haq for the construction of state-of-the-art tennis academy, where he could produce future champions. He also appreciated Aqeel Khan's services and promised to him Aqeel in getting land for his academy. “I will soon meet with Sindh CM Syed Qaim Ali Shah and request him to allocate 10 kanal land where Aqeel may start his academy.” Salim also announced to induct Azam Jameel in PTF as senior vice president keeping in mind his matchless services for the game of tennis. Sharing his views, Aisam hoped the Davis Cup tie would be held in Pakistan after a gap of more than 10 years. “It will be in great interest of kids, who have not witnessed Pakistani players playing in Davis Cup. Aqeel and I have never played Group-I at home soil. We always preferred national interests to personals’. I would have loved to play in the event, but I am going to perform Umrah and would ensure my return on December 12 and would certainly play an exhibition tennis match.”

“Pakistan need international tennis so that more youth could attract. We have played for years and now fresh talent must step forward to ensure bright future of Pakistan at international level. I request multi-nationals, banks and private institutions to step forward and help tennis federation. Without conducting high-prize events on regular basis, it would be impossible to even think about attracting youth. Jobs should also be provided to the youngsters, so that they may fully concentrate on playing tennis rather than thinking about bread and butter for their families,” he added.

Speaking on the occasion, Aqeel Khan has stressed upon the need of holding high-prize events, as in such low-price events, it is almost impossible to meet both the ends. “The prize money we collect from the events is not even enough for traveling from one place to another, so there is an urgent need of enhancing the prize money. The electronic media should also telecast live Davis Cup and other matches, where Pakistani players are in action.

“I hope Sindh government or CDA will finally listen to my long-standing request and allocate me a piece of land so I that may construct an international tennis academy and produce champions in due course of time,” he concluded.