LAHORE   -  Punjab Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs Rai Taimoor Khan Bhatti on Thursday inaugurated the Sports Board Punjab’s (SBP) Junior Initiative Tennis Academy here at Nishtar Park Sports Complex (NPSC) Tennis Stadium. 

Sports Board Punjab Vice Chairman Rao Zahid Qayyum, Director General Sports Punjab Adnan Arshad Aulakh, Director Sports Hafeez Bhatti, Deputy Director Chand Perveen, former Pakistan Davis Cup captain Rashid Malik (Tamgha-e-Imtiaz), national women tennis star Ushna Suhail, Noor Malik (ZTBL), other officials and a large number of tennis enthusiasts were also present on this occasion. 

Minister Rai Taimoor, Vice Chairman Rao Zahid Qayyum, DG Sports Punjab Adnan Arshad Aulakh, tennis star Ushna Suhail and Noor Malik played exhibition tennis on this occasion. Aulakh also presented souvenirs to Minister Rai Taimoor and Rao Zahid Qayyum on this occasion. 

Talking to media, Punjab Sports Minister Rai Taimoor said the Tennis Academy is being launched for the promotion of the game among the youth of the province. “Our state-of-the-art Tennis Stadium is equipped with all modern facilities and we are quite upbeat about producing several world class tennis players through this academy,” he added. 

The minister further said that former Pakistan Davis Cup captain and coach Rashid Malik will oversee the training and coaching at the academy. “Expert coaches will impart training to 4 to 12 years old boys and girls under the supervision of head coach Rashid Malik, who has honour of producing national and international tennis champions and hopefully, he will continue to serve in the best possible manner and produce future tennis stars,” he said and added: “The registration process has already been commenced under the supervision of Director Sports Hafeez Bhatti.”

Replying to a query, Rai Taimoor said top sports facilities in various cities will be named after sports legends of the country. “We already have established cricket and hockey academies in Punjab province and it’s our third academy to promote the sports culture among the young generation.” 

Director General Sports Punjab Adnan Arshad Aulakh said that five practice tennis courts will be built with a cost of Rs 50 million within a period of one year. 

“These practice courts will certainly prove to be a great facility for young boys and girls to sharpen their tennis skills,” he said and added: “Tennis has been quite famous in the world and our academy will play a key part in further popularizing the game in the province.”