ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) president Salim Saifullah Khan has confirmed that International Tennis Federation (ITF) has sanctioned a grant $50,000 to the PTF for the development of infrastructure.

Talking to The Nation, Salim said: “It is for the first time that the ITF has sanctioned such an amount to the PTF. We will start work on five new modern synthetic courts, as we also have received Rs 5 million special grant from the previous government. I am grateful to former PM Shahid Khaqan Abbassi for allocating Rs 4 million for Davis Cup winning team comprising Aisam, Aqeel, Abid Ali Akbar, Muzammil Murtaza and also for Mushaf Zia and Hameed-ul-Haq and also Rs 5 million to the federation.”

The PTF president said the work on five top class synthetic courts, including centre court at Senator Dialwar Abbas PTF Complex named after the great Aqeel Khan, will start next week and we will send report to the ITF and after that, they will release 40 percent of the sanctioned amount immediately.

“It is my aim to help Pakistan tennis earn good name at international level for which we are working hard and hopefully, it will flourish and Pakistan players will start excelling at Asian level at least. After taking over till now, I, with the help of my team, not only managed to revive international tournaments, including Davis Cup ties in Pakistan, but also conducted the ITF Futures in which a good number of international players took part.

“Pakistan team also managed to beat Korea, which stunned the entire tennis world. It was team effort and I am grateful to Aqeel and Aisam, who are living legend and they worked day and night to made that task possible. Our back up is also catching fats, as Muzammil, Abid Ali Akbar, Shahzad and Muhamamd Abid are doing well and we are also paying tremendous attention towards ladies tennis. Soon after preparing these top class courts, we will start countrywide talent hunt programme to get fresh talent for the country,” he added.

Salim said that they will also conduct different courses for the players, as it is high time to find fresh blood. “Aisam and Aqeel have served Pakistan tennis for around two decades, now they are in late 30s and their bodies demand rest. If we get Davis Cup home tie next year, it will be good, but we don’t know yet where it would be played.”

“I would like to say thanks to former IPC Minister Riaz Pirzada and former PSB DG Akhtar Ganjera for their all-out support to the PTF. They allocated special grants to the PTF and helped us to host the Davis Cup tie against Iran successfully. We need such sports-loving personalities, who must take all sports seriously and allocate hefty funds to make Pakistan a sports-friendly nation as it will attract more international players towards Pakistan to come and play here. We are hopeful of getting the ITF Futures this year too,” Salim concluded.