ISLAMABAD - Pakistan will host the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Group-II tie against Iran after the International Tennis Federation (ITF) has rejected the appeal of Iran Tennis Federation to change the venue of the tie.

Talking to The Nation on Wednesday, Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) president Salim Saifullah Khan has said that they have received the confirmation from the ITF. “Thanks to Almighty that Pakistan was allowed to conduct the tie after 12 years long and hard wait. It was made possible due to sincere efforts of Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) minister Mian Riaz Hussain Pirzada, secretary Raja Nadir, PSB Director General Akhtar Nawaz Ganjera and Interior Ministry. I would also like to thank the sports journalists as their day and night positive reporting is also main reason behind this great achievement.” He said: “Davis Cup is like world cup of tennis, as it is the biggest event and just like soccer or hockey world cup, it will help tennis get huge promotion in the country and youth will definitely start taking keen interest in this game. In the past, non-conduct of international matches were mainly behind youth was staying away from this beautiful game and didn’t bother to adopt it as a professional career.”

The PTF chief said the successful conduct of Davis Cup would also help revival of other sports in Pakistan. “I along with secretary M Khalid Rehmani immediately conducted meetings with the IPC minister and PSB Director General and they assured me the best possible facilities. They are ready to even vacate their offices on temporary basis and accommodate the federation and our international guests, from officials to visiting team.

“I am also highly grateful to the ITF Board members, who showed full faith in our abilities and I also want to assure our Iranian brothers that we will take very good care of them. It is not about Davis Cup, we also enjoy brotherly and cordial relations with Iran, it is in mutual interest of both the countries that we come closer through sports and send a very positive message to international community,” he added.

He said Davis Cupper Rashid Malik was the team captain. “As we all know he is going through huge grief and pain, as his son died the other day, as soon as he comes out of the shock, he will inform the federation and we will start training camp for the team.”

When asked whether the PTF was inviting foreign-based Pakistani players as well for trials, Salim said: “Yes, Samir Iftikhar, Abid Ali Akbar and Canadian-based Asad will also appear for the trials, which will be held on February 27 in Islamabad.”

To another query regarding exemption of players from the trials, he said: “Yes, Aisam is exempted from the trials, while we have extended the same offer to Pakistan’s No 1 tennis player Aqeel Khan, but he declined this offer saying he will compete in the trials, which, I think, is very positive thinking, as it will not only motivate other players but also give them a chance to learn a lot from the living legend.”

“It is my request to all sports lovers to come and join us to witness the prestigious Davis Cup event and cheer for their heroes at their own backyard. We want to show the world that Pakistanis are not only sports-loving nation but also gives huge respect and love to the visiting teams and individuals,” Salim concluded.

Sharing his views PSB Director General Ganjera said that they were ready to host the prestigious Davis Cup tie at the PSB courts. “The PSB offers the best services to the visiting teams and we also take great care of our guests. Our synthetic courts are in great shape, as soon as the news is confirmed that the Davis Cup tie is being held on PSB courts, I will direct the staff concerned to start renovation and maintenance work of courts.

“I will leave no stone unturned to make this event of greater significance a successful one, as for its smooth conduct, we will assure the best possible facilities for the visitors, hosts, spectators and journalists. I hope the guests will return highly satisfied and bring back very positive image of Pakistan,” Ganjera concluded.