LAHORE     -     Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) is confident that the Pak-India Davis Cup tie will take place in Islamabad in November despite all Indian efforts to change the venue.

This was said by PTF Senior Vice President Khawaja Suhail Iftikhar while talking to The Nation during an interview. “As per ITF rules, Pakistan exercised its legitimate option for venue choice. The PTF chose grass surface utilising new grass courts, which was recently completed in the capital. Pakistan has conveyed its firm decision to hold tie in Islamabad in November 2019. Sri Lanka has also successfully completed T20 cricket series in Pakistan, which adds more support to our contention, in terms of security for visitors.

“A strong Indian lobby at the ITF has been pleading for neutral venue while Pakistan has effectively responded presenting case through PTF President Salim Saifullah Khan, who is very well respected in the ITF circles. The ITF has presently stalled final decision for November 2019,” he added.  When asked about measures taken recently PTF taken for talent hunt and tennis promotion in the country, he replied: “The PTF had to advance its case effectively to offset perception of security concerns for international completions in Pakistan. It was after long lapse of 12 years that international tennis, including Davis Cup and Futures, returned to Pakistan.  “Those efforts involved prolonged and detailed exchange of correspondence and few meetings between PTF and ITF, all of those personally held and supervised by PTF Chief Salim Saifullah. As a result, the international tournaments are being continuously held in Islamabad. Due to sincere efforts of the PTF head, the international juniors boys and girls events are being played at Islamabad since last week.

“Moreover, five international standard and high-quality hard surface tennis courts were also prepared at Dilawar Abbas Complex alongside same level grass courts at the PSB, Jinnah Stadium Complex, Islamabad, which received appreciation from the visiting foreign coaches as well,” he asserted. To another query, the PTF official said: “Pakistan has been placed in group-I for longest ever period and the federation also received the ITF and ATF award for the best performance. The visible and significant increase in prize money to motivate and encourage players has been made possible by PTF’s prudent financial planning and management.  “Some personal contributions by the PTF chief over past years and Saif Group’s sponsoring funds of approximately Rs 30 million over past years have extended tremendous push and support to the PTF. The Sub-e-Nau last month ladies tournament was also sponsored by “Eighteen”, one of companies of Saif Group. It was appreciated by national ladies champion Ushna Suhail as a positive step for promotion of women tennis.”  Khawaja Suhail said that the PTF head also specially flew to be present at mega events of French Open 2019, Paris and Wimbledon 2019, London 2019, from his own pocket to extend support and encouragement to Pakistan’s international tennis star Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi, which was highly appreciated and acknowledged by the tennis ace.

“The PTF chief succeeded in persuading the ITF for funds of $75,000 for infrastructure development. Due to commitment of Salim Saifullah for the promotion of tennis and for the first time the permanent National Training Centre (NTC) was established to train talented and upcoming players under professional coaches and experts,” he concluded.