Islamabad - International Tennis Federation (ITF) Development Officer for West & Central Asia Amir Borghei arrived in Islamabad on an official visit to Pakistan in the early hours of Wednesday.
The enhanced level of interaction between the ITF, the Asian Tennis Federation (ATF) and the Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) are results of the continued efforts by the PTF in attracting more and more international events to the country, since successfully bringing international tennis back to Pakistan, PTF President Salim Saifullah Khan spear-headed a focused goal to allow to host the maximum number of ITF and ATF events in Pakistan.
During his tour, Amir Borghei will meet PTF officials to go over variant aspects including player development plans and programmes between now and 2020, coaching and officiating matters, progress in the ITF-led Junior Tennis Initiative (JTI) and the latest project of conversion of an additional five clay courts at the PTF Complex, for which the ITF has provided a special grant of $50,000 as part funding of the Rs 23 million project. It is for the first time that the ITF has provided such funding for infrastructural development, depicting its confidence in the PTF.
With the return of international tennis tournaments since early 2017 and an increasing number of tournaments in future, it has become necessary to provide playing facilities of international standard. The PTF management, therefore, embarked upon a project of converting five of the current ‘clay’ courts at the PTF Complex to synthetic surface while work on the conversion project is already underway and expected to be completed as per schedule.
Sharing his views on conversion of the courts, PTF Patron Khwaja Saeed Hai, who is also the Sindh Tennis Association (STA) President and the senior-most international cadre player in Pakistan, said: “Islamabad clay courts are not exactly real clay courts and don’t play fast. The synthetic surface tennis courts with rubberised base have been developed so that the leg muscles are not damaged. These courts have no bad bounce and are an ideal surface to play tennis, with my vast tennis experience, I strongly recommend to build synthetic courts across the country.”
Similarly, Punjab Lawn Tennis Association (PLTA) Chairman Iftikhar Rao also lends his complete support of the decision to convert the courts to synthetic surface, terming the project a need of the hour. “Having served promotion of tennis and other sports, over the years, I believe that for Pakistani players to be competitive in the international arena, our youngsters must be trained on the surfaces where almost 80% of events are played.”
Rao added that he was disappointed in Pakistan, generally, not staying in tune with international developments and technology, citing the case of astroturf being introduced in Pakistan a decade after other countries had started using it, something that cost a great deal to our national hockey teams. “We, in Punjab, converted most of our training and events-holding centres to synthetic courts several years ago,” he concluded.