ISLAMABAD     -    The 5th Shaheed Benazir Bhutto National Ranking Tennis Championship 2019 will roll into action from December 16 to 22 here at Islamabad Tennis Complex.

Senator Taj Haider, along with former Davis Cup coach Fazale Subhan and Hassan Baig, announced this during the interview with The Nation at Islamabad Tennis Complex on Friday. “Like previous years, the Sindh government has released Rs 1.7 million, which were handed over to the ITC to conduct the event in a trend-setting manner. We are also inviting Iranian players to give this event an international touch, where more than Rs 1 million cash prizes along with trophies will be distributed.

“As a mark of respect to tennis great Senator Dilawar Abbas, Patron and former PTF president, who passed away recently, we have decided to include a special category to be named after him as a token of appreciation to the person, who had given his entire life to tennis and his one of the greatest achievements was the construction of Senator Dilawar Abbas PTF Complex, which will always remind his legacy to the generations to come,” he added.

Taj said they will conduct a press conference in December and they are almost sure that PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will grace the occasion as chief guest. “The PPP’s bigwigs will also continue to attend the event on daily basis. The event include men’s singles and doubles, ladies singles and doubles, 45+ doubles, junior U-10, U-14 and U-18, while sports journalists category and special persons event will also be included in the fifth edition.

“Over the last five years, the ITC became the hub of tennis activities in not only Islamabad but also in the entire country. Fazale Subhan and his team deserve all the credit that they managed tournaments in a befitting manner. As a player of ITC, it was my responsibility to contribute towards this wonderful complex. We are trying to invite last year’s tournament referee from Iran and we are hopeful that he will not only arrive himself but also bring few players with him, which will give our top players a chance to showcase their talent against them,” he added.

Sharing his views, former Pakistan Davis Cup team coach Fazle Subhan said: “I am thankful to Senator Taj Haider for trusting us and I want to assure all that this year, the event will be one of the best in the history of Pakistan tennis. Kamran Khalil is the tournament director, while we have also formed a tournament organising committee headed by President Hassan Baig.

“The loss of Senator Dilawar Abbas is a huge setback for not only Pakistan tennis but world tennis as well. His absence will be felt for the rest of our lives. Including a category after his name was a great initiative. We are quiet hopeful that international players will also be part of the event on invitation. We are grateful to Senator Taj Haider for bringing ITC at par to international level, which enabled us to hold two back-to-back international tournaments here,” Subhan concluded.

Chairman tournament organising committee President Hassan Baig said: “For last four years, we are working for the tournaments and we are ready to host this year’s event in a great manner. The arrangements have been already finalised and even if international players are available for the event, we will welcome them and give them perfect accommodation, meal and everything we can. It is a great honour for entire committee to be part of a historic event, which is named after our former prime minister,” Hassan concluded.