LAHORE - Former Davis Cupper Rashid Malik has said that Pakistan women players have prepared well for Fed Cup 2019 but for getting better results, there is a need of providing them maximum international exposure.

Talking to The Nation, Malik (Tamgha-e-Imtiaz) said that although Pakistan women team comprising Sara Mansoor, Sara Mehboob, Meheq Khokhar and Noor Malik are good ones and prepared well for the mega event, yet the real issue is that our opponents are far superior as they were heavily invested and played a great number of international events and trained well in the longer camps before entering this tournament, so they will surely have better chances than us.

“I have observed training of our women team in Islamabad, which is preparing for Fed Cup to be held in Malaysia. The preparation is not bad as the girls have worked really very hard but they could have been better if the camp was for bit longer,” he added.

Malik said that the opponents are tough and a lot of their girls are ranked quite high in WTA Ranking. “Sabina Sarapova of Uzbekistan is ranked 171 in the world highest in this event. She has beaten Sania Mirza before also. Our girls have to be mentally tough to win matches. I have full faith if they play to their potential, they can do well.”

He suggested that Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) should focus more on women tennis so that they should win more medals for Pakistan in SAF Games and other international events. “Our focus should be also on U-10 and U-14 girls and boys, if we want our country to be in top countries in Asia.

“Now is the time, we need to get sponsors for these young players so that they may fight in tournaments abroad to get mentally ready for big events. Even Aisam did the same thing, playing a lot of international tournaments. In his case, he has full support of his father from childhood and kept on supporting him till he made his position in that standard. Everyone is not that lucky to give such a support to his child. So we need to help those talented kids, who can’t afford to play such an expensive game,” he added.

The former Davis Cupper said that Pakistan has produced many top women players like Perveen Sheikh, Ushna Suhail, Sara Mansoor, Sara Mehboob, Marium Rahim, Nosheen Ihtisham, Mehvish Chisti, Haleema Rahim, Nida Waseem, Farrah Khushid, Saadiya Jan, Noor Malik and many others. “Only they could not come up in the international tournaments due to lack of sponsorship. Ever chip has talent but we just need to explore it and give a lot of international exposure.

“Punjab Academy has produced many international players and national champions but to be world class player, we need full funding with proper management. Some players are born talented and some become champions with their hard work. Pakistan is full of talent but we need to develop nurseries everywhere of all sports from age 4 years onwards. In last four years, as being PLTA secretary, my only aim was to make the game popular in every school and I have significantly succeeded in achieving my task and now more keen to worker hard to do a lot more,” Malik concluded.