ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) president Dr Syed Kaleem Imam Friday said that the federation continued to engage and promote tennis activities despite paucity of funds.
Talking to The Nation, Kaleem said: “The PTF will be sending its team for Davis Cup to play against Philippines from April 4-6. It is quite unfortunate that it was our home tie, but the International Tennis Federation (ITF), sighting so-called security concerns, declined to allow us to play at home venue. We also tried our level best to at least organise the tie at neutral venue, but over the moon demands by the relevant federations left us with no other option but to play the tie at the opponents’ backyard.”
He further said: “We have already started a week-long camp for the players to provide them maximum opportunities to prepare for the tie. Although it will be a tough task, keeping in mind conditions and home support with the opposing team, yet I am confident that my boys will perform well and just like they did in Vietnam, where they managed to beat the hosts quite impressively and comfortably.
To a query regarding in-form Samir Iftikhar’s inclusion in the squad in the absence of Aisamul Haq Qureshi due to his international engagements, Kaleem replied: “We are ready to invite not only Samir but also any other player, who wants to represent Pakistan and has ability to deliver at that level. I am ready to bear all the expenses from my own pocket, but Samir’s career is full of ill-mannered acts and the most serious was, when he walked out from Davis Cup tie in Korea during the fifth match so with this attitude, we can’t include such a player in the squad.”
“We want to take stern action against Samir but some well-wishers advised and pleaded me to pardon the boy and I accordingly swallowed the sour and bitter pill,” he added.
He said that the PTF would also be sending its junior Davis Cup team to Kuching, Malaysia for qualifying matches to be held from April 27. “The federation will be checking fitness and form of the players. Syed Nofil Kaleem’s chances look bright due to his recent performances, as he beat Davis Cupper Usman Ejaz and won his maiden U-18 singles national ranking title, while it is very likely Mudasssar and Ziad Mujahid retain their positions in the team.”
“The critics have developed a habit of pointing fingers at the federation without knowing or going through realities. We arranged a hefty number of events for the past three years or so. Despite not living permanently in Pakistan due to my official commitments, I am very much in touch with the federation and monitoring all the affairs and visit Pakistan every month. My primary job is to get funds, which by the grace of God and friends’ help, I managed to get and that too in bulk. I arranged ranking tournaments one after another and there was not a single month when we don’t organise an event,” he claimed.
“The PAF has been very kind and agreed to hold a national ranking tournament in Peshawar from April 10, which will be followed by the PTF Tournament and Subh-e-Nau ladies event,” he added.
It is pertinent to mention here that the PTF narrowly escaped placement of ad-hoc as sanity prevails among the high officials. They finally realised that the ITF could impose ban on such illegal act and besides that, this is an year of election and it makes no sense of placing an ad-hoc when the president is ready to conduct elections as earlier as it would be scheduled.