ISLAMABAD - Two-time former Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) president Senator Dilawar Abbas has announced to contest PTF elections scheduled at the end of this year.

Talking to The Nation, Senator Dilawar Abbas, who is life-time senior vice president of Asian Tennis Federation (ATF) and is widely regarded in tennis world, said: “Due to National Sports Policy restriction, I hadn’t contested last time around but now I have served one term out, so it is right time to contest elections for the sake of tennis in general and players in particular.

“I know Pakistan tennis badly needs fresh blood, which must be trained under professional and qualified coaches and should be provided international exposure. I have started ITF Futures during my tenures and let me assure all that like I have produced players like Samir Iftikhar, Abid Ali Akbar, Chaudhry Ahmed and a number of others, I will once again produce more talented players, who may serve the country at national and international level,” he added.

Dilawar said he has constructed the PTF Complex and despite almost decade passed, nothing was added in the infrastructure. “Being a PTF patron, I know the International Tennis Federation (ITF) has sanctioned the PTF $50,000 for infrastructure and former government has also allocated Rs 5 million and Slaim Saifullah is planning to construct new synthetic courts, which is a good step, but it should have been taken much earlier. We have to ensure funds generated through our personal links and private sector and have less rely on the government.”

He said he will bring local secretary like he had Major (R) Rashid in the past, who was always available and had a great team work. “I will use all my international contacts and also utilize my good relations with ATF president Anil Khanna, as he is always very kind to us. We must start tennis leagues and bilateral series at junior as well as senior level with our neighbouring countries like India, Sri Lanka, Iran, China, Bhutan, Maldives, Turkey and others.

“It is not easy to send players abroad due to financial constraints and lack of funds, but it is easy to conduct international tournaments in Pakistan with the help of security forces and government. Now overall security of the country is much better, as Davis Cup ties were conducted successfully in Pakistan. The ITF Futures and international tournaments were conducted last year and this year too, but for how long, Pakistan can rely on two aces Aisam and Aqeel, who have served Pakistan tennis whole-heartedly, but age is fast catching them and we badly need fresh blood to serve the country,” he added.

Dilawar also promised to ensure jobs or stipends for senior as well as junior players. “Without financial support, youth can’t be attracted towards playing tennis, while regular tournaments will be held. Pakistan tennis is facing acute shortage of female players, as not even handful of ladies are available for ranking tournaments, which is quite alarming situation. It is also ITF rule to conduct maximum ladies tournaments and I will give top most priority towards producing more and more female players and promoting women tennis.

“We will soon start tennis programmes at school and college, which are the nurseries of producing promising talent. I am also seriously thinking about starting at least one academy at Islamabad in the first phase and then expand to other major cities like Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar and invite top international coaches to give lectures and train our juniors at the academy. We have to keep eye on Davis Cup, Fed Cup and other regional and international tournaments and I have plans, which I will implement, if elected as PTF president,” he added.

“I invite all tennis lovers to join hands. I have experience and international contacts, which we can use for promotion of tennis and helping our youth. I will welcome all positive suggestions and all those, who, without any lust of power and personal glory, want to join hands for this noble cause of taking Pakistan tennis forward,” Dilawar concluded.