ISLAMABAD - The year 2014 proved very fruitful and better one as compared to the previous for Pakistan tennis which touched the new heights and flourished more than the expectations.

The achievements of Pakistan Tennis Federations (PTF) are clear indication of commitments and sincere efforts made by the federation to bring the game to new heights. Pakistan team managed to play the final of the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Group-II after a gap of almost eight years, but remained unlucky not to win the final against Thailand. Pakistan managed to beat mighty Philippines at their own backyard, a feat which was never achieved. Pakistan took giant strides in international tennis rankings, as they were sitting at 56 previous year, but took 10 steps forward to finish the year at 46.

It was due to the tireless efforts of outgoing PTF president Dr Syed Kaleem Imam that top player of the country Aqeel Khan was awarded ‘Pride of Performance’ finally after 17 years. Pakistan didn’t miss even a single international event. Pakistan tennis juniors were given such a exposure that they not only played at Asian circuit and Junior Davis Cup but also played in back-to-back ITF Juniors in India, as Pakistan was given the rights to host this event at neutral venue, participating in those two events resulted in 7 to 8 junior Pakistani players managed to get international seeding. Pakistan’s shining star girl Rida Khalid won the ITF Junior Doubles title in India, while Nofil Kaleem Imam became the first Pakistani to reach No 1 rankings in U-14 in Asia.

Pakistan participated in Asian Games and Aqeel Khan set new record of representing the country in five Asian Games. Females were also given maximum exposure as Ushna Suhail continued to shine on world horizon and she became the first Pakistan woman tennis player who reached the International Tennis Federation (ITF) ranking (229). The girls participated in the Asian Games, Fed Cup and other international events, despite severe criticism from various circles, who were against sending girls for international events and termed it wastage of time and money. Kaleem Imam took stand and advocated the girls’ rights, which resulted in Rida finally managing to win the title.

The PTF remained the one and only most active body, which, despite limited finances, managed to conduct a record number of ranking events. Non-functional affiliated units were up in numbers to derail matchless activities, but despite their efforts, Kaleem Imam used his personal contacts and generated a record number of funds and for the first time in the history of Pakistan tennis, he led body left behind a whopping Rs 4.3 million in the federation kitty.

PTF remained the only federation which submitted expenditures/income details, duly approved by the house and before leaving the office, Kaleem offered the newly-elected president, others to audit PTF accounts through the firm of their liking. Kaleem decided not to contest for the second term, a unique example set by an outgoing president. He also congratulated newly-elected president Salim Saifullah Khan and offered his full-fledge cooperation to him to take Pakistan tennis to new heights and presented shield to him. Such trends were set, which needed to be followed by all the federations.

Kaleem continued to focus on not only players’ uplift but also for the very first time in the history of Pakistan tennis, the PTF employees were given hefty and substantial raises in their salaries. An employee Zameer Ahmed’s family was given a very reasonable amount on behalf of PTF and players also set new example by personally donating for the noble cause.

The era of Kaleem Imam as PTF president saw a record number of ranking tournaments in 2014. There was not a single month when at least two ranking events were not conducted, junior tennis got huge boost as main and top most focus was given to juniors. Kaleem had to face worst criticism for paying special attention towards juniors as his son Nofil Kaleem was also playing in U-18 circuit, but none of the critics could prove Nofil used the federation money or Kaleem influenced to include Nofil in international events. The matter of the fact is that Nofil had to suffer just because of his relation with Kaleem and was dropped from the team just because of that particular reason.

M Abid, Ahmed Chaudhry, Talha Zubair, Mudassar, Muzammil, Nofil, Ilham Khan, Imran Shoukat and other players came into to limelight. Aqeel Khan suffered his first defeat at the hands of Ahmed Chaudhry in almost a decade and that too at quarterfinals stage, while Aqeel's younger brother Yasir Khan suffered major upset defeats and was dethroned from national No 2 ranking by M Abid. It was not a good year as far as female tennis was concern as PTF found it really difficult to complete even simple draw for the female players as majority of female players have either left the country or focusing on international circuit. Ushna hardly plays tennis at home, while Alina and Mahin Aftab sisters also broke into top 4 in the national female rankings. Both the sisters went to Spain for four-month training and returned with more confidence and are now Pakistan's future hope of winning laurels at international level.

Aqeel Khan set new record of winning most matches in Davis Cup for Pakistan in 2014. He remained No 1 player for the 14th year in running despite shock loss in the national ranking tournament quarterfinals.

The PTF also witnessed new president in shape of Salim Saifullah Khan, who promised to bring revolutionary changes in tennis and the lives of the players as he is well known businessman and has a very powerful political and family background. The players have pinned high hopes in his leadership and ready for the fresh challenges in the coming year.

Salim Saifullah won the elections unopposed and managed to muster support of some of the big guns, who were at loggerheads in the past, but a number of challenges are waiting for him. He has to give top priority to revive international tennis in Pakistan, ensuring/pursuing International Tennis Federation (ITF) to let Pakistan hosts Davis Cup home ties, conduct maximum number of events, raise prize money to minimum Rs 500,000 and pay special attention towards grooming more and more male players who may replace fast aging Aisam and Aqeel in Davis Cup and other major international events. Finding and attracting females towards tennis is another huge mountain to climb for Salim. Up-gradation and renovation of existing clay courts, laying down of new synthetic courts and construction of indoor tennis courts at PTF Complex will be the major challenges Salim has to face, which he has promised during his election campaign.

Now all eyes will be on Salim to deliver, and if he fails to do so, he will soon land into trouble, as hopes are sky high. He is more than capable of doing wonders for Pakistan tennis due to his reputation and tremendous respect at international level which he can use to get Pakistan tennis back on track.