LAHORE - Asian Tennis Federation (ATF) president Anil Kumar Khanna has said that after the clearance given by the International Tennis Federation (ITF), the Hong Kong team should have visited Pakistan to play Davis Cup Asian-Oceania Group-II tie against the hosts.

ATF president Anil and secretary Surendran Subramaniam have been invited to attend the ATF Constitution and Finance committee meetings under the chair of ATF Constitution and Finance Committee chairman Dilawar Abbas, which were held here Friday while Junior Players Development Committee meeting will be headed by Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) president Salim Saifullah Khan today (Saturday) at Islamabad. After the meeting, the ATF officials will leave the country tomorrow (Sunday).

In an exclusive interview with The Nation on Friday, Anil, who is also ITF vice president, said: “The ITF has its own security system analysis and they have termed Islamabad a safe place to hold the Davis Cup tie after a thorough investigation and their security personnel reports, so in my opinion, Hong Kong should not have refused to play in Pakistan.”

Lauding the efforts of PTF chief Salim Saifullah and patron Dilawar Abbas, Anil said the way the PTF high ups had been doing their work sincerely, time is not far, when Pakistan tennis will flourish and start reaping fruits at international level. “It is unfortunate that Davis Cup ties didn’t happen in Pakistan so long due to which their youth has less interest in this game, but even then I think future of tennis in Pakistan is bright.”

Sharing his wide experience of tennis, Anil has said that there are three Cs, which play very important role in the promotion tennis in any country. “The first C stands for courts, as without having proper infrastructure, no country can progress in any particular field. In my opinion, every country should provide easy and neighborhood facility to every player, as if any player has to come from too far for practice purpose, he/she will find it too tough to continue it. The better and easy access to tennis courts can certainly help in raising interest of the game among the youngsters.

“The second C stands for coaching, which has greater significance in any game. Coaching is a great source of grooming the talent as well as it provides opportunities to tennis players to get employment by applying their skills to the beginners. The ITF and ATF also pondering over providing coaches education programme to their associates to improve the coaches’ skills,” he said.

“The third C is competition, as the more a country conducts the competitions, the better and shinning talent they will get. In India, around 850 tournaments are conducted per year, which means 17 events per week, so by holding competitions in such a huge number will surely contribute well in boosting the game,” he added.

The ATF president also stressed upon computerizing the entire data of the players and the federation as it helps in keeping everything in apple pie order. “If a federation puts a complete record of their players in computer and keeps on updating rankings and other important records on their websites, it helps in encouraging the players, who remain in touch with the sites and makes extra efforts to improve their rankings. In India, everything is computerized and updated now and this healthy struggle is benefitting them a lot.”

Concluding the interview, Anil suggested that the PTF should bind its associates to focus on hunting and grooming young talent to get long-term benefits. “Every associate and even every coach should take the responsibility of some schools and their kids, arrange tournaments for them by getting entry fee of around Rs500 to 800 and utilize this amount on conducting regular tournaments. It will not only create interest of tennis among schools kids but also provide employment opportunities to more and more tennis players.”

ATF secretary Surendran Subramaniam, who is visiting Pakistan for the second time and Lahore for the first time, appreciated the love, care and hospitality of Pakistanis and termed his tour a remarkable one. “I am first time in Lahore and very impressed to see the infrastructure of tennis and beauty of this historical city. I would love to visit Pakistan again and if I get a chance, I would come to witness Davis Cup Group-II final here. I can foresee a bright future of tennis in Pakistan.”