ISLAMABAD - The record prize money carrying (Rs of 700,000) 2nd Benazir Bhutto Shahaed National Ranking Tennis Championship 2016 will start from December 4 here at Islamabad Tennis Complex.

Addressing a press conference here at Islamabad Tennis Complex, Senator Taj Haider, along with Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) patron Senator Dilawar Abbas, president Salim Saifullah Khan, tournament director Khadeja Laghari, ITC chairman Fazale Subhan, PPP Islamabad president Sibte Haider and Taj Haider, said: “Sindh government has released Rs 1.5 million, while we have also arranged Rs 1.5 million from private sponsors.

We have set aside Rs 3 million for renovation of the ITC as during the thunderstorm, the facilities were badly damaged, but Amir Chaudhry, father of Ahmed Chaudhry, very kindly cut the budget to half and monitoring himself the entire renovation/maintenance work,” he added.

He said Sindh sports minister Sardar M Bux Khan Mahar would inaugurate the championship, while Sindh CM Syed Murad Ali Shah had very kindly accepted to be the chief guest at the closing ceremony. “Last year, we started the journey in the name of our great leader Shaheed Benazir Bhutto and around 250 players participated in it. This year, we have not only enhanced the prize money, but also decided to provide accommodation, travelling allowance and dailies to each and every individual.

“It is quite unfortunate that despite sending invitation letters to 23 countries for their participation in the prestigious event, the response was highly negative,” he added.

He said: “We are expecting around 400 players this time around and the main attraction will be the females’ event as so far, 16 top ladies have confirmed their participation, while the top male players will also be showcasing their skills for the event. We have decided to get the BB Trophy designed from NCA Rawalpindi on Wimbledon style. The trophy will be presented to men’s singles champion. It will be one time trophy and will carry on to be presented to winners.”  When asked why to deprive ladies of one-time trophy, as Benazir was himself a lady, Taj replied: “I will try my best to arrange another trophy, but for the time being, I can only promise men’s trophy.”

PTF patron Senator Dilawar Abbas paid rich tributes to Shaheed Benazir Bhutto and termed her the leader of entire Pakistan saying her loss is the loss of the country. “It is really appreciable to pay tribute to the leader and hold an event in recognition of her matchless services for the country.”

PTF president Salim Saifullah assured his all-out support to Taj Haider for holding the event in a successful way. “The International Tennis Federation (ITF) is going on with their policy of depriving Pakistan of hosting Davis Cup matches for the last 11 years or so, which is quite injustice and due to which tennis has been suffering badly in Pakistan.

“Now Pakistan is all set to play Davis Cup Group-II Asia-Oceania tie against Iran from February 3 to 5. I requested Iranian Tennis Federation to play Davis Cup tie in Pakistan, as it will be a great gesture indeed and open floodgates of international tennis to Pakistan,” he added.  Fazle Subhan also thanked Senator Taj Haider and PPP leadership for believing in his abilities and promised to organise the second edition of the event in a trend-setting manners.