ISLAMABAD - Pakistan's pride, newly crowned Davis Cupper and country's top ranked junior player on ITF Circuit in 2010 with four ITF Junior World Ranking titles under his belt, Samir Iftikhar achieved another milestone in his short career with a lucrative 4-year athletic scholarship awarded by the University of New Mexico, USA (NCAA Division 1) starting August 2011 where he will not only play highly competitive tennis but will also receive university degree. In an exclusive interview with The Nation, Tayyab Iftikhar, father of Samir, revealed these details. In the past, players like Jimmy Connors, John Macnaroe, Roscoe Tanner and Haroon Rahim, while at present most of top 200 players on the Men's circuit belong to NCAA Universities in USA. India's Somdev Devvarman, who is ranked 70th in the world, is product of university tennis. Samir despite his hectic tennis schedule did not neglect his studies and passed his A levels and prerequisite SAT test with utmost ease to become eligible for the scholarship. He was highly recommended to UNM by Director Development Asian Tennis and renowned ITF coach Dough Macarddy who spotted talented youngster from Pakistan at the Asian Tennis Federation's HPEC camp in Thailand which was held in December 2010 where Samir was amongst top 8 Asian Under-20 players invited by ATF and had emerged as "fittest Asian Under-20 player " from trials conducted by fitness experts. The university also acknowledged his talent with impressive rise in junior world ranking from 1,300 to 250th in mere 8 months in 2010 and his impressive debut in the Pakistan Davis Cup Team in 2011 where Samir showed superb fitness and fighting skills and remained unbeaten at the national trials. Samir was invited on their expense to visit their campus in USA and offered him 80 percent scholarship worth over US $ 125,000 for 4 years which will cover tuition, books, equipment and tennis training. Samir have to bear almost US $10,000 per year. It is pertinent to mention that 18-year-old Samir is the grandson of great Indo-Pak tennis legend Khawaja Iftikhar Ahmad and first cousin of renowned tennis star Aisamul Haq. His father Tayyab Iftikhar is former Pakistan Davis Cupper. SVP PTF, Col (Retd) Asif Dar commenting on Samir's achievements said: "It is a big honour for Pakistan and PTF that an American University has invited our player which will train him to come to top professional levels as well as provide him higher education which will help him adjust better in future life." "PTF will encourage Samir to pursue his goals in tennis and education and become a role model for other juniors," Dar added. Samir's father Tayyab has hailed the opportunity given by prestigious US university and called it an "honour for the country and the PTF." He highly thanked for the support given to Samir in the past and presented by PTF Patron and former president Dilawar abbass and K Club President Rao Akbar by which his son was able to achieve this feat. He said that young Samir had all the qualities such as physical fitness, mental attitude, hard work and passion needed to come to top level. He hoped that the PTF would consider him in their " 4-year-plan" where they will need replacement of aging Aqeel Khan and Aisamul Haq and invest in Samir and provide him opportunity to play ITF futures tournaments in his off time from university and by the combination of highly competitive university tennis and ITF futures tournaments, he will be ready to serve his country and bring name to Pakistan like his cousin Aisam did. The Davis Cupper, who is a man of limited resources, said that he would appeal to government, the chief minister, ministry of education, banks and multinationals to help him in generating funds of US $10,000 per year which were required for Samir to finish his university. "Any gesture of encouragement by these institutions shall be highly inspirational for Samir and motivate youth of the country." The Nation has learnt from reliable sources that the PTF has decided to drop Samir from the Davis Cup team which is going to play important tie against South Korea in July just to save money as the PTF will have to give return ticket to Samir. At one hand PTF is busy making tall claims of promoting tennis in the country but on the other the officials are busy giving personal favours to the people of their liking. Dropping Samir from Davis Cup team will serve no purpose to neither for PTF nor for tennis in the country, as everyone who follows tennis is fully aware that Aqeel Khan and Asiam both have already in to their 30s, Samir is a ray of hope for Pakistan to bring laurels as he has the talent and above all he is just 18. It is a test case for the abilities of Pakistan Tennis Federation President and others who in last four months or so have made just promises which are yet to be materialised. People are getting bored from the tall claims of PTF as they have been unable to even fulfil any of their commitments for the last over four months. The PTF has promised to send its top players abroad for taking part in the ITF circuit matches but many top players will be forced to withdraw their entries from major tournaments just because of lack of interest and non-availability of funds from the PTF. All the events which were arranged by the PTF till now were just for gaining popularity as it was evident from the recently concluded training camp which was arranged by the PTF with the help of Indian coach Birbal Wadhera and sponsored by Ten Sports. Despite getting huge amount from the sponsors, the PTF has failed to provide proper diet to the kids of the camp and in spite of pointing out several key issues regarding miseries of the youngsters, the PTF officials didn't bother to pay heed to this and kids' suffering continued during the entire training camp in the phase 1 which was ended on Tuesday last. Samir's father has appealed to President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani to help his son complete his studies as he is the bright future of the country and can serve the country in years to come.