ISLAMABAD - Pakistan’s lone international tennis super star Aisam-ul-Haq feared for the future of Pakistan tennis and termed it quite bleak.

Talking to The Nation from London, where is presently working hard on his training and preparing for future international events, Aisam said: “There is absolutely no junior player, who could compete at international level. It is not only the players’ fault but the government and the federation are also equally responsible as they never bothered to provide international exposure and training to the youngsters to groom them as per international standard.”

He said unfortunately there was a huge gap between senior and juniors. “Off course, juniors are good at national level, but they are nowhere when it comes to international representation and keeping Pakistan in Davis Cup Group-I or Group-II. Aqeel is 36 and I am also almost 36 and we don’t have much time now to represent the country like we had done in the past 16 years or so. I don’t see current crop of players could pose real threat to the opponents and help Pakistan tennis prevail in Davis Cup and other international events,” he added.

Lauding the services of current federation, Aisam said: “Yes, the present PTF officials are taking some positive steps and conducting national ranking tournaments more frequently, but the federation must involve sponsors and try to tell them who are our real champions. Wherever I play, I always try to present the actual picture of Pakistan, and that is sports loving and highly positive country. There is a lot of work to be done on juniors, off course, some juniors will finally dethrone Aqeel and claim top ranking at Pakistan level, but it is by no means enough when we compare at world level.”

Pakistan tennis ace said that for the last 17 years, he had not witnessed system in sports. “We need right people for the right job. The federation must promote players but unfortunately, the government is promoting only one sports, which sadly brought so much negativity for the country, while on the other hand, other sports persons had done a lot for the country but their services were never recognised in the way, the cricketers are honoured.” “I am trying my level best to be back on top, that’s why I am training very hard. I am going to play in Hungry, then will prepare myself for French Open and Wimbledon. The government must lend a helping hand to other sports as well, as without government’s support, it is almost impossible for the federations to take care of the players. I know the annual grants of the federations from Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) is not even enough to pay utility bills, employees’ salaries, conducting ranking tournaments, sending teams aboard for Davis Cup, Fed Cup, Junior Davis Cup and other major events is a far cry.

“Until and unless the government realises the importance of other athletes and private sector is not involved, I don’t see any major change in Pakistan’s fortunes of even thinking about ordinary performances in international events. I know athletes play out their hearts out and try to give more than 100 percent, but nobody can perform beyond capacity. The players need international-standard trainings, they must be sent abroad for more and more international matches and above all training under the world’s best coaches to stand realistic chance of winning laurels at world stage,” he added.

“There is an urgent need to pay top attention towards finding fresh grassroots level talent. I am always ready to help in the best possible manner. I have requested Punjab government and the PTF to arrange a piece of land where I may construct international-standard tennis academy and pass on my experience and knowledge to generation next but despite several promises of providing the proposed land soon, I am still waiting to get some good news in this regard.

“It is not my personal ambition, it is about the future of Pakistan tennis, as soon as I get the land, I will start work and with the active help of my staff, I will be able to provide the country a number of future Aisam and Aqeel. I once again request to the Punjab Chief Minister to issue orders so that I may start work on my dream project,” Aisam concluded.