ISLAMABAD - Four-member Pakistan team will depart for Kazakhstan tomorrow (Saturday) to participate in Group-II Fed Cup starting from February 4-8.
Pakistan team consists of top national player Ushna Suhail, Pakistan No 1 female Sara Mansoor, Rida Khalid and Maheen Dada. Talking to The Nation on Thursday, Ushna said: “Camp of three-four days is by no mean sufficient enough for participating in such a high-profile event. The camp should be held at least three to four weeks in advance to have any realistic chances of making progress in the event that has participation of top countries of the world.”
Ushna further said: “There is a huge difference between foreign players and Pakistan players as they train around the year, then three weeks training for Fed Cup and now they are just focusing on light training and physical fitness but here the situation is entirely different.”
She termed the federation’s stance of sending female players for Fed Cup as a very positive and encouraging step and would yield very positive results as far as attracting more and more female players in Pakistan , as parents were very reluctant to send their daughters for playing tennis, instead majority of parents focus on their studies.
“It is my humble request to media to give proper coverage to tennis and if not possible to telecast entire event, then at least broadcast semifinals and final, which will help players and above all the country as majority of people don’t even recognise the basic facts about tennis,” she added.
“The PTF must send 4 to 5 top female players to play the ITF circuit at least every two months if not possible every month due to financial restrains. I will suggest the federation should send more and more players, but I know the limitations of the federations while parents can't alone bear heavy expenditures. But to attain the ITF points, it is vital to send more and more players for playing in maximum ITF events,” Ushna asserted.
She said that the PTF must remain in close contact with the ITF and try to convince them to allocate ITF events to Pakistan , which would attract sponsors and put new lease of life in females to join this beautiful game. She said that the federation must search for private sector sponsors to boost tennis across the country.
“I will not make tall claims regarding our chances in the difficult group, but I promise we will put our best efforts and try to win for the country in Fed Cup . We have bright chances against some opponents, and we will try to cash that,” Ushna concluded.
Sharing her views, Sara Mansoor said: “I have played few ITF features in India and I will use all my international experience in the Fed Cup and try to support Ushna and others in the best possible way.”
“Educational sector must provide relaxation to players and encourage them to play tennis. Extra burden of study and non-cooperation of educational institutes are discouraging not only parents but also players to join sporting fields,” she said and added: “The PTF should invite international coach to train local coaches and players.”
Sara proposes at least five national ranking championships only for female players, as currently number of events for females are almost zero, with the only exception of two or three events include female categories as well. “We didn't have any doubles female event, despite the fact we have to play Fed Cup and other international team events, which require doubles matches as well,” she concluded.  Sharing their views Rida Khalid and Maheen Dada said: “It is very first time we are selected for the national team and it will be a very good learning experience playing alongside players like Ushna and Sara. We will try to give more than satisfactory performances if our services are used.”