ISLAMABAD – Asian Tennis Federation (ATF) senior vice president Senator Dilawar Abbas, who is also patron of Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF), conferred shield on PTF president Salim Saifullah Khan on behalf of ATF president Anil Khanna during a ceremony held here at PTF Complex on Wednesday.
Expressing his views, the PTF chief said: “Pakistan is hosting the ITF Futures after 9 years. We will give away $150 to the first round players, $250 to main round players and $1400 to the winner of the championship. It is great to witness mega international players from different corners of the world coming to play in Pakistan. We have a number of issues, as our players are denied visas and we can’t hold international events , which deprived Pakistani players of achieving the ITF ranking points, which can help them attain ranking points.
“After this Benazir Bhutto championship, which has been sponsored fully by Pakistan People Party, we need around Rs 3 million for hosting one ITF Future and we are holding three events , which will cost us Rs 90 million. We have sponsors, but it is high time when corporate sector must join hands with the PTF in our efforts to bring international tennis to Pakistan. We brought back Davis Cup tie after more than a decade and it is heartening to witness international sports like cricket, hockey, squash, tennis, badminton and others returning to Pakistan, while we will host Korea in February next year in Davis Cup,” he added.
Sharing his views, Senator Dilawar ABabs lauded Salim Saifullah’s efforts for reviving international tennis in Pakistan. “Without international tennis, our players can’t move forward. I was the one, who conducted five ITF Futures during my tenure and Anil Khanna supported us all the way. There was tension between Pakistan and India and that time Indian players both male and females were playing. I called Anil and offered to send players back, but he refused and said their players were as safe in Pakistan as they could be in India. The next night, I hosted dinner for the players and their parents and offered them next morning flight return to their homeland. They all refused and said they would continue to play. It was all quite heartening for us.
“We enjoy great relations with Anil Khanna. It is unfortunate that cricket is not being played between Pakistan and India, but I think the things will be normal soon,” he added.
Dilawar also congratulated Samir Iftikhar for achieving the milestone of reaching the quarterfinals and bouncing back from 1500 to 900 in one leap. “Samir was my product and it is proud moment for us. We need youngsters like Samir to carry forward Pakistan tennis. By supporting and sponsoring the players like Samir, we can get more and more Aisams and Aqeels, who can earn international fame for Pakistan.”