LAHORE-After overcoming significant visa challenges and diplomatic hurdles, Pakistan U14 boys’ tennis team has reached the Czech Republic to participate in the ITF World Juniors Finals to be held from August 7 to 12.
Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) President Senator Salim Saifullah Khan, spoke about the arduous journey that led to the team’s participation. He mentioned that securing confirmation for Pakistan’s participation was extremely challenging, right up to the last minute of the ITF deadline. The PTF had to obtain all necessary documents from the ITF before initiating contact with the Czech Embassy in Islamabad in mid-June. Unfortunately, despite several reminders, the embassy did not provide an appointment for submitting visa applications.
With the help of Ministry of IPC and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as the Pakistani Ambassador in Prague, the PTF made all-out efforts to secure visas for the team. However, due to procedural issues, the Czech Embassy was unable to accommodate their requests. Expressing his disappointment, Salim Saifullah mentioned that the PTF plans to protest separately to the ITF regarding the unprofessional attitude of the Czech Embassy, especially considering that Pakistan’s Davis Cup teams had been granted Schengen visas twice in the last 8 months for Austria and Lithuania.
The PTF chief said that despite two key players, Abubakar Talha and Hamza Roman, and former captain Heera Ashiq not being granted visas, the PTF had to prioritize the nation’s participation. With the ITF deadline looming, they had no choice but to select two players and an ITF qualified coach, who could travel to Europe without requiring fresh visas. Thankfully, two juniors who were next in line after the trials, Nabeel Qayum and Amir Mazari, qualified for travel and joined Samer Zaman and captain/coach Zain Nawab to complete the contingent.
The team is now all set to compete in Postejov, Czech Republic, although Abubakr and Hamza’s absence will be felt. Despite the setbacks, the PTF extends its best wishes to the remaining youngsters, who will represent the country on the international stage.