LAHORE-The Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) has been unrelenting in its commitment to fostering junior players’ growth and progress in a steadfast pursuit of cultivating emerging tennis talents.
Over the years, this dedication has translated into a series of effective measures aimed at nurturing promising prospects, thereby enhancing the nation’s tennis landscape. Since the ascension of Salim Salim Saifullah Khan as PTF President in late 2014, the PTF has embraced innovative strategies to propel the juniors towards excellence.
A notable initiative involved integrating a leading junior player into the Davis Cup trials - a strategy intended to create a symbiotic relationship between the youth and the experienced players. However, this approach encountered obstacles as no junior managed to secure a spot in the final team, revealing a stark contrast in the level of play between these emerging talents and seasoned professionals.
Responding to recent media coverage that contained unverified comments questioning the effectiveness of PTF’s endeavors, Kh Suhail Iftikhar, Senior Vice President of PTF, shed light on the federation’s progressive steps. “To bridge the gap between the proficiency of our top juniors and seasoned professionals, we have devised a new paradigm,” said Kh Suhail.
“This paradigm involves inviting one or two standout juniors to participate in the Davis Cup Team training Camp - a ten-day immersion in an environment brimming with accomplished male players. This strategic move aims to facilitate a more meaningful exchange of skills and expertise,” he added.
Illustrating their commitment to recognizing exceptional young talent, the PTF extended a direct invitation to Bilal Asim for the Davis Cup team’s match against Lithuania. This decision was based on Asim’s remarkable performance in junior events throughout 2022. Acknowledging the broader efforts to nurture both professional and junior players, the PTF has been actively running scholarship programs. These initiatives ensure that players benefit from coaching by ITF-certified professionals, rigorous physical training, and consistent practice opportunities throughout the year, Kh Suhail added.
While commendable achievements have been made, some promising youngsters faced challenges in availing themselves of these opportunities due to logistical constraints. Bilal Asim and Sami Zeb, both identified as potential stars, were offered scholarships but couldn’trelocate to the PTF’s training hub in Islamabad. Additionally, emerging talents like Nael Qureshi are undergoing training at the Ace Academy - a move expected to yield positive results in the near future.
Emphasizing the ongoing and meticulous nature of talent development initiatives, Kh Suhail stressed that the PTF President remains personally invested in these efforts. This dedicated approach has borne fruit as the performance of junior players in international events has exceeded expectations, signaling a promising trajectory for Pakistan’s tennis prospects.