2023 - Catastrophic year for Pakistan Tennis

In all nine years of the current management of Pakistan Tennis Federation, it was my observation that PTF officials would squander all the efforts and hard work done by the tennis loving PTF President Salim Saifullah Khan. Being here in Kuwait, it is regretful to bear witness the PTF president's efforts going to waste due to the sad state of internal PTF affairs. 

The current PTF management in their nine years’ tenure not only wasted the existing talent but also destroyed the future of Pakistan tennis by not producing a single capable tennis player to represent them internationally - thanks to the casual attitude, ego and incompetent policies of a senior official of PTF. 

At the onset of Salim Saifullah's tenure, Aqeel Khan and Sarah Mehboob were Pakistan number one players and still both these players hold the number one ranks as no new young talent could rise. 

The likes of Davis Cup players Saamir Iftikhar, Abid Ali Akbar, Muzammil Murtaza and Fed Cup player Mahin Aftab, each and every one of them had their talents laid to waste due to the policies of the said senior official. Same is happening with the current junior national champion and men’s top 10 ranked youngster Sami Zaib, who should have been invited in trials for Davis Cup but some unknown USA-based player Mujtaba Ali Khan, who is probably a blue eyed of top officials, was invited for the Davis Cup trails purely on reference base, but failed to earn a place in the Davis Cup squad. 

Similarly, an adviser to PTF kept promoting his daughter to attain all the benefits by hook or by crook while the said senior official kept promoting a certain tennis coach because of his lengthy friendship with that coach's father. Similarly, the adviser used PTF to recommend her daughter to secure Tamgha-i-Imtiaz, completing blowing up all merits while ignoring Islamic Games Gold Medalist, Asian Games Silver Medalist and SAFF Games Gold medalist tennis players, that is sheer injustice. 

Now let us examine the performance of the PTF management. Last year, only six men’s national tournaments were held and this year none has taken place so far. Where will the national players go and how will they prepare professionally in the absence of a competitive platform? 

This year, Pakistan Davis Cup team suffered an ugly defeat from Lithuania in February in Lithuania just after defeating the same Lithuanian team in Pakistan in March 2022. The U-16 team secured the last position out of 16 in the Junior Davis Cup Asia-Oceania qualifying event held in Kazakhstan in May 2023. This defeat stands as one of the worst in the history of Pakistan tennis. In the Billie Jean King Cup Asia Oceania Group 2 event held in July 2023 in Malaysia, the ladies team got 10th position out of 12 teams and just marginally avoided relegation to Asia Oceania Group 3. 

In the under-14 ITF World Junior Tennis Finals event held in August 2023 in Czech Republic, the juniors team attained the last position out of 16 teams with a record bagel sets (6-0) for the defeating Pakistani players. No Pakistani could secure a single set from any opponent. 

This year only one positive news came out the Junior U14 team qualified for the World Group but the junior team selected for the ITF Junior Tennis Finals event couldn't even secure the Czech Republic visa as nothing was done from the PTF management on time. Alternatively, they selected "B" grade team of dual nationals, who got bageled in the worst way possible. The dual national coach sent with the team never even managed a street team as a captain/coach but the PTF selected him for a huge task. 

Another interesting thing to mention here is that whoever is close to the current PTF management and talks positively about them, becomes captain or coach of the teams. The government should know that PTF elections were supposed to be held in November 2022, but the current PTF management has broken the constitution, and the matter should be taken to court. These few examples are enough to show the sheer incompetency of the PTF management. The onus is on the authorities, who have been allowing extension to the current management without elections since November 2022. 

It is my final observation and question that under captaincy of legendary Hamid Ul Haq, the Pakistan Davis Cup team beat Indonesia in Jakarta in 2015 without Aisam Ul Haq Qureshi, where Abid Ali Akbar and Samir Iftikhar outshone the Indonesian team and now can Pakistan team beat them in Davis Cup again at our home ground – Islamabad – next month without Aisam Qureshi? I don’t think so. 

The writer is an International Certified PTR Tennis Coach from USA, ITF Certified Level II Tennis Coach and also an Internationally Qualified High Performance Pro Tennis Coach from Pakistan.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt