Khawaja Suhail Iftikhar, Senior Vice President of Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF), has said that the recent International Tennis Federation (ITF) decision, prompted by the All India Tennis Association’s (AITA) refusal to play the World Group 1 playoff Davis Cup tie in Islamabad in Jan/Feb 2024 due to security concerns, has been hailed as a significant success in sports diplomacy for Pakistan.
Khawaja Suhail stated, “This positive outcome is a stark contrast to the Davis Cup Tie in 2019, where AITA raised similar security concerns, leading to the match being played at a neutral venue in Kazakhstan. This time, PTF’s persistent efforts, spearheaded by President Salim Saifullah Khan and his team, have effectively lobbied in relevant ITF quarters, making a compelling case for Pakistan’s safe and congenial sports environment.”
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He added that President Salim Saifullah Khan was actively engaged with ITF officials during a visit to London last month, vehemently presenting Pakistan’s case and countering AITA’s lobbying efforts. The success of these diplomatic endeavors has garnered acknowledgment and appreciation at various government and sports forums.
The PTF senior official emphasized that the ongoing Juniors International Tennis tournaments in Islamabad, supported by private sector initiatives like the ACE Academy led by Aisamul Haq, reflect PTF’s commitment to promoting tennis from grassroots levels. The academy, known for conducting Pakistan’s first-ever Tennis Talent Hunt and providing free 12 months training to 16 selected juniors who now excel in various age categories, exemplifies the federation’s persistent efforts.
Additionally, the smooth execution of eight Davis Cup ties in Islamabad since 2017 underscores PTF’s dedication to the promotion and development of tennis in Pakistan,” added Khawaja Suhail.