Female tennis players demand ITF futures, sponsorship

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Mohsin Ali

ISLAMABAD, (TLTP): Pakistan’s top female tennis players Ushna Suhail and Mahin Aftab Tuesday demanded Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) to organize ITF Futures for ladies players just like it does for male players.

Ushna and Mahin, who had helped Pakistan perform exceptionally well in the recently concluded Fed Cup and South Asian Games, expressed these views during an exclusive interview with TLTP on Tuesday.

Ushna, who is the lone international-fame tennis player of the country further said, “I along with Mahin performed exceptionally well in Fed Cup and helped country to finish at 4th. We lost in the semifinals, which is till date the best achievement of Pakistani women team.”

She said that Pakistan is presently at 52nd position in the world, above Indonesia, Uzbekistan, India, Hong Kong, China and other top tennis playing nations.

She said, “ITF Futures can help us gain international ranking points, as it is almost impossible to bear huge expenditures required to take part in ITF events abroad without sponsors. It is not possible for majority of us to even think about travelling abroad at our own.”

Ushna further said Pakistan women team players also need a coach to travel with them, which hasn’t happened for the last four years. She further said that that coach is very much essential, adding, “We need coaches like Rashid Malik, Khalid Siddiq and other top coaches who could help us perform on consistent basis.”

She said that PTF must understand that by holding ITF Futures, it will not only help Pakistani players gain exposure and earn ITF ranking points, but it would also help them learn a great deal while playing against the best in the business.

She said that girls do not take interest in tennis and main reason behind it is that females don’t get opportunities like male players.

Ushna further said, “The federation had promised us last year they will end the discrimination and huge gap between men’s and women’s prize money, just like ITF had equalized prize money.”

Young tennis sensation Mahin, who has beaten all the top ladies players and won the 5th Benazir Bhutto National Ranking Tennis Championship and Begum Kalsoom Saifullah Memorial Tennis Championship and had the honor of winning the ITF Junior singles title in Vietnam in 2015, said, “My father has spent a lot of money on my training in Spain and on playing ITF Futures abroad.”

She said the federation must sponsor her and other young girls so they could be able to participate in international tournaments. She said that international tournaments will help players not only to gain exposure and improve their international rankings, but will also provide them an opportunity to win mega events.

She said that her father has spent almost Rs35 million on her during the last 10 years and the federation must lend helping hand and support players like her.

She further said, “I am thankful to IPC Minister for inviting us and distributing cash prize of 13th SAG.  It is a good gesture and I think such steps should continue in future too.” She said she is only 18 and time is at her side, adding if the government or any multinational firm helps her ensure her participation in international events, she can win laurels for the country . She requested Prime Minister Imran Khan to recognize her efforts and direct Pakistan Sports Board PSB to hire coaches for them and also allocate sufficient funds so they could focus on their training and help country win major titles. TLTP

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