ISLAMABAD: Leading national players have been drawn to play in the 8th Benazir Bhutto National Ranking Tennis Championship starting at the Islamabad Complex Courts today (Monday) and carrying Rs1 million prize money.
Senator Taj Haider and Secretary Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Farhatullah Babar in a press briefing here Sunday said that the ranking event has contributed in a big way to the uplift of the game in the country.
“Before Covid-19 pandemic, we also hosted international events where the top hundred-ranked players from across the world competed. The best international stars were seen competing against the locals, helping the leading players improve their game. For the next few years, we would organise national events only under the banner of Benazir Bhutto Tennis. That is because we want to promote up-and-coming youngsters to the level of top national ranked players,” Senator Taj Haider said.
Farhatullah Babar called on educating the coaches to the tune that they can train the youngsters according to the requirements of modern tennis.
“Tennis around the world has changed. Players’ grooming methods have changed considerably over the years. There is a need to educate the coaches so that they could serve at the grassroots level. We would do that under the banner of BB Academy which is already training ball boys and less fortunate players free of cost.”
Farhatullah, who is also one of the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) Governing Board members, said that he would take up BB Academy’s financial support issue in the Board meeting.
“Academy requires permanent financial assistance. I would table the request in the Board meeting shortly.” He said.
Top men’s seed Aqeel Khan who left the Federal Cup Tennis final unfinished Saturday has been drawn up to play his opening round match on Wednesday. All the other leading seeds including Muzammil Murtaza and Mohammad Shoaib are also drawn to play.
“I am thankful to Sindh government and Sindh chief minister for sponsoring the BB Tennis despite the financial crunch and the problems erupting from the recent floods. Hopefully, we would be in a position to raise the overall prize money from next year onward,” Senator Taj Haider said.
Fazale Subhan Chief Executive of ITC said that a record number of over 300 entries for all categories have been received for the championship.
“Never before in the history of Pakistan tennis such a huge number of entries have been received for the men’s single’s qualifying round. It has definitely made organizers’ job difficult. All other categories also received a very encouraging number of entries,” he said.
Fazale Subhan added that heavy entries have forced organizers to make the qualifying round as a one-set contest. “Now it will be a one-set qualifying round contest starting from early Monday morning.