Competitive tennis returns to Peshawar for the first time since 2002 as the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Tennis Association (KPKTA) prepares to host the National Grasscourt Championship from tomorrow.
This the first time Peshawar is hosting top-ranked players since the 2002 Davis Cup ties. According to the KPKTA Director Ayaz Khan, the province has been regularly ignored by the Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) and the championship is taking place there due to the Sports Minister’s interest in the region.
“It’s exciting and sad at the same time,” Ayaz told The Express Tribune. “This is the maiden tennis championship in Peshawar since the KPKTA was formed in 1974. We’ve been neglected by the PTF.”
Ayaz added that while the association was organising the event on its own, the national body’s lack of interest in the region was driving players away from Peshawar and to Lahore or Islamabad in order to take part in national events.
Meanwhile, according to the PTF, the lack of tournaments in Peshawar is due to a lack of activity by the provincial association. The PTF, according to an official, has eight units and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa was the least active one.
‘It’s the provincial association’s decision to organise events and the PTF can only give them the rights and allot ranking points,” said the PTF official.
“They really can’t complain about the situation. It’s their job to promote the sport.”
Meanwhile, according to Pakistan’s top-ranked player Aqeel Khan, the event will help revive tennis in the province.
“In the early 90s we used to have at least 10 players from Peshawar in the national camp,” said Aqeel. “But now there’s is no one in the national tournaments. It’s sad because it shows the demise of tennis in the province.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 13th, 2012.