Thailand almost roped in for September visit

Published: June 5, 2017
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PHOTO: AFP

PHOTO: AFP

KARACHI: Thailand’s tennis team doesn’t appear to have any qualms about the security situation in Pakistan, and barring any unforeseen happenings, are expected to visit in September for the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Zone Group II final, according to Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) secretary Khalid Rehmani.

“It looks good,” Rehmani told The Express Tribune. “It will be great to host Thailand for the Group II final. We haven’t decided on the surface yet as there is still enough time, but we are quite confident that Thailand will be coming. The tie, however, will not be easy because Thailand are a very strong team.”

Pakistan and Thailand have been neck and neck in their previous meetings, with both sides sharing four victories each in eight overall encounters, although the beach-rich Southeast Asian nation did hammer Pakistan 4-1 the last time they met in 2014.

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Things can be different this time though as Pakistan are not only the top seeds in their group but also enjoy a home advantage — something they were deprived of for 12 years due to teams reluctant to visit owing to the region’s volatile security situation.

The drought ended in February this year when Iran visited Pakistan for their first round tie. The demons, however, returned for the second round tie as Hong Kong refused to visit and appealed for a change of venue.

Their appeal was denied, handing Pakistan a walkover win.

While talismanic player Aisamul Haq wasn’t a part of the team for the recent Islamic Solidarity Games, he will be making a return for the Thailand tie and join Aqeel Khan, with the rest of the squad to be picked after trials.

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Meanwhile, the PTF is also scheduled to host two U14 Asian Tennis Federation (ATF) in July in Karachi, an event Rehmani believes will help Pakistan gain the trust of international tennis fraternity.

“We are hosting U14 events too, which will prove that we can take very good care of the players and successfully host international events,” said Rehmani. “Hopefully, these little steps will give us good results in the long run.”

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