Pakistan will have to wait until the security situation becomes ‘feasible’ to hold Davis Cup on their home soil as the International Tennis Federation (ITF) rejected Pakistan Tennis Federation’s (PTF) appeal after its home tie was shifted to Lebanon.
The Davis Cup Asia/Oceania group two tie was moved to the away venue after the ITF, based on information gathered by its security consultants, cited inadequate security arrangements despite Lebanon’s willingness to tour. The PTF, following the decision, appealed to the sport’s governing body but the request, too, was rejected.
“The ITF has rejected our appeal,” PTF Secretary Mumtaz Yousuf told The Express Tribune. “It said it can’t allow us to host Davis Cup matches until the security situation in the country becomes feasible for such activities.”
There exists, however, hope for future ties as the ITF, according to Yousuf, has promised to tweak its law on the shifting of matches.
“The ITF has given us two options for our future home ties. Firstly, it has assured us the ties barring inevitable circumstances. Also, if the matches are forced to be moved away, Pakistan will have the option of choosing the new venue, something that is not possible under the current rules.”
Pakistan have not hosted a Davis Cup tie since 2005 when back-to-back ties against Thailand and Chinese Taipei took place in Lahore. Since then, teams have shown reluctance to tour due to security concerns and as a result, Pakistan lost hosting rights for matches against Oman, Philippines, New Zealand and Hong Kong.
“The situation is improving in the country and we’re hopeful that future matches will take place in Pakistan.”
No foreign coach for Lebanon tie
Meanwhile, the PTF has decided against hiring a foreign coach for the tie against Lebanon. Two foreign coaches - India’s Birbal Wadhera and the US-based Jalil Riaz - were brought on-board for the clash against South Korea in July which Pakistan lost 4-0, their worst defeat in 33 years.
“We didn’t get any benefits from the foreign coaches and this time we will rely on our former players to prepare the squad,” said Yousuf before adding that former Davis Cup players Rasheed Malik and Mohammad Khalid were top contenders for the role of the non-playing captain.
“One of them will lead the side and the other will supervise training.”
Aqeel, Aisam certain but PTF wants rookies too
The two-week training camp will start in Islamabad next month where eight players will be invited and the five-man squad will be chosen from there. Aisamul Haq and Pakistan number one Aqeel Khan will be exempted from the trials while the remaining three berths will be determined through trials.
“We will favour youngsters if they perform well in the trials.”
The ties will be held in February, after the Australian Open in which Aisam will be Pakistan’s sole entry.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 31st, 2011.
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