Tennis ace Aisamul Haq Qureshi became the first active player to hold the President’s office as he sets eyes on reviving the sport in Pakistan. He is now the elected chief of the Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF), replacing outgoing-president politician Salim Saifullah.
Aisam’s tenure will be for four years till 2028.
The election of the federation took place on February 10, eight out of 15 units voted for Aisam making him the winner of the poll while retired Major General Asghar Nawaz received seven votes at the PTF SDA Tennis Complex in Islamabad.
On his victory he expressed a gamut of emotions.
“I’m happy, excited, humbled,” Aisam told The Express Tribune after the win in the election. “And more importantly I am fired up to serve Pakistan tennis and revive it.”
He has put Pakistani tennis on the map, he has been the only Pakistani player to represent the country at all four grand slams regularly. His name is synonymous with Pakistan when it comes to tennis in the international community, sports and otherwise.
“I have always put Pakistan first, and this is just going to be on a grander note, if given a chance,” Aisam had told The Express Tribune this week. “Allah has given me respect and my name is recognised so I will be using my platform to boost Pakistan tennis. I am here to help the players, I am here for others.”
Retired Lt. Col Zia Uddin Tufail got eight votes compared to Major Suleman Junaid’s seven as he will take on the duties of the PTF General Secretary.
Arif Qureshi received nine votes to Umar Farooq’s six for the post of treasurer.
It was just last week that Aisam played Davis Cup World Group-I play-off against India along with Aqeel Khan, M Shoaib and Muzammil Murtaza, Barkatullah and Captain Muhammad Abid.
He had a flying start at the first singles rubber however, he picked up an injury that also caused him to not only lose the match but also miss the doubles rubber.
Pakistan lost 4-0 but after a close competition in each rubber.
Aisam had told The Express Tribune earlier that he would make sure that everyone moved together should he become the president.
“I would want to take everyone on board and it all goes hand in hand, I want to bring professionalism to the PTF that we lack,” he had said revealing that he has a vision and a plan for the development of Pakistan tennis.
He is running his Ace Academy which has already sent U18 & U14 players abroad.
Vote of confidence
Earlier this week Aqeel was sharing his optimism about Aisam’s campaign and the win would mean a better system for the players to groom in.
“There are so many things that need to be done, there hare plans and there is a vision, if Aisam becomes the president I know that it will help everyone, especially the players across the board. There is a lot to be done in Pakistan tennis,” Pakistan’s most experienced Davis Cupper, who is equaling India’s Leander Paes’ record of 58 tie said with confidence in his friend’s abilities.
“He has seen tennis at the top level and he has always been very encouraging to all the players.”
Views from the election venue
PTF Vice-President Khalid Rehmani, who was present at the elections, was very happy, and he wished well to Aisam.
He explained that the two panels were very cordial with each other and even the Pakistan Olympic Association observer Muhammad Shafiq was also impressed with the atmosphere at the venue.
“The environment was very cordial, even Higher Education Commission official was praising it out of surprise that our elections are so friendly and without any controversial behavior from anyone. In tennis mostly everyone is educated and its a very good community,” explained Rehmani.
He said that the election result was a little divided with Aisam being the only one elected from his panel.
“Our candidates were two Asiam and Genral Asghar Nawaz, so there were two panels, now these three candidates who got elected, secretary and treasurer were from the opposing panel from that of Aisam’s, for for an hour or so this election went on,” he said.
He added that Aisam’s win has given hope to the players in tennis community but he will be filling tall order set by Saifullah, “Aisam has always performed outstandingly as an athlete, our wish will be that he does well for the players.
Saifullah has stayed a president for nine years, he did a lot. I have all the praises for Saifullah, it won’t be easy to match his efforts. We started the wheelchair tennis during Saifullah’s tenure.
Aisam’s performance as a president will be there for us to see. The players are really happy, the community is happy because he’ll work for players. He’ll work for increased activity in all the regions and work for development.”