Pakistan will play its Asia/Oceania Group II tie against New Zealand on grass courts in Myanmar on April 5-7 after the neutral venue was approved by the Davis Cup Committee.
Pakistan has not hosted a tie on home soil since 2005, when it defeated Chinese Taipei 4-1 in the Asia/Oceania Group I second round, and welcomed the chance to play a tie on a surface of its choosing at the Pun Hlaing Golf and Country Club in Yangon, Myanmar.
“This will be the first time in the history of Pakistan tennis that we will have our home tie on the courts of our choice at a neutral venue, which is a good sign because Pakistan has long been denied holding ties in the country due to [the] security situation,” said President of the Pakistan Tennis Federation Kaleem Imam.
Pakistan defeated Sri Lanka 3-2 in its Asia/Oceania Group II first round tie on February 1-3 and the nation knows a win over New Zealand would leave them just one match away from a place in Asia/Oceania Group I in 2014.
The choice of venue, which will host up to 800 spectators, provides another dose of good news for Myanmar, which is already gearing up to host Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Zone Group III and IV events from April 22 to May 5 as part of a two week-festival of tennis at the Thein Byu Tennis Stadium, the national tennis centre in Yangon.
A total of 19 nations are set to take part in the two-week event. Eight, including Cambodia (looking to build on its historic Davis Cup debut in 2012 when it won promotion from the Asia/Oceania Zone Group IV event staged in Doha in April), Hong Kong China, Iran, Malaysia, Oman, Pacific Oceania, UAE and Vietnam will contest Asia/Oceania Zone Group III in the first week. There will be 11 teams taking part in Asia/Oceania Zone Group IV, including Bahrain, Bangladesh, Iraq, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Turkmenistan and Yemen.
Hosting Davis Cup is one of a number of projects undertaken by the Myanmar Tennis Federation to help develop tennis in Myanmar with plenty of work being done ahead of the staging of the zonal events in April.
The federation hired Robert Davis as head coach and technical expert in 2011 and has made widespread improvements since, focusing on coach education, talent identification, officiating and attracting international tournaments to Myanmar.