I was just in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt for three weeks to play some Futures. Futures are the lowest level world ranking tennis tournaments. Players ranked 250 and below typically play these tournaments. Players ranked higher than 250 normally play the ‘challenger’ circuit, which is one level below the famous ATP tour.

I met this Austrian coach there who was with two of his players, an Egyptian who was 280 or so in the world, and a Slovenian who was also around 290. I played the Slovenian a few weeks back in Turkey, didn’t go too well. We got along well and would have most of our meals together at the hotel buffet along with his players who we were friends with by now too. My Pakistani friend showed him my previous article, “What Pakistan tennis needs” when I wasn’t around.

I ran into him at the gym where he was on the bike for two hours already. He told me he read my article and wanted to talk about it. So we talked as he biked for another hour. He said a couple things that made a lot of sense and added to my knowledge.

I wrote last week that we need to educate our coaches and for that we should send them abroad to attend coaches conferences and get certified. We could send them to work at top academies where they could get exposure and experience.  He completely agreed with me that we need educated coaches and on the importance of that. He suggested a different route than what I suggested, though.

He suggested that we hire a well-known coach and preferably a solid former player to come to Pakistan. We have him work with our players and educate our coaches at the same time. This reminded me of what the Turkish Tennis Federation has done. So I asked him if that’s the system he is suggesting and he nodded and said, “Exactly.”

The Turkish Federation has hired Dominik Hrbaty, a former professional tennis player from Slovakia who was ranked as high as no. 12 in the world. He is in charge of their top players’ development and works closely with all of them. All their top coaches work under but along him at the same time.

I saw this first hand in Turkey when I was playing Futures there and the Austrian coach was there with his players too. This is when I lost to his guy. There were eight match courts and two practice courts that were booked by the Turkish team for 6 hours every day. Hrbaty would be on court with all the players working on their games, help them warm up before matches, and then go sit on every player’s court for their match. Throughout all of this, Turkish coaches would be right by his side, listening to every word of his, every tip he gave to the player and how he dealt with them.

This is an extremely smart yet simple and economical way to achieve two goals in one. The goals being, giving players high level coaching and educating coaches through first hand, almost like on the job training.

This ties in with what I have said in my articles a few times and is very crucial in my view. I’ve mentioned the importance of self-belief and how it comes from seeing and being a part of things. Hrbaty’s being there among them all the time gives them self-belief. It reminds them that the best players in the world are all humans and one of them is right here with us, living, eating hanging out with us and of course, coaching and mentoring us.

However, there are two things that Turkey has and which we seriously lack. One is desire and the other, money. The more serious of them is the latter, and which we lack more. Turkish federation has money and they are spending it. They pay Hrbaty $30,000 a month, as far as I have heard from some sources. That is some serious money. Then they have more futures tournaments than any other country in the world. They are scheduled to have 46 in 2014. The best Pakistan was ever at was three Futures a year around 2007, 2008 if I remember correctly, which was very positive. But unfortunately we lost them because of security conditions.

Hosting Futures tournaments is a great advantage to all countries for their players but especially to Turkey with their system. Hrbaty and his gang stay at the tournament site where everything is available to them. They train there and play professional matches on site. Suppose we hired Hrbaty for Pakistan tennis.  We would have to pay for him and the players’ travel to tournaments abroad, their hotel expenditures, stringing etc. Turkey, on the other hand doesn’t have to bear all of that because they are hosting tournaments.

Another benefit of hosting tournaments is that the federation or tournament director can give wildcards to the local players. This won’t help any country in the world more than us. That might be an exaggeration but we desperately need some. We might be one of the few countries in the world that has a Davis Cup team but doesn’t have a player with a singles world ranking.

There is a good chance that if we have four Futures next year, in one of those tournaments two of our wild card players are drawn to play each other. We will be guaranteed one player with a singles world ranking after that tournament. Not a bad deal. Not that it is our goal to have one ATP point but it won’t hurt. We have active players who have had singles points and even very high world rankings and I am sure they would be able to earn points if they played futures right now. But the fact is that at this very moment, there is no one.

It is the loss of our junior players who aspire to be pro tennis players. They lose their ambition when they see that there is no ladder in Pakistan leading anywhere. Their fire dies, and with it hope. More than just players actually, it is a loss for our entire youth.

Our musicians, artists, authors etc. have forever been cursed by piracy which makes those careers gloomy too. Our parents wish for us to become doctors, engineers or business executives, anything less than that is a disappointment. Our children spend their teens between school, tuition centers and private tutors. They hardly see the light of day, in fact, the only light they see comes from their smart phones and tablets. To me, it’s a scary thought that most of our youth doesn’t dream of anything but spending a life behind a desk.

I’ll rant further about this another day.

Abid Akbar is a former Under-18 national champion, a scholar-athlete at the university of Idaho, the assistant coach of his almamater's tennis program and currently a professional tennis player