By Majid Khan
Unknown too many Pakistanis,
the country’s tennis team is now among the
top 16 in the world.
Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi and Aqeel Khan delivered an
historic performance when Pakistan defeated Taiwan
to progress, for the first time ever, into the World
Group play-offs of the Davis Cup. In doing so, Pakistan
today stands, shoulder to shoulder, with the top
16 tennis playing nations in the world.
Pakistan recorded this historic feat on Sunday last,
on the grass courts of Lahore’s Defence Club.
Pakistan virtually outplayed Taiwan, 4-1, in the
three-day Asia Oceania Zone Group One semifinal.
And as usual, it was left to the two stars of Pakistan
tennis, Aisam and Aqeel Khan, who gave extraordinary
performances. It was a repeat of their performance
in March earlier this year when they downed the
formidable Thailand team 3-2.
Never before have we succeeded in booking a place
for ourselves in the World Group qualifiers. Rather,
for years now, Pakistan had struggled to avoid relegation
from Group One to Group Two. In fact, it was only
last year when Pakistan struggled to a 3-2 success
against New Zealand in the play-off in Islamabad.
Pakistan gained a 2-1 lead as Aisam and Aqeel won
the doubles but losing the first reverse singles
by Aisam put Pakistan at the verge of relegation.
However, Aisam who is currently ranked 215th in
the world, led Pakistan from the front. First, in
the competition against the Thais, he carved out
the biggest victory of his career when he beat Thailand’s
ace and world no 33, Paradorn Srichapan in the first
reverse singles in a hard fought two-hour-40 minute
battle. Aisam is in the form of his life. So far
he has remained unbeatable in the matches that he’s
played against Thailand and Taiwan. His partner
in this march to victory has been Aqeel who has
also performed well. But it is the doubles combination
with Aisam that has proved lethal and has grown
in maturity with the pair winning their ties against
Thailand and Taiwan.
Last month, Aisam and Aqeel also excelled in the
Islamic Solidarity Games in Saudi Arabia by winning
three gold and a bronze medal that helped Pakistan
onto the medals table. Pakistan won the team gold,
men’s doubles title and the men’s singles
final through Aisam. The losing semifinalist, Aqeel,
got the bronze.
Sunday’s victory in Lahore was a matter of
great pride and immense satisfaction. The nation
is looking forward with great hope that the PTF
will build on the victories and such memorable moments
will become common in the future.
The PTF should work out a plan for establishing
permanent coaching centers in Lahore, Peshawar,
Islamabad, Karachi and Quetta. Services of foreign
coaches should be acquired, if possible through
the PSB. A good number of foreign coaches are attached
with different national sports federations and Cuban
coaches have been providing training to our boxers
for more than a decade. Let the PTF seek the services
of foreign coach through the PSB.
However, a sad thing about Pakistan’s historic
victory in Lahore was that it was ignored by the
state-run PTV. It was a poor reflection on those
who matter most in seeking sponsorship. The organizers,
it was reported failed to provide the required facilities
to the media to carry out their professional commitments.
Whatever the reason, tennis fans missed a great
In the Davis Cup ties, neighboring India too won
and regained its place in World Group play-offs
with an impressive 5-0 victory over Uzbekistan at
its home court in Jaipur. The other 14 countries
in the play-offs are Spain, Switzerland, Austria,
the Czech Republic, Chile, Sweden, Belarus, USA,
Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Canada, Belgium and
Ecuador. The next round of the David Cup will be
held from September 23 to September 25.
According to available information, Pakistan will
be pitted against either the USA or Spain, this
coming September. Both are formidable opponents.
Nevertheless, success in the Islamic Games’
tennis and entering the World Group play-offs are
milestones in our tennis history. Aisam has already
been honored with the President’s Pride of
Performance Award on the recommendation of the PTF.
The Federation should also recommend such an award
for Aqeel who under very hard and trying conditions
stood the challenge to contribute to Pakistan’s
entry in the World Group play-offs for the first