At 35, Pakistan’s tennis star Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi still going
strong in pushing tennis for peace
By our Sports Reporter
GUWAHATI, Feb 11: Pakistan’s tennis sensation Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi will have only one disappointment when he leaves Guwahati after the end of the 12th South Asian Games. He did not get a chance to explore the “beautiful city”.
Qureshi , who once partnered with Indian tennis star Rohan Bopan, is part of the Pakistan contingent participating in the ongoing South Asian Games. He finished the tourment with bronzes in mixed doubles and men's singles category.
Talking The Sentinel at the Chachal Tennis complex, Qureshi said, “I have visited India on many occasions earlier…but this is the first time I am in Guwahati . It’s a beautiful city. I had planned to visit some places with my teammates. But because of the strict security protocol, it was not possible. However, I don’t have any complaints regarding security related issues here.”
Qureshi is one of the top tennis stars Pakistan has produced. Tennis has a special place in his family and he picked up the racquet at a tender age. “My materl grandfather Khawaja Iftikhar Ahmed was a top tennis player of undivided India. My mother Nosheen Ihtsham too played high level tennis in Pakistan. Although I had interest in other games like cricket, but possibly my family’s interest in tennis brought me to the game,” he said.
Qureshi, although no longer in his prime, did not refuse when Pakistan Tennis Federation contacted him to take part in the 12th SAG.
“I am always eager to do something for my country. I am now nearly 35 years old and at this age, it is a little difficult for a tennis player to play an intertiol competition and that too in singles event. However, I did not want to upset my tennis federation and instantly decided to come to Guwahati,” he said.
Interestingly, this is the first appearance of the tennis star in the South Asian Games.
About the medals tally in which India was way ahead of other participating teams, Quereshi said, “India is a huge country. The government here is taking keen interest in sports. The sports infrastructure is very good here and funding too is good. Apart from that, they are organizing high level intertiol meets on regular basis which are giving good exposure to players. Sponsors are also forthcoming. I think other countries, which are taking part in the South Asian Games, are far behind in those areas. If they want to develop their sports then they should start to work as India is doing now.”
Apart from playing tennis, Qureshi also spends quality time for a novel cause. He is now a member of the “Champions for Peace” club, which is committed to serving the cause of peace through sports. Many top tennis players of the world are part of it. Qureshi and his former doubles partner Bopan started a campaign, “Stop War Start Tennis”, in 2010 with a goal to play matches on the borders of India and Pakistan.
“I love to do something for those who need help. My resources are very limited, so it is difficult for me to help everyone. But whenever I get an opportunity, I try my best to do something for them as there is nothing bigger than humanity,” Qureshi exclaimed.
He felt that sports is a very good medium to develop better relations between countries. ” I think this type of events should be held on regular basis where athletes of different countries get the opportunity to exchange their ideas and views and in the process can also strengthen friendship among themselves,” Qureshi added.