Pakistan’s defeat against Philippines in Davis Cup Asia last month was a huge embarrassment for the nation since we failed to win even a single set in all five matches. The four-member squad consisted of seasoned Davis cup player Aqeel Khan and his younger brothers, Jalil Khan and Yasir Khan, along with Mohammad Abid who had made his debut against Lebanon in the first round tie of the eight-nation contest. Aisamul Haq Qureshi was nursing his knee injury and hence was unavailable for selection.
Aisam was the member of the Pakistan squad that struggled against Lebanon to win the first round tie by 3-2 in Lebanon. It was 2-2 when Pakistan number one Aqeel Khan put up a brave fight to win the second reverse singles to ensure Pakistan’s success. But impartial observers believe that beating the host was beyond the capabilities of our players and undoubtedly Aisam’s presence would have given moral boost to the team which seemed to be fighting a losing battle. It was quite disappointing that Pakistan could win only 28 games out of 78. Of this, Aqeel Khan won seven games out of 18 in the first singles, while Yasir Khan could only win four out of 18 games. Doubles pair of Aqeel and Jalil Khan secured seven games out of 18. In the two reverse singles Mohammad Abid won three out of 12 games while Yasir won seven in the best of three sets.
Reports say that there are 14 affiliated units of the Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) but the active bodies are less than half a dozen. Even these do not have permanent coaching centres for training teenagers as backup for the Pakistan’s Davis Cup squad. Both Aisam and Aqeel Khan have given their best to national tennis for the past one decade, but now we need fresh talent. The other players are good but they require international exposure which is found lacking.
Karachi has discovered four talented and promising teenagers, Zohair Raza, Talha Zubair, Adil Kohari and Naveed Shamsi. What they need now is at least four hours of daily training and practice to build stamina as well to better their skill under the supervision of a paid coach.
Within four years they would be outstanding performers provided they show commitment.
Presently, the four players are competing in local tournaments and their performance is good but they still need required coaching and training under a well planned programme by Sindh Tennis Association (STA). Tournaments may build a player’s temperament but coaching camps are the only way to produce competent players.
Given that there is a dearth of public tennis courts, the KMC Kashmir Complex with its five courts can be the ideal place for holding the training camps. This can easily be worked out if the STA is willing to take up this challenge. It can seek sponsorship for training centre.