Pakistan’s unseeded U16 tennis squad progressed to the qualifying round of the Junior Davis Cup after beating Syria 2-1, finishing at the top of Group A in the Asia-Oceania Zone on Saturday.
Muhammad Zaid Mujahid defeated Syria’s Mohamad Hazem Naw 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-4 in the first singles rubber in Kuching, Malaysia. Muzammil Murtaza lost the second match to Kareem al Allaf 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 before Muzammil and Ziad defeated Karim and Hazam 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 in the deciding rubber.
“These young players have given me a lot of confidence,” Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) President Kaleem Imam told The Express Tribune. “We performed really well in the pre-qualifying matches, and hopefully we’ll win the next qualifying round in April.”
“If we win that we’ll get to play the world group.”
Pakistan begun their campaign on a winning note, defeating UAE in their first encounter 3-0. The unseeded team then lost to top seeds Kazakhstan 2-1, but the juniors did not lose heart and recovered to beat Turkmenistan 2-1. They then defeated Vietnam 2-0 before outplaying Syria in the last tie.
Imam said that the performance augurs well for Pakistan’s tennis future.“There is hope; every federation in the world produces one or two good players in a decade. It takes time. Even Britain took a long to produce an Andy Murray. So yes, it requires time and effort.”
Seniors to play Davis Cup tie in Philippines
On the other hand, the Pakistan senior Davis Cup team, which includes Aisamul Haq Qureshi and Aqeel Khan, may endure a tough time in their round two Asia-Oceania Group II tie against the Philippines. Imam confirmed that Pakistan have been ‘forced to play their home tie on their opponent’s turf in the Philippines’.
“We wanted to play this tie in Pakistan but the International Tennis Federation didn’t approve it,” said Imam.
“We asked the Malaysia but they don’t have grasscourts. We talked to Vietnam, where we won our first round tie, but it didn’t work out. Dubai was proving to be an expensive option so we were left with no choice but to play in the Philippines.”
Published in The Express Tribune, March 1st, 2014.