Aisam ul Haq Qureshi; the Pakistani tennis player made his nation proud by reaching the finals of the US Open in the Mixed and Men’s Double category.
The news of his success brought smile and hope to Pakistanis who are yet to recover from the devastating floods and the shameful cricket match fixing allegations by the international media.
Aisam ul Haq belongs to family which had produced national champions. His maternal grandfather Khawaja Iftikhar was the All-India Champion before the partition of 1947.
Aisam’s mother, Nausheen Ehtasham, was the 10 times national champion of Pakistan. She also represented Pakistan in the Fed Cup and was the first coach of her son Aisam. Like other Pakistani boys, Aisam grew up playing cricket and later at the age of 14, his mother introduced him to the world of tennis.
By the age of 18, Aisam was among the top 20 junior players. He was ranked as the Asian No. 1 and Junior World No 7 with victories over Andy Roddick, Taylor Dent and other big names of that time. He turned pro in 1998 and represented Pakistan in various events all over the world including the coveted Davis Cup.
In 2001, he became the first Pakistani ever to qualify for Wimbledon Grand Slam Tennis Championship. Aisam was again in the news in 2002 but for a different reason. He had paired with Israeli Amir Hadid in US and Wimbledon tournaments.
Although both faced criticism from their communities, they were awarded the Ashe Arthur Humanitarian Award of the Year. Aisam along with the Swiss player James Cerretani defeated Roger Federer and Marco Chiudinelli in straight sets in the Basel Open Doubles. Aisam considers this victory as the biggest achievement of his life.
Aisam’s choice of partners again made headlines again when he paired off with Rohan Bopana; an Indian tennis player. Dubbed as the Indo-Pak Express, the duo have played many matches and won quite a few.
The pair made it to the finals of the 2010 US Open Men’s double; the first time ever for a Pakistani. Aisam was also in the mixed doubles final with partner Kveta Peschke; although he lost both the finals, he gave something to the nation; hope, pride and a reason to be a Proud Pakistani.