Pakistan’s men and women tennis teams flew to Azerbaijan on Monday night to take part in the Islamic Solidarity Games, scheduled to commence from May 12 in Baku.
“Our men team is under-strength as it is leaving for the important assignment without tennis ace Aisamul Haq Qureshi and the US-based Abid Ali Akbar,” Pakistan Tennis Federation Secretary Muhammad Khalid Rehmani, who is accompanying the squad as manager, told the agency before the departure.
He said Aisam had regretted as he was busy in preparations for the French Open, while Abid Ali said he could not chip in the event due to some personal engagements in the US.
Thus the men team reduced to three from five now consists of Pakistan number one Aqeel Khan, Muhammad Abid Mushtaq and Muzamil Murtaza.
The women team is comprised of country’s top players – Ushna Suhail, Sara Mansoor, Sarah Mahboob Khan and Meheq Khokher. Mahboob Khan is accompanying the squad as coach/captain.
It is for the first time that Pakistan women team will feature in the Islamic Games. Pakistan men team last time appeared in the Second Islamic Solidarity Games held in Saudi Arab in 2005 and earned three gold and one bronze medals.
Rehmani said Pakistan’s both men and women teams would take part in individual, doubles and team events in the Games. He said Pakistan would face tough resistance from Egypt, Morocco, Malaysia and Indonesia, adding that Pakistan players were capable of producing good results and he was expecting some good show from them.
“Both the men and women teams underwent three-week rigorous training under the supervision of coach Mahboob Khan at PSB Tennis Courts, while Nasrullah Rana, an international conditioning coach, provided physical conditioning to the women team members,” he added.