Aisamul Haq Qureshi is Pakistan’s most successful and high-profile tennis player.
For more than two decades, the 38-year-old athlete from Lahore has been flying his country’s flag on the sport’s highest professional stage, winning trophies and awards.
Qureshi’s best results have come on the doubles’ court, with a career-high ranking of eight, two US Open finals in 2010, 16 titles and a memorable victory against Swiss superstar Roger Federer.
But, as Qureshi notes, it has not all been smooth sailing for the current top 50 Pakistani doubles’ player.
In an interview with Al Jazeera on the sidelines of the Qatar Open, Qureshi talked about the challenges of globe-trotting with a Pakistani passport, the revival of international sports events in the country, and plans to meet the cricketer-turned-prime minister, Imran Khan.
Talking about the chances that sports getting better in the country after Imran Khan becoming prime minister, Haq said that for him, 100 per cent. “I really feel that the standard of all the sports in Pakistan will get better. I’m definitely thinking of having a meeting with him (Khan) or his officials, and try to ask him to grant me land to build an academy,” the Tennis star said, adding he was refused twice by the previous government, so hopefully, he can be in a position to build one and produce more Aisam Qureshis.
Discussing the aspect Tennis being an ‘elite’ sport in Pakistan, he said that in Pakistan, there is this attitude of “we need a player, we need a player” and then we will shake his hand, we will hug him and make him our own.
“We, unfortunately, lack a plan to produce players. Nobody has actually come out of a system. Even the cricketers have been found on the roads or some cricket playing grounds and then they just try to groom them,” Haq said.
“The money has to be spent in the right direction and the federation needs to put the players first instead of thinking of themselves. Now the anti-corruption rule in the country (under the new government) is going to play a major factor to improve, not just tennis, but other sports in Pakistan as well,” he asserted.