Aqeel survives Muzamil scare to lift Memorial Tennis trophy

LAHORE  –  Top seed Aqeel Khan survived high-flying Muzamil Murtaza’s scare to win the marathon final 2-6, 7-5, 6-3 and clinched the 3rd Shehryar Malik National Grass Court Tennis trophy here at PLTA Courts on Sunday.

Third seed Muzamil made a good start as he broke Aqeel’s service twice and took a healthy 5-2 lead in the first set. Aqeel hit excellent return of serve and passed backhand shot to broke Muzamil service to make it 5-3 but Muzamil, who was sublime form, didn’t miss the chance to hold his own game and took the set 6-3.

Muzamil continued his good show in the second set as he held his service and broke Aqeel’s very first game by holding his own service to take 3-0 lead and then stretched it to 5-0. Aqeel then made a strong comeback by changing his game plan and playing aggressive game, which helped him first level the score at 5-5 and win the next points in a row to win the set 7-5.

The third and final set saw Muzamil losing his temper and crucial points while on the other hand, Aqeel remained very cool and composed and utilized his wide experience to thump his energetic opponent 6-3, thus registered a very well-contested 2-1 victory and also lifted the glittering trophy. By winning the title in great style, Aqeel once again proved that he is still fit and wants to lead the national tennis more and serve the country some more years.

The boys’ singles U-14 final saw Hamid Israr defeating Hamza Roman 6-4, 6-2 while boys U-12 title went to Hamza Roman, who outplayed Hasnain Ali. In u-10 boys singles final, Wapda’s Abubakar Talha, who is 4th class student of FG Middle School Mazhar Lines Lahore Cantt, toppled Hania Minhas 4-0, 4-2. In seniors 40 plus doubles, Israr Gul (Police) and Jahanzeb Khan (Wapda) beat Shakeel/Ashar Khan by 6-1, 2-6, 10-6.

Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) Senior Vice President Khawaja Suhail Iftikhar graced the occasion as chief guest while PLTA Chairman Iftikhar Ahmed Rao, Naeem (Sid) Siddiqui and PLTA Secretary Rashi Malik were guests of honour and distributed cash prizes, medals and trophies amongst the winners and runners-up.

PLTA Secretary Rashid Malik said that the PLTA organized record number of events last year, and this year too, it is eager to hold maximum number of events to further find and groom fresh talent and provide the country future tennis stars. It is now upto the PTF, how well they provide best facilities and international exposure to the PLTA-endorsed players, which can be future tennis stars of the country.

Sid Siddiqui told The Nation that he is the title sponsor of this tournament under the banner of Long Beach Tennis Centre New York, which is continuously supporting Pakistan tennis and especially PLTA in promoting and developing grassroots tennis in province as well as in the country.

Talking to The Nation after winning the title, Aqeel Khan lauded sensational Muzamil Murtaza saying he played the final really well. “Muzamil was in great form and was dictating terms, but I never lost the hope and remained composed, which helped me tame the high-flying opponent and win the prestigious trophy after such a marathon 2 hours 30 minute long final. Until I am fit, I will continue to play and serve my country and also winning laurels for it.”

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