ISLAMABAD - Aqeel Khan and Sarah Mehboob clinched the 1st Hascol National Ranking Tennis Championship men’s and ladies singles titles here at the Senator Dilawar Abbas PTF Tennis Complex on Saturday.

Aqeel Khan outclassed determined M Abid 3-0 in the men’s singles final. Aqeel was in awesome mood in the first set and played superb tennis. Aqeel broke the first serve of Abid, then third and then fifth serve to take the first set 6-1 in just 25 minutes. Abid started the second set in great style, as he first took commanding 4-0 lead, after breaking second serve of Aqeel and holding his both serves. Aqeel then staged a remarkable comeback as he broke Abid’s fifth serve, then held onto his serve, then again broke Abid in the seventh serve and then won the next three games in a row to take the second set 6-4 in 40 minutes.

In the third set, Aqeel broke his very first serve, then again broke his third serve and made it 4-0 by holding his serve. Abid showed some resistance and broke Aqeel’s sixth game and made it 3-4 and he failed to carry on the momentum, as Aqeel shut doors on him and took the third set 6-4 in 36 minutes, thus won the encounter 3-0 in 1 hour and 41 minutes of highly top-class tennis.

Sarah Mehboob Khan beat top seed Sara Mansoor 2-1 in the 3-hour long ladies singles final played in the morning session. Both the players were exhausted, but they showed fighting spirit and it was a treat to watch such a high-class tennis, but unfortunately, there were not even handful of spectators to witness the highly wonderful final.

Sara Mansoor took the first set 6-3, while Sarah Mehboob was enjoying comfortable 5-3 lead in the third set, but Sara managed to save two set points before leveling the set at 6-6. Sarah won the second set 7-6 (6) on tie break and that too score was 6-6, but at that stage, Sara committed two big mistakes, which gifted Sarah the second set. It was all Sarah Mehboob in the third and deciding set, as Sara Mansoor ran out of gas and was not able to match Sarah’s stamina, who just toyed with Sara and took the third set 6-1 to lift the title.

In boys’ U-18 singles final, M Muzammil beat Syed Nofil Kaleem Imam 2-1 in another high-voltage final. Muzammil took the first set 6-1, but Nofil bounced back and took the second set 6-2. Muzammil staged a comeback to win the third set 6-2, thus lifted the U-18 title.

PTF patron Senator Dilawar Abbas, along with PTF president Salim Saifullah Khan, awarded Rs 100,000 and shield to Aqeel, Rs 50,000 and runner-up shield to M Abid, Rs 35,000 cash and shield to Sarah Mehboob and Rs 18,000 cash and runner-up shield to Sara Mansoor.

It is pertinent to mention here that Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) has made it mandatory that the Grade-I tournaments will be best of 5-set from semifinal stage, but they failed to understand that it is highly unjustified decision, as in such hot and humid conditions, when it is almost impossible to spend time even in shades, how players could cope with the weather. Even the chief guest and PTF president arrive just before the third set was about to finish.

The PTF must keep in mind, for the last several years, the players had played best-of -three-set tournaments. Now all of a sudden, new management wants to impose their authority, but they must understand the players are also humans like them. From May to September, the tournaments, no matter Grade-I or not, should be best-of-three set and after the weather changes, they could organise best-of-five-set events.

On this, the PTF secretary said: “We can’t keep players like flowers.” But he himself he was not ready to sit in the heat under covers to witness the final nor the president or any other responsible official from the PTF. The PTF chief has named army of office-bearers ever since he took over the federation, but hardly, handful of PTF office-bearers turn up to witness the matches.