Jahanian born and bred, raised on the clay courts of PTF, a vision seen through the eyes of his older brother Yaseen, Muzzamil Murtaza’s inspirational journey is leading to the big question if he could be Pakistan’s next tennis hope? Or should I say hero?

In the blistering heat and humidity of Lahore in March, it’s the Shehryar Malik memorial national tournament men’s final. On one side of the net is Aqeel Khan, a practically unbeatable national legend, hero, and Pakistan’s Davis cup pride alongside Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi. On the other side of the net is the boy with an inspirational journey towards starting tennis, and Pakistan’s upcoming hope, Muzamil Murtaza.

Aqeel has snatched victory in every encounter between the two before it could ever get too close to scare him. However, this time the unexpected has occurred with Muzamil winning the first set 6-3. Not many people have been able to take a set off of Aqeel khan let alone defeat him in the past. The same scenario in the second set, gives Muzamil match points at 5-3, 40-15. Muzamil’s amazing game at display has no one surprised at the unbelievable score they are witnessing.

However, does Muzamil believe he’s one point away from the biggest achievement of his career? The hardships faced and hard work from all these years is finally about to pay off, and what barely anyone in Pakistan can achieve, a boy with no tennis background at all from Jahanian is about to achieve that? Suddenly the pressure, and doubt shifts on Muzamil prior to how it should be. Being the high ability and calibre player Aqeel is, his experience comes into use at the right time as he saves 3 match points, only to result him in winning the entire match from there. Aqeel is ecstatic, and Muzamil is disappointed as ever.

The question still remains for Muzamil if he can ever beat, or be the best in Pakistan? And the biggest question still floats in Pakistani tennis fans minds if there will be any players good enough to replace Aqeel and Aisam to protect Pakistan’s Davis cup from drowning after their retirement?

One week later, the Faislabad Governor cup’s semifinal showdown encounter between the two gives Muzamil another chance. Can he bounce back from a recent defeat which left him feeling mentally upset? Will Aqeel’s consistently building confidence in defeating players in Pakistan make him win this match yet again?

Muzamil wins the first set 6-2 convincingly. However, as always no one can right off Aqeel just yet. The second set gets remarkably close with 6 games a piece, meaning a 7 point tie-breaker will decide it’s result. Muzamil gets his first match point, but Aqeel defends it. The crowd and fellow tennis players watching are tense, intrigued, and nervous as ever, beginning to believe this may be a repeat of last week. Match point no.2 for Muzamil, and Aqeel hits the ball long. Muzamil has won! He’s done it! His face hidden behind his hands, kneeling down on the court shows his happiness, relief, and what achieving this biggest milestone of his career so far means.

Are we finally sensing a potential Davis cup player who can keep Pakistan’s flag in tennis held high?

Dating back to 2006, from the first day in Islamabad and the first time on a tennis court in Chappals, clueless Yaseen Murtaza was eager to play the Davis Cup trials. Davis Cup is professional tennis’ most prestigious team events on the platform of representing your country internationally, played by the top men’s players of the country.

Realising this racket and ball sport was a lot tougher than Pakistan’s most popular hobby of street cricket, it didn’t take him long before discovering that he was in fact too old to now learn, and train for this tough sport.

He then set his discernment on his younger brothers, who had no idea about tennis like the rest of their village Jahanian, was just as unaware about. He gained knowledge from various people on the Pakistani tennis circuit, to watching videos of professional tennis players. Being an hour away from Multan, and isolated from civilization, they would passionately travel hours for a glimpse of tennis matches on television to become competent in tennis by observing every detail while watching professional players’ matches. Yaseen observed their technique to teach his brothers the accurate way for taking their games continuously upwards in the future. This certain and self-assured Yaseen could be seen as the brain behind his 2 brothers.

The downside was the hustle due to no professional guidance. Given their tough financial situation in general for a very expensive sport like tennis, they were conned by sports shops selling them fake rackets which would break themselves after playing a few times, making them travel to Multan to purchase a new one. Soon enough they realized they were being deceived and were finally able to purchase decent rackets, still traveling to Multan to string them. They made an imaginary court in their court sized lawn, using charpais as nets to practice at home, or they would practice against a wall. They now have a self made real clay court at home.

Regardless of the umpteen unmentioned struggles, when it came to learning tennis, they had the advantage of having their perspectives being freshly molded in the most positive way about tennis in comparison to some other children who couldn’t due to various coaches, being exposed to tennis politics, and maybe in some cases their tennis crazy parents. Whereas, initially Muzamil and Mudassir just had to ingrain in their minds what they were being told by Yaseen, developing their brain to only think about tennis in the most positive way. We all know the importance of positivity taking a person from one to height to another.

One of their first sacrifices when Muzamil was a young boy as young as 8 years old was leaving their home and the rest of their family behind to live in Pakistan Tennis Federation in Islamabad from time to time. Since then, tennis became their only priority day in and day out.

Initially, the main focus was on Mudassir, with Muzamil refusing to show interest in playing the sport. It was only when Mudassir began traveling further miles to compete in nationals, the traveling intrigued Muzamil, making him jump on the tennis bandwagon with his brothers.

Muzamil followed the footsteps and inspiration of his older brother, but was always behind him by a few numbers not just in age, but also in the ranking. Nationally, Mudassir had been no.1 in 14 and under, followed by being no.1 in the 18 and under category after a few years as well. Muzamil’s ranking was between Pakistan no.1 and 2 in 18 and under once Mudassir left that draw and entered the men’s category.

In this time frame, the family took a huge step towards Muzamil attaining international goals in tennis. Muzamil began playing International 18 and under events not just in Pakistan, but also abroad, being the first player in their family to do so. His drastic improvement over those 2 years really diverted people’s attention towards his capabilities, potential, and future in tennis as he succeeded in almost every tournament he played abroad with flying colours. He aimed to play a Junior Grand Slam but lack of sponsors which is a common obstacle in our tennis unware country, hurdled that goal.

During this time, Mudassir was forced to take a big break due to illness. Therefore, Yaseen directed all the attention towards Muzamil which brought about that sudden and huge advancement in his game. Majority of this hard work was done in their village.

Muzamil could maximize his potential even more but obtaining sponsors in tennis disinterested country like Pakistan is a very difficult task. This is one of the reasons players in the past that could’ve advanced a lot further in tennis, were not able to due to lack of finances, and financial help.