Getting a call to represent your country as an athlete is an honor. It's also very nerve wracking. I was pretty relaxed though as I was oceans away training for it in the U.S. However, once I joined my team in Colombo, Sri Lanka six days before the tie, I started feeling what I was supposed to feel.

As we closed in on Davis Cup weekend, the feeling got stronger. It's a feeling of pride wearing the flag on your chest but it's not that simple. You can't disappoint, you have to win. What if you lose? The whole country will know you're the one who lost. You will be hated. Wasn't it better to just not be on the team and not be hated? If you lose, you might not get another chance. You have to win. You hope the opponent is not very good. You look him up and you see he's done this for a number of years with success. You just don't want to disappoint 200 million people.

There are not many places where you can play tennis for a team, for an institution, for more than yourself. Davis Cup is the biggest stage of course, but not the only one. College tennis in America gives you a similar experience but at a lower level, of course.

Having played four years of college tennis helped me going into my first Davis Cup tie. College tennis is a team sport, very different from the pro tour but similar to Davis Cup in some ways. You play as a team under one coach alongside a group of players. How one player performs, impacts the whole team. That doesn't happen in pro tennis, every man is for himself there. In college and Davis Cup alike, the coach or captain can be on court with the player and coach them throughout. Your teammates are on the courts next to you, competing and cheering you on.

The biggest difference and challenge that players face when playing Davis Cup for the first time is that they're no longer playing just for themselves. That is the biggest advantage college players have going into their first tie. Although the situations are poles apart, one being an academic institution, and the other your motherland, you are playing for a higher purpose in both.

You step on court wearing your team colors. You have the name of your university or country on your shirt, you hear the fans and teammates yelling the team name or the country's. You see your university's banners around you or the national flag. That is what you play for. It gives you a different kind of rush, a different kind of satisfaction, playing for a cause that's more important than yourself or your personal success.

But the most frightening feeling, which can also be the most fulfilling, is when you hear the chair umpire saying, "Game, Pakistan," or "Pakistan leads, two sets to one," instead of your name. It sounds like the responsibility of your country is on your shoulders and the fate in your hand. You win a game and Pakistan wins a game, you lose one, Pakistan loses. There is a lot at stake.

Your teammates who you battle against on the circuit, are screaming their hearts out. They've never wanted you to win this badly. Now they're off their seats cheering for every point. It's an unusual situation, but it's a great feeling. You feel valuable, and the fact is, you are. Your tennis never mattered this much to anyone. It's Davis Cup after all. It's when you realize what it means to play for your country.

It's exciting to be a part of. Rejuvenates your patriotism. Reminds you how 'for granted' you had been taking your homeland. It brings the best out of an athlete and changes the way they look at their sport and their career. Especially tennis players, for whom playing for their country is normally secondary to their personal careers.