Like politics our sports too have started developing family dynasties and one particular example in sports after Khans’ reign in squash, come of legend Khawaja Iftikhar legacy in tennis.
Ushna Suhail, after her first cousin Aisamul Haq Qureshi, the country’s most celebrated tennis star, are the branches of the same family’s tree that have made the country proud in this sport.
Ushna is one of the very few female sports celebrities of the country and the first female in country’s history to have played at the Asian level, the 17th Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, in 2014, to be precise. Ushna was nominated as Ambassador for Child Health by Punjab Emergency Operation Centre recently. As a sports celebrity for polio programme, this was an acknowledgement of her successes in Pakistan.
The polio programme has recently tried to bring on board celebrities from wide range of areas. Ushna is not the first from tennis though, as Aisam was named as country’s polio ambassador a couple of years down the line.
The year 2016 has been special for her so far. She started the year with title win in Kulsoom Saifullah clay court Tennis Tournament in 2016. Winning a bronze for the country in singles and mixed doubles in the South Asian Games 2016 was special feat, though she had a near miss for the gold.
Given the technical support and coaching facilities, this already reflected that she was punching beyond her weight.
In March, came the big acknowledgement, Punjab’s expanded programme on Immunization and the Emergency Operation Center decided to nominate her as Ambassador for Child Health.
The acknowledgement did have a morale-boosting effect on her performance. She won the premier national event, Pakistan Open, a national ranking tournament soon after. Then she won the Chennab Club Faisalabad, country’s prestigious national ranking event. Following fitness issues, she lost in Subhe-i-Nau National Tournament, forcing a pullout from Hasool Tennis Tournament.
“It was a proud moment for me to be name as Ambassador for Child Health. I had always dreamed of doing service to my country beyond sports. When I was contacted by some officials, I was really excited,” Ushna said while talking to The Truth Pursuit.
“Getting up for training when everyone else is comfy in beds, practicing in the sultry afternoons, gym workouts, travelling all over the country and abroad often, scheduling everything around tennis; this I the life that I chose for myself,” she recalled.
“Playing tennis in Pakistan is not for money because when you’re spending thrice the prize money only to feature in a tournament, it boils down to only tennis being a passion and not a profession,” she pointed out.
“Pakistan sports figures are hampered by a shortage of sponsors and lack of opportunities. Sometimes things can add up and wear you down but sponsors’ association with a cause lifts your spirits. I am glad I tried to make a contribution, however little it maybe but I believe I makes a difference.”