Sania Mirza Enters Doubles World Top Ten

September 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

2011-08-30T220145Z_592763968_LM2E78U1P6X01_RTRMADP_3_TENNIS-OPENIndia’s Sania Mirza on Monday cracked the top 10 in the women’s doubles tennis rankings. Her singles rankings, however, slipped 17 places to 81. The top Indian women’s player, who is nursing a knee injury, climbed a rung to the 10th position in the new Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) doubles rankings.

“Woke up to find out I cracked the top 10 in the world… thanks each and everyone of u for the support and love all these years.” Sania wrote on her twitter account. “Needed some good news to lift up spirits after this silly knee injury…hope to recover soon….

Mirza, and her Russian doubles partner Elena Vesnina lost in the third round of the U.S. Open last week. The pair had won two doubles championships this year, in addition to reaching the finals of the French Open. Mirza and Vesnina are ranked number four in the world as a women’s doubles team. Mirza also won an additional women’s doubles title last month with Kazakhstani partner Yaroslava Shvedova.

The top four women’s doubles teams will compete in the WTA end-of-year championships. However, Mirza’s knee injury may keep her out of action through the end of the year, which would force Mirza and Vesnina to give up their spot in that elite tournament.

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Muslim Women With Another Dismal Grand Slam

September 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

2011-08-30T220145Z_592763968_LM2E78U1P6X01_RTRMADP_3_TENNIS-OPENIn what has become a disappointing pattern, the Muslimas of the professional tennis world have once again experienced miserable results at a Grand Slam tennis tournament. This time around it is the U.S. Open, which began this week. India’s Sania Mirza seemed to carry the highest hopes of the bunch, with her WTA singles ranking on the uptick, most recently reaching number 63in the world. But she did not receive the smoothest of draws, facing the number 23 seed Shahar Peer of Israel in the first round. Mirza started off well, taking the first set 7-6 (7-5) from her former doubles partner. But that was it, as Peer stormed back to take the next two sets, and the match, 6-3, 6-1. This concluded what has been a downer of a month for Sania, as she lost in the first round of her last event, the Texas Open. And, she has also spent the last few weeks refuting claims by the Pakistan Tennis Federation that she demanded a $25,000 appearance fee earlier this year for a charity exhibition match for the Lahore flood victims.

Aravane Rezai, of France, had most recently had a run of good play. She made the finals of the Texas Open the previous week before losing to Sabine Lisicki. But because of Hurricane Irene, Rezai had to fly to Cleveland, Ohio and then drive to New York for the U.S. Open. And perhaps all those hours on the road took a toll on Aravane, as she went down meekly to number 26 seed Flavia Pennetta in the first round 6-4, 6-1.

The only spot of good fortune at this year’s U.S. Open amongst Muslim women came via Uzbekistan’s Akgul Amanmuradova, who dispatched of Tamira Paszek in the first round 6-4, 6-2. And things opened positively on the men’s side, as Pakistan’s Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and his Indian doubles partner Rohan Bopanna, opened their tournament with a 6-1, 2-6, 6-2 over Americans Robbie Ginepri and Rhyne Williams. Qureshi and Bopanna finished as runner-ups in last year’s U.S. Open, and they are the fifth-seeded team in this year’s tourney.

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Valedictorian Asks Peers to Remember Families

June 16, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sarah Plummer

g258000000000000000d2c85b229be3c9af2ee04c841eb213f9850da061Every parking space was filled at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center Saturday for Woodrow Wilson’s 85th commencement ceremony. Cars lined Armory Drive and parked in median grass. Without even entering the venue, it was evident many friends and family members came to support the 323 graduates of 2011.

Although the crowd had gathered to praise the students’ achievements, each speaker at the event expressed gratitude to those in attendance — family, teachers and friends — who supported them through their education.

Valedictorian Sania Rahim said she and her peers had “matured together.”

She asked her fellow students to remember their families and the many sacrifices that allowed the graduates to be where they are today.

She also requested that they acknowledge their teachers.

“They have seen us at our best and our worst,” Rahim said.

Salutatorian Emily Wright said the class has “spent the last 13 years heading toward their future.”

And after asking those present to think back on their first day of school, she told them what she has learned most was “to enjoy today while it lasts because the last 13 years have passed in a flash.”

Wright noted that each graduate has the opportunity to leave a mark on the world, “whether they become president of the United States or just volunteer locally.”

Another life lesson Wright said she has learned over the years is that “every bad experience is a chance to do better and learn from your mistakes.”

And finally, she said, she has learned, “some things do not have price tags — like love, honor freedom and peace.”

Woodrow Wilson High School’s 2011 honorarian is Tyler Bonnett.

Graduating seniors Leah Drumheller, Rebekah Stone and Morgan Wright sang “I’ll Always Remember You” with guitar accompaniment as a special musical selection.

Before presenting the senior class to Superintendent Charlotte Hutchens, principal Charles Maynard said his students achieved their recognition with “hard work,” and he asked them to leave knowing they had reached a great accomplishment.

“And I hope and pray that you continue to work hard to reach your goals.”

Hutchens added that, even though she has attended many graduations, she still enjoys them.

“I like graduations because it’s a time of excitement, anticipation and hope,” she said.

Board members Richard Jarrell and Jack Roop participated in the presentation of diplomas. Board member Larry Ford and Nelson Spencer, director of secondary education, were also present.

splummer@register-herald.com

Register-Herald

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Sania Mirza Loses in French Final

June 9, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

french-open-preview-L-BewaPyIndia’s Sania Mirza was within a whisker of winning her second Grand Slam title, but at the end of the day, it was “So close, yet so far away,” for Mirza and her Russian doubles partner Elena Vesnina at the French Open. Mirza and Vesnina, the seventh seeds in the ladies’ doubles division, lost in the finals to the unseeded Czech team of Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka. The final score was 6-4, 6-3.

Sania previously won the mixed doubles at another Grand Slam event, the 2009 Australian Open, which she won with fellow Indian Mahesh Bhupathi. Mirza did become the first Indian female tennis player to reach a women’s doubles final. But it ended up being an off day for Mirza and Vesnina, as they were unable to overcome their unforced errors, especially in the face of inclement weather.
Mirza and Vesnina split the 165,000 euro second prize, while the victors took home a total of 330,000 euro. After the match Vesnina was thankful to her partner announcing, “Thanks Sania for the great experience we’ve had here. Hope we’ll have more of such games in the future.”

After the tournament, Mirza reached a career high doubles ranking of 14. And as a team, Mirza and Vesnina moved into the number three position in the WTA Championship rankings, putting them in contention for the year-end WTA championship event in Istanbul, Turkey. The event is only for the top four teams in the WTA rankings.

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Sania Mirza in French Open Semifinals

June 2, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

2011-05-26T100750Z_984202618_LR2E75Q0S4R14_RTRMADP_3_TENNIS-OPEN-WOMEN

Sania Mirza of India returns the ball to Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland during the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris May 26, 2011.    

REUTERS/Thierry Roge

India’s Sania Mirza, and her Russian doubles tennis partner, Elena Vesnina, are getting the attention of the paparazzi in Paris after upending the ladies’ doubles number one seeds Gisela Dulko of Argentina and Flavia Pennetta of Italy 6–0, 7-5 in the quarterfinals of the French Open. Mirza and Vesnina, the seventh seeds, took only 66 minutes to dispatch of Pennetta and Dulko, who are ranked number one and number two respectively in the ladies’ world individual doubles rankings. Mirza’s partner, Vesnina, currently ranks number 10 in those same world rankings, while Sania has moved up to number 25. Sania is up to number 72 in the singles rankings.

Mirza and Vesnina will now take on the fourth seeded American duo of Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond on Wednesday at Roland Garros Stadium in  Paris. No matter the result, Sania and Elena are sure to see their rankings shoot up further after the French Open.

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Sania Mirza Wins Another Doubles Title

April 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

10It appears that there may be a new Muslim doubles tennis star from the Indian subcontinent, to join Pakistan’s men’s doubles ace Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi. That would be Indian female tennis player Sania Mirza, who has now won two doubles tournament titles in three weeks with new partner Elena Vesnina from Russia. The pair most recently won the Family Circle Cup in Charleston, South Carolina. And most impressively, they won the tournament as an unseeded team. In the finals, Mirza and Vesnina ousted Americans Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Meghann Shaughnessy 6-4, 6-4 to win the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) event. Along the way, Mirza and Vesnina also took out another high-powered American team, the second-seeded team Lisa Raymond and Liezel Huber. 6-3, 6-4 was the score for that match.

It wasn’t a bad singles tournament for Sania either. She fought her way through the qualifying tournament to make it into the main draw. Then, again as an unseeded player, she went all the way to the quarterfinals before succumbing to 11th-seeded Chinese woman Peng Shuai 6-2, 2-6, 6-2. But Mirza was able to exact revenge against Shuai by beating her in the doubles quarterfinals. For her efforts Mirza saw her world singles ranking jump from 90 to 73 after the tournament’s results were in.

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Sania & Shoaib’s Marriage

April 15, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Nilofar Suhrawardy, MMNS India Correspondent

2010-04-12T135448Z_616342459_GM1E64C1OVD01_RTRMADP_3_INDIA-PAKISTAN-WEDDING

NEW DELHI/HYDERABAD: Though theirs is a love marriage, with full support of their family members, it certainly has not been an easy “game” for either the Indian tennis star Sania Mirza (23) or Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Iqbal (28). Beating even Bollywood movies and Indo-Pak diplomatic “feuds” over the drama staged from day one, the “news” generated has had the media and public across the sub-continent “united” at least in being totally interested in developments regarding this wedding.

Soon after their engagement was formally announced, in addition to the media coverage and congratulations the couple received, strong objections were raised from several quarters. The primary one being from Ayesha Siddiqui, claiming to be Shoaib’s first wife. She is also said to have furnished substantial evidence of being married to him through the telephone. Though Shoaib claimed to have been tricked into having married Ayesha, over telephone, the matter continued to hit headlines, till the former finally signed the divorce papers.

Interestingly, while most politicians across the sub-continent have described the Sania-Shoaib wedding as their “personal” decision, a few with an anti-Pakistan attitude have gone overboard in criticizing it. These include Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray who expressed apprehension over Sania’s marrying a Pakistani. Despite Sania having clarified that she would continue playing for India, the likes of Thackeray said that after her marriage she would cease being an Indian.  

Of course, Sania-Shoaib’s wedding is not the first instance of a marital bond between families from India and Pakistan. Numerous marriages between Indian and Pakistani Muslims have continued to take place, even though Indo-Pak ties have often been fairly tense. Nevertheless, theirs is one of the few weddings between celebrities and one that has had people with the media keeping a track of developments taking place. 

Credit must be given to Sania and her family for having virtually remained unfazed by hue and cry raised over Ayesha’s claims and objections to her marrying a Pakistani. Defending Shoaib, Sania even said that her family had been aware of Ayesha’s stand from the beginning.

Sania and Shoaib’s wedding is also one of the few ones that has kept the Indian Ulema (Muslim clerics) fairly busy. When Ayesha’s claims were in the news, clerics were busy answering questions on whether her nikah with Shoaib was valid or not. Interestingly, even though Shoaib has signed the divorce papers, doubts prevail over the authenticity of “evidence” provided by Ayesha. The intriguing questions raised are regarding identity of witnesses from the two sides at the time of nikah over phone in 2002; what prevented the two from living together since then and so forth. In general, it was held, irrespective of whether Ayesha’s claims were correct or not, Sania and Shoaib’s wedding could not be prevented by them. This is because, Shoaib can have two, three, even four wives at one time, as per the Muslim law. In this context, rather than encourage speculations about Sania being his “second” wife, by signing the divorce papers on April 7, Shoaib clearly laid out that she would be his only wife. Besides, as Ayesha had also filed an FIR against Shoaib, blaming him for fraud and criminal intimidation, he apparently was against the case getting more complicated and controversial.

Explaining his decision to finally sign the divorce papers, even though earlier he had claimed that Ayesha had tricked him into nikah over phone, Shoaid stated: “I am no one to judge what is wrong or what is right as the one above knows the truth. I have done what was the best amicable thing to do as it was getting beyond reasoning as each day unfolded.” “I have realized that media is part of my family, and request all of you to pray for me and Sania as we are embarking on a beautiful journey of marriage,” Shoaib said.

Seldom has any wedding created furor over fatwas, as that of Sania and Shoaib. It may be noted, in secular India, while the respected clerics have their right to issue fatwas on what they view as important, individuals are not bound to follow the same. A few clerics voiced objections to Sania and Shoaib appearing together for press conferences, before their wedding. They also objected to Shoaib staying at Sania’s residence. Describing these activities as “forbidden” in Islam, a Sunni Ulema board issued a fatwa against these and even asked Muslims to stay away from their wedding.

Sania’s family promptly responded to this fatwa, by issuing a statement: “We would like to clarify that there has been a misunderstanding in some quarters. The groom has not been staying in the Mirza residence for the last few days.” Shoaib had been staying there since his arrival from Pakistan on April 2. His family members, however, remained there while Shoaib moved out in keeping with traditional customs.

Meanwhile, when questioned on this fatwa, All India Sunni Ulema Board (AISUB) stated: “We have nothing to do with this outfit. Such fatwas cannot be issued.”
The date of the wedding also kept all wondering as to when would it take place. At one point, “reports” floated of their getting married on April 9, later the actual date was said to be April 15, while “news” also circulated about it taking place on April 13. These speculations were settled with their finally getting married on April 12.

Now finally wed, how far will the two succeed in easing tension between India and Pakistan, is the diplomatic angle being accorded to Sania-Shoaib’s “love-match.”

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