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.

13-36

The New Drogba Joins Tottenham

July 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

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

drogba_portraitDespite a wealth of soccer talent that has come from the Ivory Coast, including legendary Chelsea striker, Didier Drogba, the team disappointed at last summer’s World Cup, and has yet to bring home hardware worthy of its talent. And follow up last year’s disappointment with a horrific five month post-election crisis, and the mood in Cote D’Ivoire has been dour. But the country was uplifted by the recent Under-17 World Cup in Mexico. There, a 16-year-old striker, by the name of Souleymane Coulibaly, dubbed “The New Didier Drogba”, scored nine goals in four games for Ivory Coast, including a hat-trick against Brazil and a four goal game against Denmark in consecutive matches. Coulibaly ended up tying the tournament goal-scoring record set by former Liverpool player Florent Sinama-Pongolle, but in three games fewer than the Frenchman. Souleymane in fact ended up scoring nine of his entire team’s tournament total of 11 goals. And for his efforts, Coulibaly was awarded the Golden Boot as the tournament’s best player.

Coulibaly currently lives with his father in Italy where he plays for Italian team Siena. But that is about to change, as Coulibaly was chased down by all of the big clubs after his record-setting tournament. After being courted by the likes of Real Madrid, Coulibaly settled on Tottenham of the English Premier League, where he is expected to move very quickly to the first team.

“I want to thank all those who said good things about me,” Coulibaly told Fifa.com after receiving the Golden Boot Award. “My team-mates and I had a wonderful moment in Mexico. The defenders ignored some spaces which I exploited to score those goals. But mostly, this recognition goes to my team-mates who assisted me.

Coulibaly himself humbly acknowledges Drogba’s clear physical advantage. “Drogba is taller than me, he’s more physically built than me and he’s better with air balls than me. If I can become a quarter of him I’d be so happy,” Coulibaly recently told Ivorian newspaper Frat Mat.

The Ivory Coast may not have brought home the Under-17 World Cup title. But Souleymane Coulibaly gave his country-people something to be proud of. And he should continue to do so in England.

13-30

The Top Female Muslim Tennis Player

April 28, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

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

Aravane Rezai of France during her match against Petra Martic of Croatia during the Miami WTA Open Tennis.
Picture Stuart Morton

The search for the top Muslima in the tennis world takes us to two countries: Iran and France. Arsalan and Nouchine Rezai emigrated from Iran to France. Arsalan, being an auto mechanic, was in search of a better life for his family. In 1987, Nouchine, a physical therapist, gave birth to daughter Aravane. And, a tennis star was born.

She began playing tennis at the age of eight. Now, in 2010, she is the top women’s tennis player in all of France, and the 18th-ranked women’s tennis player in the world. And to think, she started out in the game as her older brother’s ball girl. And if she hadn’t become a professional tennis player she had designs on becoming a physicist. Her brother, Anauch, has gone on to become a successful tennis coach. While Aravane has gone on to record victories over such tennis stars as Maria Sharapova, Justine Henin, and Venus Williams.

Aravane maintains close relations with her family. She is coached by her father, while her mother travels with her in the role of physical therapist. A baseline player and hardcourt specialist, Aravane first saw international success by winning gold medals while representing Iran in the Women’s Islamic Games in 2001 and 2005. She has since gone on to win four Women’s Tennis Association tournament titles thus far in her career. In grand slam play, her best finishes so far have been a fourth round finish at the 2006 U.S. Open and a fourth round finish at the 2009 French Open. Her highest WTA world ranking thus far was number 15, achieved just last month. So, clearly her star is on the rise.

On the personal side, Aravane is fluent in three languages: French, Persian, and English. Her cultural interests range from Bollywood films to Persian poetry and Persian music. And she remains down to earth enough to enjoy a good kebab. While she still intends to pursue the field of physics after she is done with tennis, her immediate goal remains to emulate her favorite players, Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi, by achieving the number one ranking in the world. She will be in action this week in Bali, as the number two seed in the $600,000 Commonwealth Bank Tournament of Champions.

13-18

Qureshi and Bopanna Star in Monte Carlo

April 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

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

2011-04-17T125153Z_1458469648_GM1E74H1M0Z01_RTRMADP_3_TENNIS-MEN-MONTECARLO

Prince Albert II of Monaco next to his fiancee Charlene Wittstock as they attend the final of the Monte Carlo Masters tennis tournament in Monaco April 16, 2011.                    

REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

Pakistani tennis player Aisam Qureshi and his doubles partner Rohan Bopanna continue to be a wrecking ball on the ATP tour. The IndoPak Express, as they are called, are now ranked sixth in the world as a men’s doubles team, a rise of two spots from their pre-tournament ranking of eight.

Most recently, they made it to the semifinals of the Monte Carlo Masters, and along the way they ousted tournament second-seeds and multiple grand-slam winners Daniel Nestor and Max Mirny in the quarter-finals. They were, however, handed a surprise loss by the unseeded Juan Ignacio Chela and Bruno Soares in the semi-finals.

Qureshi is now ranked 11th, one up from his previous position of 12 in the individual doubles players rankings. Qureshi’s Indian partner Bopanna also improved his individual doubles ranking from 15 to 14. This week the two are in Spain participating in the Barcelona Open.

13-17

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.

13-16

Muslim Presence at the Twenty 20 Cricket World Cup

May 6, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

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

cricket world cup The shortened 20 over format of cricket is on display at the International Cricket Council Twenty 20 Cricket World Cup tournament currently underway at various sites in the Caribbean.  Matches began on April 30th, with twelve teams from all over the world chasing the title that currently belongs to defending champion Pakistan. But there is Muslim talent sprinkled throughout this year’s tournament.

The Pakistani team, unfortunately, enters this year’s tournament with a dark cloud over its head. A disastrous tour of Australia in February led not only to poor results on the pitch, but also to infighting that resulted in multiple suspensions and replacement of the team captain. But the dust appears to have finally settled, and the team, led by bowler Shahed Afridi, and batsman Salman Butt, is still one of the favorites to win this year.

Bangladesh, led by captain Shakib Al Hasan, is a team loaded with Muslim talent as well. Afghanistan is one of the Cinderella stories of the tournament. While they aren’t expected to contend for the title, they have ascended despite minimal facilities and training to establish their place on the big stage.

Several Muslim players have risen to prominence on other teams as well. Yusuf Pathan and Zaheer Khan are major players on the Indian team. Hashim Amla plies his wares as a batsman for South Africa but fell just short of this year’s T20 team. And Ajmal Shahzad is a rising all-rounder on the British team.

So, as the wickets start falling, watch for Muslim cream to rise to the top of the cricket ranks at this year’s ICC T20 World Cup.

12-19

IAGD Badminton Tournament

February 28, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

By Faraz Haq, haq.faraz786@gmail.com

SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC On the 6th, 7th, 13th, and 14th of February 2010, Islamic Association of Greater Detroit (IAGD) hosted its first annual men’s badminton tournament. This tournament was quite popular as the IAGD Board of Trustees chairman Dr. Ghaus Malik, Board of Directors President Br. Syed Hussain Akbar, Tawheed Center president Dr. Khalid Javed, Imam Aly Lela, and Imam Hafiz Ahmed Rabbani, and Mayor Bryan Barnett of Rochester Hills were all in attendance on the final day. The tournament was a hit as a fair amount of spectators were present throughout the tournament including many of the youth as well. Tasty food was available on all days and kids activities were planned on February 14th.

The tournament began with a short speech given by Dr. Malik emphasizing the importance of such sporting events being held at the Mosque and pledged his full support for the future. The teams represented the communities of IAGD of Rochester Hills, MCWS of Canton and the Tawheed Center of Farmington Hills. The tournament was highlighted by star player Azam Abbasi of Tawheed Center, who is a former university champion of Rajiv Gandhi Univ. of Health Sciences in India. 16 teams participated in doubles action, with 12 teams participating in singles action. The teams were divided into four groups. Teams played on a single league basis within their groups followed by the playoffs.

In singles action, Azam Abbasi defeated Syed Najam of IAGD to advance to the finals. His opponent in the final match was Amin Hashmi of IAGD who was able to defeat Syed Zia of IAGD. In the finals Azam was able to defeat Amin in a best of 3 series by a score of 15/4 for the first game, and 15/5 for the second. Azam displayed his repertoire of different shots including beautiful drop shots, powerful smashes, and sound backhands. He seemed to covering the court with great ease and made the game look effortless. Amin provided great competition, however, he proved to be no match for the skills of Azam.

In doubles action, Syed Najam and Mahmood Akhtar of IAGD defeated Mansoor Khan and  Shahid Ahmed of IAGD to advance to the finals. Their competition was the team of Azam and Irfan Bhatti of Tawheed Center who were able to defeat Nasir Husain and Amin Hashmi of IAGD in the semifinals. The doubles finals turned out to be the most intense encounter of the event. The team of Syed and Mahmood won the first game by a score of 15/6. Azam and Irfan came back strong to win the second game by the score of 15/10. In the third and final game, the score was tied at 14, with both teams having to score one point each to win. Azam performed one of his powerful smashes just to the left of Mahmood’s outstretched arms and was awarded the championship point of the tournament. Both teams were exceptional, performing a wide array of shots and giving 100% effort.

Winners and Runners teams of Singles & Doubles events received trophies from Mayor Barnett and IAGD president Br.  Akbar. Cash awards for Winners and Runners were given by Br. Shahid Tahir.

The first annual IAGD men’s badminton tournament was a big success. There was great game play, with a big audience in attendance. Mayor Barnett expressed his joy at watching the wonderful badminton game play, and emphasized the need for healthy competitions which bring the different communities together. IAGD president Hussain Akbar was thrilled with the event and praised all who took part in organizing the tournament.

IAGD Gym committee sincerely appreciates the support from Mutahir Jamali of MCWS and Tariq Tahir of Tawheed Center for making sure that their teams participated in the tournament. Gym committee also appreciates the effort of Muqueem Sports for setting up a sales booth in the gymnasium from where players and fans purchased badminton rackets, birdies, and other accessories.  Many thanks are also due to the hardworking volunteers: Muhammad Faisal, Asad Sabir Ali, Asghar Ali, Shan Haq, Syed Zafarullah, Shahab Khan, Faisal Sultan, and Sr.  Durdana Shamim. Special thanks to Dr. Nasir Husain for actively participating in the tournament. The tournament generated such a buzz that the IAGD Gym Committee is considering holding youth badminton and cricket camps to promote future youth tournaments. Once again, the IAGD Gym Committee Chair Shahid Ahmed and Vice Chair Muhammad Faisal are truly grateful to all for making this wonderful event possible and inshallah many more will be organized in the near future.

12-9