|Mahin and Alina Aftab. -Photo by APP|
Alina Aftab, age 13, and Mahin Aftab, age 11, are a sister act of aspiring Pakistani tennis champions. Theyâ€™ve already been playing for three years. They received four months of intensive training in Barcelona last year from some of the worldâ€™s top tennis coaches. In Pakistan they train with former national champion Zulfiqar Rahim among others, who have the girls practice for three hours a day â€œBoth the sisters are full of passion, determination and self- belief, which are prerequisites for those aspiring to become champions,â€ Rahim told the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP). â€œIâ€™ve never seen such talented girls like Alina and Mahin in my coaching career. They have a lot of natural talent, they are very explosive and fast, and can play from anywhere on the court,â€ he added. â€œThey are hard workers, talented and great competitors. They are smart on the court. I am sure they have a bright future. The good thing about them is that they donâ€™t like to lose. They will leave it all out there before they shake hands.â€
â€œThe Williams sisters are our role models and we are on course to achieve what they did,â€ the sisters told the APP. â€œBesides the Williams sisters, we like Roger Federer and want to become true championsâ€¦We wish to match and break records set by Serena and Venus and Iâ€™m sure we can do that,â€ she said. â€œWe got really tough training in Spain under the watchful eyes of renowned coaches. Every day we used to get intensive training of around five hours,â€ Alina said.
Thus far Mahin has won the under-12 category of the first ITC National Junior Ranking Tennis Championship last year. Alina and Mahinâ€™s father is Air Commodore Aftab Ahmed. Last year Ahmed himself paid for his daughtersâ€™ training in Spain, but soon the Pakistani tennis academy will provide financial support, as both girls will need further training in Barcelona for at least four months every year until 2016 to be able to compete in WTA events. â€œI feel Iâ€™ve been so blessed, I have colleagues and relatives, who are appreciative and supportive of my endeavors to make my daughters true sportspersons,â€ Ahmed said.