I found this article inspiring, dealing as it does with men overcoming ideological abuse: Together, This Team Succeeds
By LYNN ZINSER
ust before Amir Hadad and Aisam ul-Haq Qureshi emerged from the tunnel into the Grandstand court at the National Tennis Center, flanked by a half-dozen escorts, they peered out, looking unsure of what awaited them last night.
Their unusual pairing had become a celebration of sorts as they reached the third round of Wimbledon, this Israeli/Pakistani, Jewish/Muslim sports partnership that crossed not only national lines but also religious ones. Hadad and Qureshi were a two-man peace initiative, with rackets.
They were welcomed as such at the National Tennis Center, where several hundred people huddled against the raindrops and a few waved Israeli flags. With unequivocal warmth, the fans cheered Hadad and Qureshi to a 6-4, 6-2 first-round victory over Mariano Hood and Sebastian Prieto of Argentina.
"Today, there were a lot of Pakistanis and Israelis in the crowd," Hadad, the Israeli, said. "Both were together cheering for the team. I think it was a nice thing to watch."
For Hadad and Qureshi, the nice part is that they are more than a heartwarming off-court story. They have enjoyed more success together than they ever had separately. As singles players, they struggle to win matches at challenger-level tournaments. As doubles players with other partners, they haven't been able to crack the top 100.
Together, they put on a small march through Wimbledon and look ready to reprise that success here. They are showing that a team can add up to far more than the sum of their parts.
"It's really fun," Hadad said. "We have a lot of attention, publicity. Everybody knows us now."
The two were friends before they teamed together for the first time at Wimbledon, and they say that on the court they may be more different than off. Hadad practically steams with intensity. Qureshi smiles easily, cracks jokes when he thinks Hadad is overheating. They slap hands between points, balancing each other.
"I try to say some funny things to keep his temperature low," Qureshi said. "It works."
Both have big serves and both served nearly flawlessly last night. They faced few challenges in their own service games and got break chances early in both sets. Once they converted, they felt that their Wimbledon magic was back.
They both played at the Bronx Tennis Classic two weeks ago, but they paired with different partners. They were not sure they could make the main draw here — their combined ranking just barely kept them from qualifying — and were skeptical that the United States Tennis Association would grant a wild card to two Middle Easterners.
They underestimated their own story. The U.S.T.A. granted the wild card. "I'm thankful to the U.S.T.A.," Qureshi said. "Otherwise we wouldn't be playing here together."
Both Hadad and Qureshi have enjoyed their raised profile and their careers have been lifted by the experience. Qureshi said he's amazed that everywhere he goes now, people pronounce his name correctly. "That's amazing," he said, laughing.
After being threatened with banishment by the Pakistani tennis federation, Qureshi has received an apology and has been invited to play on Pakistan's Davis Cup team next week. Hadad said he had gotten little reaction back home in Israel.
Neither was searching for the attention. They thought their doubles pairing would not raise so much as an eyebrow. But now that it has, they are glad for it.
"We're just sports, you know?" Qureshi said. "I don't believe to bring religion or politics to tennis. Everybody gets together, people from all religions, backgrounds. That's the best part of being a sportsman."
They will get at least one more chance, in the second round, to spread that feeling of togetherness.