01-Feb-2023  Srinagar booked.net

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A Kashmiri Wonder Kid’s Advent As America’s No.1 Tennis Player

Back in 2017, he told Roger Federer to play more years so that he could play against him. Five years later, the kid has already become a champion.

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At seven, he sounded so confident about his budding abilities that he asked the tennis legend to wait for him to go pro. At eleven, his tennis feats have already made him a rising sports star.

Living his American dream, Izyan Ahmad, fondly called Zizou, has aced his way to the glory by becoming champion of the junior tennis court.

On February 9, 2022, this Kashmiri boy became the US No. 1 in both singles and doubles in the under-12 category.

“No. 1 in Singles and Doubles in the country!” Zizou announced on his Instagram handle.

“Filled with gratitude and happy to see hard work yield this result.”

Training at the John McEnroe Tennis Academy, the boy born of a Kashmiri father first hogged the global headlines in 2017 when he asked the Swiss star and tennis legend, Roger Federer: why is he called ‘the GOAT’.

“I don’t know,” the tennis superstar gently replied. “Some fans call me that. I don’t call myself that. We have a lot of animals in Switzerland, and goats are part of the livestock we have over there.”

Half a decade later, the kid has already announced his arrival at the tennis court in a grand style.

After going pro, the Kashmiri boy is now training hard to rise in global tennis ranking.

Izyan is the son of a New Jersey based Kashmiri scribe-author, Farooq Ahmad, who originally hails from Dangiwacha area of Rafiabad in North Kashmir.

“Izyan,” his father said, “aspires to become the number one tennis player in the world and is working hard towards achieving his goal.”

As parents, said Farooq, who calls himself Tennis Dad, “we are providing him support on and off the tennis court and I am very happy that he is chasing his dream and enjoying doing it.”

Farooq has authored Butt Of The Joke—a satirical look at politics in the mythical land of Ramecia. He’s currently working on his upcoming tome called “Children of Conflict”.  

Born on June 3, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio, Zizou began playing tennis when he was barely 3-year-old. At that tender age, he was able to play rallies across the net. Spotting his serious tennis talent, his parents had to wind up their Indian visit in 2014 to train him in US.

Coached by his father initially, Izyan eventually went on to win the prestigious John McEnroe scholarship in 2017 and began training professionally.

He started playing USTA (United States Tennis Association) tournaments at 7, and won several U-10 tournaments.

Currently, Zizou is a USTA ambassador for the newly launched ‘Net Generation’ initiative designed to motivate more young players into the sports.

In his spare time, he watches tennis on TV and discusses the game with his parents and friends.

Dreaming to play grand slams, Izyan goes extra mile with his tennis training.

Back in that 2017 US Open presser, Izyan sounded confident when he said that he would turn pro and square off against Federer.

“You’re the most consistent player of all time,” he told the former No.1. “Keep playing for another 8-9 years so that I can play against you.”

“Yeah, sure,” the champion replied. “If you make it on tour, I’ll make sure maybe I come back for you, okay (smiling)?”

With his rapid rise in American tennis, many say, it’s only a matter of time before the wonder kid from Kashmir would live up to his words and become a new sensation in the world tennis.

Umer Fayaz is a Communications Professional and Journalism Graduate from Central University of Kashmir