A feature written by
Ali Aadil Khan :Editor-in-Chief of Times of Pedia (TOP) News Group
I have been fond of meeting the talented people of the world, irrespective of their fields, and I also want to put their experiences in front of the public.
The same thing happened in Calcutta when I went to take leather purse for my wife. A friend of mine, Iftakhar Sahab, took me to a famous leather bags exporter from Calcutta named Javed Akhtar Sahab, his wife is also in butiques bussiness. Talking about the Akhtar Ali tennis champion, we came to know that we are sitting at his house, Akhtar Ali is a big name in the world of tennis, apart from Akhtar Ali Arjuna Award, several national and international awards have been awarded.
I loved meeting Akhtar Ali Saheb with a very simple and cultured and religious temperament, and heartily wanted to cherish his old memories with him and make a small documentary, because this legend and full of morality legend now from this world Have risen.
In this way, Rab (Almighty) has landed talent on every part of the world, but the specialty that comes to Bengal has not been hidden from anyone at any time.
Let us meet such a person who has illuminated the name of the country not only in Bengal but in the whole world, Akhtar Ali
Through the windows of memories
Akhtar Ali has served Indian tennis for over five decades now. He made his mark on the tennis scene way back in1955 when he became the National Junior Champion, it was the same year that he reached the semi finals of the junior Wimbledon.
He has been a member of the Indian Davis Cup team continuously from 1958 to 1964. He played alongside such stalwarts like Ramanathan Krishnan, Naresh Kumar, Premjit Lall and Jaidip Mukherjee. During this time Akhtar participated in the Wimbledon, French Open and many other tournaments, in the USA he was the winner of the Asian Mixed Doubles Championship.
After he quit competitive tennis , Akhtar Ali dedicated his life to coaching. He became a qualified coach from the National Institute of Sports, (N.I.S.), Patiala, as well as the International Tennis Federation (I.T.F.) and the United States Professional Tennis Registry (U.S.P.T.R.).
He became the coach of the National team in 1966 and served the team uninterruptedly till 1993. He was also in charge of the Junior Development Training Program . Akhtar Ali has also been the National Squash Champion of India in 1968.
The highlight of Akhtar Ali’s coaching career was when the Indian Team reached the finals of the Davis Cup in 1966. (The team consisted of Ramanathan Krishnan , Jaideep Mukherjee, Premjit Lall and S.P. Mishra). Again, in 1974 , he guided the team to the finals. The members included the Amritraj Brothers, Shashi Menon and Jasjit Singh.
Akhtar Ali has produced National Champions like Zeeshan Ali, Enrico Piperno, Gaurav Misra, Bidyut Goswami and Susan Das. He worked as Vijay Amritraj’s personal coach during the latters prime year on the ATP circuit. The others who received the benefit of his coaching is a list of Indian Tennis’ who’s who : Leander Paes, Zeeshan Ali, Syed Fazaluddin , Enrico Piperno, Ramesh Krishnan, Shashi Menon, Nandan Bal , Chiradip Mukherjee , Jasjit Singh , Vasudevan , Gaurav Mishra , Reena Eaney and almost all budding juniors in the country including Somdev DevBurman and has been an advisor to Sania Mirza.
He has also been an International coach. He coached the Malaysian National Team during the years 1968 – 70 and again from 1991 – 93. He was the chief coach of the Belgium National Team from 1980 – 84. The experience he gained from these international stints was invaluable in his coaching of Indian players.
Akhtar Ali’s tennis guru was the legendary Harry Hopman, who coached the Australian Davis Cup Team for several years.
Apart from his well known and valued contribution as a player and as a coach, his son became the first National Senior Champion and won six titles. Zeeshan was also a winner of the Satellite tournaments in Tokyo and Taipei. He was the member of the Indian Davis Cup team that reached the finals in 1987. He was an Asian Game Gold medallist and an Olympian.
Zeeshan is presently the coach of the Indian Davis Cup team. Akhtar and Zeeshan are the first father and son duo in the history of Indian tennis to have coached the Indian Davis Cup team.
All those who know Akhtar Ali can testify his unfailing charm , willingness to help aspiring players and his keen knowledge of the ever changing game of Tennis.
In appreciation of his contribution to Indian Tennis , Akhtar Ali has received National and International Awards, namely :
- Bengal State Council Award for his contribution as a coach.
- “PRO of the Year” Award, by the United States Professional Tennis Registry (U.S.P.T.R.) in 1998.
- The Arjuna Award , from the Ministry of Sports, Government of India in 2000
- The first “Dilip Bose” Award , by the All India Tennis Association in 2002
- Award for outstanding contribution as a tennis coach by Bengal Tennis Association in 2004
- Award from the Calcutta South Club in 2004
- Award from Allsport in 2007
- The Mother Teresa Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008
- The Krida Guru Award from the Government of West Bengal in 2013
- Award from the President of India in 2014
He is also Tennis Ambassador for the Saddlebrook Tennis Academy , USA and selector of the Indian Davis Cup All India Junior Team. He even writes for newspapers and does sports commentary for Television and is still very active coaching at the Calcutta South Club Coaching Scheme and also conducts many tennis coaching camps all over India and for the All India Tennis Association. He has been very successfully running the AITA Super Series Junior Tennis Tournament consecutively for the past twelve years.
Akhtar Ali’s son Zeeshan Ali contributed a lot to cherish the father’s legacy.
Currently Zeeshan is running an international level academy in Bangalore to maintain the glory of Indian tennis.
Zeeshan ali tennis academy
Legendary Akhtar Ali spared tennis ground, his son also used the same line: Now his Grandson Jafar Ali is aware of the damage done to humanity by global warming and plastics , for this he has given up the waist to realize the dream of Green World.
Our best wishes and compliments are with the family of Mr Akhtar Ali .