Legendary Davis Cup coach and former tennis player, Akhtar Ali passes away at 83

Legendary Davis Cup coach and former tennis player, Akhtar Ali passes away at 83

On Sunday, tennis legend Akhtar Ali passed away in Kolkata. The legend was 83 years old and died due to multiple health issues, including recently detected prostate cancer.

Akhtar Ali, father of India’s current Davis Cup coach Zeeshan Ali, breathed his last at 2:30 a.m. on Sunday. For the last few months, the Akhtar Ali was suffering from different ailments. He was hospitalised for a few days before being brought back home recently.

According to family sources, he was taken to a city hospital two weeks ago where doctors noticed a lump in his chest and also prostate cancer. He was already suffering from dementia and parkinson’s disease.

Akhtar’s coaching style emphasised on playing aggressive serve and volley game. His style shaped many careers as he influenced well-known players like Vijay Amritraj, Anand Amritraj, Ramesh Krishnan, Leander Paes and Somdev Devvarman.

The legendary Vijay Amritraj paid his tributes and tweeted, “Akhtar Ali was terrific as a coach both when I was a junior as well as coach of our India Davis Cup team. Always pushed hard n kept the team relaxed. He did great service to Indian Tennis. RIP dear Aktar. Sincere condolences to Zeeshan n his lovely family.”

Akhtar Ali (centre) with son Zeeshan Ali (left) and Leander Paes at the KSLTA in Bengaluru on April 5, 2017. – V. SREENIVASA MURTHY

Former Davis Cupper Somdev Devvarman recalled him as a passionate taskmaster and wrote on the micro blogging site, “One of the first times I threw up during practice was with Akhtar sir at the South club in the summer of 1999. He always gave it his best and taught us to do the same. RIP Akhtar Ali, legend of Indian tennis.”

Akhar Ali was born on July 5, 1939. Between 1958 and 1964, he played eight Davis Cup ties against Pakistan, Malaysia, Iran, Mexico, Japan and Monaco. He captained and coached the Indian side. He had played in the Wimbledon and French Open grand slam events. His last ATP tour outing was in Bombay on November 11, 1974, against Vijay Amritraj.

In the year 2000, he was conferred the Arjuna Award for lifetime contribution to tennis.

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