Dubai: India’s celebrated tennis player and legendary coach Akhtar Ali died on Sunday. Born on July 5, 1939, Ali was a member of the Indian Davis Cup team continuously from 1958 to 1964. According to his family members, he passed away at 2.30am on Sunday.
The All India Tennis Association said: “We mourn the demise of Mr Akhtar Ali who passed away today in Kolkata, India. All members, officer bearers, affiliates and representatives of AITA come together to offer their heartfelt condolences and prayers in this moment of grief.”
A member of India’s Davis Cup teams from the late 1950s to the mid 1960s, Ali held an enviable 9-2 win-loss record in the tournament — rated as the World Cup of the sport.
Proficient in both singles and doubles, he played alongside the country’s legends such as Ramanathan Krishnan, Naresh Kumar, Premjit Lall and Jaidip Mukerjea.
Later, as a coach, he guided the top Indian tennis stars — Ramesh Krishnan, Vijay Amritraj, Anand Amritraj and Leander Paes. Even Sania Mirza once publicly expressed her indebtedness to Ali for having set her on the right track during her formative years.