Akhtar Ali, a former Davis Cup coach and a legendary figure in Indian tennis, passed away on Sunday.
Due to several health issues, including prostate cancer which was recently detected he breathed his last in Kolkata at the age of 83.
Akhtar is the father of the Indian team’s coach for Davis Cup Zeeshan Ali. He shaped careers of several tennis players by emphasising on playing an aggressive serve and volley game.
Apart from his son Zeeshan, he shaped the career of legendary Leander Peas and influenced Vijay Amritraj and Ramesh Krishnan by his coaching style.
Akhtar played eight Davis Cup ties between 1958 and 1964 and also captained and coached the Indian team.
As per family sources, Akhtar was taken to a city hospital two weeks ago where doctors noticed a lump in his chest and also prostate cancer. Additionally, he was already suffering from dementia and Parkinson’s disease.
Doctors advised against any cancer therapies due to his frail conditions.
Zeeshan, who was conducting a junior national camp at DTLA returned to the national capital on Monday but headed back to Kolkata after hearing the news of his father’s demise.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee penned a heartfelt tribute to the tennis veteran.
Saddened to hear about the passing of Akhtar Ali, a true tennis legend. ‘Akhtar Sir' coached many of India’s tennis champions. We conferred Bengal’s highest sporting award on him in 2015. I was fortunate to always receive his warm affection. Condolences to his family and admirers
— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) February 7, 2021
“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 Akhtar. Sincere condolences to Zeeshan n his lovely family,” the legendary Vijay Amritraj tweeted.
Somdev Devvarman, who was a former Davis Cup player tweeted, “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.”