New Delhi, Feb 7 Renowned Indian tennis player and coach Akhtar Ali died on Sunday, aged 81. His family members were at his bedside when he passed away at around 2.30 a.m. at his residence in Kolkata, informed his daughter Nilofer.
Ali's son and former Davis Cup player Zeeshan Ali was in Delhi, conducting a camp, when he heard the news. He would be reaching Kolkata before the burial, which is scheduled to take place at Sola Ana graveyard in Khidirpur, Kolkata, after Asar namaaz, the last one before sunset.
"Father had dinner last evening and went to sleep. At around 2 a.m. I went to see him and at 2.30 a.m. he suddenly showed a sign of some breathing problem and we just watched as he passed away," Nilofer, one of the three siblings, told , answering the call on late Ali's mobile number.
"He has a urine infection and we had admitted him in a hospital here in Kolkata. He was discharged from the hospital only yesterday, and he was completely okay. He was also happy that he had returned home," she said.
Ali was a member of the Indian Davis Cup team from 1958 to 1964, along with stalwarts Ramnathan Krishnan, Jaidip Mukherjea, and Premjit Lall. He was the non-playing captain of the Indian team at the Davis Cup in 2008.
However, Ali was better known as a coach than a player. Some people felt that he didn't attain more laurels as a player because of his short height. He worked with three generations of Indian players from the great Ramesh Krishnan to the legendary Leander Paes who all made a name for themselves globally.
"I have been one of the coaches who has been working with three generations. Leander Paes is my trainee. I have worked with Ramesh Krishnan, Zeeshan Ali, and I was a private coach of Vijay Amritraj. I have produced more national champions and Davis Cup players in the country than any other coach. My success as a coach is because I try to keep learning and still I am learning," Ali had told Sportswire in an article published on January 28, 2012.
Ali won the Junior National title at age 16 in 1955. He won the Arjuna Award in 2000.
( With inputs from IANS )
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