It was the taste of Wimbledon that made Zeeshan Ali make a life long commitment to tennis.
“I was the Don Bosco school cricket captain and used to play table tennis and other games. After my dad [Akhtar Ali] took me to Wimbledon, I decided that tennis was what I wanted to do”, said Zeeshan, the Indian team’s Davis Cup coach, during a webinar hosted by SAI and AITA.
Akhtar was the coach of the Davis Cup team that had Ramanathan Krishnan and was also the travelling coach of Vijay Amritraj on the professional tour.
Zeeshan, who won the men’s National title when he was 16, was once ranked No. 126 in the world.
“I lost the National junior championship in Jaipur as I was overconfident about being the No. 2 junior in the world. It was a jolt. The following week I won the men’s title,” recalled Zeeshan, who won the National men’s doubles title with Mark Ferreira when he was 14.
Also read: Virtual tennis, the Indian way!
While Zeeshan learnt a lot from his father and uncles, another National champion Ashutosh Singh, also from a family of tennis players, recalled how his father Balram Singh would hardly tell him anything.
“We learnt by following his discipline. Getting up on time, preparing well etc,” said Ashutosh, who has also taken up coaching.
Getting the basics right
“We learnt the technique and basics very well. They were drilled into us. You need to have correct footwork and meet the ball right. So, wood or graphite, we connected the ball at the centre of the racquet,” said Zeeshan.
Owing to a back injury, Zeeshan had to quit when he was 25, after winning seven National singles titles, including five on grass.
Ashutosh remembered how he learnt a lot playing on red clay in Bulgaria for four weeks even though he did not win even a practice set.
“When I came back, I was a different player. “All my best results came after that stint,” said Ashutosh.