Tennis Is My Oxygen, Says 71-year-old Tahir Ali | Pune News

Pune: Sixty-one years after he won his first title, Tahir Ali continues to add trophies to his over-flowing cupboard.
On Saturday, the 71-year-old Ali bagged the doubles trophy in partnership with Ramarao Dosa in the 70’s and over segment at the Baba Rodrigues ITF Seniors tennis championships at the MSLTA Courts in Mhalunge-Balewadi. This was hours after Ali had lost to his partner in the singles final, as agonising as it could be for a septuagenarian as he was serving for the title 5-3, 40-15 in the second set before frittering away the advantage.
“I made two double-faults and then it all changed,” said the cousin’s brother, former Davis Cupper, late Akhtar Ali. The competitiveness remains unchanged. Six months after a heart-attack in 2013, he reached the final at the Asian championships in Bangkok, Thailand.
“Tennis is my oxygen. If I stop, I will be finished, ”he says with a broad smile.
Tennis is definitely in the family. He picked up the sport early in his home town Kolkata, thanks to his father Sayed, who was a coach.
“It was in 1961 that I won my first title, in the Bengal championships,” Ali said.
He was, in his own words, ranked India no. 3 in juniors in the late 60s and played for Aligarh Muslim University.
Ali, now based in Mumbai, is also an established coach and will be completing 50 years in that role next year.
It has been a long journey and an inspiring one. So much that his son Intiqab Ali, a former pro, has also hit the Seniors circuit and won a title in Mumbai last month.
Tennis has sent him places, given him friends and memories. The most fond one of them, of course, has to do with the legendary Ramanathan Krishnan.
“During the 60s, Krishnan used to play in the Asian Championships in Kolkata. In order to get a chance to watch him play from close, we used to be ball boys. Then in 1978, in an all-India tournament, I played doubles with him. I will always remember that, first watching him as a ball boy and then playing doubles with him, ”Ali said.
Results, finals: Men’s 55-over: Singles: Ajay Kamat bt Alok Bhatnagar 7-5, 6-0; doubles: Ulhas Fulzele / Paul Varghese bt Kuber Dhondiba Chavare / Kuldeep Singh 6-0, 6-1. Men’s 70-over: Singles: Ramarao Dosa bt Tahir Ali 4-6, 7-6 (5), 10-8; Doubles: Tahir Ali / Ramarao Dosa bt Ratnakar Rao Anne / Dhaval Patel 6-3, 6-7 (8), 10-7.

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