: Akhtar Ali, who coached the Indian team to the Davis Cup finals in 1966 and 1974, was on Thursday delighted to share that he and son Zeeshan Ali — the present coach — are the first father-son pair to have coached a Davis Cup team.
On the eve of India’s Asia-Oceania group ‘I’ Davis Cup tie against Korea, Akhtar was pleased about this rare achievement. “The ITF has informed me that we will be the first father-son pair to have coached a Davis Cup side.
“I am grateful to God. Both of us have played for India in the Davis Cup. Now, it will be a pleasure watching Zeeshan coach the team.”
Akhtar played for India from 1958 to 1964 and also guided the team to the semifinals in 1993.
He was confident about Zeeshan’s ability as a coach. “I am sure he will do well. He was a good player. He is committed and has the experience to mentor the team,” said Akhtar, while feeling bitter that his son had not yet got the Arjuna award despite his achievements.
The 74-year-old, who also coached Belgium and Malaysia, said the key to coaching at the highest level was to stay updated. “You have to keep learning. That’s why I used to interact with some of the best coaches in the world.”
Zeeshan, who played for the country from 1989 to 1994, was focused on his job and put the players through a crucial training session ahead of the important tie.“It is more of a mental thing. It is about how you manage yourself on the court,” said 43-year-old.