Indian tennis bemoans the death of its most 'handsome' player

Indian tennis fraternity bemoaned the loss of one its great players in Premjit Lall, who died this evening at his residence in Kolkata.

updated: January 01, 2009 13:47 IST
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New Delhi:

Indian tennis fraternity bemoaned the loss of one its great players in Premjit Lall, who died this evening at his residence in Kolkata.

Lall, a recipient of Arjuna Award, belonged to the golden era of the Indian tennis in 1960s when he played along with Ramanathan Krishnan and Jaideep Mukherjea.

The former Davis Cup player breathed his last at 6:30 on Wednesday. He was 68 and was survived by two sons and a daughter.

Lall was confined to wheelchair since 1992 after meeting an accident.

Former Davis Cup captain Akhtar Ali said Lall's death was a personal loss to him.

"We practiced together and played together for years. He was the most handsome player at that time. It's very sad moment for us. Premjit, myself and Jaideep were called three musketeers from Kolkata. He was a great human being and a very close friend," Ali said.

"He was a beautiful player with clean strokes. He was a wonderful personality and a very straight forward person," he added.

Ali also remembered Lall's match against Australian great Rod Laver in the Wimbledon championship in 1960. "I still remember that match. Premjit was leading 2-0. He lost that match against the great Rod Laver but the way he played was amazing," he said.

India's current non-playing Davis Cup captain S P Misra was also shocked at the news of his death.

"He was in a very bad shape for quite some time. But I did not expect this to happen. I met him a few days back. He was having difficulty in speaking to us.

"It is very sad. He was a close friend and was also close to my family. He even stayed with us. This is not a good news," Misra said.

Lall's made his Davis Cup debut in 1959 and last represented India in 1973.

In all, he represented India in 41 Davis Cup ties and won 34 singles matches out of the 54 he played in his career. He also made a mark in doubles, winning 24 out of 36 matches.

Misra also pointed out that Lall was the most handsome player of that era.

"As a person he was very good. He was very handsome. If there was media coverage at that time, the kind of we have today he would have been very popular.

"He was very stylish player with clean strokes and has an all court game. He played well on all kinds of surfaces," Misra said.

Another former Davis Cup captain Jaideep Mukherjea was so shocked by the loss of his personal friend that he could only say that, "It is very sad."

Lall was a member of the Indian squad to Australia in 1966 when India reached the Finals (Challenge Round).

He was also four-time National singles champion - in 1966, 1967-68 and 1969 and Doubles National Champion (with Jaideep) in 1964, 1966, 1972 and 1973.

He reached the third round of Wimbledon in 1962 and 1965.