India Tennis

Zeeshan Ali


Zeeshan Ali (born January 19, 1970 in Calcutta) is a former tennis player from India, who represented his native country at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, where he was defeated in the second round by the number ten seed from Switzerland, Jakob Hlasek, who later was removed on doping charges.

The righthander reached his highest singles ATP-ranking on December 12, 1988, when he became the number 126 of the world when he was still 3 weeks short of his 19th birthday).

He remained in the top-150 (with the exception of a couple of weeks) through August 1989. His singles highlights in 1988 included making R2 of the ATP tour event in Schenectady (losing to Kriek in R2) and at the Seoul Olympics (where he lost to Hlasek in R2), and making the final of a Challenger in New Haven, CT (where he beat good players like Glenn Layendecker and Luke Jensen but lost to 35 year old Vijay Amritraj in the final) and the semifinal of a Challenger in Indonesia. But he also had a lot of R1 losses in Challengers during the year, making R2 of only one other Challenger (in Nigeria). This decent set of performances had taken Zeeshan to 178 in the singles rankings in November 1988, but he then dominated a Satellite circuit in India -- and jumped to a career-high 126 on 12th December 1988. (He had also done well in a Satellite circuit in India the previous year around the same time, and that had taken his ranking from the 800s to 451 by end-December; when those points fell off, Zeeshan finished 1988 at -146). At the end of 1988, Zeeshan's doubles ranking was also a decent 154.

By the end of 1989, however, his singles rank had plummeted to 275 (from 181 in early-December) as those Satellite points fell off, and his doubles rank also fell to 225. By the end of 1990, he was in the 500s and his pro career was over (and Zeeshan wasn't even 21 then). In 1989, Zeeshan made the QF of a Challenger in Nigeria early in the year, and then qualified into tour events in Key Biscayne, Tokyo (where he beat Leif Sheiras before losing to Edberg in R2), Singapore, London (Queen's Club) AND Wimbledon (where he lost in straight sets to Wally Masur). But having won only one match on the tour until that point, Zeeshan wisely switched to playing more Challengers: he made R2 of Challengers in Beijing, Jakarta and Singapore, and the QF in Hong Kong (while losing in R1 at KL); but he was the top seed in all these, so he was being upset in every tournament. He did play the tour event in Brisbane, but lost to Woodbridge in R1. Zeeshan should not (at just 19 years of age) have been so disheartened by these performances, but he clearly was and his pro career basically ended in 1990, with three R2 Challenger performances (two in Nairobi, Kenya, and one in Kuala Lumpur).

In 1989, he made R2 of doubles at Wimbledon (losing to the seeded pair of Curren/Pate in four sets), and WON two Challenger doubles titles (in Kuala Lumpur and Beijing). In 1988, he had also made R2 of the Wimbledon doubles (with Mark Ferreira, son of the billiards great), two Challenger doubles finals (one with Mark) and four Challenger semi-finals (one of them with 37 year old Anand Amritraj). Even in 1990, he won a Challenger doubles title (in Winnetka, IL) and made another Challenger doubles final (in Kenya), although playing a much lighter schedule. But after 1991, Zeeshan was mainly playing Futures and Satellites (plus only the occasional Challenger) in India and SE Asia. He had given up bigger tennis ambitions.


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