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Remembering Premjit Lall - The Indian tennis hero who reigned in 1960s and 1970s

Remembering Premjit Lall - The Indian tennis hero who reigned in 1960s and 1970s

Md Imtiaz

Published: 30 Nov 2020 6:10 AM GMT

Tennis has always held a special place in the heart of Indian fans. The sport, particularly the Grand Slams, attracts a lot of viewership in the second most populated country in the world with several Indian players like Leander Paes, Vijay Amritraj and Sania Mirza making it big on the international stage.

In recent times, Indian tennis players have grabbed more of a solid foothold in the sport, with players from the country participating regularly at Grand Slam tournaments. From actively cheering for the new bunch of players to often engaging on betting apps, the sport has come a long way from when it was first introduced in India.

One of the forgotten heroes of Indian tennis was Premjit Lall, who reigned the court during the 1960s and 1970s. Born on the 20th of October 1940, Premjit's career started off in the green meadows of the South Club in Calcutta, under the tutelage of coach Dilip Bose.

Premjit made a name for himself after finishing as the runner-up in the 1958 Boys’ Singles in Wimbledon. One of the best performances by him came in 1969 Wimbledon when he almost upset the top-seeded Australian legend, Rod Laver in the 3rd Round, initially leading two sets to love, ultimately succumbing to a gruelling five-set thriller.

Premjit played in 18 editions of Wimbledon between 1957 and 1975. He was a regular member of the Indian Davis Cup Team and played in the finals in the years 1959, 1962, 1963, 1966 and 1968.

In 1967, the Indian government conferred him with the Arjuna Award. Premjit played his last match in 1979. He was part of the famous Indian team which reached the challenge round of Davis Cup in 1966. Despite his achievements, he was not looked after. He lived a desolated life in South Kolkata after his retirement and had once attempted suicide. Naresh Kumar and Ramnathan Krishnan were almost reduced to tears seeing his plight in the last days! He passed away quietly alone in his residence on December 31, 2008 at the age of 68.

Also read: When tennis legend Rafael Nadal won people’s hearts in Chennai

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