Premjit Lall is no more

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By Staff Reporter in Calcutta
  • Published 1.01.09

Calcutta: India on Wednesday lost one of her tennis icons — Premjit Lall — who during the 1960s took the game to a new level. His peers, Akhtar Ali and Jaidip Mukerjea, who saw him scale new heights on both the international and national circuits, termed his death a great loss.

The following are excerpts

Akhtar Ali: It’s very sad … We three (myself, Jaidip and Premjit) have been very close… We were just like brothers. We were known as the three musketeers… He was not only a good-looking man, but was a fine gentleman too. I never found anybody complaining about him. And in 1964 it was under his captaincy that I had played my last Davis Cup against Pakistan in Lahore. Some people objected when he (Premjit) named me in place of Jaidip who was injured… He straightaway rejected them and told me to go on… The rest is history… We beat Pakistan 5-0. But his match against Rod Laver was memorable… He fought like a soldier and at one stage he was leading 2-0… I remember that was a terrific match. Even Laver in his biography said that he was lucky to win the match…

Naresh Kumar: It’s terrible news… He was a very good player indeed and a wonderful fellow… I think he was the stalwart of Indian tennis… I had always said that he had the looks of a matinee-idol… I have seen hysterical schoolgirls falling for him… I still remember that match against the great Rod Laver… Though he eventually lost, the way he played was amazing. But I think life was never kind to him… I feel we were lucky to see him a few weeks back and found him quite fine… He was lucid… He was recounting the old matches and also enquired about our children… I am really shocked…

Jaidip Mukerjea: We started our careers together at the South Club… We used to travel together for 8-9 months together… We (myself, Akhtar and Premjit) were great friends and really had a great time together… But I would like to point out that he was the most underestimated player in the country… He was a very good partner and I had some great moments during the 1962 Australian Open and the 1973 Wimbledon Championships. We reached the last eight stage and were really going great guns… I have lost a very good friend and this loss will definitely create a void.