| 03.20.2018

From student, to teacher — Assistant women’s tennis coach helps lead team to NCAAs


Idaho women’s tennis assistant coach Abid Akbar was faced with a tough decision after his college tennis career ended.  

Parker Wilson | Argonaut Assistant coach Abid Akbar practices with the women's tennis team at the Memorial Gym tennis courts in preparation for its NCAA tournament match on Friday.

Parker Wilson | Argonaut
Assistant coach Abid Akbar practices with the women’s tennis team at the Memorial Gym tennis courts in preparation for its NCAA tournament match on Friday.

After three years of playing for the Idaho men’s tennis team, he decided he wanted to stay and finish his master’s degree.

The Pakistan native wanted to stay involved with tennis after he graduated with a degree in economics in 2013.  With the women’s assistant coach position vacant, Akbar was excited for the opportunity to assist his former program.

“I wanted to help out (Idaho coach Jeff Beaman) as much as I can,” Akbar said.  “He’s given me the best four years of my life and given me such a great chance and I will definitely help him out and get my master’s degree.”

Akbar’s decision to come to Idaho for college was influenced by his father, Mohamed Ali Akbar, who played tennis for Clemson.

“My dad knew Jeff,” Akbar said.  “He had been in some contact with him when he was trying to get my brother in college. So he looked at my video on YouTube and results and performances.  I told my dad ‘if it sounds good to you it sounds good to me.’  I trusted his decision and I think it turned out to be a good one.”

Akbar made it to New York for National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships in fall 2012 as a doubles player  but is equally excited to go to the NCAA tournament as a coach when Idaho faces USC on Friday.

“In my four years, I’ve seen a lot of the United States just with tennis and with Jeff and with traveling — its been a wonderful ride just for that,” Akbar said.  “Southern California is one of the biggest hubs of tennis in America.  There’s so much tennis and such great places to play tennis there.”

As a senior, Akbar began the season ranked No. 1 in the Mountain Region before posting a 22-6 record with partner Marius Cirstea.

“When I was playing, I went to nationals with the doubles team and actually beat USC’s No. 1 team,” Akbar said.  “I have an idea how good the level is but I just want to go there and experience one of the best college tennis atmospheres.”

Akbar said this upcoming weekend could be a career-changing moment for some players on the team.

“For the guys and the girls that are playing right now, I think it’s a great opportunity” Akbar said.  “They definitely will learn from it.  When you go play those people who you think are at the top of what you’re doing, you actually realize and believe that you can compete with them.  They should definitely make the most out of it.”

This is the first year Akbar has spent coaching, and Beaman said him and associate coach Art Hoomiratana have made his job easier.

“Abid and Art have done an excellent job at filling in this season,” Beaman said.

Akbar says he’s received plenty of help.

“I never really took any major decisions on my own,” Akbar said.  “If Jeff isn’t there, he was always in touch with me if I’m by myself or with Art.  Both of us are new into tennis coaching.  He did his best in giving us exact instructions what to do, practice plans and how to set the lineups.  Obviously we had to make decisions now and then, but major decisions are still given my Jeff.”

Conor Gleason can be reached at arg-sports@uidaho.edu

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