Shibu Lal: A Unique Path to Success.
Born in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Shibu Lal moved to Novato, CA, in big part through tennis. A former professional tennis player, Shibu still plays competitively in Open and Men’s 35s tournaments as well as national tournaments.
Shibu left Bangladesh to pursue his professional career and transitioned to coaching at the end of his playing career. Coaching took him around the world but Shibu decided to settle down in Northern California. Proud father of three girls, Colleen, 17, Raina who is 14, and Maya, 8, Shibu now coaches at Mt Tam Racquet Club in Larkspur, CA.
Talking to Shibu, you would never guess, but he is a big deal back in his home country. A member of the Bangladesh Davis Cup team, he is actually the winningest player in the Bangladesh Davis Cup history! As said in a Marin Independent Journal interview, he doesn’t do it for the fame, but “because I love my country and I love tennis,” Shibu states. The love for his home country has pushed him to help the Davis Cup team every time he returns to Bangladesh. He brings racquets and balls to help players with equipment, as Bangladesh is struggling economically. Shibu still plays for the Bangladesh Davis Cup team, which allows him to go back at least once a year.
But his happy place is with his three daughters here in Novato. After moving there, Shibu started playing tournaments in NorCal and is still really competitive in the Open and Men’s
35s Divisions. “My daughters are actually the ones who ask me to play tournaments, especially my 14-year-old,” Shibu says, with a laugh. Raina took after her dad and now plays some International Tennis Federation (ITF) tournaments. They even team up from time to time during father-daughter tournaments, and have won a couple of them. When it comes to his tournaments, Shibu loves the challenge of playing against younger players and pushing himself. “I play in the Men’s 35s because I like to play against tougher opponents,” Shibu explains. Once in a while he’ll play in the Men’s 40s, but his competitive spirit always brings him back to playing against younger players. “The experience playing big tournaments really helps because I don’t practice as much anymore due to my schedule.” Shibu has competed in the World Championships and still participates in national tournaments. He has even won a few Category II national tournaments in the Men’s 35s. Back in 2005, he was No. 1 in NorCal in the Men’s Open singles, men’s doubles and mixed doubles. Another impressive feat Shibu has accomplished is being a 7-time NorCal player of the year in the Men’s 35s division, five of them consecutively!
And Shibu doesn’t show any sign of slowing down as tennis remains a big passion of his. He tries to play several tournaments a year while coaching and taking care of his daughters. Congratulations to Shibu on all his achievements and we look forward to seeing him on the NorCal courts this year!