Hall of Fame Inductee - Sayeed Ali

Sayeed Ali was seeded fifth in the singles draw for the Western Big Six Conference Tournament as a freshmen when he experienced a coming-of-age moment. Ali played his way to the WB6 championship, and later that spring, he earned a berth in the state tournament field. What transpired thereafter is what sets him apart from the hundreds of players who have been a part of the QHS tennis program. Ali qualified for the state tournament in singles three times, won WB6 titles as a freshman and a sophomore and took second as a junior. As a senior, however, he switched to doubles and joined forces with Pi Boualavong to become one of the most dominant doubles teams in school history. Ali and Boualavong won the WB6 championship and the Chicago Marist Invitational and carried a 30-3 record to the state tournament. There, they won three matches on the opening day before losing in the round of 16. They battled back through the consolation bracket to finish sixth, just the second QHS doubles team to medal at the state tournament. Kent Stickler and Don Bennett finished fifth in doubles in 1956. Ali and Boualavong finished with a 37-5 record. Ali played just one year of college tennis, but it was a memorable one. As a senior at Augustana College in 2001, Ali won the No. 1 singles title at the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin Tournament. He was Augustana’s first CCIW singles champion at any level in 12 years and the school’s first No. 1 singles champion in 16 years. Ali won the Quincy men’s city championship in 1999, beating Todd Willing in stright sets. He defended the title in 2000, beating Jeff Borengasser in straight sets. In 2008, 11 years after their state tournament run, Ali and Boualavong reunited for the men’s city tournament. They reached the semifinals before being ousted by Bill LaTour and Todd Willing. Ali currently lives in Geneva with his wife, Shelley.

Acceptance Speech

"To love a city and school as much as I do and then to be recognized by that school is a special feeling for me. To say it’s an honor would be an understatement. I was born and raised in Quincy, and unlike cities around Chicago or St Louis, we didn’t go to Cubs or Bears games. We grew up watching the Blue Devils. I don’t think I became a Blue Devil when I was a freshman, I feel like I was born a Blue Devil. I used to count seconds using the words Blue Devil not Mississippi and I was probably in college before I realized Blue Devil Blue wasn’t a real color. My success was possible because of my family and especially my parents. It started with my dad at the age of 3. Even though everyone knows my mother is my best friend, it was my dad who is responsible for my love of the game. He was my coach and mentor through all of my junior tennis. In 26 years of playing tennis, neither my mom nor my dad ever told me to win but they told me to “just have fun” every single time I walked out on that court. I think that was one of the main reasons my style of play was a little reckless. Sometime the high percentage play wasn’t the most fun shot to hit, simple as that. I would also like to thank my coaches — Mike Terry and Todd Willing. Coach Terry had been retired for years after coaching some of the greatest tennis players to come out of our city, former players I looked up to like Coach Willing. When I heard he was returning as our head coach before my freshman year, I was thrilled. He immediately took a good program and turned it into a program that was known and feared around the state. I feel like playing for an IHSA Hall of Fame coach with his type of stats changed how I approached the game and what my goals were. I wasn’t interested in just collecting varsity letters. I wanted to be able to say, “You can bring anyone from anywhere into our city and it doesn’t matter because I’m the baddest there is.” It was an honor to be one of his players. It was an honor to share the court with my teammates. It was an honor to represent my community and family. Hall of Fame aside, it’s an honor being a Blue Devil."

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