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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Jan 29, 2001
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Jan 29 Notes

Mahesh is playing at the $400K Milan indoors with Dominik Hrbaty and they are seeded first there, playing Goellner-Olhovskiy in the first round .. Actually Mahesh had mentioned Milan in an email a few days back, and I had assumed LP might also be going there - he may not have had plans to play doubles there .. LP is not playing this week, and will be playing on the tour only after the Davis Cup (end of next week)

Nirupama may be at the $25K challenger in Clearwater, Florida .. Will confirm soon.

The grasscourt nationals started today in Kolkata .. Manisha is the top seed among the women and Vinod Sridhar is the top seed among men .. Will have pages up or the Kolkata nationals and the Chandigarh ITF juniors later today.

Jan 28 Note-2

Here is a nice article about Paes and Bhupathi from Rohit Brijnath about a week back in the India Today (now their online news thing is called "The Newspaper" after some legal injunction and some hassles) .. Most of what the article says is dead on .. It's very interesting to read how some of the other doubles players felt about LP-MB at the AO this time .. Still nobody wants to play them, for fear of what they are capable of doing, but they all feel that our pair have just not been playing well like they can .. The comments from coach Bob Carmichael about how they were messing up basic fundamentals was interesting too (don't misunderstand - these two know the fundamentals of doubles play like nobody else out there and Bob's coaching has a lot to do with it too, but they are just not doing the things they know they should do) .. The thing to notice is that nobody is talking about their skills slipping .. That means, things are bound to click given time .. I hope they play a tournament this week .. I am dying to see some good results.

Jan 28 Note-1

Not much news today, except for the results from the Delhi ITF juniors final yesterday .. 3rd seed Shivang Mishra, about to turn 18 in his final year in the juniors, won the final over his 17 yr old brother, 10th seed Nishank Mishra in a close match 75 76 .. Nishank has a backcourt style and Shivang is more of a serve-and-velley type .. The elder brother kept to his style and played the big points better to pull off his first title (he was in the final of a big grade-3 event in Dhaka last year) .. On the girls side, lefthander Megha Vakharia ("a bundle of talent" as Hindustan Times called her today) kept her mind in focus and beat the 2nd seed Pichaya once again, for a 64 64 win in the title match .. Sandeep Kirtane, who coaches Megha said that she needs to keep her focus, and big things are certainly possible for her .. He also said that she will play the Chandigarh leg next week and at least one more in Bangladesh in the weeks after .. Megha certainly has a chance to bring up her point total to the 250 range and qualify for at least the US Open this year; perhaps even for FO and Wimbledon if she continues to "cook" in the sunscontinental circuit .. She has another year left in the juniors, and this is the time to plan big for grand slam juniors and competition against top players .. Both Megha and Shivang get 40 points each for the title .. Megha will move up inside top-110 from her 152 ranking this week .. Shivang could move close to top-100 from #150 now as well (he has some 40 points falling off in three weeks for a grade-3 final at Dhaka last year) .. Younger brother Nishank will move up inside top-200 from #281 with his first ITF final this week .. See the complete Delhi juniors results.

The junior group moves on to Chandigarh for another grade-4 event .. According to the Chandigarh Tribune, there will be one more top player in the draw there - Sunil Kumar .. Sunil has no choice but to play a few grade-4 type events to pick up some 100 odd points to keep his ranking up inside the top-60 or so to qualify for the three remaining grand slams this year, which is his final year in the juniors .. He had about 120 points to defend from the subcontinental circuit from last year from the Sri Lanka, Delhi and Rajshahi titles, falling off over this 4-5 week period .. It shouldn't be a big problem for him to pick up points though.

Jan 27 Notes

Saw the qualifying draw at the Milan ATP .. LP and MB do not seem to be there .. Not sure if they would be playing there this coming week; perhaps just dubles at Milan.

Jennifer Capriti! - how about her ? .. Beating Hingis in the final and completing her big comeback that too a coupole of years to the top .. Bjorkman-Woodbridge won the doubles final in four sets over B.Black/ Prinosil .. 7th seed Sunitha Rao (USA) went down in the semifinal to 6th seed Sofia Arvidsson (SWE) in three sets .. Taiwan's Yeu-Tzuoo Wang, 4th seed from Thailand (just 16 years old, I believe) is in the boys' singles final tomorrow against the top seed Janco Tipsarevic (YUG) .. Wang Yeu-Tzuoo beat the 8th seed Michal Kochta in the semi .. This kid may turn out to be the highest ranked Asian junior since Leander ? ..

Martin Spottl won the Bangalore futures today, and Srinath-Spottl won the doubles title over Manoj Mahadevan and Rishi Sridhar, giving Spottl a double crown .. See the Bangalore futures page.

At the Delhi juniors, the Mishra brothers - Shivang and Nishank eached the final yesterday .. These two have been playing the ITF junior circuit for over a year, and seem to be establishing themselves as serious contenders .. Shivang, about a year older and in his last year in the juniors, upset of #2 seed Amanjot Singh .. The win is particularly noteworthy, as Amajot was on an 8 match win streak with a title last week at Colombo .. On the girls' side, Megha Vakharia beat the giant-killer Sandy Gumulya of Indonesia (who had upset top seed Sania on thursday) surprisingly easily, 63 60 .. She runs into the 2nd seed Pichaya Laosirichon of Thailand, who got a pretty good three-set fight from 6th seed Sasha Abraham, who is also establising herself near the top in the Indian junior ranks .. 16 yr old Megha had beaten Pichaya the last time they played, in the grade-5 Chennai ITF juniors last September .. Megha had also lost the final the next week against Sania at Mumbai then .. So this is her 3rd final in a row in ITF junior internationals in India, which is impressive .. Sania and Sasha won the doubles title yesterday .. Boys doubles finals is today .. See the Delhi juniors page .. Later with the final resuls from today ..

Jan 26 Notes

Sports always looks inconsequential and insignificant when you hear of hundreds dying from heart-wrenching calamities like what happened in the earthquake today in India .. All our prayers are with those who lost their near and dear.

The ITF junior international produced some results which certainly surprised me yesterday .. First of all, young Saurabh Singh pulled off another terrific win, beating the talented 9th seed Rohan Gajjar in three sets to reach the semis, following on his upset of the #14 seed Wali and #1 seed Vinod Sewa earlier .. I don't think Saurabh is even ranked in the ITF now, but I remember him being ranked with a couple of wins as a 14 yr old two years back - he seems to be hitting a stride now ? .. Surprises are always nice .. The Mishra brothers, Shivang and Nishank, reached the semifinal and have both looked good at Delhi, their homecourt .. The #2 seed Amanjot Singh is still cruising .. The big surprise was on the girls' side - the 14 yr old Sania Miraza, the top seed, going down against unseeded Indonesian Sandy Gumulya in the QF, 46 75 46 .. The reports are that Sania did play pretty well, and even staged comebacks, winning the second set and then again from being down two breaks at 1-4 in the 3rd set .. This girl Sandy seems to be a pretty talented one too .. She had upset the 8th seed earlier .. Megha Vakharia basically had an injury walkover, and 6th seed Sasha Abraham (also from Hyderabad and Sania's doubles partner - she is only 15 too)  had a romping 61 61 win over a pretty talented Lata Assudani - that scoreline also surprises me .. Both Megha and Sasha have tough semi matches against Sandy and the #2 seed Pichaya today .. See the Delhi juniors page.

7th seed Sunitha Rao (USA) won a tough three-setter and reached the semifinal of the Australian Open girls singles .. She and Tanner Cochran went down in the doubles QF later today .. Sunitha will have her toughest test yet, against 6th seed Sofia Arvidsson of Sweden today in the semi (Sofia beat #3 seed Dlhopolcova in the QF in two tiebreakers today .. You may remember Dlhopolcova - the one who came in as the last direct entry and beat the top seed #215 Krejcova, Shruti, Sai etc in order to win the $25K Delhi challenger three months back! -- The talent at the top levels of the juniors is impressive).

Jan 25 Note-2

Happy Republic Day (tomorrow)! .. Leander and Mahesh will be receiving Padma Shri awards tomorrow .. Big congrats to both! .. Vishy Anand gets a Padma Bhushan and Dhanraj Pillay gets a Padma Shri .. All well-deserved for their careers.

At Bangalore, the dream run of qualifier Cerovic continued with a win over the 8th seed Mazur today .. He faces 6th seed Hasko tomorrow .. 2nd seed Spottl and 4th seed DeVoest in the other semifinal .. Srinath and Spottle are n the final of doubles, beating Kannan/ Bopanna, and they will play Manoj Mahadevan and Rishi Sridhar, who beat Ghouse-Uppal in a three-set comeback .. See the Bangalore results.

The doubles final at the Aus Open will bet between 4th seeds Bjorkman/ Woodbridge and 14th seeds B.Black/ Prinosil .. Bjorkman/ Woodbridge looks to be a terrific combo, beat Arthurs/ Zimonjic in a furious comeback after closely dropping the first set, 46 60 62 .. Poor Rafter got caught by cramps while leading against Agassi, dropping the last two sets in a 3 hour five-setter .. Frenchmen, 23 yr old Arnaud Clement and 22 yr old Sebastien Grosjean meet in the other semi today .. Those two have actually been doubles partners for a while too, playing rather frequently - they reached the PQF of doubles at the AO this time, upsetting the 2nd seeds E.Ferreira/ Rikl, only losing to the finalists Black-Prinosil in a 3-setter .. Something tells me that we may not see much of doubles from those two if they continue doing this well in singles .. Pity, but that's how it's been lately, and playing both singles and doubles is becoming pretty much an impossibility in the ATP tour, even if one wants to try it .. See this article from Rohit Brijnath in rediff.com on this topic, much talked-about these days .. In fact, I would hope ATP would do something and get this topic off the press desks - doubles, as Rohit says, isn't going anywhere (and it shouldn't), if for nothing else, due to the tradition involved .. ATP needs to come up with something creative and make it attractve, and more importantly, possible for players to play doubles .. What they first need is the commitment to take care of the issue - after all, tournaments are complaning about wasted prize money, and it's a fact that doubles does not bring in gate collection or sponsorship at most tournaments (Chennai and Bangalore being possibly the ONLY exceptions) .. I fail to understand why ATP does not spend some creative energy towards a solution to this, especially when money is an issue .. Appointing a "doubles czar" may be the first step - somebody who follows doubles and feels for it in his/her heart (the name of the Jensen brothers mother has been mentioned as a positive step by some) .. Requiring a few doubles events (say 8 events) for top-50 players and even including doubles performance along with singles in some way towards an overall tennis ranking may be another way .. Of course, singles is about 4 times more important (I say that based on current prize money) and it should be reflected that way in any combined ranking .. Just a random thought from me, without much thought behind it .. The point is that ATP needs to get its act together.

Jan 25 Note-1

Here is a beautiful article from Prajwal Hegde in the Deccan Herald yesterday, about Nirupama Vaidyanathan's pioneering work in bringing pro tennis to Indian women .. I loved the ending of the article - "Nirupama played the singles qualifiers in Melbourne and lost in the final round. In the doubles, she and makeshift partner Renata Kolbovic took on Venus and Serena Williams in the first round ... The stunning success of the Williams sisters has broken down the last of the long-standing barriers in world tennis. The sisters may not have known it, but the Indian woman across the net was also a pioneer, though at an entirely different level. If in the years to come we have our own Grand Slam champion, let it be known that this is where it began. The name is Nirupama Vaidyanathan" .. Hard to disagree! .. Good to read a positive article, in the middle of all the bad news streaming our way often.

Hey, big congrats go to Jennifer Capriati, the one who Jay Leno once said was "good on grass" (:-)), for the big upset of Davenport 64 63 to reach the final at the Australian against Martina Hingis, who just shellacked Venus Williams 61 61 .. #14 Black/ Prinosil beat Gomelstob/ Humpries to reach the doubles final .. 7th seed Sunitha Rao (USA) is in the QF of girls' singles with a 61 61 win today .. Asia's best, Su-Wei Hsieh of Taiwan, seeded 16th, upset the 2nd seed Marion Bartoli to reach the girls QF also .. Sunitha is also in the doubles QF after a 3-set win today .. This 15 yr old is going to be something special!

At the ITF grade-4 junior event in Delhi on wednesday, 16 yr old Saurabh Singh pulled a big upset over the #1 seed Vinod Sewa in the PQF .. Saurabh had lost to the #1 seed last week in the first round at Colombo - that was against Amanjot Singh - and he was not going to go down this time, despite some injury problems, pulling off a comeback after dropping the first set to Vinod Sewa .. Incidentally, Vinod Sewa is the oldest junior player in the world, as he has a Jan 1st (1983) DOB that qualifies him to play juniors this year! .. #2 Amanjot Singh and #9 Rohan Gajjar may be on a collision course to the final, though the Mishra brothers - Nishank and Shivang, Harshit Sharma, etc, could stand in the way .. Karan Rastogi had a good upset of the 7th seed Rahul Rajkhewa, before falling to Rohan .. Amanjot beat Jaco Matthew in a repeat of the final .. No girls' singles yesterday, and we will move on to all the QF matches for girls and boys today .. See the Delhi Juniors page.

The grasscourt nationals is in Kolkata next week, organized by Paes-en-Sport and the Bengal Tennis Association .. It looks like Srinath and Fazal may end up skipping it unless the departure date to China for Davis Cup is changed, and Harsh Mankad won't be there because of college commitments in the US ..  Manisha and Sai also may be missing from the women's side, but all the rest of the players should be there (source: Telegraph, Kolkata)

Jan 24 Note-3

They go to play singles, and they end up doing well in doubles -- strange stuff happening with Indian players these days .. Not that they (or us) should complain, but what is happening in the Indian futures is quite weird .. For the first time in an Indian futures that I can remember, we have all four teams in the semifinals with Indians (actually, Martin Spottl playing with Srinath is the only non-Indian among the eight players) .. The Indian teams did it in style too, with the #1, #2 and #3 seeds falling to Srinath/ Spottl, Mahadevan/ R.Sridhar and Ghouse/ Uppal .. The 4th seeds had already fallen to Kannan/ Bopanna in the first round .. Kannan/ Bopanna upset Levinsky/ Navratil today .. Hey, what's going on ? .. Manoj and Rishi are lucky losers for crying out loud, and they are not supposed to upset the second seeds (Freelove-Nelson) in straight sets! .. But that is how it's been going .. A couple of seeds fell in singles, and the lone Indian in the second round, Vishal Uppal fell without much fight to the 4th seed DeVoest .. See the Bangalore futures results page.

So, once again, we are assured of having an Indian winning the doubles title .. We have to sit up and take a look at why these players are doing so well in doubles, and with the exception of Srinath and perhaps Fazal, none is able to do much in the main draws of singles .. What ails them all in singles ? .. The normal theory in all press reports, which I had bought for quite a while, is that they are all suffering from a confidence and self-belief problem .. I am not sure I buy that argument anymore .. I find it hard to believe that with so much having been talked about this aspect, our players (the whole busload of them) would ALL have trouble finding some "inner strength" or "fire in the belly" to do well .. I mean, so many Indians can't all be such pussies, so to say .. So I refuse to buy that argument now ! .. There is more to this, and my thoughts are more and more leaning towards reasons dealing with the technical aspects of their games .. We need a fresh look into what we are coaching our players to do - what is important and what is not .. One technical thing for instance, which we hear reported in the press time and again is that our players are always in a hurry to finish of points and do not show the patience to play the rallies and win them with accurate shots .. Now, one can say that it is a question of confidence too, but I think there is probably more to it .. Perhaps the Indians do not play enough (or aren't coached enough) in that style to build up one's confidence in playing patiently and hitting the shots accurately, the confidence that one can win the rallies that way .. We still get impressed with our players' abilities at the net - and a lot of them have sweet hands, have winner shot-making abilities, and can be a killer in doubles with the smaller court area each player needs to cover .. May be much more is needed in singles these days .. I am some sort of a broken record on this, and almost all of what I am saying is based on just press reports and not based on any tennis "knowledge" - so take it with a pinch of salt .. I do remember Bhupathi Sr. writing in one of his monthly columns from the tennis village that our players are often in a hurry to finish off points because they do not trust their stamina and strength to hang on for the tough wins .. The Europeans are so used to the drudgery of clay tennis where one needs this .. As time goes on, it seems more and more like the court is becoming too big for our players to play singles on - and their skills are more and more suited for doubles ..  Now, I am not an apologist for doubles (I have never been) .. I take doubles as pretty much a separate game, which many top singles players are (despite what they say) quite unable to excel in even if they try seriously, like a Paes or a Bhupathi .. I don't compare doubles to singles and take each on its own merit .. But the fact remains that we NEED to see our players do well in singles also .. But, how ? .. What is the remedy ? .. More coaching insights/inputs from abroad?  .. I know the Indian coaches, good as they are, will find it tough to swallow; but hey, the results are results - and none of our players are doing jack these days in singles -- something needs to be done .. Time to start looking outwards, if we are not doing that already .. All the old stories about lack of support, encouragement, money, etc, etc, do not hold much water anymore .. A lot of recent players, who have got a lot more support than players have got in the past, have shown no improvement AT ALL .. While most have been somewhat over-ranked in the junior levels, there is no question that we have had at least 15 or more boys who were at least in the junior top-250 solidly in the last 4-5 years - and none is really even in the top-700 these days .. Some even seem like they are falling more and more behind in the pros as time goes on .. Perhaps it's more like top-750 pro players are playing the sort of tennis that the Indians are increasingly unable to handle (note - I used to say top-500 before; I have changed it to top-750 now; our players now seem to be unable to beat top-750 either, unlike a couple of years back when they could) .. I am certainly not blaming the players - lord knows they are trying, going from event to event and coming back empty handed -- just look at the number of qualifying matches those like Mustafa, Vijay Kannan and Manoj Mahadevan have had to go through (not to mention many others) only to come back empty-handed without a single ATP point, which one gets only after reaching the main draw pre-quarters .. They are traveling to every damn corner of India and to places like Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Indonesia and Thailand .. They continue to struggle, certainly not breaking even money-wise either .. I refuse to believe that they are all, as a group, not trying hard .. Nor do I believe that they are ALL unable to discipline themselves or "believe in themselves" ALL the time .. Aren't those some sort of easy cop-out arguments ? .. As a group, I have to place the blame much more on our tennis think-tanks (no idea whom exactly I place in that vague group :-)) .. Our national "tennis think-tanks" needs to look harder, stop thinking that miracle players are just somehow going to appear from somewhere, care a bit more about REALLY finding what ails our players, swallow the pride if needed (with respect to foreign coaching etc), and DO SOMETHING .. Hey, you all KNOW tennis -- not us fans who are armchair analysts .. DO SOMETHING!!!  .. It's getting crazy out there ..

There .. My disconnected thoughts today .. Too confused to put it all in any coherent or logical order.

Sorry to go on a harangue just when our players pulled off such wonderful doubles wins .. No mean job - these foreign players in these futures do play doubles seriously, as they are looking for whatever extra money they can get .. These wins do count as accomplishments .. I am just frustrated that we don't see a bit more success in singles also.

Jan 24 Note-2

The Davis Cup team for China (the tie is at the end of the week after next) has been announced -- Paes, Bhupathi, Srinath and Fazal .. The good old team back together again .. I hope AITA did not decide to dump Harsh Mankad unceremoniously .. Actually I think they had considered Harsh and had contacted him to find out his availability .. What I had heard from Harsh last week was that he was trying to make himself available if there was a real crunch, but it didn't seem easy to leave now .. His college coach would certainly want him to stay in the US rather than miss about a couple of weeks in the thick of the college season with some important matchups .. I am told a couple of top players in his team are down with injuries and Harsh's leadership is very much needed - but of course Davis Cup gets priority and I think his coach would be hard-pressed to say no if it's critical .. Anyway, with LP and MB available and Srinath seemingly in good form for now, things have become less critical .. Fazal also seems to be in decent form .. Here is an article from the Hindustan Times with some serious criticism of dropping Harsh right after one Davis Cup tie, that too after he won the last tournament he played in India in december with a win over Fazal .. I hope it is not as bad as the article says and that AITA did not just "dump" Harsh - it would be unfair to do it that way .. Speaking of Harsh, he has had a couple more top-50 college wins over the last couple of weeks, over #35 and #49, etc .. He had one loss to #16 .. He seems to be playing pretty well in college, as of now.

Jan 24 Note-1

No boys' singles matches were played yesterday at the Delhi ITF juniors - two rounds will be played today .. Two rounds of girls' singles were played yesterday, and the top seeds except for #4 C Nandita made it to the quarterfinals .. The match of the day was from 13 yr old Sanaa Bhambri playing her first ITF international .. She came back to beat the 17 yr old 7th seed Nischella Reddy after being down a set and 2-5, 0-40, facing serve! .. Monumental comeback from the little girl, who now has a tough R2 match against the second seed Pichaya Laosirichon (THA) .. 15 yr old Sasha Abraham of Hyderabad had a good comeback 3-set win also ..14 yr old top seed Sania Mirza has moved on easily .. See the Delhi ITF juniors page.

At the Australian Open, 4th seeds Bjorkman/ Woodbridge are the only top seeds remaining in the semifinal of doubles .. This team looks like a real contender this year if they play together - they took out the giant-killers Eagle/Florent in the QFs (Eagle-Florent had upset the Indian Express in R1 and also #5 Lareau-O'Brien in the 3rd round) .. They face #11 Arthurs/ Zimonjic who upset top seeds Nestor/ Stolle in 3 sets in the QFs .. The other semifinal is between #15 Gimselstob/ Humphries (who got a QF walkover from Moya-Lapentti) and #14 B.Black/ Prinosil .. IN the juniors, 7th seeds Prakash Amritraj (USA) and Lester Cook got upset in the second round, but Sunitha Rao (USA) is in the singles round of 16 after another straight sets win yesterday.

Later, with the Bangalore futures news and the Delhi juniors news.

Jan 23 Notes

Way too many losses these days, a lot of them close ones too, for all our players .. And it bugs me .. We need some good news from somewhere -- I believe LP and MB may decide to play next week, now that they have this week basically off, at the $400K Milan Indoors ATP tournament in Italy .. We will watch out.

Bad news today from the India F3 at Bangalore today, as Srinath went down in the first round, again after a tough match - 64 67(7) 36 to Ivan Cerovic of Croatia .. Vishal Uppal moved on, with a win over qualifier Manoj Mahadevan, 36 64 63 .. No other Indian in the second round, I believe .. Fazal is not playing this, as he was invited to represent India (unofficially, I believe) with Zeeshan Ali in an all-nation exhibition tournament in Dubai .. I think India is the defending champs, with Fazal and Zeeshan winning it last year .. I am sure Fazal didn't want to miss the futures, but he needs to make some money from whichever source, to carry on in the pro tour .. Wildcard CD Ajay played a three-setter today at Bangalore before going down to the 7th seed Donovan September, 60 16 62 .. Wildcard Rohan Bopanna also fought hard, but fell in three sets to Anton Kokurin, 57 63 26 .. Gosh, will somebody pull off a three-set WIN for a change? .. Come on guys! .. I have not seen Vijay Kannan's result yet - he was a qualifier for a second week in a row .. See the Bangalore results.

The Grae-4 ITF junior international started yesterday at Delhi, and there seems to be somewhat better foreign participation this time, though no top-100 foreign players .. The boys' draw is of 64 size with the top 13 seeds getting first round byes .. 19 matches were played on the boys' side with no big surprises yesterday .. The Maharashtra kids, being coached by Sandeep Kirtane, played some good matches - especially the 16 and under kids like Karan Rastogi, Vikrant Sane, etc, who are trying to make their mark in the ITF grade events .. The seeds who are contenders - Vinod Sewa, Amanjot Singh, Rohan Gajjar, Arun Prakash, Sania Mirza, Pichaya Laosirichon (THA), Megha Vakharia, C Nandita, etc, will all be in action from today onwards .. See the Delhi juniors page.

In junior news from the Australian Open, Sunil Kumar and Thailand Pramote Malasitt lost a three-stter in doubles, 76(6) 64 63 to Phillip Petschner and Alexander Schweizer of Germany .. 4th seedsed USA pair Prakash Amritraj and Lester Cook won 63 36 61 .. Rajeev Ram (USA) and Rodney Rapson (AUS) lost 57 26 to the 4th seeds Yeu-Tzuoo Wang YenHsun Lu of Taiwan .. 4th seeded USA pair Tanner Kochran and Sunitha Rao won 61 76(2) over Annette Kolb (GER) and Dminique van Boekel (NET) .. 7th seed Sunitha also won her first round singles 62 75 over Natasha Kersten (AUS) .. 15 yr old Sunitha is quite something, actually.

Jan 22 Note-3

Sunil Kumar and Pramote Malasitt of Thailand are in the doubles draw at the Australian Open juniors and are playing on Tuesday at about 12 noon (6.30 am India .. 1 am London .. 5 pm MON Los Angeles) .. They play the unseeded German pair, Phillip Petschner and Alexander Schweizer .. Also in first round doubles action are the 7th seeded USA pair, Prakash Amritraj and Lester Cook, and also Rajeev Ram (USA), playing with Rodney Rapson (AUS) .. 7th seeded Sunitha Rao of USA play the first round of singles, as well as doubles today (she is seeded 4th with Tanner Cochran of USA in doubles).

The Bangalore futures has started .. Wildcard Shivshankar Kanbargimath and qualifier (?) Mustafa Ghouse went down today .. No sign of Fazal or Srinath yet .. Top seed Dmitri Tomashevic went down today to Marwan Zewar of Egypt .. See the Bangalore futures page - will add more results later.

I have added a page with some results from the grade-4 ITF junior international at Colombo last week ..

Jan 22 Note-2

Sunil Kumar just finished his match against the 2nd seed in the juniors' first round .. #2 Roman Valent (SUI) d. Sunil Kumar (IND), 64 64 .. Sunil had four break chances in the second game of the first set to go up 2-0, but did not capitalize .. Instead Valent broke him in the next game and then held serve to go up 3-1 .. The rest of the set was closely played as well, with neither coming to a break point - Valent wrapped it up at 6-4 .. The first game of the second set showed a glimpse of Sunil Kumar the player .. He was down 15-40 after a double fault .. He served his second ace of the match while in trouble right there and then an unforced error from Valent made it deuce .. Sunil served his second ace to hold serve at AD in .. A bit of grit that was noticeable! .. Then in game 3, he was again down 15-40 following a double fault .. Again he pulled up to deuce with a couple of winners .. Once again a double fault gave Valent a 3rd break chance there, and once again a winner from Sunil helped him to pull back up to deuce .. Actually Valent had 5 break chances in that game and after going 0 for 6 in the set so far, he finally broke Sunil to go up 2-1 .. Sunil wasn't done, as he forced a break point in the very next game, converted his first chance there and tied it up at 2-2 .. The untimely double faults continued for Sunil though, as he then had two of them to find himself down 0-30 immediately .. A winner from Valent and he was looking at trouble once again with triple break points on him .. This time Valent did not waste it, and he went right back up again to 3-2 .. Once again Sunil took him to deuces in the next game; an unforced error from Valent gave Sunil a break chance at AD out, which he converted with a winner to tie it back again at 3-3 .. Now it was a dog-fight .. If he could avoid mistakes in his service games, Sunil seemed to have a very good chance to pull things off .. He started yet again with an unfirced error, but this time he held serve with his 4th ace of the match to go up 4-3 .. At 4-4, two more unforced errors forced a triple break chance again on Sunil .. He again fought off two of those but fell at the 3rd to fall 4-5 down .. A couple more unforced errors in the next game, and Sunil lost the match, 4-6, 4-6 ..

It seemed as though Sunil was very much in the match throughout if he could cut down on his mistakes .. The match took an hour and 5 minutes .. 4 aces and 8 double faults by Sunil, as opposed to 2 and 1 by Roman .. 10 winners each .. 37 unforced errors to 34 by Valent .. 58 points won by Sunil and 72 by Roman .. 39/48 (57%) first serves by Sunil and 40/66 (61%) by Roman .. 2 of 6 break chances by Sunil and 4 of 12 by Roman .. I am sure it was a good experience for Sunil to play a top guy, but he will curse himself for all the mistakes .. Interestingly 7 of 11 in net approaches by Sunil and 5 of 9 by Roman in the first set, mostly in the first few games, but both decided to stay back from then on, moving up only a couple of times after that .. So there you have it - a glimpse on how our top junior did .. he did pretty well, and showed a lot of his grit and fighting spirits especially at break attempts - close, but he gets no cigar this time, thanks to mistakes.

Prakash Amritraj (USA) fell to the 10th seed Santiago Gonzales (MEX), 67(7), 46 .. As expected, Prakash was at the net a lot - 60 times, winning 30 points there! .. Santiago served 8 aces to none by Prakash in a close match where Prakash won 87 points to 93 by the Mexican .. Prakash also did pretty well, but he too gets no cigar ..

So, that just about finishes the Australian Open for us, unless the kids will be in doubles - the draws are not out yet for that.

Jan 22 Note-1

Leander also went down in mixed doubles second round, which completes a pretty unproductive trip to the Australian Open for our boys - though they both seemed to play well and all the losses were close ones .. #3 E.Ferreira/ C.Morariu d. L.Paes/ L.Raymond, 75 76(3) .. Our guys actually stayed close in the match, due to converting both the break chances they had, as opposed to 3 of 7 by the other guys .. 63 points to 77 by the opponents, which means the other guys were playing somewhat better ..

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the weeks ending on Jan 22 ..

I am getting some enquiries from US college coaches who are interested in Indian junior players .. I would like to be able to contact Indian players (some of the coaches are enquiring about specific names) .. If any of the junior players are reading this, please contact me .. Or if any of the other readers know the contact emails/address for any junior player, let me know .. I would like to have a mailing list where I can post general announcements and enquiries from the coaches too .. Please email me - R.Jayakrishnan.