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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Feb 5, 2001
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Feb 5 Notes

I don't think any of our players who were at the nationals last week would be at any pro events this week, but we will see .. Niru will be in action next week at Doha (or at the qualies over the weekend) .. Otherwise, it's Davis Cup week action - coming from China by Friday.

Absolutely nothing else going on except for the junior international that just started today in Kolkata .. Only the 64-size boys draw first round was done today there, and the top 15 seeds had byes .. The girls' matches will be on from tomorrow .. See the new Kolkata juniors page.

The new ITF world junior rank list shows Sunil Kumar at #73, Vinod Sewa at #85 .. 16 yr old Amanjot Singh has come up all the way #90 with his two titles .. 16 yr old Rohan Gajjar moving up to #134 is also notable .. The youngest 16 yr old, Saurabh Singh, unranked 2 weeks back, has now moved up to #322 .. On the girls' side, 16 yr old Megha Vakharia leads the list at #90, with 14 yr old Sania Mirza not too behind, at #108 .. 15 yr old Sasha Abraham is at #166 ..

incidentally, there was an ITF under-14 tournament in Sri Lanka last week, with sub-junior players from South Asia, as well as an ITF sponsored team of players from west and central Asia .. Our young girls did pretty well there .. Kartiki Bhat beat Sanaa Bhambri in the final, 62 76 .. The girls doubles final was won by Kartiki Bhat and Tara Iyer over Sanaa Bhambri and M.Vasiliyeva (KAZ) .. Congrats go to Kartiki (another name to keep an eye on, I guess) .. The boys events were won by Uzbek and Kazakh players ..

Feb 4 Notes

Nirupama is still in India, and decided not to travel to the US for just a two-week swing after the Australian Open, especially because Nana Miyagi, her doubles partner was (and is still) injured .. She had decided to play at the Doha and Dubai events (week after next and 3 weeks from now) and it would have been some 4-5 weeks in a row with back-and-forth travel to US too .. Sounds like a good decision to take a few weeks rest and start afresh for a long grind .. She has no points to defend till mid April anyway.   She may have to play qualies at Doha and Dubai, though I think the draws may not close that high out there .. Doha WTA starting on Feb 12th is a Tier-III event and Dubai the week after that is a higher grade event (Tier-II).

Manisha has been unbeatable at the South Club courts .. The last time she played there was for the 1999 nationals - she won all three titles then; singles title over Archana, doubles with Janaki Krishnamoorthi over Archana-Arthi and the mixed doubles title wih Asif Ismail .. She did not play last year at the nationals, due to injuries .. This time she won the singles again, and won the doubles title with Rushmi Chakravarti (mixed doubles is no longer there) .. That is a streak of  22 matches she has won .. Actually, the last time she lost at the grasscourt nationals was, at the 1997 edition, before it became an early year fixture in Kolkata starting 1999 March .. The december 97 nationals was at Duliajan in Assam(?) and Manisha lost a very close 3-set final to Uzma Khan [pity that Uzma disappeared completely from the scene after comeing to the US - more on that later sometime] .. Manisha won the doubles title (with Jahnavi Parekh) at Duliajan over Janaki Krishnamurthi and Sai Jayalakshmi .. The 22-win streak started after the loss to Uzma .. That's a 30-1 record in the last 31 matches she played at the grasscourt nationals .. Boy, that's incredible! .. What's even more impressive is that Manisha was having serious stomach flu this week, was hardly eating anything and was worried all week that she would not hold up in longer matches - even *that* did not seem to matter .. Mustafa Ghouse, also of Maharashtra, won the singles title, extending the great Maharashtra streak at the grasscourts .. Radhika Tulpule from Maharashtra had won the singles last year when Manisha did not play, and Radhika-Janaki pair had won the doubles too .. Again, only Fazal winning the singles title at the nationals last year had broken the great Mahsrashtra run there .. Mustafa shared the doubles title this year .. Nitin and Sandeep Kirtane from Maharashtra  won the doubles last year .. Nitin Kirtane had won the doubles with Saurav Panja in 1999 as well .. Actually the 1999 singles was won by Marcus Hilpert of Germany (then staying in Mumbai, I believe!) over Nitin Kirtane .. What's more, even at the previous edition at Duliajan, Marcus had beat Asif Ismail of Maharashtra in the singles final, and Asif and Marcus had won the doubles title there too ..  How the heck does Maharashtra have that many grasscourt players ?  I don't even remember a grasscourt event in Maharashtra in ages!

Nothing else to report right now ..

Feb 3 Notes

I have seen the entry list for the $25K+H Chandigarh challenger (starting Feb 19th) that close this monday .. The entries closed at about #322 Simon Larose of Canada .. LP is in the main draw, but all other Indians will need to come through qualifying rounds or as wildcards .. Not a single player from the top-200 coming for that, which is disappointing but a whole lot of good players in the #250-300 range .. #209 Dennis Van Scheppingen is the top entry and LP at #231 is actually 3rd in the list now.  I have not seen the Mumbai entry list for the week before Chandigarh, but I assume that will have similar entries too.

At the Chandigarh grade-4 junior ITF international yesterday,  the singles finals were somewhat anti-climactic, as Sania Mirza beat Megha Vakharia 64 64 and Amanjot beat Rohan Gajjar 63 62 .. The Doubles final did get quite interesting, as the top seed Sunil Kumar and Vinod Sewa were stretched to the limit by Rohan and Vikrant Sane before they won 60 46 76(4) ..  Sania was down 1-4 in both sets and came back both times winning 5 sets in a row .. That's some serious toughness from a little girl .. If I am not mistaken this is Sania's second ITF title .. That is quite an achievement at her age .. And Megha is definitely not an easy opponent, which is clear from the fact that this was Megha's fourth consecutive final in ITF Internationals in India (she lost to Sania at the Mumbai grade-5 final last september and now, and won over Thailand's Pichaya Laosirichon in the other two finals - at Chennai last september and at Delhi last week) .. As I have said before, Sania, from all results so far seems to be something special .. To think that she turned 14 only recently and that she has three more years left in ITF juniors, is exciting .. As for 16 yr old Megha, her results have been impressive too .. The points from Chandigarh should be enough to push Sania inside top-95 and Megha inside top-85 .. On the boys' side, the rather well-known "bad-boy" among our kids (the newspapers occasionally talk about Amanjot being a bit of an "excitable" type to put it midly :-)), delivered once again .. He played a very tactical game against Rohan Gajjar, who had looked pretty darn good in the previous matches, including in his win over Sunil .. Amanjot is a bit of a power player, but said he wanted to kill the pace as Rohan is a good counter-puncher who uses the pace .. As the newspapers report, his tactic did seem to work and confuse Rohan yesterday .. This is Amanjot's second title in three weeks, and he will be moving inside top-80, which means he now has a realistic chance to qualify for the reamaining grand slams this year (he has one more year left in the juniors), if he does well in a few more events .. The junior groups now go to Kolkata for the 3rd in the Indian sequence, another grade-4 event .. Actually the Kolkata event was a grade-5 last year and it has been upgraded now .. Sunil and Sania are the top seeds there .. Sunil had skipped it last year due to a viral fever, but will be playing this time.

Later, with the Kolkata grasscourt nationals finals news.  Manisha won the women's singles in a barn-burner.  Other resuls coming soon.

Feb 2 Notes

The Davis Cup team, except for LP and MB reached Beijing and started practising - Srinath, Fazal and Nitin, along with captain Ramesh Krishnan and coach Nandan Bal .. Mahesh and Leander will be joining them during the weekend .. They will practise for 5-6 days next week before the weekend tie starting on Friday, Feb 9th next week ..  It doesn't look like China will cause any serious probelms, and it's unclear how much their #1 player Ben-Qiyang Zhu has recovered from the injury he sufferred while playing at the Asia Cup in Delhi in December .. When healthy, he is quite capable of beating any of our players except LP and MB .. In any event, those guys won't lack inpiration and we should excpect China to fight tooth and nail .. They did not pick a clay surface and went for hard courts which surprised me a bit .. As for MB, he has said a couple of times that he is unsure of how much his shoulder will stand up for 5-set matches in three days and thus would like to avoid the singles .. The new rules in Davis Cup allows Ramesh Krishnan to bring him on in reverse singles if things get scary .. As it stands, it may be LP and Srinath playing on the first day, but it's too early to say and Ramesh does look at the practice form of the players quite studiously, as generally reported.

At the Kolkata nationals, if the score I saw is correct, 3rd seed Rushmi must have played a killer match today, to take out 2nd seed Sonal Phadke, 61 61 .. 18 year old Sonal is a confident and talented player, and almost never loses like that to anybody! .. Manisha beat another 18 yr old, Shruti Dhawan, to reach the final .. Good to see Manisha playing well, coming back from what seemed like a persisting shoulder problem .. On the men's side, Vinod Sridhar who has been living a charmed life in the first three matches went down today .. He is really not a grass player, though top-seeded, but somehow kept his focus to rewach at least the semi .. Vishal Uppal, who is always tough on grass, upset Vinod and will face his doubles partner, Mustafa Ghouse in the final tomorrow .. Mustafa took out Rohan Bopanna, unseeded but in good form there .. See Kolkata nationals page .. I will add doubles results later.

At Chandigarh, people seem surprised that Rohan Gajjar upset Sunil Kumar yesterday .. Having followed Rohan's results for a while, I am not *that* surprised - Sunil may not have had a great day, but Rohan has been looking good for a while in the domestic subjunior circuit and has been coming on strong in the last few months when he started the ITF circuit .. Sunil's coaches said that too much travel that has left him a bit jaded too .. That is probably true, but it was never unusual for Sunil to drop matches here and there to anybody - and that has been a pattern for a while, though he has also shown some tremendous focus sometimes when it counted - like at the two DSCL nationals (and how he played for India in that quaint little commonwealth event in UK also!) .. I have often thought that a lot of his travels gets wasted when he loses early in many tournaments .. The point is to play the latter rounds in the ITF events, when you face better players, and unless the players get focussed on reaching semi or better in every event, it becomes too much of travel .. He has indeed played a pretty good number of ITF events in the last 12 months, about 20 or so, but has perhaps played only about 40 matches in those events .. It would be much better if he had played about 50+ matches from about 15 events, with many more against top-100 players .. I think he will be fine in the end anyway, and I believe he is getting good coaching, though .. It's quite crucial for him not to waste a trip to the far east this year - last year he hardly picked up any points at the few far east events he played in March-April after the subcontinental circuit.

Rohan Gajjar will make yet another big jump up the ITF ranks with this final as will his opponent .. The lanky 16 yr old, 3rd seed Amanjot Singh, beat the 10th seed Kokurin (UZB) and will face the 6th seed Rohan in the final .. On the girls side, 2nd seed Megha Vakharia reached yet another final - her 4th in a row in the last four ITF junior internationals in India .. She is facing top seed Sania Mirza in the final .. That is a very very interesting final - two of out very best junior prospects, actually .. Sania and Sasha continued their doubles winning streak with another title yesterday too .. See the Chandigarh juniors page .. I have not seen Friday's results as of now.

Feb 1 Notes

Mahesh and Hrbaty lost their first round match 64 46 16 at Milan yesterday .. Semifinalists have been spotted at the Kolkata Nationals today (Vinod vs Vishal, Bopanna vs Mustafa, Manisha vs Shruti, Sonal vs Rushmi) .. 16 yr old 6th seed Rohan Gajjar, whom many are building some hopes on, had a BIG win today, upsetting top seed Sunil Kumar at the Chandigarh juniors 64 64 - He will face Amanjot Singh in the final tomorrow .. Awating girls results from there .. Sania Mirza had a good three-set win yesterday over a talanted Indonesian 8th seed who had upset her last week .. I have updated some of the results at the tournament pages ..  More later today.

Jan 31 Notes

Mahesh may be playing doubles today at the $400K Milan Indoors ATP  - I have not seen the schedule for today yet .. Incidentally, his doubles partner, 3rd seed Dominik Hrbaty got upset 63 57 36 in the first round yesterday by Santoro there ..

At the Kolkata grasscourt nationals at the South Club, there wasn't much drama yesterday, except for the men's top seed Vinod Sridhar and women's second seed Sonal Phadke getting tough three-set fights from R.Narendran and Sheetal Gautham .. Vinod simply wore down qualifier Narendran in the end .. Only four men's singles matches were there today as the rest of the first round was done on Monday .. As for Sheetal, I have commented in the past about how she *always* seems to get a tough seed to play in these events, while there is almost always about 25 other players in the draw she can beat in her sleep - but at the same time, she has always had a problem in getting over the hump against the top ones as well .. Sonal simply had too much fire power in the 3rd set, despite Sheetal outplaying her in the second, reportedly .. Shruti, Rushmi, Archana, etc, have all advanced .. The first round is done for men and women .. See the Kolkata nationals page.

The quaterfinalists were spotted yesterday at the Chandigarh ITF grade-4 event .. Saurabh Singh from Chandigarh who turned 16 only recently, continues to be the story so far in the Indian circuit .. He followed the win over 5th seed CS Mohanty with a win over John Siefke of US to reach the QF, where he will have his toughest test yet today - against top seed Sunil Kumar who has hardly broken a sweat so far .. 7th seed Nishank Mishra could not continue his good run after the runner-up finish last week, losing to the 10th seed Ivan Kokurin of Uzbekistan (brother of pro player Anton Kokurin, I suspect?) .. #2 seed Vinod Sewa's bad run continued, as he went down in 3 sets to 16 yr old Jaco Matthew, the latest find from BAT in Chennai (it's been a while since we had a good one from there) .. Jaco, who finished runner-up to Amanjot in Colombo two weeks back, raising his ranking this week by a couple of hundred to #217, looks to go up more .. 12th seed and 15 yr old Chatwinder Singh from Chandigarh (another CLTA, Chandigarh Lawn Tennis Association find, who is also now with BAT in Chennai) also had a good win, upsetting the 8th seed Ivan Kovalev of Kazakhstan .. Rohan Gajjar and Amanjot Singh are also in the QFs .. On the girls' side, 7 seeds including top seed Sania and #2 Megha (who has actually moved up ahead of Sania this week as the top ranked Indian girl, at #105 in the ITF world rankings with her title last week) are in the QFs .. 4th seed Sasha Abraham is the only one to be upset, by Olga Dzuba of Kazakhstan .. Sania faces 8th seed Sandy Gumulya next .. She had got upset in a very close three-setter by Sandy last week, and this is revenge time .. Sania and Sasha continued their doubles run, reaching semi this time, following their title last week .. The tournament is shaping up very well and getting pretty interesting .. See the Chandigarh juniors page.

Jan 30 Notes

A couple of busy days for me .. Probably only brief updates till thursday or friday ..

Mahesh and Hrbaty should be playing their first round doubles match at the $400K Milan indoors tomorrow (wednesday), as Hrbaty is playing singles today.

Nirupama is not playing this week, it seems, as are LP, Sri and Fazal.

The grasscourt nationals started yesterday with one upset - 2nd seed Vijay Kannan falling to doubles partner Rohan Bopanna .. SK Shivshankar had an upset win too .. Otherwise things went according to script .. The women's first round matches are today, with Manisha Malhotra getting back to action after a long time off with injuries .. A couple of first round men's matches are today as well .. see the Kolkata Nationals page.

At the Chandigarh grade-4 ITF juniors, the new guy Saurabh Singh pulled yet another upset, continuing from a couple he had last week at Delhi .. He beat the 5th seed CS Mohanty .. Talented Karan Rastogi also did well in upsetting the Malaysian kid, 4th seed Adam Jaya .. I only have some results from the boys draw - two rounds were played yesterday and Sunil Kumar and Amanjot Singh are in the final-16 now .. See the Chandigarh juniors page.

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.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the weeks ending on Jan 29 ..

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.