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Indian-Tennis: Daily News for the week ending on Feb 07, 2005
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Feb 7 Notes

At Hyderabad, our latest doubles pair played together and picked up their first win together - one of many many more in the future we hope .. [R1] Sania Mirza/  Shikha Uberoi d. Chin Wei Chan (TPE)/ Na Li (CHN) 64 75 .. If the score updates at the Hyderbad Open were correct, then this was a big break-fest all the way .. Our girls seemed to stay a tad bit ahead of the Chinese girls throughout the match though .. They won the final three games to take the first set, and followed it up with two more to go up a break .. The other girls did make a fight of it at 5-5 in the second but then the Indian EXpress WTA edittion took care of business winning the final two games .. With the tournament not charging gate fee, the place was packed with 5000+ screaming fans who got their money's worth .. In the earlier singles match, Ankita Bhambri was a bit over-matches and she went down in straight sets - but a great experience for the girl to play in the main draw against a top-100 quality player, Alyona Bondarenko of Ukraine .. Tomorrow, Sania and Shikha play the featured singles matches on the center court .. See the Hyderabad Open page for all of today's scores.

There is an onsite fanclub member report in our forum by Vishnu -- especially about how the crowd was loud like nobody has seen! .. take a look.

In the second leg of the $50K British satellites, Harsh Mankad is seeded 5th this week .. He plays a wildcard, David Brewer (GBR) in the first round tomorrow.

The third event in the Indian ITF junior circuit, the grade-3 "SAIL" junior international started at Chandigarh today .. No big surprises today, as almost all the boys matches were done and only three girl's matches seemt o have got done .. See the Chandigarh juniors page for scores.

Feb 6 Note-2

I have updated all the draws at the Hyderabad Open page .. Sania and Shikha will play CheinWei Chan (TPE) and Na Li (CHN) in the first round of doubles .. They are scheduled to play the 3rd match on center court, where the action starts at 3 pm with Ankita Bhambri playing Alyona Bondarenko, the 9th seed (actually the 5th seed Domachovska withdrew very late and they adjusted the draw, moving the 9th player, Alyona into her spot) .. Both Sania and Shikha should be playing singles on Tuesday .. Not sure when Martina would be playing .. She is playing doubles with Anna-Lena Groenefeld ..

Feb 6 Note-1

Prakash Amritraj, who has been on a 3-4 week break due to an injury problem of some sort, was back in action yesterday, as he signed into the qualifying rounds at the $380K San Jose ATP in California .. He played perhaps his first fighting-tough match in quite a while too, which is great to see .. Another loss though - he went down in a very close one, 36 75 67(5) to the 7th seed Glenn Weiner (USA,179) .. Glenn was nearly a top-100 player just a few months back .. This was some pretty good tennis from PA.

Forgot to mention that Jaco mathew and Woon-Sun Jun (KOR) went down in the doubles final at the $10K in Qatar a couple of days back -- to top seeds Alexei Kedriouk (KAZ) and Dimitry Sitak (RUS), 46 76(5) 26 .. Good fight, and good job finishing runners-up in back to back weeks there in doubles!

Feb 5 Note-2

OK, the Deccan Chronicle (Hyderabad) confirms that Neha is not playing at Hyderabad, as she is still not recovered from her injury .. The great news is that Sania and Shikha will play together in doubles!! .. I say, Hallelujah!! .. I was afraid that people will unnecessarily ask Sania to play with some big name which does not help out Fed Cup plans .. These two getting some doubles practice together would be tremendous .. Shikha is a very good doubles player .. According to the newspaper, Shikha was happy to be Sania’s partner. “I’d love to play with Sania,” she said .. “I play a lot of doubles with my sister Neha. And when she is not around, I’d love to play with Sania,” Shikha said .. I am thrilled to see this. Apparently some big names were talked about, but Sania was not too keen, espoecially as Shikha is available with her regular partner not available .. I had said in our forum that this would be the best pair as far as we are cobncerned .. Cool to see that it is happening.

Feb 5 Note-1

At the Hyderabad WTA qualies no big surprises today .. None of the Indians could come up with a big upset, though Rushmi played her heart out in a close three-setter where she was on the bverge of upsetting the 3rd seed .. Shruti Dhawan beat Isha Lakhani and Archana Venkatraman beat Sai Jayalakshmy to reach the Q2 as the only Indians .. See the Hyderabad Open page ..

The Hyderabad Open website front page says, "A spectacular face off between the biggest International tennis stars of the likes of Jelena Dokic, Maria Kirilenko, Tamarine Tanasugarn, and the best India has to offer, including Sania Mirza, Shikha Uberoi and Neha Uberoi"... Looks like Neha Uberoi also got a main draw wildcard?? .. If so, fantastic! .. But I have not got any official release from Hyderabad on this yet .. [update above - she is still injured, not playing]

Harsh Mankad fell in the final today in the British satellite first leg, against Richard Bloomfield in a three-setter -- 75 46 26 .. According to Samarth Sinha who was on site and updating the scores for us in the forum, a lot of errors krept into Harsh's game after the first set and that is waht caused the loss .. It happens, I guess .. Still a great start to the satellites for HM, with a good upset win yesterday and a couple of other dominating wins ..

At the Delhi ITF grade-2 "Adidas" junior international, 17 year old Vivek Shokeen ended 16 year old Jeevan nedunchezhiyan's 9 match win streak from last week, to take the title .. Tough match that ended in a 75 63 score .. Unfortunately, Madura could not do a whole lot in the other match and lost in easy straight sets to the 5th seed Amina Rakhim who has been in splendid form, having upset the second seed Sandhya earlier in a three-setter .. Amina hardly dropped many games in the final two matches .. see the Delhi juniors page for all the results this week ..  They all now go down to Chandigarh for the next week's grade-3 ..

By my quick calculations, Jeevan will now be ranked somewhere near the top-45 next week after his runner-up finish in singles and doubles title, at least about 20 spots up from his #64 rank this week .. Vivek Shokeen will make a huge jump from #96 to right inside top-50 if I am not mistaken - he picked up 100 points for the title, rasing his point total from around 190 to around 285 .. Sanam Singh should be moving up inside #90 too, placing four juniors in the top-100 (Jeevan, Vivek, Sanam and Rupesh) .. Madura who had fallen all the way to #156 this week (from as high as #98 last february) would come up at least around 40 spots in the ranks, with the runner-up finish ..

Feb 4 Note-2

Harsh Mankad's opponent in the final will be the 6th seed Richard Bloom field, a 21 year old ranked #371 (he was a top-50 junior a couple of years back and has been coming up .. Go Harsh!

At the ITF grade-2 juniors in Delhi today, Madura Ranganathan pulled off a nice upset of the top seed Xenia Palkina in straight sets to reach the final .. Madura has certainly played with purpose this week and has shwon something extra than she uised to earlier .. Go Girl! .. She faces the 4th seed Amina Rakhim (KAZ) in the final .. The boys final is not a big surprise, Vivek Shokeen vs Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan - arguably the two best junior right now .. Vevek lost to Jeevan in the semi last week in a close match, but he is one player in the field who can challenge Jeevan .. See the Delhi juniors page.

Feb 4 Note-1

Great news from Sunderland, UK .. Harsh Mankad upset the second seed Mark Hilton (GBR,272) 64 63 just now to reach the first leg final of the $50K British satellite circuit .. 23 year old Hilton was a Wimbledon first round winner just last year when he upset #27 Albert Costa in straight sets, and so this goes as yet another good upset by Harsh, who has already picked up 15 circuit points and has started the satellite in style without dropping a set in his matches so far .. Not sure whom he plays next.

Looks like Meghann Shaughnessy has gone from the list at Hyderabad, as posted at the official tournament website .. No wonder they had not made a press release about her .. Her name appeared on Jan 27th in the list suddenly and it was gone in 5 days .. I wonder if she wanted apperance money to come in? .. Not a huge loss really, as I don't think Meghann is that well-known among the Indian fans anyway .. That withdrawal is what put Shikha Uberoi in as a direct entry and cleared a wildcard for Ankita .. Sania is next-in, as of yesterday - one more withdrawl will give them another wildcard to play with.

To anybody wondering if Jelena Dokic would be playing at Hyderabad after her injury withdrawal this week at Pattaya City, I hear that she has already arrived in Hyderabad .. It was only a minor groin strain and I hear that she will be playing next week.

Feb 3 Notes

More good news from Hyderabad -- Ankita Bhambri has been given a wildcard, as Shikha has now made the main draw .. Not sure who withdrew .. Excellent .. They may still have a wildcar or two left, depending on whether Sania herself will make the main draw directly - she was the next-in after Shikha made it in ..

At the British satellites, 3rd seed Harsh Mankad reached the semifinal today with a dominating 61 64 win over Raven Klaasen (RSA,528) .. Now he faces the tough 2nd seed Mark Hilton (GBR,272) in the semifinal .. Harsh and Eric Butorac went down in the doubles QF though.

At the Qatar F3, Jaco Mathew and Woon-Sun Jun have reached the final of doubles, with a 76(3) 76(2) win over Prima Simpatiaji and Sunu Wahya Trijati of Indonesia and then a 75 64 semifinal win over Slimane Saoudi (ALG) and Mark Sibilla (FRA) .. In the final they face the top seeds Alexei Kedriouk (KAZ) and Dimitry Sitak (RUS) .. So, back to back finals by the unseeded pair ..

At the Delhi ITF junior grade-2, Jeevan, Vivek and Sanam reached the semifinal on the boys' side but 2nd seed Sandhya Nagaraj fell on the girls' side .. Madura Ranganathan had another fighting three-set win and she is in the semis .. See the Delhi juniors page for scores.

Feb 2 Notes

Looks like Leander is feeling OK now about his ankle injury -- this monday he entered for the doubles draw at the Rotterdam ATP starting on Feb 14th, with Nenad Zimonjic .. That is good news .. Mahesh seems to be taking time off for at least two more weeks after this week.

Though there has not been much publicity so far, a top-40 player will indeed be there at the Hyderabad Open, as Meghann Shaughnessy (USA,40) came into the list late last week .. Just saw the list updated as of february 1st, and it looks really good .. Direct entry (25 players) - Shaughnessy, Tanasugarn, Groenefeld, Parra, Domachovska, Panova, N.Li, Zheng, Santangelo, Kurhajcova, Kirilenko, Bondarenko, Obziler, Salerni, Vinci, Mikaelian, Dokic, Dominikovic, Sun, Czink, Voskoboeva, Nemeckova, Pelletier, Sescioreneau, Bychkova .. That is a very nice list of so many good players - and of course add Navratilova for doubles and we have the event in great shape .. Interestingly the next two players in the waiting list currently are Shikha Uberoi and Sania Mirza .. Hope a couple of withdrawls would happen and push them in as direct entries, which will clear up their wildcards for those like Isha, Ankita, etc .. They still have not used up the Gold/Silver expempt wildcard, and I assume there may not be any more big players (but you never know with Hesh moving and shaking! :-)) .. Looks like things are going perfectly this time ..

At the $50K British satellites leg-1 in Sunderland,  Harsh Mankad did not have to sweat much to advance to QF today, as Ian Flanagan conceded at 0-3 in the first set .. Harsh now plays Raven Klaasen (RSA, 528) who is a tough player who was ranked around 325 a little while back - and he has wins over those like Fazal, Sunil Kumar etc, though he has lost to Harsh and Sunil once each last year .. HM has reached the doubles QF also .. [R1] (4) Eric Butorac (USA)/ H.Mankad d. (wc) Andrew Kennagh (GBR)/ Farsi Khatib (GBR) 76(2) 62 .. They run into Lee Childs and Joshua Goodall of Britain next.

Jaco Mathew and Woong-Sun Jun (KOR) reached the QF at the $10K in Qatar, with a 62 62 win over Gafar Nureldin and Weiel Nureldin of Sudan .. They now face the Indons, Prima Simpatiaji and Sunu Wahya Trijati .. Jaco had lost in the second round of singles qualies earlier.

At the ITF "Adidas" Grade-2 juniors in Delhi, Jeevan, Sanam, Vivek, Sandhya and Madura all won today .. There was a 6th INdian in the QFs, and that is Kinshuk Sharma, who is only 15 and is already ranked 14th in the AITA u18 rankings and he is the youngest player in the u18 top-30 .. Kinshuk is from Chandigarh - he had a hard-fought win over a lucky loser in the first round and had a straight sets win over 18 year old qualifier Honey Rana .. Now he runs into his citymate, second seeded Sanam Singh .. Vivek Shokeen and Madura Ranganathan had to shopsave some set points and all that, but both won in straight sets .. 16 yr old Madura's win was a pretty goiod one - over the 18 year old He-Wen-Fei Li (CHN,209), the second highest ranked Chinese junior who had actually beaten Sandhya Nagaraj a couple of months back in Malaysia .. See the Delhi juniors page for the scores.

Feb 1 Note-2

The announcement came out today about Jelena Dokic coming to Hyderabad .. As everyone knows, she was ranked as high as #4 a couple of years back .. Actually her straight sets shellacking of #1 Martina Hingis in the first round of wimbledon in 1999 as 16 year old will forever remain unforgettable .. Dokic has had all kinds of family and injury problems that pushed her down all the way below 100 by late last year, and she had not played since sepetember .. She is on a comeback trail, starting with an event this week .. It is great to see her come to India .. No word on any other withdrawals or anything .. This years edition is shaping up to  be a total smash with Martina Navratilova, Jelena Dokic, Sania Mirza, Shikha Uberoi, Tammi Tansugarn, etc, in the field.

Shikha Uberoi went down in a tough fight to the 3rd seed Conchita Martinez (ESP,43) today at the Tier-III Pattaya City WTA ($170K) .. She lost 63 36 46 in what WTA called a three-hour slugfest .. Excellent show by Shikha, despite the loss .. The hard part was that I believe she was up 4-2 in the 3rd against the former Wimbledon champion before Conchita turned the tables on her .. Well, the experienced veteran has done that to many in the past ..

It was nice to see this at the WTA website today - (3) Conchita Martinez (ESP) d. (Q) Shikha Uberoi (IND) 36 63 64 .. Not the scoreline, but seeing (IND) next to the name of the Mumbai-born .. That is the first official change I have seen, though we knew it was coming ..

Here is what the WTA website said about Shikha's match in front of a packed crowd -- "The start of Hingis' return was actually delayed by more than an hour due to a three-hour slugfest between No.3 seed Conchita Martinez and Indian qualifier Shikha Uberoi. Martinez prevailed, 36 63 64, before a packed crowd that was standing room only"  .. Here is what the The Nation (Bangkok) said - Third-seed Conchita Martinez of Spain had to summon all her experience to rally back from 2-4 down in the decider to beat American-Indian Shikha Uberoi ... "I tried to hang in there and fought hard,’’ said Martinez, “It’s not easy to play at this stage where there are many young players. I just try to play my best to catch up with them" .. Conchita having to try hard to catch up with Shikha .. That is some nice compliment .. I am sure Shikha picked up a lot of fans down there for the kind of dogfight she gave Conchita .. By the way the Thai newspaper thinks Shikha is an American-Indian? .. Yeah, from the UIberoi tribe up in South Dakota or something .. Indian-American, bubba, Indian-American! .. Or just say Indian.

Go Shikha -- do your thing next week at Hyderabad .. Let's have a Sania vs Shikha final! .. Hey, I can dream no? .. By the way, I think the Indian newspapers need to give a bit more coverage for Shikha's exploits .. She is doing well, and now we have no excuses, as she is playting under Indian colors too.

Harsh Mankad got off to a good start today in the first leg of the $50K British satellites in Sunderland .. The 3rd seed beat British qualifier Naim Lalji, 63 62 to advance to the second round where he will play Ian Flanagan (GBR,541) .. Flanagan could be a tough nut, though his ranking is not high .. You might remember him qualifying in and reaching the 3rd round at the Queens ATP last year with wins over Zimonjic, Philippoussis and Hanescu on grass .. In doubles Harsh is playing with Eric Butorac, a player he knew from the US who HM thinks has good potential in doubles .. They played a couple of qualifying rounds and made the main draw where they are actually seeded 4th (I assume his partner must have reached a little late for sign-in) .. They beat two British pairs today, Sean Galpin and Ainsley Kershaw, 8-5, and then Neil Bamford and Robert Green, 8-3 .. In the main draw they play a nother British team, wildcards Andrew Kennaugh and Faris Khatib.

At the Delhi grade-2, there were no big surprises today, except for the 5th seed Xiao-Peng Lai going down in a three-setter and the 4th seed venise Chan (HKG)  going down with a medical retirement .. See the Delhi Juniors page for all the scores.

Feb 1 Note-1

A quick correction from below -- I had said that Jelena Dokic was not coming to the Hyderabad WTA based on the list of players in the press release with the plkayer-profiles yesterday .. Not true .. Jelena Dokic is indeed coming to Hyderabad, according to the press release today! .. Good job again, Hesh, getting the former world #4 to come down! .. more later.

Jan 31 Notes

Terrific news today .. Shikha Uberoi (USA,149) qualified into the $170K Tier-III Pattaya City WTA in Thailand .. In the final qualifying round today, she pulled off another good comeback, eventually shellacking Tatiana Poutchek (BLR,218), 26 62 62 .. In the main draw, she faces the 3rd seeded veteran Spanish lady, Conchita Martinez (ESP,43) .. Conchita hasn't played all that well in a few months, but nontheless an upset would be incredible, if SU can pull it off .. Qualifying in has given Shikha over 11 WTA points already, and she will move up from #149 by about 6 or 7 spots ..

Today's rankings show two Indian women in the top-150 for the very first time ever (even though one of them is currently listed under USA, but expected to change that soon) .. Sania at #132 and Shikha at #149 ... Who woulda thunk this was possible, even 6 months back?

The big news today is that the legend of legends, Martina Navratilova would be coming to Hyderabad .. Oh boy, what a job by Mahesh adnd CGK to makeit happen .. It would be something that Hyderbad tennis fans can remember for ever -- the day they went down and watched the great one play doubles .. She will decide whom she would play with, once she gets in town .. According to the list of players sent out in the press release from Globosport today, both Sania and Shikha are in the main draw .. SM will get a wildcard, and it appears that Shikha has made the main draw .. There are three withdrawals (Dokic, Cervanova and Nakamura) from the initial list (but none of the top 9 or so players have withdrawn yet, I believe) -- I think that put Sescioreneu, Bychkova and Uberoi in the main draw .. They would have found a way to give SU a wildcard anyway though.

The ITF grade-2 "Adidas" Junior international has started in Delhi .. The big upset of the day was by 15 year old Parija Maloo, ranked 732, who upset the #167 ranked sixth seed  Else Potgieter in a comeback after dropping the first set at love! .. Great job .. 14 year old wildcard Poojashree Venkatesh also had an upset win today .. Otherwise things went as expected .. See the Delhi juniors page for the results.

I was rather surprised to find that two Indian juniors are playing this week at the prestigious "Le Petite As" u14 tournament in Tarbes, France .. Ronak Manuja from Pune, 13 year old who is #5 in the domestic u14 ranks; and Prerna Mythri from Andhra Pradesh, 14 years old, who is #3 in the u14 ranks .. They both got main draw wildcards there .. Ronak plays Marcelo Astorga from Mexico and Prerna plays a qualifier TBD .. Not sure how they got the wildcards, but great to see our kids out there.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the weeks ending on Jan 31 ..

I am getting some inquiries 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 inquiring 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 playera, let me know .. Please email me - R.Jayakrishnan