Notes for the week ending on Feb 12, 2001
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Feb 12 Note-1
Nirupama lost to #7 Lenka Nemeckova (CZE,153), 60 36 46 in the first round of qualies at the Doha WTA yesterday .. Nirupama, now ranked #154 in doubles, did make the doubles main draw with Sandra Nacuk (YUG,80), and they are drawn to play Henrieta Nagyova (SVK,97) and Barbara Rittner (GER,136) in the first round .. She keeps finding higher-ranked players to play with - which is nice .. Go Niru!
Feb 11 Note-3
At the Tier-III WTA event in Doha (Qatar), Nirupama was drawn to face the 7th seed in the qualies, Lenka Nemeckova (CZE,153) - I have not heard the results from today, yet .. Niru is drawn with the 1st seed Henrieta Nagyova (SVK,37), trying for one of the four spots in the main draw -- I guess Nagyova missed the entry and chose to play qualies ? .. Tough draw for Niru, anyway.
At the Mumbai challenger starting tomorrow, LP, who was #3 in the list as the entries closed, became unseeded based on last week's rankings, as he fell last week from #196 to #231 .. He faces wildcard Mustafa Ghouse in the first round on Tuesday .. It turns out that all four wildcards - the other three being Mahesh, Fazal and Prakash Amritraj - have tough draws .. Fazal gets the top seed Filippo Volandri (ITA,161), Prakash plays the second seed Vincenzo Santopadre (ITA,183) and Mahesh faces the 4th seed dennis Ven Scheppingen (NED,205), last year's runner-up to LP .. Damn it .. Can't get a break .. I hope we will see at least LP and MB in the second round .. LP chose not to play doubles, though there was some talk that LP-MB may play a challenger after a long time, just for match practice and to keep themselves sharp .. Perhaps because he has just gone through some heavy workload and expenditure of mental energy at Beijing, LP is only playing singles this week .. So Mahesh is playing doubles with Fazal .. A couple more Indian teams are out there .. Vijay Kannan and Rishi Sridhar missed the qualies, as they were playing the All India Railways tournament final on Saturday, and I am not sure Vishal Uppal ever made it to the qualies (Ghouse is playing doubles in the main draw with Bopanna) .. As for qualies, though it was nice to see three Indians make it to the four final qualifying matches, all three of them - Rohan Bopanna, Vinod Sridhar and Manoj Mahadevan - went down today, Manoj being the one who played the best, losing in two tiebreakers .. Can't complain, after those three at least tried their best and pulled off some wins to get that far .. So, it is only LP and the four wildcards who interest us in the main draw (OK, perhaps Pakistan's Aisam Qureshi too) .. See the Mumbai challenger page for today's results.
By the way, the 17 and 16 yr old young kids of Taiwan, Yen-Hsun Lu and Yeu Tsuoo Wang, both won their reverse singles matches to pull out a 3-2 win over Pakistan in Davis Cup Asia-Oceania group-II .. Quite impressive for the 16 yr old Wang to upset the ATP #289 Aisam Qureshi to tie things up and give a chance for the the other kid Lu to beat Pakistan's Aqueel Khan to win the tie .. I told you that those two Taiwanese kids (along with Wei-Jen Cheng their 3rd player, who is only 18 or 19 and was a top-20 junior player too), to be big trouble in the future for other Asians! .. Watch out.
In Asia-Oceania Group-I, Oleg Ogorodov (coming to Mumbai this week as the 8th seed) won the fifth match to squeeze out a 3-2 win for Uzbekistan in Indonesia .. The Uzbeks next play New Zealand in April .. The winner of that tie and the winner of India vs Japan/Thailand (in April) will play October ties among 16 teams (8 losers of this weekend's world group ties and 8 regional group-I winners from April, including two from Asia-Oceania) to determine if anybody from our region will join Australia in the world group .. Australia, of course, though technically in Asia-Oceania, has not fallen down to regional competition in a long long time .. As for the 8 losers from World group ties this weekend, who will be playing the October qualifiers to stay in the world group for 2002, they are - Ecuador, Spain, Belgium, Slovak Rep., Morocco, Czech Rep., Romania, and USA .. Amazing to see holders Spain falling 1-4 to Nederlands in the very first round after winning the big Cup .. To get to October, India has to first tackle Thailand at home or Japan in Japan, during the Apr 6-8 weekend .. We will see how that Thailand-vs-Japan tie goes in Japan next week .. We will certainly prefer Thailand at home, even though Thailand has higher ranked Paradorn in the team .. Actually captain Ramesh Krishan indicated this preference today in China .. As for Leander, as he was leaving within an hour after the tie to the airport in a hurry to fly out to Mumbai, he just said he was "very very tired" .. The marathon man keeps on doing this for us. Yes, these were winnable matches for him despite the worst conditions he has ever played in, but to keep winning every match he is supposed to win for India, year after year for 12 years, simply requires incredible focus .. Amazing!
Feb 11 Note-2
Forgot to mention in the last notes that it is the first time in eight years that we have won a tie away from India! .. The last one was that historic win over France in Frejus in 1993, which saw Ramesh Krishnan's final win for India in a 5th match where he won the final two sets 75 64 to make the French cry .. After that we played eight straight ties in India till 1997, and lost to CZE, ITA, GBR, KOR and SWE away ever since that .. To be fair, I don't think we were favored to win any of those away ties except for the 1999 loss to Korea when everything went wrong .. BTW, in the inconsequential dead-rubber fnal match, Y.Wang d. Fazal Syed, 67(5) 63 64 for China to close the gap a bit to 2-3 ..
Just had a latenight call from Harsh Mankad who wanted to find out what happened in China - he had just finished a late evening college tennis match (his second top-100 win of the day after beating the college #1 player earlier that I had already found out about - the latter one a three-set nail-biter final match that he pulled off to give a 4-3 win for U of Minnesota) .. Harsh had predicted that we would win the tie against China even if we played it on the moon, though I later wondered if LP could handle the bounce there :-) .. (those who saw the thing on TV might have wondered if the Indians were wearing space suits, to handle the sub-zero temperature!) .. He was thrilled to see his prediction come true, though he didn't exactly go out on a limb with that, so to say! .. By the way, Harsh has been hitting with David Wheaton in Minnesota for a few days ..
Go INDIA !!!
Sunil Kumar beat Vinod Sewa and Sania Mirza beat Redhina Parekh to win the titles yesterday at the Kolkata ITF juniors .. Sania had an easy time, but Vinod did play pretty well and lunged at everything to make Sunil earn the win, actually making him go though four match points and several deuces before closing out the final game, etc! .. Very useful 40 points each for Sunil and Sania .. The next two weeks, there are two events in Bangladesh, a grade-4 in Rajshahi giving 40 pts for the title and a grade-3 grand finale of the subcontinental circuit in Dhaka that gives 60 big points.
Feb 11 Note-1
Hello Japan or Thailand ! .. Here we are .. India just won the tie 3-1, as Leander Paes came through well for the umpteenth time .. L.Paes d. Y.Zhang, 60 62 63 .. Really did not give Yu a chance to do anything and systematically took him apart both from behind and at the net .. LP was not broken in the match at all, I believe, and the match took an hour and 35 minutes .. We again had nice score updates in the chatroom from Vijay Kannan's brother and father - many thanks for their help!
Not sure if it will be Fazal or Srinth playing the final match, about to start.
If you wondering about our next opponents - the Thailand vs Japan tie is next week in Japan .. Pretty even between those two teams and it's tough to predict who will take that one .. If it is Thailand, then they will come to India to eat grass .. If it is Japan, then we go east to eat Sushi .. I prefer making people eat grass :-)
Feb 10 Note-3
The reverse singles starts at 11 am on Sunday in Beijing with LP playing first against the #1 Chinese, Yu Zhang .. That is 8.30 am India (3 am London .. 7 pm SAT, Los Angeles) .. Come to the chatroom ..
Harsh Mankad may not be at the Davis Cup, but he had the best win in his college career today, when he upset the #1 player in US colleges, Genius Chidzikwe of Sothern Methodist Univ (member of the Zimbabwe Davis Cup team), 75 64 in a four-university tournament .. Congrats go to him .. Harsh has gone 16-5 in college matches this year and has been playing very well in the last few matches - His ranking will move up quite a bit higher from #53 soon, as the first spring rankings are released soon.
Some good news from Mumbai -- Rohan Bopanna upset a couple of good foreign players to reach the final round of qualifying at the ATP challenger .. Manoj Mahadevan also had a cuple of good wins and he is in the final round too .. I hope they will make it in .. See the few qualifying results I know, at the Mumbai challenger page ..
Also on Saturday in India, Vijay Kannan (of Southern Railways) beat Rishi Sridhar in the singles final of the All-India Railways Tennis Tournament.
Feb 10 Note-2
The $25K+H ATP Challenger, title-sponsored by MTNL, starts on Monday .. See the player list at the new Mumbai challenger page .. Mahesh Bhupathi and newly crowned grasscourt national champion Mustafa Ghouse have been offerred wildcards .. Two more wildcards were to be announced today, according to Rico Piperno, the technical director for the challenger (there was that Indian Express news item a couple of days back that Prakash Amritraj might get one, but no offcial announcement, I assume) .. Leander is the 3rd seed .. He is also the defending champion, having won the March 2000 Mumbai challenger .. LP really does need to pick up some points to keep his ranking at least inside the top-300 .. He has 75 points falling off in the next 5 weeks from last year's Mumbai and Kolkata challengers and a couple of other events .. Picking up 50 points next week will keep him out of serious trouble of being unable to enter even challengers .. He is in pretty decent singles form for now and I think he will be tough to beat, as always, in India in the next two weeks of challengers ..
LP and MB will be playing the next two weeks at Mumbai and Chandigarh .. Chances are that they will be at the $1M Dubai ATP in the week after .. However, I had seen an article a week or two back by Robin Chatterjee in the Gulf-News with some comments from Mahesh that there was a chance that they might go to the $400K San Jose ATP in California that week .. Of course, any singles wildcards, like LP had got a couple of times in Dubai due to the Indian support there, would ensure that they will be in Dubai (that is what MB hinted to the newspaper! :-)) .. He also said that they have always enjoyed the support they get in Dubai and would like to play there again ..
At the Kolkata ITF junior international, everything went according to the seeding in the semis .. Unlike I expected, the 2nd seed Vinod Sewa, who has had a string of pretty bad weeks, played quite well to beat 3rd seed Amanjot who has been very hot lately .. Amanjot reportedly looked weary and Vinod took care of him in straight sets .. He faces doubles partner and top seed Sunil Kumar in the final .. Sunil had no trouble with 7th seed Nishank .. On the girls' side, unseeded local girl Redhina Parekh's surprising run continued as she reached her first ITF final beating T.Yamini .. Top seed Sania Mirza showed something in her win over Sandy Gumulya, whom she has faced three weeks in a row .. The first time she lost to her in 3 sets, the second time she won in three sets and this time she simply murdered her with a 6-0 second set after winning a first set tiebreaker .. Looks like she has figured out the Indonesian much better than the other way around! .. This 14 year old keeps on showing the instincts of a true champion, not to mention talent - some serious coaching stint in some good academy somewhere is perhaps all that she needs ? .. She has traveled a heck of a lot in the past year, which must have cut into coaching time .. In my humble opinion it was a very good idea for her to travel to the US, Europe, etc, this young to get a good idea about the junior tennis levels internationally, which will help her in setting goals for where she needs to get to, physically and technically .. She has proved herself as a "can't miss" prospect, and she has enough years left in the juniors to even stay away from the tour for extended periods for coaching without having to worry about her ranking and entry to tournament and all that - the kind of stuff 16 and 17 year olds have to worry about .. I dearly hope proper support for coaching would come from appropriate sources EARLY for her and that we wouldn't waste time sitting on our behinds and just feeling good and bragging that we have one of the very best 14 year olds in the world .. See the Kolkata juniors page.
Feb 10 Note-1
Good news from China .. India won the doubles, 62 64 64 !! .. Sorry that I had to be out due to some work commitments in the evening, and could not be at the chatroom, but I believe there were score updates there from India by Ramesh Kannan (Vijay Kannan's brother) - I had an email from there that he would be giving score updates .. Looks like I missed out on some good fun today .. Thanks Ramesh!
I also got the details of the match, from Manisha Kalra in Bangalore (thanks for all the help!) -
Set 1: India wins with breaks in the 3rd and 5th game off Xu and Yang respectively .. Set 2: We need just one break of Xu in the 7th game to get ahead 2-0 and make it hold up .. Set 3: Game 3: Xu is broken and our pair seem to be on their way .. but .. Game 4: LP is broken back after the Chinese hit two decent returns and both Indians miss out on a couple of volleys .. Game 5: Yang holds with some good play and China is 3-2 up .. Game 6: Indians display their newfound problem of not closing out well, with MB down 15-40 .. But he comes back in style and hits 3 great service winners to get out of Jail .. Game 7: Xu holds this time .. Game 8: LP also gets in trouble and gets out with an ace on break point 30-40 and then holds with some volley winners .. Game 9: The resilient Yang is broken again with a double fault on 30-40 .. MB plays the first two points extemely well to set up the break - 3 great backhand volleys followed by a backhand winner and on 30-30 LP comes up with a great return to reach break point .. Game 10 : MB closes out on love and India are ahead in the Tie 2-1 !! .. M.Bhupathi/ L.Paes d. J-Z.Yang/ R.Xu, 62 64 64 ..
Some match comments from Manish: It seems the Chinese had watered the courts on thursday afternoon thereby making conditions different from those encountered in practise matches LP and MB were simply too good at the net and only towards the 3rd set did the Chinese win a few points when both were at the net .. The Indian Express were tactically and technically much better than their opponents .. A point in case was when India was 3-4 in the 3rd set with LP down at 0-30 and the Chinese playing well .. LP-MB resorted to the I formation and got 2 quick points .. Mahesh did seem to have a bad cold, and was sniffling thru the match and struggling just a wee bit on his serves .. Lets hope he gets a good rest to be ready for the 5th rubber if required .. Leander played well within himself, with his usual poaching at the net working well .. A couple of points the Chinese were able to spot him moving into the centre and got the ball down the line .. The Indians' co-ordination was good with barely a point where both would go for the ball .. And their calling clear and loud and right as well ..
Looks like our champs played a pretty clean match and did the right things to win the match .. Let us now get that 3rd point and take care of this thing!
Feb 9 Note-3
Fazaluddin simply got badly outplayed in today's match after the first 8 games when it was 4-4, based on the agency reports .. He reportedly looked a bit too causal in the second set after dropping the first set - perhaps underestimating Yu, or perhaps trying not get too excited or get nervous? .. Anyway, it badly backfired on him, as Yu Zhang wouldn't give him any opening after that, and Fazal was totally unable to bring out any of his fighting spirits to try for a comeback .. Regardless of who the opponent is, there is just no other way to play a Davis Cup away tie other than to scratch and bite continuously without thinking, as in a dog fight - or a loss is almost always guaranteed - and that's the wonderful dynamics of Davis Cup .. Perhaps he was trying but simply culdn't do it, but it's surprising that Fazal, who is quite experienced in Davis Cup, would go down in this manner .. To lose 14 of the last 15 games should not have happened, whatever the reason (unless there is an injury or something - but no such reports yet) .. Yes, the conditions are the worst possible, and it was reported that the super slow surface, though not clay, was giving LP some trouble earlier too - but he was able to adjust to it, and Fazal (who also likes faster surfaces) seems to have been unable to do that either .. Though it's a side issue of not much relevance in a Davis Cup tie, I also feel bad for Fazal the player - with all the talent he has, every time he seems to be moving a step up, he goes through something like this that could potentially crack his confidence level too .. I hope that won't be the case.
A tremendous honor was bestowed upon Vijay Amritraj this week by the United Nations which picked him as an international Peace Ambassador .. They have had only 7 sportspersons (those like Mohammed Ali, Magic Johnson, etc) selected for such a high honour before .. Vijay deserves it, for the number of friends and fans he has made all around the world and how he has carried himself in a dignified manner throughout his career as a sportsman, businessman and actor (well, except for acting as the hilarious but atrociously silly "Shivrambhai Poonchavallah, exchange visitor constable from Calcutta Vice" in that silly sitcom, "36th Precinct" in the late 80s .. OK, we will cut him some slack there) .. We are all be proud of you, Vijay!
By the way, I noticed something very interesting today .. Potentially the next giants from Asia, Taiwan, threw their two super-talented young pups out for Davis Cup baptism at home against Pakistan .. Yen-Hsun Lu and Yeu-Tsuoo Wang, ranked #3 and #6 in the world juniors and just 17 and 16 years old respectively .. Yen lost a five-setter to ATP #289 Aisam Qureshi in the first match (after a roaring comeback winning the 3rd and 4th sets) but 16 year old Yeu-Tsuoo Wang beat Pak's Aqueel Khan to tie it up 1-1 .. Rest of Asia better watch out for those two guys from Chinese Taipei - they look to be capable of making a lot of Asian Davis Cup captains lose sleep in the future!
At the Kolkata grade-4 ITF junior international yesterday, the top two seeds Sunil Kumar and Vinod Sewa reached the semifinal .. The younger Mishra, 7th seed Nishank finally beat the 4th seeded brother Shivang who has been tough for him to beat in the past .. #3 Amanjot beat #6 Rohan Gajjar and will give serious troubles to Vinod sewa today if I am to guess .. In the girls' draw the story has been the somewhat surprising run by Redhina Parekh and T.Yamni, both upsetting seeds along the way to reach the semi against each other .. Top seed Sania continued her winning streak, and faces once again the talented Sandy Gumulya from Indonesia who beat her two weeks back and lost to her last week, both in three-setters .. See the Kolkata juniors page.
Feb 9 Note-2
Fazaluddin lost to Yu Zhang, 46 16 06 in the second match and so we are now 1-1 .. Despite the cold weather and all the problems, I am still surprised at that score line .. Well, we should be able to pull ahead with the doubles win tomorrow.
Feb 9 Note-1
It seems LP had a slow start, but warmed up and took care of business in a 46 60 60 64 win in the first match .. I need to confirm the score, as no details or score updates were coming in from any source today, as we were in the chatroom, trying every source we had phone numbers for - people either can't find DD-Sport or CCTV (in China), or they were simply out working [Normally I have some news agency sources, but China is a black hole and you have problems if you don't know Chinese] ! .. Harsh mankad was in the chatroom trying to find how it was going in Beijing, by the way, and he tried to call a few places too - with no luck .. I know that most of you in India are working/studying during the daytime, but would any of you who are actually watching it on TV help us with some scores (or an email) ? .. Thanks!
Feb 8 Notes
India got a good draw today, with Leander playing the opening match against Yu Wang, the Chinese #2 tomorrow .. The second match will be Fazaluddin against Yu Zhang .. When India played China at the Asia Cup, Yu Zhang had a win over Harsh Mankad .. Though that was not Harsh at his best, having been out of practice for a few weeks due to exams and generally having jetlag and trouble playing outdoors after winter indoors play at Minnesota, etc, it also shows that the the Chinese #1 is not a complete pushover .. Fazal will need to play his best tomorrow to get over this guy, who is ranked #763 .. Mahesh will be there for doubles with LP against Jing Zhu Yang and Xu Ran, the next day .. On Sunday, Leander will play Yu Zhang first and Fazal will play against Yu Wang .. The captain can change the reverse singles line-up .. If we have not closed it out (God forbid) after the 4th match, I think we will see Mahesh in the fifth rubber .. Unless the cold weather causes any more difficulties or other misfortune falls on us (remember LP throwing up due to a bad citrus drink in Korea?), we should have this thing taken care of after 3 or 4 matches .. But Davis Cup away-ties are always tough, regardless of whom you are playing, the often-repeated cliche that really is true.
The start time tomorrow is 10 am in Lang Fang .. RK tried to see if they would delay the start time by an hour, as we know that our team would probably need a bit more time to get used to the day and warm up .. As usual in Davis Cup, the hosts politely refused to grant any favors! ..
Doordarshan will be telecasting the matches .. The first match starts at 10 am Friday (7.30 am India .. 2 am London .. 6 pm THURSDAY Los Angeles) .. I have not made any special arrangements, but there should be score updates in our chatroom .. As always, comments or score updates from those in India watching it on TV would be most welcome (you friends in India rarely think about folks outside India running from piller to post to find scores! .. hint .. hint.. :-)) .. Anyway, the match is less than 12 hours away, as I type .. The second match will be after a short break after the first match .. The doubles on Saturday starts two hours later at 12 noon there .. Not sure of reverse singles on Sunday - that may be starting at 11 am in Lang Fang.
Hey, there is always something historic whenever India and China are involved .. This will be the first time that live TV signals from China of a sports event between India and China is allowed to come to Indian home TVs .. China Central Television (CCTV) will telecast it, and it will be brought to Doordarshan under an agreement between Raymedia of London and CCTV .. Raymedia (a London-based company, with Ashish Ray as the director) has world-wide rights to telecastDavis Cup ties involving India .. So says TheNewspaperToday of India Today ..
Feb 7 Notes
As we wait for the Davis Cup to start in China, here is a very touching article from a daughter trying to find out about her father who she thought played Davis Cup for China - My Davis Cup Dad .. It turned out that he had played against USA and even against the great Bill Tilden .. I happened to come across this article and found it very interesting .. After playing Davis Cup from the 20s to 1946, China did not play Davis Cup till 1983 when they retstarted .. Their best show in the modern era has been a world group qualifier tie in 1990 when they lost to Israel 5-0 in China .. They have played India only once - of course, the historic tie that mattered to the largest population of the globe - in India in 1999 when they lost by a 5-0 score ..
Captain Ramesh Krishnan and Coach Nandan Bal are leaning towards having Fazaluddin play the #2 singles, according to newspaper reports .. As Mahesh is down with a cold, he is pretty much out for singles .. Indians' biggest problem is the numbing temperature there .. They need to warm up the fingers every 2-3 minutes as it is that cold inside that indoor arena .. Apparently the heating system "conveniently" stopped working this week, and nobody seems to know how to make it work .. Ah the beauty of Davis Cup and the stunts which go on! .. Doordarshan will be televising the matches in India - don't be surprised if Leander looks like a space-walker with many layers of clothing .. The draw is tomorrow, to decide who plays first - LP or the #2 player.
I have not seen the full results from the Kolkata Junior ITF internationals today, but Sunil Kumar and Vinod sewa, the top two seeds, advanced .. Sunil simply took out young Karan Rastogi .. The surprises were on the girls side, with 2nd seed Megha, 3rd seed Nandita and 4th seed Rebecca all going down .. T.Yamini beat Megha in a 3rd set tiebreaker .. See the Kolkata juniors page.
Feb 6 Notes
The Indian Davis Cup team is having quite a tough time at beijing with the whole place covered in layers of snow .. The tie will be played at the East University Sports center in Lang Fang, about 70 km from Beijing .. My info says that it is indoor "hardcourts", though I saw a news agency report last week that it was indoor "carpet" .. I don't think so .. Anyway, the surprise was that the indoor arena is NOT heated .. And the temperature outside is something like minus-8 degrees .. Actually the ITF supervisor has already allowed everyone to play the DC matches in tracksuits .. Quick, does anybody know some "technology" to warm up our players (hey, the Australian cricket team is planning to use ice-suits to cool their players in the hot Indian sun - so why not some warm-up technique out there in China for us?) .. Nirmal Sekhar of The Hindu, who is there, recalls in his wednesday article the troubles India has had in such cold places - like in Sweden, Pribram (CZE) and Cheju Island (Korea) .. The Chinese are used to this, and that is a big advantage for them .. Already Mahesh is down with some fever, from newspaper reports .. This does NOT look good for India .. We need our team to tough it out ..
The teams officially nominated, according to ITF this week, are: CHINA: Yu Zhang, Jing Zhu Yang, Yu Wang, Xu Ran; Captain: Fu Zhang Wang .. INDIA: Leander Paes, Srinath Prahlad, Fazaluddin Syed, Mahesh Bhupathi; Captain: Ramesh Krishnan .. I don't see the name Ben-Qiyang Zhu in there .. He is their best player (ranked #415) - perhaps he is still not recovered from that injury at the Asia Cup ? .. Yu Zhang is #763, J-Z Yang is #1076, and the others are unranked now ..
There is a non-sport item today, of a lot of significance to tennis today from India .. About the union cabinet giving a go-ahead for a tobacco bill that will restrict (or ban) all tobacco advertisement, public smoking, etc, etc .. With tennis having received tremendous backing from GoldFlake (ITC), I wonder about the impact of this .. Apparently it becoming a law (if it does) is quite sometime later in the future .. Smoking is bad, so what can I say? .. But the police state that Kerala has become with smokers being harassed by cops based on an activist court's order preventing public smoking - with the cops using questionable interpretations of what is "public space" - makes me worry deeply about the personal rights of the smokers as well, not to mention concerns about such judicial activism rampant in India .. Technically I prefer a properly debated law to a court order any day though, but then I may be placing too much symbolic trust on our "lawmakers" .. As you are probably wondering, yeah, who am I to pontificate, sitting here in the US, though still an Indian citizen ? .. In any event, I digress! .. Back to tennis .. Everyone may need to look around for other sponsorship avenues in the future .. By the way, if I read the news right, beedis are in the "state list" and states may not easily slap similar laws against "beedis" .. I don't think "Kaja Beedi Chennai Open ATP" or "Dinesh Beedi ATP World Doubles Championship" would sound that appealing, though! :-)
Interesting news from Mumbai, as reported by the Indian Express newspaper .. They quote Enrico Piperno to be mentioning that a wildcard has been given to Prakash Amritraj (USA) for the Mumbai challenger (next week) .. Would be interesting to see how he does, but it is never easy for any 17 yr old to do much in his first challenger, so don't expect much if he plays there .. Mahesh Bhupathi will of course have one of the other three wildcards .. The newspaper quotes Rico to be saying that he regretted that Rajeev Ram of USA was not available for one of the wildcards .. I don't know any details of all this - I am just reporting what the Indian Express said .. It surprises me that Rajeev, among the very best 16 yr olds in the US, did not pick up that chance .. It is certainly interesting that the tournament director Jaideep Mukherjea considered him .. Glad to see any contact between Rajeev and the Indian tennis circles, if it happened .. Again, I don't know anything more and I don't want to start any rumors either! .. Rico also is quoted as saying that MB is a bit worried about his shoulder which acted up a bit at the Australian Open .. LP will be the 3rd seed at the Mumbai challenger.
The Kolkata grade-4 ITF juniors went without much drama today, with most of the seeds advancing on the boys side, and only the lower seeds playing on the girls' side .. 14 yr old (youngest Indian in the IF rank list) Karan Rastogi had a nice win over Nipun Gupta, to whom he had conceded a match last week .. Karan is one that I keep an eye on .. Jaco Matthew going down to a Malaysian player was a bit of a surprise .. Sunil Kumar, Vinod Sewa, Amanjot, Shivang, Nishank, etc, all moved on .. I have not seen any results for Sania, Megha, Nandita, etc on the girls' side - they may have had byes into the round of 16 .. Both draws have reached the round of 16 and it starts getting interesting from tomorrow .. See the Kolkata juniors page.
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 ..
.. Previous notes are at Notes for the weeks ending on Feb 5 ..
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.