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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Feb 17, 2003
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Feb 17 Notes

Not much to report today .. LP-Rikl play at Rotterdam R1 and MB-Eagle play at the Memphis R1 tomorrow .. No news from Nigeria on Sania at the satellite yet .. No big surprises in the few R1 matches at the Bangalore satellite today, except for the 6th seed Radhika getting upset .. That's about it.

Feb 16 Note-2

It's not very often that we see other Asians winning an ATP doubles title, other than LP and MB .. Tomas Shimada (JPN) has won one each in 2001 and 2002 .. I really can't remember any others for a few years .. Anyway, Hyung-Taik Lee (KOR) won his first doubles title today, at the San Jose ATP, partnering Vladimir Voltchkov .. And he gets to go up in the coming week (in partnership with DeJager) against the top ranked one from Asia, Mahesh playing with Eagle, at the Memphis ATP.

Bad news loss for Harsh Mankad today at the $15K futures Q2 in Brownsville, Texas .. 57 67(2) upset to Luke Shields .. A bit surprising - then again, may be not, as I know about Brownsville - quite a windy place near the gulf in Texas, and exactly the kind of outdoor condition that seems to always trouble Harsh .. His worst college losses I remember was in a nearby place in Texas, windy Corpus Christi, and his worst Davis Cup show was also at windy Wellington in NZL .. I don't know if he handpicked this place to go and fight the elements once more, but no luck so far.  No, I am not making excuses for a guy I like :-) - he probably shouldn't have lost this one .. Oh well, I guess it happens .. Next week will be at the $15K futures at Harlingen, closeby in Texas - I don't know if he has made the main draw.

I have added the draws for the Bangalore Satellite .. Tricky matchups for most of the Indians and no gimme matches for any of them .. Isha plays Samrita in an interesting first round .. See the Bangalore satellite page.

Feb 16 Note-1

MB and Joshua Eagle are the 3rd seeds, facing John-Laffnie deJager (RSA) and Hyung-Taik Lee (KOR) at the $690K Korger St.Jude ATP at Memphis, Tennessee, which starts on Monday .. Lee Hyung-Taik has started taking doubles seriously or what?

Feb 15 Notes

Leander Paes and David Rikl are in the doubles draw at the $800K ABN Amro ATP at Rotterdam, NED .. Not an easy draw though, as they face a tough team, top seeds Jonas Bjorkman and Todd Woodvridge .. Not sure wher MB is going this week - perhaps to the Memphis ATP in the US - haven't seen the draw there.

Harsh Mankad, the one who never gets any favors from the draw Godess, ended up as the first one out from the main draw at the USA F4 $15K futures in Brownsville Texas, right a few miles from the Mexican border .. He was #9 for qualies when the entries closed, but I guess a lot of guys decided to skip it, probably because the cutoff rankings are too high .. Anyway, [Q1] Harsh Mankad (IND,477) d. Richard Magney (AUS,1131), 63 63 today .. He now faces Luke Shields (USA,1131) in the Q2 of the three-round qualies.

I think Rohan Bopanna was supposed to be at the Nigeria futures - have not seen the draw for that yet.

Second seeded Suchanan Viratprasert of Thailand won the Chennai satellite, easily beating the giant-killer Varana Marie Bellar (GER), who was a bit banged up with a bad knee, 62 62, today .. See the Chennai satellite page .. Suchanan and Varana have both withdrawn from next week's India satellite at Bangalore .. I have added the qualifying draw and saturday results for that at the Bangalore satellite page .. This event was originally supposed to be in Dharwad, but got moved to Bangalore recently.

Chatwinder Singh won the grade-4 ITF in Sri Lanka this week .. Vandana Murali ended up runner up on the girls' side .. Not the strongest field down there, but nice job by them both.

Feb 14 Note

The Amritraj cousins went down 26 46 to Hyung-Taik Lee (KOR) and Vladimir Voltchkov (BLR) last night at the Siebel Open ATP in San Jose, California.  They still picked up enough points to raise their rankings to somewhere around #240 (Prakash) and #280 (Stephen) .. That is good.

Samrita Sekar had gone down yesterday in the QFs .. See the Chennai satellite page for scores .. Rushmi and Sai are in today's doubles final.

Harsh Mankad has gone to the $15K futures in Brownsville, Texas .. One of the toughest draws out there, though - closing at around #425 .. His #477 ranking placed him as 9th in the qualies as the entries closed .. This will be tough.

I got a lot of emails about my diatribe yesterday about the cricket hoopla .. Though I started the discussion based on what I felt was excessive coverage of the world cup in the newspapers, my complaint was in fact against all of us as cricket fans who are going crazy about the world cup - really, that is what forces our newspapers to give us what we want .. After all, I cannot complain about Indian national newspapers which I have always said are the best in the world for tennis coverage, all the way down to the satellites and futures .. And, I certainly cannot complain about The Hindu online, which has traditionally had the most reliable tennis scores among any newspaper in the world, too .. Again as I have said that too before .. The complaint was in any case about the online editions of our newspapers only and not the print versions which I thought might have had all the usual tennis scores and other things.

I think I did touch quite a few raw nerves all over the place in my diatribe.  That was not entirely unintentional.

A discussion had started in our forum about all this .. I think we all need to take a step back and see what we are doing with our madness about cricket and bring in a sense of balance into the craziness - that's all I was saying.

And I didn't even open a flip-side subject that I really wanted to get into, which is about how the Indian and world cricket authorities have been incredibly incompetent in further popularizing the great game around the world, while so much of money from India flows into supporting cricket .. That would be too much of digression away from *my* topic here, which is tennis!

Feb 13 Notes

Things have still not taken off for MB in doubles this year .. No luck today in the first round at the $500K Marseille Open in France .. Second seeded MB and Joshua Eagle went down 67(3) 46 to Hrbaty and Pala .. :-(

In the doubles QF at the $380K Siebel Open in San Jose, Prakash and Stephen Amritraj play Hyung-Taik Lee and Vladimir Voltchkov, who upset the top seeds Bob and Mike Bryan in three sets .. The QF is at night today.

I have so far seen only one news agency report from the Chennai women's satellite, and that said Beller, Viratprasert and Israilova reached the semis .. No news on the Samritra Sekar match, as even the usually reliable The Hindu has messed up their sports page .. Only cricket there .. The Indian newspapers' sports pages have completely fallen apart with everybody running around talking about the blasted world cup .. Come on people, get a grip on yourself .. This is a sports that hardly anybody cares much for outside of the subcontinent .. If you doubt what I said, go check the sports pages around the world .. I am a cricket fan too, but I am mad right now at the craziness.

All right, I will give some evidence on what I am complaining about .. Here is Telegraaf, Nederlands - sports page .. See of anybody in Holland even noticed that their orange team bowled out the mightiest batting lineup in the world in 48 overs .. Or if anybody cared .. here is another Dutch newspaper - Volkskrantsports page .. Whoop dee do, I do see a few lines in their wire news archive page (prizes go to those of you who can find that item! :-)) .. Here is Canada's number-one sports page .. Try to find news on their historic win over a test-playing nation in there .. To be fair, the Toronto Globe has surprised cricket fans with a couple of articles so far on the world cup .. Now let's look at some big cricket "crazy" nations .. Here is the Sydney Morning Heraldsports page .. For today, I see 6 articles on soccer and 4 on cricket, out of some 30 odd articles .. Here is West Australian from Perth -- 8 articles out of some 35 odd in the sports page ..  It's not like Australia is in the grips of cricket world cup fever, and the newspapers there have forgotten every other sports .. Let's look at West Indies, the calypso cricket crazies must be there - here is the Jamaica Gleaner (sports page 11th,12th, 13th) -- roughly one article on the world cup out of 5 or so they had each day, and only once was cricket the headline story .. Let us look at one at the place where cricket took birth .. London Telegraph sports page - Four on football, 5 on cricket, 7 on other sports .. OK, I decided to look at a non-circket country where there might be some news because of the Indians living there .. Here is the Malaysian Star online sports page .. 33 articles, 3 on cricket, way down the page .. I don't even want to look at any US or German or Egyptian or Chiense newspapers, as I am pretty sure I won't find any mention of this crazy sport called cricket .. The above are just a bunch of newspapers that I picked (I have links to 100s of newspapers with me!), and I reported every one of the sites I checked.  Not just the ones with fewer cricket articles.

Folks, it is about time that Indian press started telling the truth to the people in India that cricket really is NOT that big a deal in this world .. I am not saying tennis is.  Just that you and I like cricket, and are relatively crazy about it like most Indians are, does not make it THAT important a sport ..

Now look at the Indian newspapers -- Hindustan Times -- 14 sports section articles on cricket (spread over 5 different world cup pages they created, probably to avoid hits on the same page!), with three articles on other sports ..  The Indian Express (the south Indian "new" version) page -- 38 articles on cricket, 7 on other sports .. The Hindupage had 16 on cricket and 8 on all other sports .. Anyway, you get the point, and I am sure all of you have seen it.

All I wanted was the score for Samrita sekar's match, and I can't find it anywhere and need to wait for another day for that.

Somewhere I saw that Baichung Bhutia was getting ready to play a match.  Can hardly find any details.  All England Championships are on in UK, no?  .. Heck, who knows! ..

Some sense of balance in this, is all I want .. The way cricket is killing interest in other sports in India is a big tragedy .. It has become much worse in the last 15 years, I feel .. I remember growing up in Kerala .. It used to be that ONE haven with no cricket crazies outside of Tellicherry, Kochi and Trivandrum - much to my big chagrine .. I was the only guy who knew cricket in the village malayalam medium highschool I studied in .. The only one, if you can believe that .. Late 70s .. Now i find the soccer field there with triple sticks stuck here and there with kids using coconut tree bats to hit rubber balls .. Heck, I find my grandmother who once probably thought Wadekar was someone who made Vadas, is asking about cricket scores now! .. If you find no more Pappachans, IM Vijayans, Jimmy Georges, TC Yohannans and PT Ushas coming out of Kerala anymore (and you find Tinu Yohannans wasting time on a bench somewhere, dreaming of playing cricket), you know the reason .. Something needs to be done, and I don't think the press and media will be the change agents - because they have to do whatever the reading and viewing public wants .. I would say one thing though, Doordarshan and other TV channels who saw the money in cricket and pushed this stuff as the end of the world, owes the Indian public an apology for not revealing the truth properly .. The Indians are never told where exactly cricket stands in the world - an "also-ran" sport that is hardly considered in the top three even in the countries that developed it, the UKs and Australias out there .. Nothing wrong in adopting it as our National sports and being crazy about it, but it should not be with illusions .. Then I hear all the stories of cricket world cup being the second largest sports event in the world and all that hype - ridiculous as those are .. When you have a good part of some 1.3 billion people in the subcontinent watching it on TV and spending money, all kinds of funny stats become possible .. That doesn't make cricket the important world sport that many believe it is.

Waiting to know what the 18 year old Samrita did today, and I can hardly get to many of the sports pages with the massive hits there from the "crazies".

Sorry for the sermon - will try not to repeat ..

And oh, by the way, India will beat Australia on Saturday - call me crazy, but I think Ganguly will finally get his team to come through :-)

Feb 12 Notes

It looks like MB's first round doubles match at the Marseille ATP will be tomorrow (thursday) .. PA/SA doubles QF ay San Jose will also be tomorrow or the day after.

It was annouced today in Kolkata that the Davis Cup against New Zealand will be at the South Club grasscourts.  It appears that the $15K futures the day before will be at the tennis academy at Salt Lake on synthetic courts (not on clay, as the ITF's online calendar indicates).

Samrita continued her good form with a win over Sheethal Gautham todat the Chennai satellites, as both the top seed Rushmi and the 8th seed Radhika got upset in the second round .. Only Samrita remains as an Indian in the QF .. Terrible, but it's also an indication of more and more talented foreign players showing up in the Indian satellites and it can only help in the long run .. See the Chennai satellite page.

Feb 11 Notes

Once again Prakash and Stephen have proved that they are really not a flash-in-the-pan get-lucky-and-win-one kind of a team! .. Big win today for them, as the wildcards moved to the QF at the $400K Siebel Open in San Jose, California .. [R1] (WC) Prakash Amritraj (IND)/ Stephen Amritraj (USA) d. Juan Balsells (ESP)/ Kenneth Carlsen (DEN), 61 64 .. Hmm, what can I say? - look at that scoreline! .. They will probably play the top seeds Bob and Mike Bryan in the next round .. The Bryans haven't played the R1 yet.

At the Chennai satellites, Sonal and Shruti also fell today in the first round .. Rushmi, Radhika, Sheetal, Samrita and Liza are in the second round .. See the Chennai satellite page.

I have updated the AITA domestic calendar .. As usual, the latest calendar is always linked from the archives/rankings/calendar page .. The calendar now shows the two $50K challengers in late April (Bangalore and Delhi) .. The men's futures in late March are now two $15K events (Mumbai/hard and Kolkata/clay) instead of three $10K events originally expected .. Not bad at all, especially with us having a few players who are capable of winning these events! .. The only problem is that the futures at Kolkata the week before Davis Cup is on clay (I assume at the DKS courts) with a change of surface to grass for Harsh, and Rohan for Davis Cup (which could be in Kolkata itself, as the newspaper reports seem to say).

Speaking of the Davis Cup, when are we ever going to see a Davis Cup south of the Vindhyas? .. I am getting sick of this Kolkata- Lucknow- Jaipur- Delhi- Chandigarh circuit one after another (actually now it may be just a Delhi-Kolkata back and forth) .. Hey, somebody put a grasscourt together somewhere in Bangalore or Ooty or Chennai or Hyderabad or Kochi .. Or for that matter, Mumbai .. Wonder what happened to the grasscourts in the Deccan Gymkhana at Pune .. Actually I read somewhere that those were converted to a cricket ground! .. The Cubbon park place in Bangalore is no more, I guess.  What is left?

More on Davis Cup -- Today's One Sport (Nzoom.com) from New Zealand had this item, which was funny to read -- "New Zealand Davis Cup captain Glenn Wilson has sent an SOS out to Aucklanders to ask if anyone has a grass court in their garden that his team can use ... New Zealand defeated Pakistan 5-0 at the Waikato Tennis Centre and will next play India in India in April. The tie is almost certainly going to be played on grass, which is the surface that most suits the Indian players but is one that New Zealand players rarely get the experience to play on .... The New Zealand team will go into camp for a week in Auckland before they depart for India but there are a distinct lack of grass courts in the area which is why Wilson s asking for the public's help .... "If anyone has a grass court in Auckland that is in good shape please contact New Zealand Tennis," Wilson said .... "We have a training week in Auckland before we head off to India and we might do a bit of research to see if someone's got a grass court in their back yard. To play on grass you've got to practice a lot off serve and volleying and a lot of second ball passing shots which we can do with drills."  (underline mine!) .. I love it .. They want somebody with a backyard grasscourt to help them out!

Feb 10 Note-2

LP is taking this week off, as he customarily does, after the hard work at each Davis Cup tie .. Mahesh is on the road again though .. He is at the $500K Open-13 ATP in Marseille, France, with Joshua Eagle .. seeded 2nd .. They play Dominik Hrbaty (SVK) and Petr Pala (CZE) in the first round .. Not sure when, but probably wednesday or thursday.

Prakash Amritraj could not produce one more upset against a top-300 player, and went down to Todd Reid (AUS,298), 57 46 today in the final qualifying round at the Siebel Open in San Jose, California .. Add that as the 4th time an Indian has gone down in the final qualies of an ATP event in the last 5 years - Harsh at Chennai (98), Srinath at Montreal (99), Fazal at Dubai (01) are the other cases, if my memory is correct .. One of these days, somebody will make it in .. But a very good effort from PA nonetheless .. Main draw doubles come up for him next .. By the way, Prakash is back at USC and has been in full flow in the collge circuit for a couple of weeks .. Ranked at #42 to start the year and then going unranked because he skipped the fall semester, he has had four straight wins against top-120 (ranked) players, all in straight sets - including an emphatic one over the #12 ranked college player from archrival school UCLA across the city.

At the Chennai satellite, the big upset today was Samrita Sekar beating the 4th seed Sai in three sets .. Isha Lakhani also went down - I guess I jinxed her with my comment below .. Rushmi advanced easily .. See the Chennai satellite page.

Feb 10 Note-1

I have added a page for the $10K ITF women's satellite that started today at the Chennai Gymkhana .. The qualies have been completed with three Indians making it in, yesterday .. 14 Year old Madura Ranganathan won one round against experienced Jahnavi Sunderrajan, but went down fighting against   Jouila Vorobieva (RUS) in a three setter in the qual final .. Sasha Abraham had a couple of decent wins to make the main draw .. Rushmi, Suchanan Viratprasert, Sai Jayalakshmy, etc lead the lineup .. The wildcards to the main draw went to Isha Lakhani, Samrita Sekar and M.Kamini .. Good to see Isha there; she will be a handful for everybody, as will be another talented junior, Uzbekistan's Ivanna Israilova who qualified in .. Ankita is not there, or she would also be major trouble for everyone .. See the Chennai satellite page.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Feb 10 ..

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 player, let me know .. I would like to have a mailing list where I can post general announcements and inquiries from the coaches too .. Please email me - R.Jayakrishnan.