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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Feb 19, 2001
(Previous week's notes) (Next week's notes) (Daily Notes Index 1997 thru 2001)

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Feb 19 Note-1

I think LP may be playing today against Nir Welgreen at the Chandigarh challenger .. Nirupama plays final qualies at about 2 pm in Dubai today .. Hopefully we will have some news soon after from there.

MB and Fazal played a very tough three-setter yesterday against the top seeds Cermak and Fukarek at Mumbai, but came up a bit short in the end .. 67(4) 64 57 .. Fazal has really developed into a high quality doubles player over the last couple of years .. By the way, about LP's semifinal loss on Saturday, none of the national newspapers' online editions had any reports .. Based on some agency reports, it appears that LP played a good game, but Luzzi (who went on to win the title today, by the way) was even quicker than LP, with enourmous reserves to keep running and retrieving the balls .. LP actually had a 4-0 lead in the first set tiebreaker, before losing 7 points in a row to lose the set .. I wonder what happened there! .. Basically, this appears to be a match where he got simply outplayed by a player who was pretty hot .. See the Mumbai challenger page for all the scores from the week .. Also, does anybody know for sure the score of Prakash Amritraj's R1 match? .. ATP site's official spreadsheet file pdf shows a 64 64 loss to #181 Santopadre .. The news agencies said 64 61 on Tuesday (which is what I am listing in my page), and none of the newspapers really talked about his second set in the reports either .. A 46 46 score in his first match against a top-200 player is pretty impressive for a 17 yr old, if it was so.

I have started the Chandigargh challenger page .. The qualies results are there .. Mandl, Okun, Pozdnev and Mazur made it in yesterday .. The entry list is a bit sparser at the top ranks than last week's, with Volandri, Santopadre, Craca, Messori etc not playing there ..  The qualies were also much much easier than last week's, with the top 6 seeds from last week's qualies not there this time (all or most of them made main draw) .. For instance, Mandl beat Perry in final qualies today for instance to make the main draw .. Those are exactly the two guys that Bopanna beat in the first two rounds last week .. I am quite disappointed at our second stringers completely giving the qualies a skip this time .. It shows something about the players, and it is definitely not positive (some certainly had reasons, but every one among some seven or eight promising players who could have played there, skipping it ?? .. How can you explain that ? .. What is the deal, guys ?)

LP is the 6th seed, and I believe he is playing Monday itself .. He faces Nir Welgreen (ISR) whom he beat last week [source: Chandigarh Tribune] ..  Vijay Amritraj was the one who did the ceremonial drawing, and must have fallen off the chair, seeing how his son keeps getting the top players .. Last week Prakash Amritraj (wildcard) faced the second seed Santopadre .. This week he goes up against the top seed Dennis van Scheppingen! .. The kid can't get a break, but I am sure dad will tell him to take in stride .. Not sure whom Fazal, Mustafa, etc are playing.

Feb 18 Note-2

Good news again from the Gulf .. Niru somehow pulled out a win against Liezel Horn, who though ranked only 402, seems to be playing much better than her ranking shows .. Nirupama d. L.Horn (RSA,402), 26 75 76  [thanks, Pabreja for the quick update from there!] .. She had to come back from serious trouble today .. Tomorrow she goes up against Lina Krasnoroutskaya (RUS,120) .. Lina is red-hot right now though, having qualified in last week at Doha and pulled off upsets on two players including the 7th seed Rita grande to reach the QF there .. Niru will have to play her best once again .. Let's hope that she would finally get some breaks go her way after an incredible series of losses in the 3rd rounds of qualies (I am too sad to give the stat on this!) ..  Go Niru! .. She picked up 4 more WTA points for 12 total so far, and has made about a $1000 for reaching the final round as well !

No news yet on the doubles final from Mumbai .. coming soon.

Feb 18 Note-1

Nirupama has an easier match today than originally expected at the $575K Dubai WTA .. 4th seed #83 Karina Habsudova must have made the main draw, and so instead of her #283 Ka-Po-Tong (Hong Kong) played at that spot and lost to #402 Liezel Horn (RSA) .. So Niru plays Liezel in the second round of qualies .. Three rounds in the qualies, as usual .. If Niru wins today, she will face the winner of #120 Lina Krasnoroutskaya and #94 Bacheva next .. She has picked up 8 points including 4 bonus points for a top-120 upset so far.

India will be catching a plane to Japan in early April for the next round of Davis Cup .. It will be a tough trip too .. At the Ariake Coloesseum in Tokyo today, Japan beat Thailand 4-1 .. In the first reverse singles, the Japanese #1 Takao Suzuki defeated Paradorn Srichaphan, 76(5) 76(6) 61 and then in the dead-rubber reverse singles, Goichi Motomura beat Danai Udomchoke, 63 62 .. It appears that Japan will play the next tie at the same indoor arena (source: Kyodo news)

The wildcards for the Chandigarh challenger starting tomorrow were given to Srinath, Fazal, Mustafa Ghouse and Prakash Amritraj, according to The Hindu .. I guess that means Mahesh has decided to skip singles this week ?? .. The qualies started yesterday but none of our second string showed up to play .. I was very disappointed to see that Bopanna, Manoj Mahadevan, and Vinod Sridhar who had done so well last week and came close to qualifying, chose not to go to Chandigarh, not to mention Vishal Uppal who has skipped quite a few of these events this year .. Not sure what happened Vijay Kannan, Saurav Panja, etc, either .. Teenager CS Mohanty was the only notable in the qualies and he lost in the second round.

Some bad news from Dhaka .. The Independent reports that 2nd seed Megha Vakharia withdrew from this week's grade-3 junior ITF international due to an injury she had from last week's event (where Megha and Sania lost in the semifinals) .. See last week's results at the Rajshahi juniors page .. Will have news from Dhaka this week once the main draw starts tomorrow.

Zeeshan Ali has been given a wildcard into the qualifiers of the ATP Dubai Open (week after next - qualifiers start next weekend) .. Zeeshan still plays some pretty good tennis (he is not too old - perhaps only about 30 or something!) and has been unbeatable in any domestic tennis in Dubai .. He coaches some of the top juniors there, and had recently won the Dubai international event where he and Fazal represented India winning the title .. I also see that Zeeshan was to be a hitting partner for Martina who is arriving there now for this week's WTA event!

Feb 17 Note-3

Good news from Dubai, as Nitu pulled a very good upset over Martina Sucha (SVK,112), 16 61 76(0) to advance to the second round of qualies at the big Tier-II WTA event in Dubai [thanks, Pabreja, for the news!]..  The bad news today was that Leander went down in the semis at the Mumbai challenger in a close one to Fredrico Luzzi, 67(4) 67(5) .. Archana Vankatraman won the singles final at the Chennai satellites over Sonal Phadke, 46 62 75  (see the Chennai satellites) ..  More later.  Busy day today.

Feb 17 Note-2

Still awaiting the score of LP's semifinal against Fredrico Luzzi at the Mumbai challenger today .. I believe the doubles final with Hesh and Fazal is only on Sunday ..

Nirupama was drawn to play Martina Sucha (SVK,112) in the first round of qualies at the big Tier-II $565K Dubai Duty Free Open WTA today .. She is drawn with 4th seed Habsudova (#83) and 6th seed Bacheva (#94) .. Qualifying in would pretty much be a miracle .. No scores yet today from there.

I will be out for the next several hours, and so the score updates will take a while today .. Check out http://sports.india.com for news on LP's match soon (click on the tennis link above).

Feb 17 Note-1

Japan has just taken a 2-1 lead over Thailand at the Davis Cup today in Japan .. As you know, if Japan wins, we go there for our next round, but if not, Thailand will come to India .. Today, Takao Suzuki and Thomas Shimada won in straight sets over Narathorn Srichaphan and Vittaya Samrej .. Yesterday, the Asian #1 Paradorn Srichaphan won the first match for Thailand, beating Goichi Motomura 61 75 64, but Japan #1 Suzuki tied it up at 1-1 with a 63 63 60 win over Danai Udomchoke .. It would be very tough for Thailand to win both the reverse singles to pull this off .. Right now it looks like LP and company will be packing their bags in early April for a trip to Japan.

Feb 16 Note-2

Here is Shailendra Awasthi's account of LP's QF match, in the Indian Express (excerpts): Paes who was serving with amazing speed often found Volandri wanting at the other end.  Such was paesí dominance that Volandri could only manage to hold his serve in the 10th game losing first set 6-0 in the process.  Volandri began to find his rhythm and after holding his next two serves he finally broke Paes in the ninth game of the second set. At deuce Paes charged to the net to drop a volley only to find himself dropping into the net leaving the spectators in deep silence. Then a return from Volandry hit the net and went past an approaching Paes. Voandri then survived his next two serves to take the issue to the tiebreak. But once Paes broke Volandriís second serve with a lovely passing backhand return, Volandri seemed to run out of steam. He simply gave up going down 2-7 .. I underlined a couple of nice things in there .. If those things (especially the backhand passing) are working, LP is in pretty good form!

At the ITF satellites leg-1 in Chennai, only one match was there today, with 3rd seed Archana beating unseeded Samrita Sekar .. The well-awaited SF between Sonal and Radhika did not happen as Radhika had an ankle injury from yesterday and had to give a walkover to Sonal .. That's sad .. Tomorrow, the singles final will be between Sonal and Archana, and the doubles final will be between Sai-Rushmi and Archana-Arthi .. See the Chennai satellite page.

At the grade-3 ITF juniors in Rajshahi (Bangladesh), both top seed Megha and second seed Sania went down in the semis yesterday .. Sania lost to 3rd seed Pichaya Laosirichon, and Megha lost to Yoo Mi Jung of South Korea .. Today, Yoo Mi Jung won the title over Pichaya .. On the boys' side, qualifier Yong Bom Seo (KOR) completed a week of unbelievable tennis - some 8 or 9 wins and won the title over Stephen Timu of Canada .. So, South Korea swept the singles titles, and as far as I know both were players who basically aren't even ranked in the ITF list .. What are they doing to these kids, hiding them in Korea? .. Sunil Kumar and Vinod Sewa lost the doubles final today, to Cheuk Wai Hui and Hiu-Tung Yu of Hong Kong in a tough match, 67 64 57 .. Next week is the big event, as it is grade-3 (i Dhaka) .. A bunch of Japanese kids are also expected to come for that .. See the Rajshahi juniors page, where I have compiled all the results I could find so far.

Feb 16 Note-1

Here comes Leander! .. When we think he may be getting ready to give up on singles, he shows again that he wants to hear none of that .. He went after the top seed with a vengence today, and except for some anxious minutes in the end, cruised to an upset win into the semifinals .. L.Paes d. #1 F.Volandri (ITA,161), 60 76(2) .. LP was in full flow in the first set and the beginning of the second set when he went up to a 60 30 score .. Volandri made a comeback breaking LP two times .. LP also caused some anxiety, not converting two match points while serving at 53 .. It went to a tiebreaker and LP was again in his elements to close it out, including hitting his 4th ace of the match .. He faces unseeded Fredrico Luzzi (ITA,251) next .. Luzzi upset the 4th seed van Scheppingen today .. In the bottom half, the second seed Vincenzo Satopadre is in the semis against Stefano Galvani .. But for Leander crashing in, it would have been an Italian-only party in the semis tomorrow! .. LP has picked up 22 points so far - good timing, as 12 points fall off next week from his QF in the Kolkata challenger last year .. He has 50 more falling off two weeks after that for last year's Mumbai challenger, so he needs all the points he can gather these two weeks to keep his head above water .. So, here he is!

Not to be outdone, Mahesh is doing his thing with Fazal also .. They reached the final of doubles today, with a win over the 3rd seeds Petrovic and Ram in a comeback three-setter, 26 63 76(3) .. I think this is Fazal's second challenger final .. Fazal and Kauffman had won the title at the Ahmedabad challenger last year .. He is defending his semifinal points from last year's Kolkata challenger this week .. For MB, the points don't mean much! See the Mumbai challenger page

Feb 15 Notes

Leander was in good form today, in winning the second round at the Mumbai challenger .. Nir Welgreen kept up with him pretty well for a while, and even went up a break in the 11th game .. LP raised his game right there, broke him back and started serving very well .. Two reflex volleys took care of the tiebreaker at 7-2 .. In the second set, LP was up 4-0, but Welgreen got one of the breaks back .. LP then closed it out with no further trouble at 6-3 .. The PTI report talks about "stunning backhand down the line" shots from LP .. That is unusual, as it is his forehand, reflexes and speed that normally get commented on .. LP also had nine aces today .. He certainly looks comfortable with his singles game again, for now .. LP has to face a tough customer in the Italian top-seed Filppo Volandri (#161) in the QF tomorrow, though .. In doubles, Nitin and saurav went down to the 3rd seeds today in the QF .. Fazal and Mahesh play their QF tomorrow.

There is some nice coverage of the Mumbai challenger, by Arun Janardhan at the Mid-Day Mumbai newspaper site (now under chalomumbai.com - it's becoming very tough to keep up with where the good tennis scribes are going, and which website is moving under which portal, etc.. Arun used to be with Indian Express earlier) .. Check out the sports page under Midday (http://midday.chalomumbai.com) ..

By the way, one site that appears to have some original and careful coverage of tennis that just came to my notice is India.com .. Check out their sports page at http://sports.india.com .. There are interviews with many people (there was one with Mahesh yesterday), and regular columns written by Nandan Bal and Gaurav Natekar .. Actually I liked a lot of the comments Nandan Bal had made in his couple of columns about our second string players and what they need to do, etc .. Take a look at the India.com sports page .. They seem to be serious about covering sports other than cricket .. Thank God for all such sports sites!

At the women's satellite leg-1 in Chennai, no surprises today, as the top remaining three seeds and Samrita Sekhar reached the semifinals .. #1 Sonal plays #4 Radhika tomorrow .. That should be a good match .. #3 Archana plays Samrita .. See the Chennai satellite page.

I have not seen today's results from the Rajshahi juniors .. The Independent (Dhaka) reports that Sunil Kumar and Megha Vakharia are the top two seeds for the Grade-3 ITF junior event next week at Dhaka .. This is the highest graded junior event, offering 60 points to the winner (grade-4 offers 40) .. Also, the Chandigarh Tribune mentions that Sunil Kumar and Amanjot Singh are "in the mix" for next week's challenger as well .. The challenger is organized by Paes-en-Sport, and so Sunil and Amanjot, who are under Paes-en-Sport sponsorship would certainly be considered .. The newspaper did not say that they have been offered wildcards though (I think one wildcard may be going to Prakash Amritraj again - the press stories from Mumbai had said that he was going to play at Chandigarh as well, which has to be with a WC unless he was looking at the qualies) .. As for Sunil Kumar, as always, I am not in favor of Sunil playing challengers and all that now .. No point in playing one match and wasting a week .. He needs to be playing against top junior, so as to get enough tough matches where he can try out wrinkles to improve his game .. Also, getting the points from Dhaka would be much better for him to move on into top junior events for the rest of the year .. Actually, Dr.Paes has had a few press comments recently, where he had said quite clearly that Paes-en-Sport is only considering junior events for Sunil Kumar and Vinod Sewa this year till October-November .. Dr.Paes realizes that the competition in the higher levels of junior events is quite intense and that would be the appropriate place for Sunil to refine his game and get ready for the seniors from next year .. That seems to be the correct approach .. Anyway, as of now I am not sure where he will be playing next week - but I think it may be Dhaka.

Feb 14 Note-3

I finally got the complete qualifying results from the Mumbai Challenger - none of the online editions of the newspapapers covered it, except for a few of the scores in the Indian Express .. I was quite surprised at how well Rohan Bopanna, Vinod Sridhar and Manoj Mahadevan played there .. The competition in the qualies were quite intense with the eights seeds being ranked from #310 to #465 .. Only two of those seeds made it to the final round of qualies .. And among the six unseeded players who were in the final round were those three Indians - in the process Vinod Sridhar upset the 3rd seed, #340 Stefano Cobolli (ITA) in a comeback, 46 63 61, Bopanna upset the 7th seed, #446 Todd Perry (AUS), 63 62, and Manoj Mahadevan upset #539 Kobi Ziv (ISR), 63 62 (Ziv had upset the second seed #291 Pequery in the first round) .. Those are some pretty high quality wins for our guys - of the kind our second string players have been unable to pull off lately .. All three unfortunately lost in the final round, though to players ranked #385, #426, and #560 .. Vitali Chvets (#426) who beat 19 yr old Manoj Mahadevan 76 76 to qualify, upset the main draw 5th seed, #213 Marcelo Craca 76 63 the next day .. Whichever way we look, these three guys played some very good tennis over the last weekend, which went completely unnoticed though .. We complain whenever they lose and say our second-string players are worth nothing, but we should also give them credit when they do well! .. So, belated kudos for the wins, guys..

LP plays against Nir Welgreen tomorrow in the second round .. In doubles today, Nitin Kirtane and Saurav Panja reached the quarterfinal after a hard-fought three-setter that they won in a final tiebreaker over the Russians, Derepasko and Pozdnev .. See the Mumbai challenger page.

At the $20K ITF 4-week women's satellites leg-1 in Chennai, the dust settled a bit and Sonal, Radhika and Archana, etc, are in the quarterfinals .. One of the three foreign girls there, Nina Wennerstrom from Sweden, upset the 6th seed Geeta Manohar .. SK Tara beat Sheetal Gautham .. What surprised me were the top seeds in the doubles who played today after a first round bye - Sai Jayalakshmi and Rushmi Chakravarti .. They are not in singles, but only in doubles .. I assume they played this only because this is the first time (perhaps ever) that Chennai (home for them) is hosting a women's international .. I am not sure if they plan to play the whole circuit .. Probably not, as there is nothing much for those two to prove in there - been there, done that! .. Also, they won't qualify for singles in the masters leg with WTA points without playing all the first three legs; so this must be just a one-week thing .. Actually what I find nice is that 19 yr old Sonal Phadke decided to play this circuit.  She is in fact ranked above Rushmi who is at #508 .. With her ranking of #436 and with about 30 WTA points already in her list, Sonal really didn't stand to gain much with 5 maximum points after four weeks of grind, except to play a good number of matches and improve herself .. That shows good commitment from her .. Wish there were more quality players there to give her competition (#485 Shruti Dhawan would have been nice) .. The next highest ranked player after Sonal is Archana who at #645 and 13.5 WTA points, can use the points .. Radhika Tulpule is a quality player in the field, along with a few others .. See the Chennai satellite page.

Feb 14 Note-2

Correction from earlier -- LP was not to play singles today at the Mumbai challenger .. I had missed the fact that this is a full seven-day challenger, which is unusual for India .. Almost all our events are 6 day events ending on saturday (normally because doordarshan wants to cover the final on a Sunday instead of prempting the sunday movie, or something like that .. Perhaps also because it is cheaper for the organizers to do it in 6 days) .. This time (and next week), the challenger ends on Sunday, however .. That means four remaining second round matches will be tomorrow .. Today, the 3rd seed Kutsenko got upset by Branislav Sekac .. Mahesh and Fazal won the first round of doubles as well .. See the Mumbai challenger page.

Feb 14 Note-1

Nirupama went down in doubles yesterday at the Doha WTA, in the company of Sandra Nacuk, against Rittner and Nagyova, 16 06 .. She wil be off to Dubai for next week's WTA event .. That is a grade-II event, rated higher than the Doha event .. I hope she won't have trouble sqeezing into the qualifying draw.

At Mumbai, LP next plays unseeded Nir Welgreen (ISR) in the second round today .. Welgreen beat the 7th seed Filippo Messori (ITA) 61 62 yesterday .. See the Mumbai challenger page.

At the Chennai leg of the ITF women's circuit, the first round got done yesterday .. 17 yr old Samrita Sekhar (sponsired by the Tamil Nadu Tennis Association) pulled off an upset of the 6th seed Arthi Venkatraman .. Arthi has had a few tough losses lately .. Sheetal Gautham, T.Yamini, Geeta Manohar, etc, advanced to the second round .. The second seed in the original list, a Japanese girl, failed to turn up .. There is one Australian and one Swedish in the list for token foreign presence .. That's OK, as this is basically a set of nice domestic events with some WTA point in the end and some decent prize money to help our upcoming women stay in match shape.

At the Rajshahi Grade-4 ITF junior international, top seed Sunil Kumar got upset 64 62 by Wang Cheng Hsieh of Taiwan ranked in the 200s .. Vinod Sewa also got upset - 76 62, by Ki-Seong Kim of Korea ranked in the 300s .. Nishank Mishra and Rohan Gajjar reached the quarterfinals there .. I have not seen all the girls' results, but Megha Vakharia has reached the QF there.

Feb 13 Notes

Leander did not give Mustafa any breathing room at all, today at the Mumbai challenger .. L.Paes d. (wc) M.Ghouse (IND,959), 60 61 .. Not a good day for Mahesh .. He lost 36 26 to the 4th seed Dennis van Scheppingen .. In other matches, Prakash Amritraj put up some fight for a set before going down to the 2nd seed Vincenzo Santopadre (ITA, 179), 46 16 .. Fazaluddin, unfortunate to draw the top seed Filippo Volandri (ITA,161), went down after some resistance for an hour and 45 minutes, 57, 46 ..

Nirupama was scheduled to play the first round of doubles at the Qatar WTA this afternoon .. No news yet.

Feb 12 Note-3

Some good news to report .. There was a little change in the latest ITF junior world rankings released a few hours back .. The #19 junior doubles player in the world, and the #50 singles player is not listed under USA anymore, but under IND .. Yes, Prakash Amritraj is now officially listed under INDIA by ITF, as of today!! .. Cool stuff eh? .. I had expected this to happen some time but wasn't sure when he would officially change to Indian colors .. I will change my page for the Mumbai challenger and list him under India too, though he does not have an official ATP listing as he has not played any pro events yet .. That gives us four top-100 players in the juniors, #50 Prakash, #65 Sunil Kumar, #81 Vinod Sewa and #85 Amanjot Singh .. The first three are in their last year in the juniors .. The doubles rankings are #19 for Prakash, #84 for Sunil, #85 for Vinod .. On the girls' side, Sania got back the #1 spot from Megha again .. She is at #83 and Megha is at #91 .. Sania has three more years and Megha has one more .. Sasha Abraham, Sania's doubles partner from Hyderabad, is at #166 (she is 15 and has two more years) ..

By the way, Prakash is considered one of the best net-players, if not THE best, among the juniors in the world .. Actually Harsh Mankad was telling me just this week about a US college coach commenting on Prakash as the best doubles player he has ever seen among American juniors (not that he is bad in singles!) .. He was highly recruited, before Univ of Southern California landed him (he will be a freshman there next year, under coach Dick Leach and son Rick Leach who will be an assistant coach there) .. I remember a Thai newspaper writing about him a couple of years back when he played one of his first junior tournaments .. He lost after upsetting a couple of seeds, but the newspaper, rather than write about who won the match, wrote about how impressive Prakash was - "relentlessly attacked the net, throwing caution to the wind" or some stuff like that .. And I thought - hey, he is Vijay's son; what else do you expect ? .. But, before we get carried away, Prakash has some ways to go before he can be ready for prime time .. He too, like Sunil Kumar, has not performed all that consistently in the grade-2 and better tournaments .. But, both these guys have tremendous potential, and his addition to the mix helps reduce our anxiety at least a bit, about where Indian tennis will be in a few years, after LP and MB .. Both are almost identical in age - 17 .. Prakash turns 18 in October, Sunil turns 18 in April.

Also, AITA announced today that they will continue the excellent program they started last year - sending a team of Indian kids to the tough far east junior ITF circuit (actually the six kids who went last year had a very tough time winning much - thank God we did not stop doing it because of that) .. AITA will send four boys and four girls this time, with a coach and a manager .. The boys are - Sunil Kumar, Vinod Sewa, Rohan Gajjar and Nishank Mishra .. The girls are - Sania Mirza, Megha Vakharia, Sasha Abraham and Ankita Bhambri .. They will have Sandeep Kirtane coaching them during the circuit (he is already coaching Megha and Rohan) .. The manager will be Naseema Mirza, Sania's mother who has been traveling with her and has been her constant encouragment .. Sounds like a nice compact team .. The glaring omission which will surprise the heck out of everybody, is that Amanjot Singh was not taken in .. According to the Times of India, the AITA secretary Anil Khanna quite bluntly said that his exclusion was "on disciplinary grounds" .. We have seen newspaper reports about Amanjot's volatility, but I don't know if there was any specific action that caused this .. Unfortunate, anyway .. The newspaper says that the Chandigarh Lawn Tennis Association (CLTA) has not received any written reprimand, and were surprised at the AITA decision .. I hope things will get worked out and Amanjot will clean up his act (whetever it is!) in the end, rather than be discouraged by this .. After all he is only a 16 year old .. Let's hope that somebody would work with him to help him through this - teenage psyche is fragile, and we should keep that in mind .. He is very talented, and is our highest ranked 16 yr old - we certainly don't want to lose him .. But, as for sending the team abroad, good work by AITA .. The circuit goes through Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Philippines, starting on Mar 12th, after a two-week break following the Dhaka grade-3 next week .. The first week in Malaysia is a grade-3 and the next three weeks will be grade-2 events .. Expect some good competition.

No Indians were in action at the Mumbai challenger .. Light schedule with only 6 main draw singles matches .. Two seeds (Craca and Andy Ram) fell today .. LP, MB, Fazal, Prakash and Mustafa will all be in action on Tuesday .. I have added the draws in the Mumbai challenger page.

At the Chennai ITF women's satellites leg-1 first round, Sonal, Radhika etc moved to with no trouble .. No surprises from there .. I will have a page soon.

Feb 12 Note-2

Forgot to mention earlier that the 20K ITF 4-week satellite circuit for women ($5K total proze money each week) is starting at Chennai today .. It is one of those rare satellite circuits, which only India and Mexico seem to conduct - called the ITF "developmental circuit", which is really a pretty tough way to make 5 paltry WTA points at best .. It does serve as a pretty good idea to provide matchpractice to our women and provide some prize money each week for them to break even and keep going .. Often there are only Indians in the circuit, though a couple of top-750 caliber women from abroad sometimes show up .. WTA points are awarded only based on the performance in the final week (5 for winner, 4 for runner-up, 2 for SF, 1.5 for QF, 1 for making the 16-size draw for masters based on the first three weeks' performance) .. Basically it should be looked at as four domestic events of roughly Rs. 2.25 lakhs prize money, which isn't a bad idea .. But we do need more $10K weekly events for women - these satellite circuits are no replacement for that.

Anyway, Sonal Phadke, Radhika Tulpule, etc are there in the list at Chennai .. I don't think they have enough participants to fill up 32 slots in the draw though .. I will have a page soon with results .. More later.

The ITF junior subcontinental circuit has moved to Bangladesh, where there seems to be a big number of Taiwanese and Korean players also joining the frey .. They had three rounds of qualifying over the weekend ..  Two Indians (Rishi Behl and Karan Rastogi) qualified in, along with two Koreans .. Sunil Kumar and Megha Vakharia are the top seeds in the event .. The main draw started today .. See the Rajshahi juniors page .. I hope to find scores during the week, but not sure.

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!

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the weeks ending on Feb 12 ..

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.