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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Feb 26, 2001
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Feb 26 Notes

LP and MB are playing at Dubai this week - probably wednesday .. I don't think Niru is playing anywhere .. The two chellengers this week are at Minneapolis in USA and at Bendigo in Australia .. I have not seen the Minneapolis main draw yet, but there is good news from Bendigo .. Manisha, Sai Jayalakshmi, and perhaps Rushmi Chakravarti also have made the main draw there .. Manisha and Sai were in the main draw when entries closed, and Rushmi was #2 in waiting .. We will wait for main news from there on the main draw, which starts only on Wednesday there, I believe.

In India, the 3rd leg of the $20K four-week women's satellites are at Mumbai this week .. Archana Venkatraman, who won the first leg has withdrawn from this week's event (not sure if she has some injury - she was off-color at Bangalore) .. Radhika Tulpule who missed the second leg at Bangalore, is playing this week though .. Will start a page for this event soon.

There is a good AITA ranking event this week at Mumbai for men also .. Most of the top domestic players should be there.

Feb 25 Notes

Oh darn .. At Dubai, Fazal went down in three sets, 75 46 67(5) to #155 Tomas Behrend (GER) in the second and final round of qualifying .. Shoot - so close to make it in to the main draw - a couple of points away from playing Dominik Hrbaty  .. A loss is never to be celebrated, but this was a terrific match against a top-200 player by Fazal .. Despite all the criticism he gets from the Indian press every time he loses, Fazal continues to fight on .. Keep at it, Faz!

Agency news wire reports from Dubai say that Paes-Bhupathi are now confirmed to play doubles at Dubai .. There were some concerns there, about whether they would be playing, as Hesh had taken last week off to rest his shoulder (and had even made some comments a few weeks back that LP-MB might go to the San Jose ATP in USA, to play doubles) .. I guess it is all put to rest and the Indian Express fans in the gulf will get to see them again .. Time to pick up a title again -- they were champions at Dubai in 1998 and hadn't done that well in 1999 .. They couldn't play last year as Hesh was in injury-rehab .. By the way, LP was supposed to fly to Mumbai to play a charity event to raise funds for the Gujrat earthquake relief today .. He said after the semifinal yesterday in Chandigarh that his serving arm was a bit tired, but that this was an important enough event and so he would play today in Mumbai .. The arm thing is nothing serious .. Just the result of having played 10 singles match in 15 days .. I guess he needs a couple days rest, that's all ..  I assume they will play their first round either on Tuesday or even Wednesday there in Dubai.

As I was typing that, I got the draw info also -- LP-MB play wildcards Alex Corretja and Nicolas Kiefer in the R1 at Dubai .. They could potentially face the top seeds Kafelnikov-Mirnyi (that's a very tough team!) in the second round

Feb 24 Note-2

Great news from Dubai! .. Fazaluddin pulled off a big upset over the 6th seed in the qualies, Oscar Burrieza (ESP,278), 63 64 to reach the second and final round of qualies at the $1M Dubai Duty Free Open ATP! .. Wow .. Just when we thought Fazal was hitting rock-bottom, he comes out with something neat like that .. Go Fazal! .. He faces 4th seed Tomas Behrend (GER,155) in the final qualies .. Behrend beat the other Indian wildcard in the qualies, old pal Zeeshan Ali, 62 63 today .. The next match will be very tough for Fazal, but if his confidence is there, he can do much more than what he has been doing lately .. And it may be true that Fazal does better when he is away from the close scrutiny he is put through whenever he plays in India.

Qualifier Noam Okun (ISR) won the other semifinal in Chandigarh, upsetting the second seed Andy Ram, 64 64 .. See the Chandigarh page.

Feb 24 Note-1

Despite all the hard work and some good and exciting tennis for two weeks, I think LP fell a bit short of what he had to do, in terms of points, in the two challengers .. Lee went down in a close one today .. #1 D.vanScheppingen (NED,188) d. #6 L.Paes (IND,240), 75 75 .. LP kept having trouble holding his serve - broken in games 5, 9 and 11 of the first set, even though he broke Dennis a coupld of times too .. Lot of double faults from both players .. Leander picked up 22 ATP points .. So, from two weeks of challengers, he picked up 44 points from two semis .. He had 62 points to defend from last year -12 from the Kolkata QF that fell off this week and 50 from Mumbai that fall off on March 5th .. That will drop his points total from 155 this week to 127 on March 5th and his ranking to just around #270 .. Then he has 8 points falling off in march and 5 in may - and he has nothing to defend till October-November .. So, about #275 is the lowest he will go to, and he can only go up from there .. But that doesn't mean that it will be easy for Lee to pick up points and go back up .. Doubles will need to take priority for quite a few weeks from now on, and LP cannot get into the qualies of the masters events (Indian Wells, Monte Carlo, Rome, Hamburg and perhaps even Lipton)  .. He will get to play qualies at FO and Wimbledon, and perhaps one or two grass events .. He may find a week or two somewhere to play challengers too .. Looking closely at the calendar, I find that basically he will only get about 6 or 7 events to play singles at (including even qualies), till the end of the grass season five months from now in mid July .. It will be tough to pick up even 100 or 150 points in that period .. It will be a tough climb back, but he seems to want to do it ..

An additional problem is that Leander needs to stay fresh .. He cannot keep playing 10 singles matches in two weeks like he has done just now (including two tough ones in China) .. He said in the post-match interviews this week how his service accuracy goes down when he is mentally and physically tired, even though he is fit enough to keep playing tough .. This was very clear this week .. That means he has to plan very very carefully for the weeks when he will be playing singles .. It is very tough to do that while playing doubles also - and from a money stand-point also, he and Hesh need to play doubles in quite a few places till they are back to their old form and can afford to skip a lot of events and focus on just the grand slams and a few masters events .. Next week is an example .. LP-MB haven't played doubles for a while and probably will have to play the $1M Dubai, because of the prize money, and the fans/friends they have out there .. That means he absolutely has to take a week off after that before the masters events .. If there were only singles involved, he would be definitely taking the next week off and going to Scottsdale qualifiers in the US .. Instead I think he will be going to Dubai, then has to take a week off after that, and then ends up playing three weeks of Indian Wells  and Lipton where he probably won't get to play even the qualies of singles due to the low ranking .. He is in a very tough spot .. But Lee has always been a fighter - one never knows what he will do!

20 yr old Radhika Mandke won her first satellite title today, beating 17 yr old Nandita Chandrasekhar, 67(4) 63 64 .. It has been a long time in waiting for Radhika .. She was always good during the junior days, but was also always in the shadow of Sheetal, Shruti, Radhika Tulpule and Sonal .. She even made a swing to some place in the US last for college tennis I think, but I don't think she stayed for too long .. Anyway, this week's performance will give Radhika a lot of confidence to stay on and take on the best in the domestic circuit .. That is one more serious player to improve the domestic competition .. This developmental circuit is perhaps doing exactly what it is supposed to do, in terms of improving the domestic competition and providing match practice to the women players .. See the Bangalore satellite page.

Feb 23 Note-2

LP plays the SF at Chandigarh against Dennis van Scheppingen tomorrow .. LP had last met him at the Mumbai challenger final about exactly a year back .. LP came out ahead then .. He could really use any point now, and a couple more wins to pick up a title and 50 points would be much better than ending withg 22 points like last week (he has the Mumbai points, 50 of them, falling off next week) .. Go LP!

I am not sure where Niru is playing next week .. I had heard from some Gulf sources that Fazal had got a wildcard at the Dubai Open qualies, along with Zeeshan Ali (Dubai men's event is next week, following the women's event this week) .. I saw the Zeeshan announcement in the Dubai newspapers, but had not seen official confirmation on Fazal's wildcard .. It looks like they will both be in action there over the weekend.

Sunil Kumar won his first grade-3 title at Dhaka today, beating Kai-Ling Chang of Taiwan in straight sets (I don't have the exact score yet) .. So, a clean sweep by India at the grand finale of the subcontinental ITF circuit, following Sania's title in the girls' section yesterday .. Sunil also picked up 60 ITF points, which will raise his world junior ranking to somewhere around #55 with nothing to defend for a few months as well .. After a bit of confusion between senior and junior events last year, I think Sunil has really steadied up himself .. Now, it's time to face some of the top-50 and top-100 quality players for the rest of the year at higher-graded events ..  Things are on the right track with him .. Paes-enSport will continue to keep him in the junior circuit for a few more months and they expect to have him hit the senior events starting with some ATP satallites and futures after the US Open in September, according to Dr. Vece Paes' comments a few days back.

I have posted the latest AITA rank lists at the Calendar/ Results/ Ranking archive page .. Take a look!

Feb 23 Note-1

Leander reached the semifinal at the Chandigarh challenger today! .. Easy match for him,  [QF]  #6 L.Paes d. #4 F.Cermak (CZE,234), 64 61  .. He faces the top seed Dennis Van Scheppingen (NED,188) tomorrow in the semi .. The other semi is between two Israelis - Andy Ram and qualifier Noam Okun .. See the Chandigarh challenger page .. Today, LP started with an ace, but was broken in game three after he saved three break attempts .. But, after being down 2-4, he won 10 of the next 11 games, breaking Cermak in the 8th and 10th games of the first set and the 2nd and 6th games in the second set.

At the Bangalore ITF women's satellites, two players reached their first satellite final by packing off foreigners .. Nandita Chandrasekhar beat Jordanna Seymore of Australia in a close one, 46 75 76(6) and Radhika Mandke took care of Nina Wennerstrom of Sweden, 62 64 .. See the Bangalore satellite page.

Feb 22 Note-2

Good news from Bangladesh .. Sania Mirza won the biggest title of her career and her second title abroad, today at the Dhaka grade-3 ITF junior event .. S.Mirza d. Chen Yi (TPE), 63 75 .. (in the semifinal yesterday, Sania d. So Jung Kim, 64 63) .. She picked up 60 ITF points .. That will raise her points total from 190 to around 240 and her world junior ranking from #83 to about #60 .. Wow! .. That is almost incredible for someone that young to be ranked that high .. For comparison, our previous best ranking was around #55 that Uzma reached when she was about 4 years older! .. If somebody told me a couple of years back that there would be one of our 14-yr olds qualifying into wimbledon juniors, I would have fainted, but Sania has been slowly coming up and so this isn't a surprise .. There are about 4 or 5 fourteen-yr olds in the world top-100, but Sania is the youngest among them (the next younger player is ranked #160) .. Remember that there are definitely a few top young prospects around the world in top coaching academies who have not started playing ITF events; so don't count on Sania to be the next Hingis yet! .. She still needs to show a lot more against the East European and other western players before we can say more, but so far she is showing all signs of becoming a world-class player .. She had reached a semifinal in one of the two events she played in Europe as a 13 yr old last year, but she did not do as well in the three events in the US late last year .. What was very impressive was how well she had played against some of the older and stronger players even in those few losses - mostly three sets losses where she pulled off at least a second set comeback or some tiebreaker sets, etc .. She has a 31-13 record in ITF events in the last one year with 25 straight set wins, and among those 13 losses, 8 were three-setters too .. The 26 36 loss to top-10 ranked Alyssa Cohen (USA) at Edie Herr championships was the only time she was kept to less than 6 games .. She has not lost to any Indian juniors in a year either and has won all 10 of those matches .. Only one Indian (Isha Lakhani) managed to even win a set against Sania in the last year (last Indian to beat her was Nandita Chandrasekhar at the Colombo grade-3 final in 2000 January) .. I am watching this kid's results very very closely, but let us not tell her any of her records :-) .. As long as she is enjoying playing and does not feel any pressure (she is too young to feel any!), she should keep improving .. She will also need to definitely take a break for serious coaching somewhere too, along the way .. All our best wishes go to this young lioness from Hyderabad.

And, lest I forget, Sunil Kumar is doing fine too .. He reached the final yesterday, beating Hyun-Joon Suk (KOR), 63 63 .. Today was the day off in boys singles at Dhaka .. Sunil plays the final tomorrow, against Kai-Lung Chang of Taiwan who upset the second seed Vinod Sewa 76 63 yesterday .. Sunil has picked up 45 points and can make it 60 tomorrow .. He has now defended all the points he had to defend in Jan-Feb and will go to the far east events with a ranking around 55-60 .. He has nothing to defend till June now, and should make the FO and Wimbledon junior draws rather easily, if he picks up some 40-50 points more by then .. The subcontinental circuit has gone well for our kids this time.

Amanjot Singh also was in a final at Dhaka .. Amanjot and Kai Lung Chang (Taipei) lost to Wang Cheng Hsieh and Wu Yi Wang today in the boys' doubles title match, 67(8) 36 ..

Feb 22 Note-1

There were some upsets today at the Chandigarh challenger, as two qualifiers reached QF, and the 5th seed Jamie Delgado fell .. Andy Ram, the second seed who was a top-20 junior a couple of years back, was the only one who avoided an upset ..  Leander plays his next round tomorrow (Friday) .. See the Chandigarh challenger page ..

As for yesterday's matches, the newspaper reports show that though the scoreline showed a relatively easy match for LP, it was far from it, with his service not cooperating .. He had some 18 break attempts on his serve by Stepanek, but he averted trouble in all but 2 or 3 of them! .. LP seems to have all his shots working and is generally fit too, but not everything seems to be working at the same time .. He has enough with him to stay ahead of most players out there though ..

As for Fazal, it was another bad day .. His sliced backhands were just not working yesterday and he lost a lot of points on that, along with another problem he has had for a while, which is that he has been very mistake-prone at the net .. The latter problem is tough, for somebody like Fazal who has a lot of net skills ..

As for no Indians except LP making it to the second round, there were some pretty harsh comments from the outspoken Hindustan Times correspondent, S.Kannan -- Although Indian tennis has done away with domestic circuit, replacing it with ITF events, there is still no one in sight who can make a mark and justify the prize money .. It is against this backdrop that Fazaluddin and company need to do some soul-searching and start winning some matches .. “We really do not know what to do,” says Shyam Minotra, chairman of the All India Tennis Association Selection Committee, who watched haplessly as Fazaluddin and Ghouse lost their matches. While Fazal's first-round match against Sweden's Per Thornadtsson ended too quickly today, with the Davis Cupper not being able to string together even a few points at a stretch, Ghouse had his chances in plenty .. Shyam Minotra's comment on not knowing what to do, is not off the mark ..

AITA announced today that they will continue the training-camp idea from last year before the satellites .. A selected team will practice for six days under Nandan Bal's watch, before the 4-week ATP satellites start in 2 weeks .. The team is - Rohan Bopanna, Vinod Sridhar, Mustafa Ghouse, Vishal Uppal and Prakash Amritraj .. The idea did not work last year (none of the seven guys last year did anything notable in the satellites; only Harsh Mankad who was in the US showed something), but good to see that AITA is not giving up .. I do have to hand it to AITA for continuing to do these things despite none of it working (quite a change from a few years back) .. The worst thing to do in sports is to start and stop these things on a knee-jerk basis .. Keep at it, and good things will eventually happen .. Having said that, I generally don't think these short camps do much good in tennis, except if it is on some specific topic to teach them self-confidence, mind-control or yoga or something like that .. Coaching in tennis is a long-term effort and this needs to be done on a long-term basis .. Some idea needs to be worked out to provide travel coaching help to our players on a long-term basis .. A few of them can travel together and even share a portion of expenses of a coach if AITA covers the rest (I heard this idea from the father of one of our second-string players, and thought it has some merit) .. Anyway, this time the AITA camp is a good idea, because coach Nandan Bal will be with them all the way through the four weeks of satellites too ..  By the way, have we given up on Vijay Kannan already ?  .. It's too early for that .. I would have preferred to see the relatively younger ones like him and Manoj Mahadevan in the group, rather than Vishal Uppal who is pretty much a senior player .. So is Vinod Sridhar, but he has rarely been in the thick of things, despite doing a lot in domestic tennis - good to see him get some help like this .. But then again, we can pick anybody from a group of over 10 players and they all seem to be in exactly the same boat, with the same kind of problems!

At the Bangalore ITF satellites, Nandita Chandrasekhar, the 17 yr old talented power-tennis player who has been teasing us with some great tennis and a lot of inconsistent play for a while (she is one of the toughest players to predict - she could beat anybody at home but lose to anybody too!) came through with a big win today over top seed Sonal Phadke in three sets .. Sheetal Gautam had a good match, but once again lost in a tough one, 64 57 57 to Jordanna Seymore of Australia (and according to Prajwal Hegde in Deccan Herald, she was done in also by an atrocious line call at 40-30 in the very final game where she was broken -- where the heck do we find these linespersons from?) .. Sheetal has a lot of talent and very intelligent shotmaking abilities, but she got tired by the middle of the second set today .. The same old problem, but she hung in there and kept chasing down whatever she could manage .. Nina Wennerstrom of Sweden beat Liza Pereira .. Radhika is the 4th semifinalist .. See the Bangalore satellites page.

No news from Bangladesh on the semifinals of the grade-3 ITF junior event .. I think none of the news outlets had a Feb 22 edition - I guess it is some holiday or something there.

Feb 21 Note-3

Leander did play the second round today, and had a rather easy outing, except for dropping serve once after going up 5-2 in the first set .. L.Paes d. R.Stepanek (CZE,287), 75 63 .. He faces the 4th seed Frantisek Cermak (CZE,234) in the QF, which I believe is on Friday.

Feb 21 Note-2

Mahesh Bhupathi will be doing an online chat from Mumbai, at the India.com site tomorrow (22nd Thursday) at 2 pm .. That is 8.30 am in London and 3.30 am in New York .. It has been a long time since Mahesh has been in a chatroom - we haven't done one at this site in a year and half .. Go to http://sports.india.com and hang out with the guy!

Per Thornadtsson did show up, and played a good match today, defeating Fazal, 63 62 in the first round .. Mustafa went down after the final set, postponed from yesterday - 60 57 26 to lucky loser Donovan September .. That means we have only LP once again in the second round .. He should be playing the R2 match against Stepanek tomorrow .. Four second round matches were played today, I think - will add results in the Chandigarh challenger page soon.

The 3rd and 4th seeded Venkatraman sisters were upset today by Nina Wennertsrom of Sweden and 17 yr old Liza Peraira today at the Bangalore satellites .. Sonal, Sheetal, Nandita etc have moved on to the QF .. Forgot to mention that Radhika Tulpule is not playing this leg, as she got injured during a doubles match last week (I said Radhika won the R1 yesterday - that was Mandke, not Tulpule) .. Sorry to see that she keeps running into injury problems .. Normally one needs to play all of the first three legs to get to the masters leg that gives WTA points, but I think there are some injury exceptions possible, if she can play the next legs .. Not sure how serious the injury is .. Sheetal had a 61 06 60 win over Marutha Devi .. She needs to keep her focus, like she used to do when she was repeatedly beating Shruti, Sonal, Radhika, etc in the juniors, just two years back .. Sheetal is still only 19 and still can be a player to reckon with if she regains some of the confidence she lost during an injury layoff and then a string of losses to the top Indian players .. See the Bangalore satellite page.

Feb 21 Note-1

Not sure if LP is playing his R2 today at Chandigarh .. Probably not .. Fazal should be playing R1 today.

The scoreline sometimes does not show the drama .. LP's match yesterday at the $25K+H Chandigarh challenger was quite an interesting one .. There was a reason why LP got all upset during the second set and courted disaster .. This guy Nir Welgreen was, by all newspaper accounts, acting as a complete %$#%&  (use your choice word!), both in words and actions - picking up two code violations for verbal and visible obscenities .. He was using delaying tactics and court antics - trying everything he could, to get under LP's skin .. And, as LP admitted later, it worked to some extent .. LP himself got into the act, wondering alound if the dude knew anything about court etiquette, etc .. LP also got a code violation for bad words .. As usual, LP regrets it whenever he loses his cool like that, especially in front of his home crowd, he let it bother him, and he ended up losing concentration too to lose a bunch of points and the second set (add some bad light and a drizzle that started when he was up 5-3, to the problems) .. The crowd out there were all with LP though, and he treated them in the end with some very timely serve-and-volley in the 3rd set tiebreaker to finish it off at 7-1 and the show the Welgreen dude who was the boss .. Read the article by S.Kannan in the Hindustan Times,  Kamesh Sreenivasan's report in The Hindu and Ravi Chakravarti's piece in the Deccan Herald .. See the Chandigarh challenger page for all the results so far.

Incidentally, no mention by anybody on what happened to Fazal's match .. I wonder if Per Thornadtson of Sweden ever showed up (he might ot have expected to make the draw as the last entry and probably never came) .. If he is a no-show, Fazal will be playing the second lucky loser (Donovan September replaced Ghoneim of Egypt), Kobi Ziv of Israel.

Another interesting match yesterday was by Prakash Amritraj .. Again, the scoreline did not show the full story on how well the kid played against the top seed .. S.Kannan pretty much crowns him as a definite future super-star for us, and points out that the players back home are really no match for him (though I am sure Sunil vs Prakash would be an interesting match to see sometime!) .. Kannan says - "At this age, if one were to compare Prakash's game with other juniors at home, there is no doubt he is ahead of them by yards, if not miles. The average teenager at home would shiver at the very prospect of taking on the top seed straightaway. But Prakash had no such hassles. His body language, court coverage and overall conduct left an indelible impression that in a matter of years he is going to make his presence felt at home in a big way" .. I am also reminded of how well Sunil Kumar played #96 Ron Agenor in a 46 46 loss as a 16 yr old last year at the Channai ATP .. These two kids do give us a lot of hope .. By the way, Prakash even kisses his cross every now and then - like daddy, like son! .. The ATP web-site today actually listed the score as "D.vanScheppingen d. V.Amritraj, 63 64" .. Come on, did they really think that the UN Amassador was going to wear his tennis shoes and play a challenger ? :-) ..  Vijay said that he was focusing on making sure that Prakash had the six basic shots rather than on his results, and hoped that the boy will continue to enjoy the game like he does now and keep up with the work ethic he is showing now ..

As for Sunil Kumar, he has reached the semifinal of the Grade-3 ITF international at Dhaka, the biggest subcontinental event .. Vinod Sewa and Sania Mirza also reched SF .. Sunil paid back Rohan Gajjar in the QF for upsetting him a couple of weeks back .. Sunil had lost in the first round, and Vinod and Sania in the second last year at Dhaka - so, much better show from them this time .. See the Dhaka juniors results.

Feb 20 Note-3

Nirupama and Holly Parkinson made it into the main draw at the Dubai WTA, but as has been her fate lately in doubles, ended up with the top seeds - Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario and Nathalie Tauziat ! .. They played decently, considering the opposition, but went down 26 46, according to Vinod Pabreja from the Gulf (thanks, man!) .. Niru made over a couple of thousand $$ and 12 singles points from the trip to Dubai, which wasn't futile, after all.

Feb 20 Note-2

LP had some concentration problems today .. Leading 75 52, his focus went walkabout .. He still had a match point off Welgreen's serve in the second set at 6-5, but after a mistake there and a poor tiebreaker, it was big trouble .. LP did come through in fine color in the end though, with a 7-1 final set tiebreaker .. L.Paes d. N.Welgreen (ISR,327), 75 67(1) 76(1) .. It seems like 17 yr old Prakash Amritraj played another decent match, in a 46 36 loss to the top seed #183 Dennis van Scheppingen (NED) .. That means he has gone 46 46 36 46 in his first two challenger matches .. It is impresive that this kid is able to win that many games against two very experienced top-200 players, Santopadre and van Scheppingen (both former top-100 players) ..  The signs are definitely encouraging, about Prakash .. Both Nitin Kirtane and Mustafa Ghouse had good starts but both fizzled after one set (Mustafa's match is at 1-5 in the 3rd, postponed due to rain to tomorrow) .. I am not sure if Fazal got to play his match today.

Feb 20 Note-1

Awaiting the score of LP's first round match today against Welgreen at the Chandigarh challenger (along with other Indians, who were all playing their first round matches today) .. In a doubles match yesterday, Derepasko and Tomashevic beat Mustafa Ghouse and Anton Kokurin .. With none of the decent second stringers showing up Mustafa couldn't even find a decent Indian to play with, I guess  .. I am still upset and puzzled about our players not showing up - even Vijay Amritraj, the diplomat that he is, showed his displasure with a quip like, "may be they are all scared" or something like that .. Actually two doubles wildcards went to foreign teams .. As Mahesh isn't playing this week, Fazal is playing with Nitin Kirtane .. See the Chandigarh challenger page for yesterday's results ..  Funny story from S.Kannan in the Hindustan Times about 21 yr old qualifier Dmitry Mazur upsetting the 3rd seed Ogorodov for the first time in his life yesterday and then running to the ISD booth to call home in Uzbekistan .. Everybody heard a lot of "papa, papa" in the excited conversation, though nobody could understand what he was saying .. Somewhere in Uzbekistan a proud papa must have been excited too!

At Bangalore, the first round got completed today in the ITF 4-week staellite leg-2 .. No big surprises except for an upset by young Ashel Dimi over the 6th seed T.Yamini and a nice win by young girl Iciri Rai (a lucky loser entry - she trains at Bhupathis' Tennis Village)  over T.Sricharanya yesterday .. Sonal, Archana, Arthi, Radhika and Sheetal have all reached the second round .. See the Bangalore satellites page.

At the Dhaka grade-3 ITF juniors, the news about the Sunday matches had a couple of mistakes yesterday - it seems that Karan Rastogi and Arun Prakash went down in the 2nd round .. Sunil Kumar, Vinod Sewa and Rohan Gajjar have reached the quarterfinal after monday's matches .. Nishank Mishra and Vikrant Sane fell yesterday in the 3rd round on Monday .. Sunil faces Rohan in the quarterfinal and will want to pay him back for the upset a couple of weeks back in India .. Sania and Nischella Reddy reached the QF, but Sasha fell in round 2  (Megha got injured in the Rajshahi semi last week and had to withdraw from this event) .. See the Dhaka juniors page for all the results I have.

Feb 19 Note-3

De ja vu .. I really have no words to describe how I feel about Niru's continued troubles in 3rd round qualies .. Today she was up againt one of the young players who has been playing hot tennis lately - Lina Krasnoroutskaya .. Niru played very well but could not close it out like the three-setters in the previous two days (thanks Vinod Pabreja for the update from Gulf) .. Niru even had three break points on Lina's serve to go ahead at 3-3 in the 3rd set, but Lina won 9 of the next 10 points, went up 5-3 and served it out to advance to the main draw .. L.Krasnoroutskaya (RUS,120) d. N.Vaidyanathan (IND,181), 67 63 63 .. Keep going Niru .. The streak will end some day!

I have added the draws at the Chandigarh challenger page .. MB is not playing singles or doubles this week .. I need to find out if there is anything serious about the shoulder .. Probably not .. It is good for him to take frequent breaks like this and watch his shoulder all the time .. Some big events for doubles (Dubai, Indian Wells, Lipton etc) are coming up soon, and breaks are good.

Indian boys had a pretty good day at the Dhaka grade-3 ITF juniors yesterday .. Top seed Sunil Kumar put a stop to the big nine-match win streak of the hot Korean newcomer, Yung Bum Seo, who had qualified in and upset everybody and his uncle to win the title last week .. Sunil didn't find it easy, but he took care of business in a 62 36 64 win .. Vinod Sewa, Rohan Gajjar, Vikrant Sane, Arun Prakash, etc, all won .. On the girls' side I have not got any results for Indians .. Sania and gang may have got first round byes.

Feb 19 Note-2

A small reminder for any player considering playing the 4-week men's satellites starting on March 5th .. The entry deadline is TODAY (Feb 19th) .. According to the ITF website, for entry details, contact (91) 11-617-9062 [I think that is AITA's New Delhi number] .. Entry forms can be downloaded off the ITF website (go to the "when & where" section) .. This is a very convenient satellite circuit even for foreign players, as the locations are all very close to Mumbai .. Actually ITF lists all four weeks to be at Mumbai, but what I have from the AITA calendar is Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune and back to Mumbai for the four weeks .. That's about the easiest travel schedule one can think of in India, all sites being in the Mahrashtra state .. Let us hope there will be good competition at these satellites .. I think all those old ideas about India being a tough places to play in, and about food trouble, etc, are slowly becoming history these days, as we see a lot of foreign players coming back again and again for many events .. Still, the competition in the satellites could be better.

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.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the weeks ending on Feb 19 ..

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.