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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Feb 28, 2000

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Feb 28 Notes

Leander won easily today in the first round at Mumbai, 63 63, over wildcard Saurav Panja .. Other matches - Motevassel d. Dahan 16 64 76(7), Hanquez d. Cobolli 64 62, and Ketola d. Milligan 62 61 .. More later.

Feb 27 Note-2

I have added the complete qualifying results at the Mumbai challenger page, courtesy The Hindu .. There were some interesting results .. Only three Indian players moved to the second round of the 3-round qualies - Vishal Uppal beating Kedar Tembe, Rishi Sridhar beating Vivek Jhaveri and Joshua Fonseca beating Kobi Ziv of Israel .. The proof that bad luck is haunting the Indian players on top the talent gap, is clear when you see that Vishal Uppal was leading by a set and at 5-4 in the second when he went down with an ankle injury and had to concede to Tom Chicoine (who had won the Indian satellite late last year, as you would remember) .. One has to feel sorry for Vishal, in my view the only player who has shown improvement in singles results over the last 5-6 months from India, other than LP and Sunil Kumar .. Anyway, Chicoine went on to qualify, beating Mattias Hellstrom in the 3rd round in straight sets .. But the scores that really gave me a shock, was that Joshua Fonseca beat Kobi Ziv, the winner of Bangalore futures last month, 6-0 6-1 in the first round .. I thought it must have been some problem with Kobi, but then I looked further and found that Joshua then went on to play Dennis Van Scheppingen, a top-100 player not too long back, 6-7(3) 3-6 in the next round .. Dennis also won the 3rd round in stright sets to qualify .. Can somebody tell me about Joshua Fonseca ? .. All I can find in my records is that he is from Maharashtra, has played some u18 events in 1998 in Bombay, and that he has a #66 AITA ranking in the seniors now with 2 or 3 events over the last year .. In the few matches I can find from last year in my records, his losses were pretty cheap ones to basically not-so-hot players  too .. So, what is the story here ? .. Did he just start drinking a lot of Bournevita, or do we really have somebody who just made a big leap in his tennis abilities ? -- [sorry if he is someone I should know, and don't - I am really curious now] .. Vijay Kannan lost 3-6 3-6 to Boris Borgula in the first round (Boris also qualified in) .. What's up with Manoj Mahadevan ? .. He lost 0-6 0-6 to Nicolas Thomann - was Manoj having some health problems - that's is just not like him to lose that cheaply.. Young Benjamin Xavier lost 3-6 5-7 to Per Thornadtsson of Sweden .. Sandeep Kiraten was back in action (first round loss), but Nitin was missing this time .. Vinod Sridhar has basically not been at any of these qualies - I don't know why.

All in all, our second string has had a pretty forgettable season in singles after 2 futures,  3 challengers and the Chennai ATP - mostly playing qualies ..  There seems to be a need for some sort of help right now with some positive advice both technically and mentally for players like Mustafa Ghouse, Vijay Kannan, Vishal Uppal, Rohan Bopanna, Vinod Sridhar, Manoj Mahadevan, Saurav Panja, Vijendra Laad, etc in the 19-22 age range (I hear that AITA may be doing something regarding this) - my feeling is that at least some of them may be beginning to lose heart a bit, finding where they stand in the pros in singles, after playing about a year to two of international events in India .. Except for Harsh Mankad in the US, these guys may be the best out there in the 8 year age range between Sunil Kumar and Fazal, and at least one among them being able to move up to higher levels is pretty critical - we cannot yet give up on them, and they should know that it can't happen without hard work and resolve from their side too! .. Some timely advice may help them get ready for the next chance they get to show improvement - the satellites in June .. The point is that they should stop being "aimless kites" on the pro circuit, as Naresh Kumar said, but set a schedule and plan for their own improvement .. We will see how it goes - I am always an optimistic type!

Feb 27 Note-1

At Mumbai, the draw shows the top seed Leander facing wildcard Saurav Panja in the first round .. Srinath faces a tough guy in the first round, qualifier Tom Chicoine (USA) .. Fazal finally gets an unseeded player though not one of the lower ranked players, Georgio Galimberti (ITA,226) .. Actually Georgio is the top unseeded player - just below the 225th ranked 8th seed Coetzee! -- yeah Fazal, you lucky dog you! :-) ..  But then again, for a quite a few of the recent matches, it's not really the opponent's quality that has troubled Fazal .. He has played them all pretty darn closely - he needs to stop beating himself at key points, start closing out sets and winning the matches - how about right here? .. As for Sri, he just simply needs to play better! .. Sri, Fazal, Saurav and Mustafa were the wildcards .. I don't know whom Mustafa is playing .. The qualifiers determined today are Chicoine, Van Scheppingen, Borgula and Cobolli .. See the final qualifier results, etc, in the new Mumbai Challenger page.

Feb 26 Notes

Fazal has done it! .. Fazaluddin, ranked 309, picked up his first doubles title at the challenger level, with Cedric Kauffman (FRA,256) today, winning the final over Justin Bower (RSA,371) and Damien Roberts (RSA,234), 3-6 6-4 6-4 .. Here is what Ravi Chakravarti has written for Sunday in Deccan Herald  - Fazaluddin, who was all keyed up for first-ever Tour doubles final, kept a cool head under the hot afternoon sun, coming up with some good volleys at the net. With Kaufmann, whose serve was the weak link, also shoring up his armoury, it was only a matter of nerves. Appearing pretty comfortable despite dropping the first set 3-6, the Indo-French pair broke Bower and Roberts once each in the second set to draw level ... Their confidence on a high, Fazaluddin and Kaufmann broke Bower in the fifth game of third set for a 5-3 lead before the Frenchman served out the match, Fazaluddin, fittingly, smashing a backhand volley down the court for the title .. The win gives them $1550 to share and 50 points each .. That takes Fazal's doubles points total to 181 which is good enough for a ranking at around #245 in doubles .. He was #354 last week - and has picked up 72 points now from two weeks, with a semifinal and a title at Calcutta and Chennai, where the Indo-French pair has now upset the 4th seeds last week and the 1st and 3rd seeds this week .. Go Tippu !! .. [sorry for my mistake last night when I said Carraz-Hanquez reached the doubles final --- they had actually lost the semi to Bower-Roberts] .. It's the first challenger doubles title for an Indian in India, since October 1996, which was when LP-MB last played a challenger doubles draw in India - and that was at, where else, Ahmedabad!

Kutsenko won the singles title beatin Motevassel, 6-2 6-4 .. He picked up $3600

At the Grade-3 Dhaka junior ITF international, Shivang Mishra fought hard but fell 6-7(4) 5-7 to Stephen Timu of Canada .. Here is what The Independent wrote - Stephen Timu of Canada banked on sheer speed game to lift the boys' singles title .. Timu with a big physical advantage over his Indian rival exhibited a power game althrough during the 100 minutes battle. Even he did not stop his aggressive game in a crucial moment when he was trailing 0-3 in the tie-breaker. He conceded a number of points due to double faults and forceful drives. However he earned a good number of points utilising his long reach to return Shivang's drop shots ... Shivang, who enjoyed the local crowd support, looked to be more skilful player with his well composed game and in particular he caught Timu at wrong foot with his top spins .. Shivang picked up 45 points for finishing runner-up .. In the doubles final, Timu and Kwon lost to Soren Spanner and Resmus Norby of Denmark 67(3) 36 .. Chani Scheepers (RSA) won the girls title over Su-Wei Hsieh (TPE) 64 61 .. The doubles title went to Hsieh and Prerariavan Ratankrong (THA) who won 75 75 over South Africans, Karin Coetzee and Chanio Scheepers .. So, that finishes the 6 week subcontinental circuit.

Sai Jayalakshmi had reached the quarterfinal this week at the $10K Jakarta-2 satellites -- I have not seen whom she beat in the first two rounds, but she reached QF from the bracket that included the top seed Lara Van Rooyen (#296) of South Africa .. Sai lost in the QF to Young-Ja Choi (398), who was the 6th seed there.

The Mumbai challenger qualies are supposed to have started today - we may know something later today.

Feb 25 Note-2

Fazal has had all kinds of problems closing out sets and coming up with the right winners at the right times, despite playing well, lately in singles - all we can hope is that he will work through those problems - hopefully just some sort of mental funk that sportsmen sometimes get into which can also go away just like that (especially in the case of those like Fazal who aren't really known for such problems in the past) .. Anyway, none of that seems to affect him in doubles .. He reached his first challenger doubles final today, in the company of Cedric Kauffman of France .. They won the doubles semifinal upsetting the top seeds, Coetzee and Ketola 2-6 6-4 6-3 .. Fazal finished off the match with an ace,  to the "raucous" Ahmedabad crowd's "deafening cheers" as reported by Sharda Ugra in The Hindu .. It's nice that the crowd is having some fun, and the Indian interest is continuing till the finals day .. With that, Fazal picked up 35 points to add to the 131 he has now .. That is enough to take him to a career-high ranking around #260 .. Such doubles ranking is always good, because it gives one a chance to make the main draw in doubles and get accommodation (hospitality) at challenger event even if he has to qualify for the singles draw .. Fazal/Kauffman play Carraz and Hanquez in the final - that pair has upset the 4th and 2nd seeds there, and Fazal/Kauffman have upset the 3rd and 1st seeds so far  [correction later -- actually Carraz-Hanquez lost to Bower-Roberts].

The singles final will be between lucky loser Oren Motevassel and Vadim Kutsenko of Uzbekistan .. Kutsenko must certainly like the slow Ahmedabad courts .. Two years back he had beaten Leander there on the way to a title, and this time he has again reached the final .. All the four semifinals, singles and doubles today were three-setters, but the news reports say that the singles semis were pretty boring with basically baseline "keep the ball in play" tennis .. The doubles semi with Fazal reportedly turned out to be an enejoyable match, though .. See the scores in the Ahmedabad challenger page.

AITA has decided to give some travel funds for Fazal and Srinath, according to the Times of India, to travel to three ITF $10K futures events to prepare for the April Davis Cup .. Both need to get their act together in singles -- good to see that AITA has come up with something at the right time when they need some encouragement .. It's always a nice gesture to show our players that they are important and that we count on them enough - India has no choice but to hope for Fazal and Sri to play to the best of their abilities, till Mahesh gets back .. Again, they need to learn to take up the trust and run with it, rather than feel pressure when asked to perform for the country .. Let us wish Fazal and Sri well .. They just have to perform, or we are left with no margin of error and LP will have to single-handedly win three matches against Korea - knowing the Koreans, we can expect that they will make LP earn every point, too .. Fazal or Sri catching one of them napping would make things so much easier .. They will be travelling to Japan - Takamori (starting Mar 13), Shirako (Mar 20), and Isawa (Mar 27) are where the Japanese futures are scheduled .. The first two weeks will be on artifical grass (about the closest you can get to grass in a futures outside India, I guess), but the 3rd week is on outdoor clay .. Not ideal, but they will get  4 or 5 days of practice at Delhi after that to get used to grass at RK Khanna stadium before the Davis Cup starting on Apr 7th .. What is most important is that they have to get some wins under their belt in singles .. Right now, neither Sri nor Fazal appear mentally ready to play winning tennis in singles against anybody - I am sure they will get over it.

Feb 25 Note-1

At the Grade-3 Dhaka ITF junior international in Bangladesh yesterday, Shivang Mishra who turned 17 this month, reached what I think is his first ITF final - and what a good tournament to do that in! .. He beat Rasmus Norby of Denmark, 64 75 in the semifinal .. Shivang was to play Stephen Timu of Canada in the final today .. Timu had beaten Taichi Wada of Japan 64 63 yesterday in the other semifinal .. Norby had beaten top seed Ahmad Wahla (PAK) and Wada had beaten second seed Amanjot Singh earlier, as I reported yesterday .. In the doubles semifinal, Sunil Kumar and Ahmad Wahla lost 16 26 to Norby and Spanner of Denmark yesterday, putting Norby/Spanner against Timu and Kris Kwon (USA) in the final .. The girls singles final is between Chani Scheepers (S.Africa) and Su-Wei Hsieh (Taiwan) .. Hsieh and Ratankrong (THA) play Scheepers and Coetzee in the doubles final .. This is the most competitive tournament that I remember in the subcontinent in a while, and it's heartening to see an Indian in the singles final .. We had no boys even in the semi last year at the Dhaka Grade-3, and only P.Ravikrishna made even the QF .. Both Radhika and Sheetal reached the girls semis and lost last year .. Though seeded #4 this week, Shivang is one I did not expect to see in the final, what with more talked-about players like Sunil Kumar, Sofian, Wahla and Amanjot in the field .. Shivang, who has 85 points this week from 18 tournaments now has picked up enough points to move up to a similar ranking or ahead of Sunil Kumar who at #121 the highest ranked Indian in the ITF ranks, with 120 pts this week ..  Shivang seems to be having some sort of  break-out tournament, after having played a lot of ITF events over the last year with much less success .. He is ranked 3rd in the AITA under-18 rankings (behind AV Rao and Sunil Kumar), largely based on his ITF points, as he hardly has any points from domestic competitions .. He did not play the DSCL nationals last year, I believe - and has perhaps played a lot more foreign events than domestic events, going to some tough tournaments in places like Thailand! ..  Is Shivang one we should be taking a closer look at ? .. It certainly seems so .. The job isn't done for him, as Timu will be a tough customer in the final, but a splendid show so far.

Feb 24 Note-2

Fazal and Kauffman reached another challenger doubles semi today - this time the easy way, as they got a walkover from Nicolas Thomann and Filippo Volandri, as Volandri was sick .. They face the top seeds Coetzee and Ketola next .. In the QFs of singles, Volandri retired against lucky loser Oren Motevassel of Israel early in the match .. Oren will get to play another lucky loser in the semi, as Lior Dahan flatly took out Mark Nielsen of New Zealand, who has been playing very well lately, having beaten Paradorn in Davis Cup, and then doing well for a couple of rounds in what may be his first trip to India .. With Dahan facing Motevassel in semis, we are assured of an Israeli in the final once again (last week it was Andy Ram) .. The other final is between Kutsenko and Coetzee .. The latter played a good three-setter to upset  Tuomas Ketola who was on a seven match win streak in India including the title at Kolkata last week .. See the Ahmedabad challenger page.

Sunil Kumar and Ahmed Wahla of Pakistan had reached the semifinal of doubles at Dhaka yesterday .. They were to face last week's runners up, Rasmus Norby and Soren Spanner of Denmark (who had lost to CS MOhanty and Karan Doctor last week in the final at Rajshahi) .. No news yet on how the doubles semis went today.

Feb 24 Note-1

Forgot to mention the scores from Ahmedabad yesterday (wednesday) .. Srinath-Sourav lost a three-setter in the first round of doubles .. Double-SP may need some more time to get their thing going, as Saurav is just returning from a wrist injury .. Ghouse-Uppal also lost, and so only Fazal in the company of Kauffman remain as the Indian still standing there .. Will report the thursday scores later at the Ahmedabad challenger page ..

Just found that the April 10 and April 17 ITF women's circuit $10K events at Mumbai and Delhi are officially on the ITF calendar .. So AITA was right in their stated confidence last week that ITF would approve those events, despite their reluctance due to there being circuit events in Jakarta and China at the same time .. The entry deadlines are on March 13th and 20th respectively for the two events .. Let us hope that our women players will enter for qualifiers in large numbers (:-)) -- there have been cases where our players have stayed away from tournaments - a practice that doesn't speak well of their own drive to make something out of the opportunities provided .. For the last two years the women have complained about not getting international events .. Here they are - and once again AITA has put the ball in the players' court!

4th seed Shivang Mishra (who turned 17 just recently) won the QF at the Dhaka ITF juniors on wednesday over CS Mohanty (76 64) to reach the semi against Rasmus Norby of Denmark .. Actually, Shivang is the only seeded player remaining there [the seedings there seemed to be based on rankings a few week back and that is one of the problems at the beginning of every year in the juniors] .. Sunil was unseeded and lost in first round to seeded Sofian .. Sofian retired due to sickness, while behind at 36 02 in the QF against Norby ..  In another QF, Parantap Chaturvedi lost 26 63 16, to Taichi Wada (JPN), a kid who just turned 16 and seems to be coming up .. Amanjyot Singh, our u16 national champ who turns 16 this week and is ranked #161 in the ITF, was the second seed at Dhaka, but had also lost in the first round to Wada of Japan .. Another top seed who fell early was the #1 seed Ahmad Wahla of Pakistan, who was beaten by Norby in the first round .. The fourth QF had Stephen Timu of Canada beating  Tung Yu Hu of Taiwan .. Good to see Shivang making it to the semi, though he has not had to face the tough customers out there, yet .. Shivang is ranked at #173 in the world with 85 points this week, but to some extent his ranking is a bit deceptive, as he has played a lot of events - 18 in total during the last 12 months, traveling on his own to a lot of foreign events .. In comparison, Sunil has played just 4 events, and has 120 points .. It's rare for juniors to play more than 10 to 12 ITF internationals .. Shivang certainly deserves the breaks he gets, for going all-out like that .. CS Mohanty, ranked #238 with seven ITF events, is a very good player, and the win over him may be an indication of the improvements Shivang has made with all the hard work.  I have not seen the doubles scores from Dhaka to know if any Indians remain on the boys and girls side .. In girls's singles, the semis are between the South Africans, Karin Coetzee and Chani Scheepers, and between Su-Wei Hsieh (TPE) and Kumiko Ijima (JPN).

Feb 23 Note-3

Just heard from a trustworthy press friend that the one who beat Sunil Kumar in the first round at Dhaka this week, was none other than the Armenian, Haroutioun Sofian, whom he faced in the final at Rajshahi just two days back and beaten .. I don't know the score, but I guess these two are even now! .. I have to guess that Sunil just missed out being seeded, and thus ended up playing seeded Haroutioun (Sunil had only 80 points and a rank near 170 last week, and thus he was unseeded, even though he is up to 121 this week with 120 points) .. Anyway, at least it was a quality opponent who beat Sunil! .. I have a feeling that Sunil and Sofian will meet a few times again in their career! .. Unfortunately, I also just got word that Sofian fell sick today and has withdrawn from the Dhaka tournament .. I am told that he will not be playing the far east circuit, and will be flying home to Armenia now.

As though AITA heard me write about the need for a coach to go with our kids to foreign events just today - I just saw this report in The Hindu .. They are actually sending a team of 4 players to the Far East circuit starting on March-6th (Grade 3 at Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur, followed by grade 2 at Singapore, Bangkok, Manila, ending in the big grade-1 Japan open) .. The BIG news is that they have appointed T.Chandrashekharan, from what I know one of the best in the business in India, as the coach for the team too ! .. Hallelujah!! .. I have been asking for this for a long time now (see my Jan 4, note-1 here and my Jan 27 Note-1 in 1999 here) and was disappointed that Sunil and company were not sent to the big circuit last year .. AITA talked about sending players abroad with a coach in late 97, but never really did anything, especially in the circuit that matters - which is the far east junior circuit .. This time it is not lip-service I think .. They have announced that Radhika and Sonal will be the two girls sent for the 6 week tour along with Sunil Kumar, and that Vinod Sewa and Parantap Chaturvedi will travel to the first three weeks and the next three weeks respectively .. The best news I had seen in a long while!

No news from Indonesia about how Sai and Rushmi are doing in the Jakarta-2 $10K circuit event this week.

Feb 23 Note-2

News from Bangladesh - at the ITF Grade-3 Dhaka international, the QFs are, Ramus Norby (DEN) vs Haroutioun Sofian (ARM), Taichi Wada (JPN) vs Vivian Chettri (IND), Yu Hiu Tung (HKG) vs Stephen Timu (CAN) and CS Mohanty (IND) vs Shivang Mishra (IND) .. That's all I know -- I thought Sunil Kumar was supposed to be there, and this means he lost in the first two rounds -- no idea to whom (Now I am really curious to find out who managed to beat Sunil, if he played -- if anybody finds out, do send me an email) .. Based on the patchy reports, it seems that Vivian, Mohanty and Shivang advanced with wins over Bangladeshi players .. Not good news at all, and Sunil has lost a chance for 60 big points with a title there .. He will need to really hit the grade-3 and grade-2 ITF events in East Asian ITF circuit (starting soon) and pick up some 60 to 100 points for a chance to qualify into junior grand slams like French, Wimbledon and USO .. To add to the absolutely wretched week Indians have been having, Radhika Tulpule, the top seed, was "badly beaten" by South African Karin Coetzee in the second round [that is all the Daily News said] .. No Indians in the girls QFs there -- Preriyawan Ratankrong (THA) vs K.Coetzee (RSA), Chani Scheepers (RSA) vs Pichaya Laosirichon (THA), Su-Wei Hsieah (TPE) vs Rattiya Hiranrat (THA) and Kumiko Iljima (JPN) vs Natsumi Humamura (JPN) in the quarterfinal ..  Now you know why I have been complaining about the time wasted in those grade-4 and grade-5 events we keep bringing in India .. Indian players beat up everybody in those, but it's basically it's poor competition and the kids learn nothing much though they may get 20 to 40 points .. Bring those grade-2 and grade-3 events, and we will start seeing the better kids from abroad .. And I also wonder if India sent anybody to coach the pretty large contingent of Indian kids (about 20 I believe) in Dhaka .. I did not expect our crowd to do this poorly there though .. Sad .. Sorry - I have been bringing one bad news after another this week, it seems.

Feb 23 Note-1

One result from yesterday at the Ahmedabad challenger to report -- Fazal and Cedric Kauffman of France upset the 3rd seeded Israelis Noam Behr and Jonathan Erlich, a good team, 4-6 6-2 6-1 to reach the quarterfinal .. Fazal seems to be picking up points at least in doubles (last week also they had upset a seeded team on the way to the semis) .. I finally got hold of all the results and draws till Tuesday -- see the Ahmedabad challenger page .. "Double-SP" and Ghouse-Uppak were yet to play .. Also, two lucky losers, Motevassel  and Dahan of Israel have reached second round beating Terachi and Iwabuchi of Japan .. Will know the wednesday scores soon.

In this week's ESP rankings, Vishal Uppal made an upward move by over 50 spots to #647, with his first round win in last week's challenger .. LP is at #133 this week .. Fazal came up 45 spots in doubles to #309 with the semifinal last week .. LP is at #1 but with a slender 40 point lead over second ranked Ferreira (what a pity -- ATP contrinues to have messed up rankings with wrong numbers used for last year! -- LP should be having at least a 500 points lead over everybody else) .. MB is at #5, Srinath is at #213 and Saurav Panja is at #301.

Feb 22 Notes

The Indian challenge at the Ahmedabad challenger ended today with Mustafa Ghouse losing in three sets to Filippo Volandri of Italy (#264) of Italy ..  Mustafa played some decent baseline tennis in the first set (he is actually known for strong serve and volley - and this is a bit of a surprise I guess), and Volandri was amking a lot of mistakes .. Then in the next two sets Mustafa just fell apart - once his first serve deserted him and he made 10 double faults in the next two sets, it was not going to get anywhere (even in the tiebreak, Mustafa apparently made two double faults after being up 5-2, but won it when Volandri made one of his own) .. Anyway, 76(5) 26 16 was the final score .. Only a couple of doubles match results have been reported out of there so far, and Vijay Kannan and Nitin Kirtane lost a match .. I don't think Panja-Prahlad, Ghouse-Uppal and Fazal, etc have played doubles yet .. See the scores in the Ahmedabad challenger page.

Bangladesh had the Ekushey holiday on monday and so none of the newspapers had Tuesday editions .. No idea how the Dhaka ITF juniors is going for Sunil Kumar, Radhika Tulpule and company.

The bad weeks continue for Indians .. Add one more to the "wounded soldiers" list .. Just heard that Manisha Malhotra got injured late in the 3rd set of a qualifier match at the Bushey challenger in UK .. She fell on her thumb and got hurt .. I don't know the details of the injury, but she will be out for about 4 weeks ..

The main draw at the Jakarta women's satellites start only on wednesday - hopefully Rushmi and Sai would do better this week than last.

By the way, I have just added the latest updated calendar for 2000 from AITA .. One big change -- the men's satellites have been moved from April to June .. Actually the three weeks of futures in June are now used for the 4-week satellites .. In fact, there are no more men's futures remaining in the schedule for the year .. Suddenly the men's calendar looks rather bare, with just the 2 futures and three challengers now - and only two satellite circuits coming up .. The two challengers which were in last month's calendar release for December (Jaipur and Lucknow) are missing in the new calendar, but they may not be gone yet -- it may take a while before they are finalized and put on the calendar .. There nmay be more men's events added for the latter part of the year later [The december challengers last year were organized by Paes-en-Sport, and they may bring challengers again, I would think] .. As for women, AITA tells me that they are still trying to get the two $10K events in April to be cleared by ITF .. It's a busy time in April in Asia with $10K circuits in China and Indonesia, and so ITF was apparently reluctant to add two in India too .. AITA sounded confident that ITF will clear the two weeks soon .. Seeing that the venues have been announced as Mumbai (Apr 10) and Delhi (Apr 17), I think things are set to go as soon as ITF approves the event - which will have to be soon, as it's just 6-7 weeks away .. The women also get 4-week $2K satellite circuits in May and August and then two more $10K events (Gwalior, Lucknow) and the challenger at Delhi in October ..

Feb 21 Notes

I have just added the latest mothly rank lists from AITA, for men, women, and u18 u16 u14 juniors .. You can find the links at the Ranks/Tournament/Schedule main page.

Had to wait for news from ITF to find the finals score from the Rajshahi junior ITF event which concluded three days back - the patchy Bangladeshi online newspapers had no news at all on the finals .. That featured perhaps the best matchup between the two most talented kids in the subcontinental tour so far - Sunil Kumar and Haroutioun Sofian who had won two titles each in the previous four events (one in SriLanka and three in India - each had played only two of those events, winning the ones they played in) .. Well, they finally met in a good final at Rajshahi, and Sunil Kumar certainly rose to the challenge to overcome the Armenian boy 6-3 6-4 in the final, proving once again that he may be in a higher class by himself .. Sunil picked up 40 more points for 120 total points from the titles at the three events he has played in this cricuit .. In the doubles final, Karan Doctor and CS Mohanty beat Soren Spanner and Ramus Norby of Denmark 6-4 6-2 .. Radhika Tupule had double heartbreak in the finals .. She lost to Karin Coetzee of South Africa, 3-6 2-6, and then lost the doubles final in the company of Su-Wei Hsieh (Taiwan), to South Africans Chani Scheepers and Karin Coetzee, 6-3 6-7 4-6 .. The group of kids have now gone to the grand finale of the subcontinental tour, at Dhaka this week .. This is a grade-3 event, the highest graded event in this sequence .. A title at Dhaka is worth 60 points .. Sunil Kumar, who will be ranked inside the world top-120 this week, can move inside the top-75 with another title ..

As for the Ahmedabad challenger - I am basically in a mood to throw up, right now .. Just fund that Srinath, Fazal and Vishal lost in the first round itself .. Srinath lost 2-6 0-6 to Joao Cunha-Silva (#307,ESP) .. Fazal, whose bad-lcuk in the draws is very sad, ran up against the top seed Oleg Ogorodov, ranked #147 ..  He played well according to a UNI report, but lost 6-7 3-6, with a break in game 8 of the second set doing him in .. I will cut Fazal some slack - he really has not got a break in any of these events, and have always gone up against one of the top seeds .. Then, Vishal Uppal lost 1-6 1-6 to Jeff Coetzee of South Africa (#225) .. It's all getting positively depressing .. Actually the scoreline of Srinath's loss is what really leaves me the most depressed (I hope it's not some injury or anything!) - Cuha-Silva is really a challenger journey man, and I don't understand that result .. Miracle upsets would have been needed for Fazal and Vishal to win their matches - and so I am not surprised .. Kutsenko beat Coutelet and Behr beat Roy Marcos in the two other results I have seen so far ..

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Feb 21 ..

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.