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LP/MB/NS/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Mar 01, 2004
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Mar 1 Notes

Mahesh and Santoro moved on to the QF at the $1M Dubai ATP .. Mohammed Al Ghareeb who is perhaps the only player from the Gulf in recent years to do much in pro tennis, had a fnatastic first round in the singles earlier today - he had a wildcard and took #96 Dennis van Scheppingen to three sets in a 67 63 67 loss .. He also had a good start against the top seeds in doubles who were soon down 0-3 and 1-4 .. But then Hesh and Santoro stepped on the pedal and I am sure Ghareeb-Hueberger didn't know what hit them .. 9 straight games later, MB-FS led 64 40 and they comfortably advanced with a 64 62 win ..

Two rounds of qualies are done at the $10K ITF "TNTA" futures in Chennai .. Four Indians are in the final qualies - 2nd seed Ajay Ramaswamy, 15th seed Tushar Liberhan, Nitin Kirtane and VM Ranjeet .. Nitin had an upset of the 6th seed, and Jeevan surprised the 4th seed as well .,. Good show .. Tushar now has the toughest Q3 match, against 3rd seed Dmitryi Mazur ..  In the main draw, Rohan Bopanna is the second seed and faces Vijay Kannan in the first round .. I will post the draw as soon as it comes in, at the Chennai futures page.

At the Benin City (Nigeria) $10K final on Saturday, top seed Megha Vakharia could not repeat the combeack magic she had in the previous two rounds and went down to the 3rd seed Channelle Scheepers (RSA,505), 16 36 .. Chani was ranked as high as #161 a year back and then had an incredible tail spin -- but she is coming back up again .. Chani, if you remember, had lost to Sania in the Florida $10K semis, which was really her first good tournament after 18 losses in a row (!) at the challenger level; I assume she was playing through some injury or something .. Anyway, the loss shouldn't be counted as an upset for Megs .. Megha had won the previous two rounds, 67(1) 62 61 over Dalia-Diana Vranceneau (GER,NR) and 46 60 60 over 7th seeded Susanne Aigner (AUT,685) ..  No such comebacks in the final though .. Megha is at another $10K in Benin City this week.

The singles draw is not out at the $15K USA F6 futures in McAllen, Texas, where Harsh Mankad will be the 3rd seed .. By the way, for the fourth US futures in a row, the guy who beat Mankad went on to win the title - this time at the F5 in Harlingen, Nicolas Todero, won two more in easy straight sets after beating HM, and took the title .. Hopefully this week Harsh would be the one doing it .. Arun Prakash was in the qualies and won the Q1 match 60 60 over Jack Hernandez (USA) .. No news on his Q2 yesterday against the top seed Peng Sun (CHN,575) ..

Rushmi Chakravarthi is at the Warrnambool $10K in Australia .. Seeded second in the doubles draw, but the singles draw wasn't out when I checked last.

Feb 29 Notes

Both LP and MB will be at the Dubai tournament with good partners this coming week .. [R1] (1) Mahesh Bhupathi/ Fabrice Santoro (FRA) vs (wc) Mohammed Al Ghareeb (KUW)/ Ivo Heuberger (SUI) ... [R1] (2) Jonas Bjorkman (SWE)/ Leander Paes vs Wayne Black/ Kevin Ullyett (ZIM) .. Much more of a tough first round matchup for LP-JB though.

Feb 28 Notes

There was news today in the Times of India about Leander Paes saying that he expects to play with Mahesh for some US events before the Athens Olympics .. In fact, Mahesh had mentioned yesterday that he was also expecting to sit down with LP, perhaps during the upcoming Davis Cup, to chalk out their plan .. LP said today that he has sent his schedule to MB and that in fact they had talked about playing Dubi this coming week together - but I think MB was already set for this week .. That is all good news .. It seems pretty clear that they will wait till after French Open and Wimbledon to start a tour together .. In their case, even 4 events or so in the US maight be quite suffifcient to get up to top-notch form together .. Earlier I had written about this and complained hard, bringing up how Lareau-Nestor started with French Open in their preparation for Sydney and ended up with the Gold .. They were of course not an accomplished pair together like the Indian Express is, so it is not an identical situation .. About 4 events might be all they would need if they are both healthy .. Anyway, happy to hear of both of them talking about it - in fact , knowing how much these two care for the country's interests as well, I would have expected nothing less.

At the $10K Nigeria ITF in Benin City, the top seed Megha Vakharia reached the final today with a n impressive comeback, 36 60 60 over the 7th seed Susanne Aigner (AUT,685) .. In the final she faces the 3rd seed Chani Scheepers (RSA) [source: The Vanguard, Nigeria].

At the $10K+H Delhi futures today, Pakistan's Aisam Qureshi continued his unbeaten run in India which has reached 15 matches, ever since a loss to Somdev Varman late last year  .. He beat Todor Enev in the final .. See the Delhi futures page for all the scores.

I have added a page for the ITF "TNTA" Chennai $10K futures, for which the qualies have started .. .. In a bit of a surprise, Divij Sharan went down to Aditya Madkekar .. Ajay Ramaswami continues to not get a wildcard to the main draw - he is the second seed in the qualies and won today .. Nitin "Evergreen" Kirtane upset the 6th seed ..See the Chennai futures page for today's Q1 scores.

Harsh Mankad lost in the USA F5 quarterfinal yesterday in Harlingen,TX .. 26 67(3) to the 6th seed Nicolas Todero (USA,360) .. Todero has now reached the final and may possibly continue the streak of HM having lost only to the evntual winner in the four US events he has played recently .. HM has proceeded to nearby MacAllen for the USA F6 $15K futures .. At the qualies for the F6 today, ArunPrakash Rajagopalan won 60 60 match in the Q1 against Jack Hernandez (USA) .. He now faces the top seed in the qualies t hough - Peng Sun (CHN,575).

In other news, my friend in Doha (thanks!) tells me that Shikha Uberoi, who had a wildcard into the qualifying round 1 for the Doha WTA in Qatar, went down 75 26 36 to Ting Li (CHN) ..

Feb 27 Notes

At the $15K USA F5, Harsh Mankad reached the QF yesterday with a pretty good win, 76(4) 60 over Doug Bohaboy (USA,474) .. Doug was ranked in the top-250 just a few months back and had a pretty bad late year, but has been playing well recently .. Harsh plays the 6th seed Nicolas Todero (ARG,360) today in the semifinal .. Good job by HM reaching QF or better in all four futures he has played in the US so far this year .. Not too good in doubles out there though - HM and Michael Kosta who is ranked about 600 spots below HM who is in the top-200, went down 16 63 16 in the doubles QF yesterday .. HM needs to find a good doubles partner.

<At the Delhi $10K+H, Pakistan's Aisam Qureshi made it 9 wins in a row at the DLTA courts, as he reached the final against the Evev .. Aisam had won the last $10K+H futures in Delhi, beating Harsh Mankad in the final .. I think Ghouse-Uppal won the doubles title today there, but I have not seen the score yet .. See the Delhi futures page.

Aty the $10K Benin City ITF event, the top seed Megha Vakharia has reached the semifinal .. Again, I don't know the score for the QF against unranked Dalia-Diana Vranceanu (GER) .. Megs plays Susanne Aigner (AUT,685) in the semifinal.

That's about it .. Nothing much else happening .. Qualifying for next week's $10K futures, India F1, will start during the weekend at Chennai.

Feb 26 Notes

Rushmi Chakravarthi went down to the 6th seed Casey Dellacqua (AUS,293) 26 16 today in the second round at the $25K Bendigo challenger in Victoria, Australia .. She picked up four points from this event and will poceed to the $10K on grasscourts in Warrnambooll, Victoria, next week .. She should be the 7th or 8th seed there.

At the "Sydnidcate Bank" $10K+H futures in Delhi, things didn't go well for Rohan Bopanna today as he lost to the 5th seed Alexey Kedriouk (KAZ,427), 36 36 in the QF.. That means no Indian reached the semifinal there .. Probably OK not to have Bofors play a whole lot of matches this week as it is only the second week back from a biceps problem that kept him away from courts for weeks .. Hopefully he will go deeper in the next two weeks and grab some points which he badly needs .. Ghouse-Uppal are in the doubles final .. See the Delhi futures page for all scores.

At the $15K USA F5 in Harlingen, Texas, Harsh Mankad and Michael Kosta reached the doubles QF yesterday with a 64 76(3) win over Matt Behrman and Cody Conley of USA .. They face Daniel Lustig (CZE)/ Michal Przysiezny (POL) next .. First, HM playus the R2 of singles against Doug Bohaboy (USA,474) in the morning today.

Top seed Megha Vakharia beat Alanna Broderick (JAM,989) 64 63 at the $10K ITF in Bennin City, Nigeria, and she faces Dalia-Diana Vranceanu (GER,NR) in the QF .. 3rd seeds Megs and Iciri Rai were upset in the doubles R1 by Klara Hladka (CZE)/ Nikoleta Kipritidou (GRE), 76(4) 26 61

At the grade-3 ITF juniors in Sarawak, Malaysia, all the Indian kids (Kaushik Raju, Karthik Raju, Asha Nandakumar and Shivika Burman) lost in the final 16, three of the matches being three set comebacks pulled on our kids - so not a good day there either.

In other news, today ATP lists Prakash Amritraj as withdrawn from the Kyoto challenger next week .. Actually that is not bad - I was worried about him playing on the funny indoor artificial grass surface they have for the Kyoto challenger, in his first event back, even if he has recovered from the injury (hey, I need to find an update on Kash - I am not in direct touch with him) .. He is not in the entry list for any challengers the week after .. He is in the list for Indian Wells Masters qualies, it would be tough to make the draw without a wildcard .. So we don't know how close Kash is, to returning to court ..

Feb 25 Notes

Rushmi moved to the second round at the $25K Bendigo challenger in Australia with an easy win - [R1] Rushmi Chakravarthi (IND,384) d. Jaslyn Hewitt (AUS,446), 62 61 .. Jaslyn got some revenge in doubles, as she and Adriana Szili (AUS) upset 4th seeded Rushmi and Mirielle Dittman (AUS), 76(4) 06 64 ..

At the $15K Harlingen USA F5, Harsh Mankad advanced to the second round with a 62 61 win over Daniel Garza (MEX,557) .. In the R2 tomorrow, HM plays Doug Bohaboy (USA,474), who was a top-250 player about half a year back but has fallen a bit recently for some reason .. In doubles, 4th seeded HM and Michaal Kosta (USA) play qualifiers Matt Behrmann and Cody Conley of USA today.

At the Delhi $10K+H, only one Indian reached the quarterfinal - Rohan Bopanna .. He beat Tushar Liberhan 64 62, and now plays the sixth seed Alexei Kedriouk .. Sunil Kumar put up a three-set fight to the 3rd seed Tereshchuk before going down .. Nitin and Ajay lost in decent two setters .. All but one seed reached the QF there .. In doubles also, only one Indian team remains - Ghouse-Uppal .. See the Delhi futures page for all scores.

At the $10K ITF event in Benin City, Nigeria, top seed Megha Vakharia beat Martina Stigliano (ITA) 76(0) 61 in the first round .. Unfortunately, Iciri Rai went down to the 3rd seed Chanelle Scheepers (RSA) after a terrific fight - 16 75 67(7) .. Poor girl, Iciri - she was around the 10th highest ranked player there, went unseeded and ended up with one of only about four or five quality players in quite a weak field.

>8th seeded Kaushik Raju and 12th seeded Karthik Raju have gone past two rounds to the final-16 at the grade-3 ITF juniors in Malaysia .. 7th seed Asha Nandakumar and 11th seeded Shivika Burman are in the girls final-16 as well, but Varsha Shivshankar lost in the second round to the 13th seed.

Feb 24 Notes

At the $25K Bendigo challenger in Victoria, Australia, Rushmi Chakravarthi faces Lleyton's younger sister, Jaslyn Hewitt (AUS,446) in the first round .. In doubles Rushmi is seeded 4th with the oldest player in the draw out there, 30 year old Mirielle Dittman (AUS) .. They play wildcards Jaslyn Hewitt and Adriana Szili of Australia .. No n ew on the first round scores yet.

At the $15K USA F5 in Harlingen, Texas, 3rd seeded Harsh Mankad plays lucky loser Daniel Garza (MEX,557) .. Harsh is on the half of the draw with 2nd seed Raven Klaasen - the other side has top seed Luzzi and 4th seed Pedroso  .. In doubles, Harsh and Michael Kosta (USA) are seeded 4th and they play a qualifying pair to be determined .. Kosta is a big serving dude HM knew from his Big-10 college tennis days, when Kosta used to play for U of Illinois.

The first round is all done at the Syndicate Bank ITF $10K+H in New Delhi .. 4th seeded Rohan Bopanna had a straight sets win, and it is a relief to see his return to pro events go eventlessly .. Sunil Kumar easily beat Vijay Kannan today .. Qualifier Ajay Ramaswami beat wildcard .. "Evergreen" Nitin Kirtane, who had upset the 8th seed in the qualies and made it into the main draw, showed that he still has stuff left in him, as he took out Karim Mamoun of Egypt to reach the second round against the 2nd seed Asiam Quereshi of Pakistan, who had to ward off a spirited challenge from wildcard Ashutosh Singh in a 13-11 second set tiebreaker .. Vinod Sridhar almost pulled off a big upset of the 3rd seed Orest Tereshchuk in a 64 36 67(5) loss .. Qualifier Jaco mathew also had a three-set match in a loss .. Five Indians in the second round .. Not bad, but not great .. See the Delhi futures page for all scores.

By the way, Rupesh Roy and Sanam Singh were in the qualies at Delhi .. Both the u15 players did well to win two rounds each and reach the final round of qualies .. Rupesh went down 76(4) 36 36 to the 4th seed Sarvar Ikramov (UZB,935) and Sanam lost 06 57 to Markus Egger (AUT,958). Not a bad show by these two kids.

In other news, something I forgot to look at .. There was a grade-5 ITF junior tournament in Sri Lanka Last week, which was won by 16 year old Kaushik Raju of Karnataka! .. In fact he had won the earlier grade-5 in Sri Lanka as well, and is basically unbeaten down there ..Kaushik was Ranked below 400 and was the 4th seed there .. He did well to win all his matches in straight sets, inlcuding an upset of teh top seed Sivendiran from Sri Lanka in the semis .. He has moved up to #322 now .. Kaushik and Amrit Rupasinghe of SRI won the doubles title as well ..  I guess with all the top level results from our juniors these days, I am forgetting to even look at grade-5 events .. Sorry! .. Anyway, congratulations go to Kaushik .. I wouldn't have known but for a KSLTA press release yesterday on this .. 2nd seed Asha Nandakumar of Karnataka was runner-up in the girls draw, falling to trhe top seed Jung-Yoon Shin of Korea in the final .. Asha and Shin won the doubles title too ..

There is a grade-3 ITF event in Sarawak, Malaysia, this week .. I am not sure if any Indians have gone there.

Feb 23 Notes

The first day's play was completed at the IND F1a $10K+H "Syndicate Bank" futures at Delhi with a couple of surprising upsets .. In one of only two singles main draw matches, 17 yr old wildcard Tushar Liberhan upset Mustafa Ghouse, 63 62 .. In the other match, wildcard Divij Sharan went down 46 46 to the 7th seed Xin-Yuan Yu (CHN,527) .. On surprising upset was in the doubles first round - wildcards Rupesh Roy and Divij Sharan upset the 3rd seeds Rohan Bopanna and Vijay Kannan, 63 46 64 .. That is a mind-boggling result, knowing how good RB and VK are in doubles .. See all the main draw results in the Delhi futures page .. Ajay Ramaswami, Nitin Kirtane and Jaco Mathew qualified in, along with 5 foreigners .. Rohan, Sunil, Vijay, Vinod, Vishal Uppal, wildcard Vishal Punna, etc, are also yet to play in the first round.

Rushmi Chakravarthi is in the main draw of the $25K+H Bendigo challenger in Australia this week .. Megha is top seed, with Iciri Rai also in the main draw, at the $10K Benin City satellite in Nigeria .. Arun Prakash Rajagopalan was in the qualifying draw at the $15K USA F5 in Harlingen (Texas) but lost in the first round to the 12th seed Michael Kosta (USA,879), 46 62 46 .. Rude welcome to the Asian junior champion in the pro tour abroad, I suppose ..

No news yet on the draw for Harsh at Harlingen in the main draw - he should be the 3rd seed I think .. Andres Pedroso who beat HM in the QF last week at the F4 went on to win the title, making it a perfect record for HM -- in his three futures recently in the US, he has lost in the QF, SF and QF to the eventual winners, Brian Baker, Frederico Luzzi and Pedroso .. Brian Baker, by the way, got a wildcard at the Memphis ATP last week and upset #64 Dupuis in the main draw .. That guy gets back to the futures this week in Harlingen .. Luzzi who had won the F2 and F3 after losing to Baker in the F1, is also back this week after a few weeks off, so F5 looks to be a very tough event .. Anyway, HM seems to have run into the hot player of the week in these futures .. The three losses go with 7 wins including one upset for HM, which was over top seed Peter Clark in the F1 futures .. Anyway, hopefully he can pick up some good points this week and next -- I think he is expecting to play mostly challengers after these, as the challenger entry cuts begin to fall a bit from now on into the summer.

Sania's doubles rank has raced up to #185 this week! .. Great .. She is now going to take a little time off to finish her 12th standard board exams .. Then back to san Remo for another short training stint with Bob Brett.

I still see Prakash's name in the list for the Kyoto challenger next week on indoor carpet .. Hope to see him get back out on court soon.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Feb 23 ..

I am getting some inquiries from US college coaches who are interested in Indian junior players .. I would like to be able to contact Indian players (some of the coaches are inquiring about specific names) .. If any of the junior players are reading this, please contact me .. Or if any of the other readers know the contact emails/address for any junior player, let me know .. I would like to have a mailing list where I can post general announcements and inquiries from the coaches too .. Please email me - R.Jayakrishnan.