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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Mar 04, 2002
(Previous week's notes) (Next week's notes) (Daily Notes Index 1997 thru 2001)

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Mar 4 Note-1

LP and MB had to get a wildcard at the $400K DelRay Beach ATP (missed the doubles sign-in? .. I guess I am confused about the doubles entry procedure) .. Anyway, they are the top seeds there.  Here is the draw (upper half) .. The field is not too great out there, it seems.

1 M.Bhupathi(IND)/ L.Paes(IND)  (WC)  vs   C.Haggard(RSA)/ T.Vanhoudt(BEL)
  J.Gimelstob(USA)/ T.Woodbridge(AUS) vs   M.Hill(AUS)/ D.Vacek(CZE)
3 S.Aspelin(SWE)/ A.Kratzmann(AUS)    vs S L.Burgsmuller(GER)/ D.Sanguinetti(ITA)
  D.Adams(RSA)/ B.Ellwood(AUS)        vs S M.Hipfl(AUT)/ S.Koubek(AUT)

Haggard-vanHoudt is not a very easy team .. Woodbridge-Gimseltob is of course a tough pair .. But Paes-Bhupathi are also due for a better showing after a few poorer outings.

I have seen more confirmation on the draw at the Fed Cup starting today at Guangzhou, China - what I gave below is correct .. India is in a tough group with TPE, KOR, INA, and NZL .. It appears that some big players are going to be there too - Indonesia with the youngsters Wynne Prakusya (100) and Angelique Widjaja (126) may be the toughest .. Korea has Yoon-Jeong Cho (116) and Mi-Ra Jeon (252) (I think Yoon-Ha Kim, #186, is not playing) .. Chinese Taipei has Janet Lee (108) and Su-Wei Hsieh (153), and also a very tough Chia-Jung Chuang .. I am not sure if everybody has reached there - Janet Lee and Wynne Prakusya were playing together in the doubles QF at the Scottsdale WTA a couple of days back - they lost that and must have taken off to China .. Considering that none of our players have a top-250 win in their career as far as I can remember (Manisha has come close a couple of times) and without a regular doubles team in our side either, it would be a very tall order for India to upset TPE, KOR or INA .. Barring miracles, we need to get past New Zealand to stay away from disaster, having to play a scary tie against the last place team(s) from the other pool to avoid relegation to group-II in Asia .. NZL has their full contingent Shelley Stephens (277), Ilke Gers (391), Leanne Baker (399), and Tracey O’Connor (433) .. Remember that New Zealand with the same team upset us, even with Niru on our side, last year - I still don't understand how Leanne Baker and Ilke Girs upset Rushmi and Niru in doubles to pull that off, after Oconner upset Manisha and Niru beat Shelley .. India stayed out of trouble last year as Korea had quite a weaker team and we easily beat them, plus the draw had the very week Pacific Oceania instead of TPE in the pool with NZL, IND, INA and KOR .. The draw came out very similar this time but no "gimme"s in the pool this time like POC .. On the other hand, Shelley Stephen (NZL) didn't seem to be in good form in India in the last two weeks, but then Manisha also looked rusty .. Rushmi did show something this week in Delhi though .. And Manisha knows all about Leanne and Shelley in doubles, having played a lot with both .. The IND-NZL tie is on wednesday - I am keeping an eye out for that one, while hoping for a huge miracle upset against any of the other three teams .. Coach Rico Piperno has his hands full there.

No news yet on the qualies in Sri Lanka for the $10K men's futures - I don't know if Sunil Kumar made it in.

Mar 3 Notes

The Fed Cup Asia-Oceania qualifying rounds start in China soon .. The draw that came out today has placed India in a very tough draw - if the information I have is correct, Indonesia, Taiwan, New Zealand, Korea and India are in one pool, and Japan, China, Thailand, Hong Kong, Philippines and Uzbekistan are in another pool .. 5 teams in one pool and 6 in the other (that is how it turned out as Japan did not manage to stay in the world group from last year and is back in the regionals) .. Two teams will get relegated to group II in the end, I believe .. Without Niru in the team, it is an understatement to say that I am a bit concerned, as about 7 or 8 teams are ranked ahead of us in that field and we have no margin of error .. Actually India may be the 5th seeded team in our pool of 5 if my reading of the foreign language news source is correct - the tie against New Zealand may turn out to be the key one .. India plays Indonesia first .. Anyway, I will wait for more confirmation on all that.

Mar 2 Notes

The doubles draw is not out, at DelRay Becah, Florida $400K ATP, for LP-MB.

If Leander wants to play singles anywhere, the doors are closing in front sadly every time .. I just saw that the Delray Beach qualies closed at ATP #411 - and his singles ranking fell out from top-400 for the first time in a long time last monday .. If he wanted to try qualies at Delray Beach, Lee couldn't have done anything about it .. The sad thing is that, had they gone to Scottsdale for the other $400K tournament this week, he would have walked into one of the weakest ATP qualies, with seven spots going free too .. Oh well, that is the kind of bad karma that is following LP around .. After this week, it will be masters events at Indian Wells and Miami (2 weeks) where he cannot make the qualies and 2 weeks for Davis Cup (he cannot play qualies during the DC weekend), and then Monte Carlo Masters .. Actually, other than 2 weeks in april between the Monte Carlo/ Rome/ Hamburg masters sequence and the Wimbledon qualies week (all challenger events then are on clay - not his surface for singles, and I doubt he would play) he has no chance to play singles anywhere without skipping big events .. As he can't make the Wimbledon qualies and will lose his 50 points at Wimbledon, we are really looking at the scary scenario of Leander with just ONE ATP point as of June 1st .. That is not a far-fetched scenario, but a real possibility right now .. Skipping the two weeks used up by Miami masters and playing some challengers is perhaps not a bad option - but the entries may be closed for all those events .. Anyway, we will have to wait and see what Leander does - I have not heard that he is ready to throw in the towel on his singles career.  But from this week on, there is absolutely no easy way out other than to take hard decision to skip doubles events (or play clay court seriously).

Birnerova won the singles title at Delhi challenger today .. I guess I jinxed somebody (Shuai Peng) as usual, with my write-up yesterday .. But it's not a big surprise that Birnerova won the event - she is a recent former world junior #1 .. See the Delhi challenger page.

By the way, the men's subcontinental $10K futures series starts with the Sri Lanka futures this coming Monday .. No qualifying news yet .. Bopanna, Ghouse, Kirtane and Ajay made the original entry cut itself .. Manoj Mahadevan and Sunil Kumar were #5 and #7 for qualifying in the last list I saw - they would be high seeds in the qualies - no news on qualies yet.

US collegiate #2 Harsh Mankad got back to court today after a two-week break due to wrist injury etc, and had his 12th top-100 win of this year, beating #20 Phil Metz in a road match at the Ohio State University, 76 62 .. Actually it is his 7th win over a top-30 player in his last 9 matches .. These are wins over the #8, #14, #15, #19, #20, #23, #28 ranked players in college - and he has only dropped ONE set, a tiebreaker, against those guys .. Those records are tough to believe, because from what I have seen, the top-25 players in college tennis normally do reach ATP top-400 during their first year out from college and so these are every bit quality wins .. Today's win takes Harsh's record to 14-1 this year, the only loss being a three-tiebreaker loss to the #11 collegiate player .. In fact, the difference in Harsh's play this year and last year is like night and day - the same player Phil Metz had beaten Harsh last year 62 64 for instance .. He is definitely the most imporved player in college tennis this year, based on the record ..  By the way, Uzma Khan is beginning to look good in college too - on some sort of a comeback trail, she upset the #48 ranked player Katie Martzolf (Wake Forest Univ) yesterday, 61 61 - her second top-100 win this year, and she will be moving into the top-100 soon with a 13-3 record but she has not played a whole lot of top players this year.

Mar 1 Note-2

LP-MB are expected at the $400K Del Ray Beach ATP Tournament in Florida next week, according to the latest I have heard, today - I don't think it was in the plans earlier, but now they will be there.

Mar 1 Note-1

When the $10K ITF satellite was starting last week, I said we should keep an eye on Shuai Peng from China who was unseeded even in the satellite .. I knew she was good, but even I didn't expect her to go on an unbeaten streak of 12 matches in India .. After winning the satellite, and qualifying into the challenger draw, she is now in the final against Biernarova after today's semifinal at the Delhi challenger .. Impressively, she has only dropped one set in those 12 matches (against Sheetal Goutham in the R2 last week), and has dropped more than 4 games only in one of the 24 sets she won (a tiebreaker against Sunitha Rao in last week's final) .. If she was tough last week, she has been unplayable this week - upsetting those like Camilla Kremer, Sybille Bammer and 4th seed Young-Ja Choi (#246) by the scores of 62 60, 62 62 and 61 63 in the last three rounds .. She has picked up a whopping 23.75 pts this week and 8 points last week, to take her point total from 22.75 to 54.5 .. Her ranking will go up from #512 by almost 200 spots .. That is what one would call a successful two-week journey to India! .. See the Delhi challenger page.

Rushmi Chakravarti went down, but only after a good fight in a 36 67 loss to the 4th seed Young-Ja Choi yesterday .. The top seeds Manisha and Shelley Stephens wwere upset in doubles SF yesterday, and Rushmi-Sai also fell.

Ajay Ramaswamy went down in the first round yesterday at the USA F5 futures against the 8th seed Jeff Williams (USA,383) 26 46 .. After 4 wins in the qualies to make the draw, unfortunately Ajay gets no ATP points :-(

As his points from last year's Indian challengers fell off Leander Paes dropped to #440 in singles entry rankings this week  .. Now he can't even get into challengers - and there is no light at the end of the tunnel; actually  no end in sight ..

Indian Express lost rather disappointingly this week at San Jose ..

India lost again in Hockey today - to England .. to ENGLAND!!

All that sad news coming from Gujarat.

Man, what a painful week!

Feb 27 Notes

Very good news from Delhi .. Rushmi Chakravarti continued her fine form and pulled her second upset of a top-350 player to reach the QF of the $25K challenger! .. She beat   Elodie Lebescond (FRA,335), 63 36 63 - Elodie had looked unbeatable in her 61 61 upset win over the 7th seed Shelley Stephens in the first round - so this is a very good win for Rushmi .. To add to it, Rushmi and Sai upset the 4th seeded Russian team of Kondratieva/ Fattakhetdinova to reach the double SF as well .. Manisha and Stephens, the top seeds, also booked their doubles SF spots .. Sonal could not do much against Luzarova who had upset the second seed the previous day .. The top seed got upset today too .. See the Delhi challenger page.

Seeing that Sai-Rushmi are doing well in doubles, I am again repeating my question on our doubles team at the Fed Cup next week .. I read that AITA decided to include Radhika Tulpule also in the team yesterday, at the request of coach Enrico Piperno, to go with Manisha, Rushmi, Sonal and Shruti .. Radhika probably deserved to be in the team in the first place - so no complaints, but from the doubles standpoint, I would have included Sai too .. Let's just hope that Rushmi and Manisha can team up and do well in doubles, and avoid disaster in China .. I wish Rushmi and Manisha had teamed up this week itself, but pro players need to do what's best to keep their rankings - and thus Rushmi and Sai had to play together and Manisha had to play with Shelly whom she has played with - it's not fair for us to complain about that .. But, is it possible to add Sai as a 6th member for just doubles at fed Cup? :-)

Ajay Ramaswami plays his first round at the USA F5 futures in Houston today.

Feb 26 Note-2

Oh well .. LP-MB went down in the first round at San Jose .. Quick end to the week - [R1] #1 M.Bhupathi/ L.Paes l. (S) J.Blake/ T.Martin , 36 46 ..

Feb 26 Note-1

LP-MB play the first round tonight at the $400K Siebel Open ATP in San Jose ..

At Delhi, wildcard Sonal Phadke had a good win over Tihana Pochobradsky (CRO,716) who had looked quite tough in the qualifying rounds .. Manisha is still bothered by a sore neck problem that has seriously affected her service last week and this week - she couldn't upset Ekaterina Kozhokina (RUS,286) but too her to three sets .. Sunitha took the top seed to three sets but no upset for her .. Sheetal went down rather cheaply .. The #2 and #3 seeds got upset and Shuai Peng continued her winning streak .. Dominika Luzarova (CZE,372), who upset #2 Eun-Ha Kim is the next opponent for Sonal .. Rushmi also has a tough second round now, against Elodie Lebescond (FRA,335) who upset the 7th seed Shelley Stephens 61 61 earlier .. See the Delhi challenger page for scores ..

Good news from Houston ..Ajay Ramaswamy won the 4th round of qualies and made the main draw at the $15K USA F5 futures .. He beat Eduardo Pacheco (MEX), 61 67(2) 76(2) yesterday in the final qualies .. In the main draw first round, he plays the 8th seed Jeff Williams (USA,383) .. Good to see Ajay playing well again ..

In the latest USA college tennis rankings, Harsh Mankad retained his #2 spot .. Prakash Amritraj has come inside the top-100 at #93 .. Shriraga Sudhakar, a junior at the Univ of Tulsa has cracked the top 100 at #99 - he has been very consistent this year, but has not had any big top-100 wins yet .. There was an old names reappearing in the college women's rankings - Uzma Khan, now playing for the Univ of California at Santa Barbar is now at #104 - she has been having a decent year so far, after a couple of years in the wilderness, and transferring out of Univ of Arizona to UCSB last year, etc - she is in her 3rd year .. Sandhya Kanury playing for the Univ of North Texas, is also in the top-150.

Feb 25 Notes

LP-MB are the top seeds and get a singles-entry players in the first round - James Blake and Todd Martin, at the $400K San Jose ATP in California .. They are scheduled to play in the evening .. By the way, check out the San Jose ATP official web site .. This is the very first time that I am aware of, in any ATP tournament, ever, that two doubles players were listed in the player list at the web site with photos and details (except perhaps Chennai ATP - and even they have not consistently done it) .. ATP does not make an entry list for doubles and players only sign in at the event for the doubles draw; so the tournaments never list doubles players early .. At San Jose, they had got a commitment from LP and MB to play and had been listing them for a couple of months .. The San Jose tournament's ticket phone line message has been showing Agassi, Hewitt, Roddick and the Indian Express as the prime attractions for a while too .. That is also unheard of - a tournament talking about a doubles team coming to play, on the ticket line .. Then I was surprised to see the schedule page today - where they have listed only them with a nickname, as the "Indian Express - Paes and Bhupathi" ! .. That is also interesting, because the schedule pages normally only have official names .. I assume that the tournament is trying their best to get the vast Indian community in the bay area to show up .. I guess the pressure is on LP-MB to perform!

Here is the draw for LP-MB (upper half) ..

1 M.Bhupathi/ L.Paes    vs S J.Blake/ T.Martin        \
  J-L.deJager/ R.Koenig vs S X.Malisse/ D.Sanguinetti / \ _ Final
3 B.MacPhie/ N.Zimonjic vs W S.Draper/ L.Hewitt       \ /
  L.Friedl/ P.Luxa      vs   C.Haggard/ T.Vanhoudt    /

The seeds in the lower half are, #2 Black-Ullyett and #4 Florent-MacPherson.  Not an easy draw and the matches against the singles-entry teams are tricky and unpredictable - Blake and Martin may turn out to be quite difficult - Martin is quite an experienced doubles player.

465th ranked wildcard Rushmi Chakravarti upsetting #354 Helen Crook (GBR) 63 46 63 to make the second round was the good news today at the $25K challenger in Delhi, where none of the Indians came through the qualies, only Sania Mirza and Radhika Tulpule even making the 3rd round of qualies .. Sania did upset Archana venkatraman and 6th seed Sai Jayalakshmi in straight sets to reach the final round of qualies .. The main draw is tough for the Indians .. Sunitha Rao (USA) gets the top seed Angelika Bachmann in the first round too .. Sai and Rushmi advanced to the quarterfinals of doubles today .. See qualifying and main draw results in the Delhi challenger page.

At the $15K USA F5 futures qualifying rounds -- 15th seed Ajay Ramaswamy (IND,898) has won three round to reach the final qualies - he beat three unseeded players, Kristopher Iverson (SWE), 62 60, Treveor Spracklin (USA), 64 62 and Steven Bijl (NED), 75 62, and now faces Eduardo Pacheco of Mexico in the fial qualies .. Rajeev Ram (USA) has also reached the final qualies.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Feb 25 ..

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.