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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Mar 05, 2001
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Mar 5 Notes

Good news from Mumbai (may be bad news as well! :-)) - the entry list for the $25K four-week ITF India S1 satellites is pretty darn strong this time, as far as foreign players are concerned .. Manoj Mahadevan and Saurav Panja made it through the tough qualies and four wildcards (Mustafa Ghouse, Vishal Uppal, Nitin Kirtane and Vinod Sridhar) are also in the draw .. I believe Rishi Sridhar and Rohan Bopanna are the top two waiting lucky losers if any foreign players do not show up, though Rohan retired in the final qualies against Saurav due to an ankle injury .. I will type up a page with all the results and draws soon [thanks Steve, for info] ..

As for the main draw, the top seeds are Artem Derepasko (RUS,288), Ivan Vajda (CRO,304), Oliver Marach (AUT,305),  Aisam Qureshi (PAK,325), Tomas Cakl (CZE,378), Konstantinos Economidis (GRE,401), Donovan September (RSA,433), Radim Zitko (CZE,438) .. We have a few more top-600 players there (incredible!) .. They are Simon Dickson (GBR,481), Kobi Ziv (ISR,540) and Justin Layne (GBR,589) .. There should be a couple of no-shows from that list, but having anymore than 4 or 5 top-600 players in our satellites has not happened anytime recently .. All those stories about India being a God-forsaken place to go play at - with snakes crawling to the courts and cowdung surfaces and water that guarantees instant malaria, and all that crap - are now officially history, on the tour :-) ..

Srinath is injured, Harsh Mankad and Ajay Ramaswamy cannot leave as it is the peak of US college season, and Fazal is not playing these satellites .. Young Prakash Amritraj was originally expected to play, but he has skipped the tour due to illness, I believe .. The other Indians have their work cut out for them .. Nitin plays the 6th seed Economidis, Vishal plays the 8th seed Zitko, Manoj plays Mustafa, Saurav plays Jonathan Murray (GBR, 693), and V.Sridhar plays qualifier Sherwood who had beaten Vijay Kannan in the first round of the qualies .. The six foreign qualifiers are Bart Bek (NED), Or Dekl (ISR), Tomer Suissa (ISR), Martin Rammal (FIN), Michail Elgin (RUS) and David Sherwood (GBR).

Unofficial info I have got on the women's satellite masters in Delhi this week is that the entry list is - Sonal, Radhika Mandke, Radhika Tulpule, Nina Wennerstorm,Liza, Nandini Perumal, Lata Assundani, Sharanya Pattabhi (in place of injured S.K. Tara), Jordanna seymour, Medini Sharma, Sheetal goutam, Geeta Manohar, Vishnupreetam Mahalingam, Ashel Dimi, Arthi Venkatraman and Yamini Thullakandi .. So, it is in accordance with the point list I had calculated at the circuit pts page, except that Archana Venkatraman, Nandita Chandrasekar, Iciri Rai and Samrita Sekhar who had not played all three legs did not make the entry .. Radhika Tulpule did make the entry probably on injury exemption, even though she missed on leg [Thanks Manish, for info]

I was reminded by Vas Param that I did not update Sunitha Rao's result from the Minneapolis challenger .. The 15 yr old USA girl won the first round but then went down in R2 after a fight, against the 6th seed Amanda Hopmans (NED,117), 06 64 57 .. This little girl has to be seriously good to make such a turn around against a top-120 player after being totally out-played in the first set .. Golly!

Mar 4 Notes

The doubles title at the Mumbai women's satellites went to Sheetal Gautham and Liza Pereira .. According to The Hindu, they won 63 75 over the top seeds Sonal Phadke and Radhika Mandke .. I am not sure why the detailed report came out only in the Monday edition of the newspaper - perhaps the doubles final was done only today .. I was wondering in my yesterday's notes about the doubles final .. I just got some comments from Danny Rosario who saw the match as well - concurring with the newspaper article, Danny also thought that the youngest one out there, 17 yr old Lisa Pereira, was the best player in this match, among the four talented players .. Sheetal-Liza were down 3-5 in the second and won four games in a row to win the match .. Liza mentioned in the post-game interview that they did not want to give away a set for sure - that's good spirit .. Also, Danny felt that Sonal looked even more frail physically than she normally does .. This is a comment we often hear in newspaper reports on Sonal too - one wonders how much better she could be if she puts on some more muscles to go with all the talent she has .. Hey Sonal, come on girl, you better do something, or we will start sending you wheaties and spinach from the US! :-)

The Telegraph (Calcutta) reports that Sunil Kumar, Vinod Sewa and Amanjot Singh have left for Jakarta for the grade-3 junior event in Indonesia starting tomorrow .. Vinod and Sunil are in the AITA team for Sotheast Asian events, but the rest of the team sent by AITA are playing only from Mar 12th in Malaysia, followed by events in Singapore, Thailand and Philippines (those other six are Nishank Mishra, Rohan Gajjar, Sania Mirza, Megha Vakharia, Sasha Abraham, and Ankita Bhambri - Sandeep Kirtane is the coach) .. Paes en Sport wanted the three kids under their watch to play an extra event in Indonesia as well, and so they have left a week earlier .. They will pay for Amanjot's expenses at the following four events, where AITA is handling the expenses of the other 8 kids .. Mainly travel expenses, as hospitality is provided at those events by the organizers, as required by ITF for grade-3 and higher-grade events.

Dr.Vece Paes is sticking with Amanjot Singh, despite the AITA decision not to pick him for the tour on "disciplinary grounds" though he is #1 among our 16 yr olds and has already reached top-90 in ITF rankings .. Dr.Paes said that Paes en Sport and the Chandigarh Lawn Tennis Association (CLTA) will continue to support Amanjot .. If you are wondering what's up, let me just say that I have got bits of info on this from a few sources .. The well-known thing is the kid's volatile temper on court (Vece Paes actually said that it may be nothing more than his competitive edge - he does have a point that those with such competitive edge are tough to find in India too, and we should not over-react if that's all there is to it, though he should be counselled on controling things) .. I have heard at least one source telling me that the kid is actually a good boy and that AITA is being a bit too tough; I have another source that says that AITA is right in what they are doing, in that he indeed has misbehaved, ill-treating the umpires and linesmen, etc .. Then there are some other issues I have heard of, not exactly directly related to tennis - on which one could argue both ways on whether AITA should get involved .. They *may* indeed have some reasons to get involved if the hearsay things are true .. I am of course not giving any details for obvious reasons, and AITA also has done well not to drag unnecessary things into public .. Again, just because I am not giving details, please don't think that Amanjot is an axe-murderer or drug-junky or something! .. Nothing like that - this is something totally different and deals with his other interests and priorities .. It is a bit of a messy matter from the patchy multiple-source info I have got .. Let us hope that everybody will find a way to figure out ways to get things in order .. If he is as good a player as he has shown so far, there is indeed reason for us not to hamper his development - and thus what Paes-en-Sport and CLTA are doing by giving him continued support is commendable .. As for AITA's decision, if the rumored reasons are correct and one gives them the benefit of doubt, one can also argue that they are right in taking a tough stand to make a point (something that is often not done in the "winning is everything" culture in the sports arena in the world) .. But of course I do have a soft corner for AITA as it is at least a working organization compared to most moribund sports federations in India .. However little credit one gives them for what they have been doing and complain that they could do all these things better, they have rarely gone out of their way to mess things up - neither have they gone totally against the interests of tennis in India .. From that standpoint, I find it hard to believe that AITA is making up things to deliberately mess up a talented kid's development .. As I said, some may say they are over-reacting though .. Anyway, that is where things are, and I believe that everything will be fine in the long run between Amanjot and everyody else.  Sometimes this kind of stuff makes a kid a better person and a tougher player .. Let us wish him the best.

Mar 3 Note-2

Manisha and Nadia Johnston went down 26 16 yesterday in the doubles semifinals at the $25K Bendigo challenger in Australia, to the Dutch pair Debbie Haak and Jolanda Mens .. Manisha picked up 10 WTA doubles points for reaching the SF.

The qualifying rounds must have started at the First leg of the $25K ITF men's satellites at Mumbai .. We will await news on the main draw; I have not seen the entry list for the satellites either .. The women's satellite masters leg starts at Delhi this week on Monday or Tuesday.

Mar 3 Note-1

Radhika Tulpule completed a remarkable week of tennis, where she was basically hobbling around all the way with a bad ankle, often quite immobile in the latter parts of the matches, but using every trick in the book she knew .. She finished the week with a title at the Mumbai satellite, beating Sonal Phadke, 64 76(5) today .. The newspaper reports have all mentioned the variety Radhika brought in her shots and placement .. She had to use all the tactical ploys she knew and she did a perfect job of that .. Congrats to her .. She goes to the masters leg as the 3rd seed behind Sonal at #1 and Radhika Mandke at #2, though she only played two legs of the circuit .. I still have not seen the Mumbai doubles final score reported anywhere .. If anyone knows, please pass it on to me .. See the Mumbai satellite page and the circuit points page.

Here is an article in the Gulf-News on the Dynamic Duo - Success can be dangerous .. Excerpts -

The pair are aware that it took them four years before they were named the ATP doubles team of the year (1999) and ITF doubles champions. They also know that it is going to be a painfully slow process before they dominate the doubles field on the tour. "We took four years to reach the top," Paes said, adding that the two were now working hard. But, "we have to do it step by step," Bhupathi remarked. They have sorted out their differences. "We are more open and communicate well," Bhupathi said, hinting that there were efforts to avoid any misunderstanding off court. "We keep each other informed," said Paes ... The harmony was evident as they exchanged subtle glances, avoided overlapping in answering questions put by the Gulf News. Both pointed out that now they were more mature. "We have matured a lot and with each win gaining in confidence." "It is going to be step by step process," Bhupathi said, indicating that the two were prepared to take each day as it comes.  Paes pointed out that there was a slim difference between wins and defeats. "It is important that we get our confidence back," he added. The two have realised that they need each other to scale the peak together again and their body language, on and off the court, last night indicated that they are ready to make personal sacrifices and put the interests of the team before their own.
I like the tone of that article - the boys are doing just fine .. What LP said is quite true .. LP-MB may only be a teeny-bit of improvement away from getting back to their form, from all I can figure out .. They have been playing a lot of close matches and the losses seems to have come regardless of the team they are facing, mostly due to a few of the little things that they are not doing well enough like they used to, at key points .. Nobody has managed to make them look bad .. It is quite similar to how they were when they were losing all those grand slam semis - it seemed to happen regardless of who the opponenets were .. And then our pair hit a stride and they reached that period when they were so confident in themselves and in hitting that key shot at the key time to pull it off, if they wanted it .. I feel that they are getting oh-so-close to doing that again .. Sometime back I made a prediction that Indian Wells would be where the new run will really start .. I am still sticking by that!  .. Hey, what the heck do I stand to lose? .. Why not - let me go out on a limb .. :-)

Another bit of good news -- Mahesh has now decided to give it a go in singles at the Davis Cup in Japan .. Oh yeah, we will need him too .. The piece of info was confirmed by Bhupathi Sr., in his monthly newsletter (very insightful summary of a lot of goings on in his newsletter -- go to the TennisVillage website, http://www.thetennisvillage.com, if you want to subscribe to his newsletter .. By the way, that picture of Mahesh you see on that site's main page is from the fifth match of the fantastic 3-2 win against Chile in Sep 97, the last time we made it to the world group - that was Hesh's primal scream after coming back from dead to win the final three sets against Silberstein!) ..  Davis Cup coach Nandan Bal, in his column at India.com has also reported that Bhupathi is expected to play singles at Japan .. Not sure where MB will get a chance to play singles before the Davis Cup, though.  Probably nowhere.

As for how LP's singles plans have been going, here is an interview that R. Balasubrahmaniam of Khel.com had with Vece Paes .. Excerpts (not sure if that article link is permanent):

Q: Is it not something praiseworthy that your son has rediscovered tennis and fitness? - Ans: Believe me, after last yearís lows, when he missed so many weeks due to injuries, this year has begun well. Frankly speaking, last year Leander was wondering how long he could last .. Q: Does it feel different now?  Ans: Sure. I think the way he has managed his fitness and strengthening his muscles, he can last longer .. Q: How long do you think he can go?  Ans: Leander is going to be 28. I think he can keep going in doubles till 32 or 33. We were actually looking at Leander playing four or five Asian Games. Though he figured in Beijing (1990) and Hiroshima, he missed the 1998 edition at Bangkok due to injury. I am sure he will be hungry for medals at the 2002 Asiad and also give it a shot at the Athens Games as well .. Q: Why does he get injured so often? - Ans: Leanderís game is very physical. He has been playing a lot on the hard courts. But since last year we have been working on strengthening his muscles waist downwards. It takes a lot of pressure off from the upper part. Of course, the other side of the story is too much work on the legs and thigh muscles means he is not as fast as before. But he is still quick enough by Tour standards ..
Interesting to hear the good doc's thoughts on the last part about his workouts .. I have heard a few comments lately about how he looked a bit bigger in his lower body and was perhaps a bit slower by his standards .. That seems to be by design .. Lee is still working hard to keep himself in shape and has goals he is setting for himself .. His work ethic and spirit to keep going like this, is commendable.

I will report any news on how Manisha did at the Bendigo challenger doubles semis today, as soon as I find out.

At Mumbai, last I saw, the top seed Vinod Sridhar and the second seed Nitin Kirtane had reached semis of the AITA ranking men's tournament .. No idea about the other semifinalists or about the semi scores from today (only Mid-Day at Chalomumbai.com has been covering the event, and their coverage has been patchy too).

Mar 2 Note-2

Manisha Malhotra and Nadia Johnston upset 4th seeded Sai Jayalakshmi and Rushmi Chakravarti at the $25K Bendigo challenger today, 61 60 .. I am surprised at that scoreline .. Rushmi and Sai never go down that easily .. Hope they are not injured or something .. They did pick up 6 points for the QF appearance .. In the semifinal Saturday afternoon at 1 pm, Manisha and Nadia play unseeded Netherlands pair, Debbie Haak and Jolanda Mens [info: Tennis Australia].

Sai and Manisha are in the entry list for next week's event in Australia, a $10K satellite event at Warrnambool, Victoria, the first leg of a four-week developmental circit of $10K events .. All four weeks on outdoor grasscourts, by the way! .. I would like to see how Manisha does on that surface .. Her last loss on grass in India was in 1997, if I am not mistaken, but I don't think she has played on grass in the tour outside India .. Sai is the 6th in the list and should be a seed, and Manisha is the 10th entry .. I see that Rushmi is listed by Tennis-Australia to have withdrawn from next week's event, though she would have made the main draw easily - I am not sure why she withdrew and I am concerned if she picked up any injury from today .. All three are in the entry list  for the $10K event on the week after, at Benalla, Victoria .. Sai is #4, Manisha is #6 and Rushmi is #13 in the list there; so Rushmi is expecting to play the week after next.  These three picked up a very nice circuit to travel at, and this is exactly what our players should do more of - travel together after carefully selecting events where they have a chance to enter main draws and keep expenses down.

On the other hand, I am not sure how they can play all four weeks of this circuit to earn points at the fourth (masters) leg.  If I am not mistaken, these are not four independent $10K events, but rather a satellite circuit like the one in India right now (ITF lists it as a developmental $40K circuit, as opposed to the developmental $20K circuit in India) .. At least two, may be all three of these three players will need to go to Koushin (Taiwan) for the Fed Cup to play for India during the Mar 19-25 week .. Perhaps they are playing a couple of weeks there only for money and not for points .. We will find out later.

Mar 2 Note-1

At the $25K Bendigo challenger in Australia,  Manisha and Nadia Johnston also won their first round doubles match, 63 61 over Melissa Dowse and Bryanne Stewart .. And they run into the 4th seeded Indian pair, Sai-Rushmi in the QF .. No news yet on today's QF .. An Indian will be there in the semfinals there!

At the 3rd leg of the $20K ITF women's satellites in Mumbai, Radhika Tulpule and Sonal Phadke reached the final today, beating Sheetal and Nina Wennerstrom (SWE) respectively .. Sheetal and LIza are in the doubles final against Sonal and Radhika Mandke .. The interesting matches were all on Thursday .. In the morning, four second round matches were done, with Radhika Tulpule beating Arthi Venkatraman, and two newer names, Iciri Rai and Medhini Sharma winning two good matches to reach the QFs and also finish in the top-15 in circuit points .. Four QF matches were done yesterday afternoon, with the notable win being Radhika Tulpule's win over the top seed and the second leg winner Radhika Mandke .. See the Mumbai satellite page .. Also, see the Points Table page .. Assuming that Nandita, Radhika Tulpule, Archana and Iciri who missed one leg each can get some exemption and make the masters draw (and that Samrita Sekar who played only one leg does not qualify), we now have a four-way tie at the 16th spot for the masters leg .. I hope my calculations are correct .. We will know next week from the ITF supervisor, about who makes the masters leg, and picks up an automatic one WTA point.

Mar 1 Note-3

4th seeded Sai Jayalakshmi and Rushmi Chakravarti advanced today to the quarterfinal of doubles at the $25K Bendigo challenger in South Australia .. They beat Maria Bobeodova (GER) and Giulia Meruzzi (ITA), 61 64 in an easy match [I had written a wrong pair as their opponents earlier - sorry, I read the draw wrongly] .. The QF opponents for them are yet to be decided .. Manisha and Nadia Johnston are yet to play R1 doubles as of thursday evening [courtesy: Tennis Australia]

Mar 1 Note-2

They played a good match it seems, but fell in the end to one of the toughest teams out there .. Paes-Bhupathi l. #1 Y.Kafelnikov-M.Mirnyi, 64 36 57 ..  They still seem to be less than sharp in the latter stages of the match, but perhaps it's due to the recent shoulder soreness mahesh had and Leander needing some rest after all the playing lately .. The score updates at the website started late, and it was already late in the second set with the score at 64 25, with LP-MB down a break .. They held serve but lost the second set 3-6 .. The 3rd set seemed to be going neck and neck with both sides holding serve for the first 10 games .. At 5-5, LP-MB dropped serve and despite some fight in the final game to try and break Kafelnikov-Mirnyi, our guys couldn't stay alive .. Now I think both will be taking about 10 days of break and will be coming to the Indian Wells masters for the week after next .. They picked up 75 entry points each and 15 team-race points, along with $11K to share .. MB's ranking should move up a couple of spots to near #35 and LP's about 12 spots up to near top-75 .. That should keep them away from any potential trouble in getting entry to the masters draws, etc.

Mar 1 Note-1

LP-MB are scheduled to play the top seeds Kafelnikov-Mirnyi today (Thursday) at about 5 pm (6.30 pm India, 8 am New York) .. Come to the chatroom at the official site for score updates.

A win against a wildcard team by the Indian Express has never been a big deal for me .. It was so even when they beat Sampras, Becker, etc .. For some reason, however, yesterday's win against Corretja-Kiefer and the way they did it, left me quite happy .. Some positive signs in there .. I hope I am not speaking too soon; our guys are bound to be tired after that long late-night match and have to play against a tough top-seed pair this afternoon.

The news is not so good from the Bendigo challenger in Australia .. Manisha Malhotra who is playing her first tour event after quite a few months of injury layoff (she did play and looked good at the Kolkata grasscourt nationals a month back), went down in an unusually quiet way, 26 06 to Nadia Johnston (AUS, 342) .. Sai lost in three sets to the unranked qualifier Annette Kolb (GER), 76(5) 16 06 .. Annette is a 17 yr old who is moving on from the junior ranks where she is in the top-50 .. All three Indians are in the doubles draw, though .. Sai and Rushmi are the second seeds, facing qualifiers Deanna Roberts (AUS) and Modita Suer (GER) .. Manisha is playing with the same Nadia Johnston who beat her today .. They are facing a tough unseeded pair, Melissa Dowse and Bryanne Stewart [source: Tennis Australia]

At the Mumbai satellites, according to The Hindu (the only newspaper that has a correspondent there, based on online editions), only four second round matches, those involving the four seeds who had R1 byes, were done today .. All four advanced, though SK Tara and Geeta Manohar gave the #1 seed Radhika Mandke and #3 seed Nina Wennerstrom everything they could handle in three set matches .. See the Mumbai satellite page .. See Nandkumar Marar's report in The Hindu on Tara's and Geeta's effort .. I applaud Nandkumar for going there and watching the matches while the Mumbai cricket test is on .. I am obviously taking a shot, gently, at the other newspapers, especially those headquartered in Mumbai, like the Indian Express  :-) .. Tennis coverage has been very scant these days on IE, actually ..

In the Minneapolis $50K challenger, 15 yr old wildcard Sunitha Rao (USA) won her first round match against another wildcard in three sets to pick up 5 big WTA points in a hurry.

I saw some of the scores from the AITA men's ranking tournament ongoing in Mumbai, in Mid-Day, Mumbai .. No big surprises yet .. Young Rohan Gajjar who came back from the Bangladesh ITF juniors trip went down in the first round there to Vasudev Reddy .. Not too bad - the kid needs rest before he takes off with the AITA team for the Eastern ITF circuit trip in a few days .. If the news keep coming from the Mumbai event, I will compile them in a page.

Feb 28 Note-2

This match went on till 11.45 pm out there in Dubai and turned out to be a good one .. Paes-Bhupathi d. (wc) A.Corretja/ N.Kiefer, 75 26 76(9) .. Here is what I could see based on the score updates at the official web site .. In the first set, LP-MB went up a break in game 5 and kept it till the 10th game, but they were broken there and the score was tied at 5-5 .. Then our boys got a timely break again in the next game and served it out for a 7-5 first set .. In the second set at 2-2, they had two break chances at AD out on AC-NK's serve, the second one on a fantastic return (so said the chatmaster at the chatroom) .. They could not convert them, and it was clear that trouble was imminent (based on the pattern our boys have shown lately) .. They were broken in the very next game to fall 2-4, and were broken again in game 8 - and they lost the second set .. Things looked very bleak soon afterwards, as our pair were broken in game 2 of the 3rd set and had lost 6 games in a row .. It was time for the dynamic duo to dig deep and come up with some old magic, like they routinely used to do before but has been unable to do lately .. But this time they were determined and got a break right back in game 3 to get back on serve .. Then it was a close fight till the end with long games from both side, and we were in a tiebreaker .. I am sure the partisan crowd helped too, like at Chennai! .. Our guys found the reserves to close it out at 11-9, after a 2 hour 35 minute marathon! .. Feels like old times .. I was totally depressed after they dropped six games in a row to lose the upper hand, and fully expected them to fold as they have done a few times lately - especially with both of them tiring on their serves .. Heck, what did I know - the Indian Express still has their magic with them .. Those are two very good players they beat today ..

They have another tough one tomorrow .. It turns out that the top seeds Kafelnikov-Mirnyi did win their first round doubles, though they were listed wrongly to have lost, at the tournament site (and so I had reported below that they lost -- I should have trusted Steve Gocha's draws, which are always correct! :-)) .. The QF is around 5 pm tomorrow - and will be yet another test for our boys.

Feb 28 Note-1

LP-MB are scheduled to play the featured late-night match on center court today at Dubai against wildcards Corretja-Kiefer .. With the fan support they get there, it's almost like playing at Chennai at night! .. I think it starts sometime around 9 pm there .. They have a chatroom at the official website, dubaitennischampionships.com where they have been giving some score updates - not sure if they will be there during the late night doubles match.

At Mumbai yesterday, there were no surprises in the satellite first round .. Radhika Tulpule who had skipped the last week with an ankle injury returned and played a good match .. The four top seeds who had R1 byes (Radhika Mandke, Sonal, Nina and Sheetal) play their R2 matches today .. No news from today yet .. The usual story -- once cricket starts (the first test with the Aussies is on - in Mumbai, that too) all our newspaper sites, agency wires and sports websites simply stop saying a thing about anything else .. Some things never change :-) .. See the Mumbai satellite page.

Also awaiting news from the bendigo challenger in Australia, about how Sai and Manisha did in the first round.

Feb 27 Note-2

The Dynamic Duo will be playing the first round tomorrow at the $1M Dubai ATP, against wildcards Corretja and Kiefer .. I have not been in touch with either in a while, but the Gulf-News reports that they were due to arrive today in Dubai and were to put in some practice today .. Saw some reports of Fazal's final round qualifying match where he lost 5-7 in the 3rd set tiebreaker to #157 Tomas Behrend .. He was down 1-6 in the tiebreaker, fought off four match points, before falling .. Behrend went on to give serious trouble to the 6th seed Dominik Hrbaty in the main draw before falling in a 3rd set tiebreaker, 46 76(7) 67(5)  .. So, Fazal's close loss was to someone who is playing very good tennis - I am still sad that he could not pull off a second upset at Dubai, but beating #279 Oscar Burrieza in easy straight sets in the Q1 would count as one of the best wins of Fazal's career.

Top seeds Kafelnikov-Mirnyi fell to Boutter and Suk, 76 46 67 today at Dubai - so if LP-MB get past Corretja-Kiefer tomorrow, they will face Boutter-Suk in the second round.

At the $25K Bendigo challenger in Australia, Manisha Malhotra plays Nadia Johnston (AUS,342) and Sai Jayalakshmi plays unranked qualifier Annette Kolb (GER) in the first round .. Manisha and Sai are drawn to possibly face the top seed Annabell Ellwood and the second seed Bryanne Stewart respectively, if they advance to R2 .. Rushmi Chakravarti ended up as the top seed in the qualies but didn't make it in .. Four-round qualies, where she had a bye in the first round .. She beat Christine Alford of Australia, 62 60 in the second round but was upset in the 3rd round, 75 62, by Svenja Weidrmann (GER,959), the 15th seed .. Tough qualies, with only four of sixteen seeds making it to even the 3rd round, and only one qualifying in .. No doubles info yet.

At the $50K Minneapolis challenger, Sunitha Rao of USA, 15 year old sensation (top-20 in ITF junior world rankings) has a wildcard to the main draw .. She faces another wildcard, Story Tweetie-Yates, who definitely has the most interesting name ever in tennis! .. This tournament is being played on the same Bloomington (Minnesota) indoor courts where Harsh Mankad and the University of Minnesota play their home games.

Speaking of Harsh Mankad, he has moved up again in the US college rankings .. Now up to #27, from #34 two weeks back and #55 at the start of the year .. Harsh is one player who steadily improved over the last couple of years .. Ajay Ramaswamy stays up at the coveted top-10 spot, at #8 .. Ajay has been the story of the year .. After a breathtaking fall season when he beat a whole heck of a lot of top players to move up from below top-50 to top-10, he had a bit of a slump with a couple of losses last month .. But he seems to have steadied himself with some top-100 wins lately and has kept his ranking up .. He has a 19-7 record and Harsh has a 21-8 record this year .. Ajay is in his fourth and final year and Harsh is in his second year .. On the women's side, Jahnavi Parekh, in her final year, has not done as well, compared to her last two years, and has dropped a bit to #36 .. As for others with some Indian connections, senior Arthi Venkatesan of Australia is at #8, sophomore Kavitha Krishnamurthi of Canada is #34 and freshman Kavitha Tipirneni of USA is a newcomer in the top-100 ranks at #86 .. Uzma Khan is still missing in action, as there is no record of her having played any matches that I can find .. She had transferred from Univ of Arizona to a lower-rated UC santa Barbara, but has not played this year as far as I know and is unranked, after reaching a top-100 ranking last year as a first year player.  So sad to see somebody like her, known for the never-quit spirirt on court, disappear like this from the scene.

Feb 27 Note-1

I have added a page for the Mumbai leg of the women's satellites .. The draws are in there .. A few of the women who expected not to make it into the masters main draw anyway, seems to have skipped the 3rd leg, and so there were four byes in the first round to the top four seeds .. The seeding is based on the points from the first two legs (see the newly added points page for this satellite circuit) .. Archana Venkatraman is skipping this leg, owing to some injury or something - otherwise she would have been the 2nd seed, behind top seed Radhika Mandke and ahead of Sonal Phadke .. I was surprised to see that Nandita Chandrasekhar, who would have been the 4th seed is not playing at Mumbai .. I had not seen any injury news after her final at Bangalore over this weekend .. I guess that means Radhika Tulpule, Archana, and Nandita will all need some sort of special consideration for making the masters draw next week, as they have all missed one leg each so far .. If they will make it, then the top-16 who will play next week and earn at least one WTA point, are almost decided by now; it should be pretty much decided after today .. Four more R1 singles and some dubles matches should be on tap for Tuesday at Mumbai ..

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.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the weeks ending on Feb 26 ..

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.