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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on March 10, 2003
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Mar 10 Notes

Mahesh and Tim Henman advanced today to the second round at the Indian Wells Masters .. [R1] M.Bhupathi/ T.Henman d. D.Adams/ R.Koenig, 75 63 .. The second round looks to be a dandy, against Leander Paes and David Rikl .. Hopefully that will be on wednesday which seems to be the only day when I can make the 2 hour drive to that place ..

In today's new doubles rankings, Leander has climbed back into the top-20 at #20 with the two consecutive titles .. Rikl is at #17 .. Mahesh stays at #5.

Rohan Bopanna and Fred Hemmes (NED) qualified into the main draw at the Vietnam challenger .. [Q1] #1 RB/ FH d. Phu-Qui Huynh/ Duc-Duong Ngo (VIE), 61 62 .. [Q2] d. #2 Rodolphe Cadart (FRA)/ Frank Moser (GER) 67(5) 75 (retd) .. They play Victor Hanescu (ROM)/ Branislav Sekac (SVK)  in the first round .. According to the report from there, posted in our forum, Rohan has his coach with him (I suppose Srinath Prahlad), who has been doing a great job of pumping up RB at the big points, etc - that is great!

At the $10K second leg of the Australian satellites in Benalla, Rushmi is the 6th seed and she plays Chia-Jung Chuang (TPE,434) .. In doubles, Rushmi and Ryoko Takemura (JPN), seeded second, play the Aussies, Adriana Szili and Kristen Van Elden ..

Here are the matchups for the Indians at the $10K NZL F3 futures in North Shore .. #4 Dan Willman (NZL,449) vs Sunil-Kumar Sipaeya (IND,536) .. #5 Stephane Bohli (SUI,463) vs Ajay Ramaswamy (IND,617) .. #7 Mustafa Ghouse (IND,518) vs (q) Hendri Susilo Pramono (INA,958) .. So, the guys are not getting much of a break in the draws either .. In doubles, Mustafa/ Ajay vs (wc) Alistair Hunt/ James Shortall (NZL) and SKS/ Scott Willinsky (JAM) vs Peng Sun/ Yu Wang Jr (CHN) .. Rishi and Jaco fell in the final round of the singles qualies .. [Q1] R.Sridhar d. Anuwat Dalodom (THA,1333) 62 61 .. [Q2] l. Vince Mellino (AUS,NR) 57 06 .. [Q1] J.Mathew d. Dane Fernandez (AUS,NR) 63 76(7) .. [Q2] l. Sanchai Ratiwatana (THA,886) 57 36 .. Jaco and Rishi were in the doubles qualies final.

No news yet about Megha Vakharia at the Cairo-2 satellite this week.

The weird news today was about Sania Mirza, who is under a quarantine in Mumbai on her return from Nigeria .. Apparently due to some travel agent miscommunication, she did not take the yellow fever vaccine before going to Africa .. Because India enforces the UN recommended policy on quarantine, she has to be under observation for a few days .. That means she will have to skip next week's Asian ITF junior grade-1 in Malaysia .. Instead she will now be playing the 4th week (Japan grade-1, following Thailand and Philippines) .. That means she will have to skip the two satellites in India she had planned to play .. Oh well, not a big deal really.

Mar 9 Note-2

The final turned out to be tougher than I expected, but LP pulled off his second title in two weeks .. At the $390K Delray Beach ATP in Florida, [F] L.Paes/ N.Zimonjic d. R.Sluiter/ M.Verkerk, 75 36 75 .. Hello, ATP doubles title #26 !! .. Count in another 175 more points for him, which will take his point total up to 1945, about one fourth of which coming in two weeks actually .. This will take him just inside the top-20 from the current #26 .. He is again making some good amount of money too, this year ..

In other news, Rohan Bopanna has got a wildcard into the main draw at the $25K challenger in Vietnam - but got a tough matchup in the draw, against the top seed Werner Eschauer (AUT,134) .. It appears that RB and Fred Hemmes (NED) have qualified into the main draw of doubles also .. Jaco Mathew and Rishi Sridhar have reached the final round of qualies at the New Zealand futures .. More later ..

Mar 9 Note-1

LP is on a good roll lately .. Consecutive finals for him! .. At the $390K Delray Beach ATP last night, [SF] L.Paes/ N.Zimonjic d. #3 J.Gambill/ G.Oliver, 63 36 63 .. In the final today at about 4 pm, they face quite an unknown Dutch pair - Rameon Sluiter and Martin Verkerk ..

For the $3M Indian Wells masters near Palm Springs, California, the doubles draw has come out .. After a very very long time, LP gets a first round bye (and in an odd coincidence, MB doesn't) .. Mahesh is playing with his good friend Tim Henman (or Tim Moorgiwallah, which is our old name for him :-)) and not Llodra as I had heard earlier .. They play Robbie Koenig and David Adams of RSA in the first round .. If they advance, they get, who else, Paes-Rikl .. My academic schedule (argh!) may not allow me to drive up there till wednesday but I hope I will get to see a "brothers in arms" second round match then though ..

By the way, Prakash Amritraj got a wildcard to the Indian Wells qualies also .. No upset heroics from Kash this week like at San Jose - he went down yesteday to Robbie Ginepri (USA,81), 36 36 ..

Mar 8 Notes

Leander and Zimonjic did not have to play the quarterfinal last night at the Delray Beach ATP, as they got a walkover from the Jensen brothers .. ATP lists the reason as a heart condition for Murphy Jensen .. I hope it is not any serious medical problem - he is a very popular guy and let us wish him a quick recovery from it .. The semifinal is at 9 pm tonight - [SF] L.Paes/ N.Zimonjic vs #3 Jan-Michael Gambill/ Graydon Oliver .. Gambill and Oliver have been playing together as a team for the last few months and are a tough pair to get past .. Oliver is one of the youngest doubles specialists out there - a 24 yr old 6 ft 4" player who played college tennis a couple of years back for the Univ of Illinois but has come up to #44 in doubles now (virtually unranked in singles) .. He has a scorching 135 mph+ serve too, from what I hear - I don't know why that dude does not play singles .. Actually ATP and ITF made changes last year in the doubles entry procedures to get more and more singles players to play doubles .. At the higherst rated events, doubles ranks count for entry (though for fewer spots, with singles rankings also used for some spots) but in the lower satellites, futures, etc, the singles rankings are used for doubles entry to prevent players focusing just on doubles to come up the rankings .. That cannot be done anymore, and so Oliver is probably one of the last such specialists to come out ..

Despite all the criticism it has received, a lot of it from doubles players, ATP's doubles plans seem to be workng .. Yes, quite a few top singles players who enter ATP event doubles are not serious and do it just for fun/practice and some money, but in the long run it will bring out more fans to the doubles matches .. With the upcoming players having to play singles, some of them will end up playing doubles in the lower levels (just because they can enter and make a little more money), with some of them becoming interested in doubles at the higher levels also.

Talking of doubles, here is an interesting article at the TennisAustralia website .. It talks about how there are 11 Australians in the top-100 of doubles with only five or so playing any serious singles and how this "honeymoon will be over soon" .. It is fair to expect that there will still be some good doubles specialist players, generally inside the top-30 or 40 of doubles ranks, who will be making good money and entering tournaments, but in a few years this will mostly be those who have had a good career in singles and are ranked high in doubles when they move on to a doubles career .. That is a good thing for the long-term health of doubles, I believe .. Doubles has hardly had any fan support for the last few years with all the players they have never heard of from the Czech Republics and Australias out there ..

At the Cairo satellite, the 3rd seeds Megha Vakharia and Daniela Bercek (YUG) went down in the QF to Amanda Hopmans (NED) and Elise Tamaela (NED), 26 36 .. So, everybody except Leander is done for the week.

Mar 7 Notes

I hear from a source that Mahesh and Joshua Eagle may be parting ways .. I believe he will be playing with Michael Llodra (FRA,21) for a couple of weeks .. Will try to find out some details from Mahesh - he should be on his way to California soon for the Indian Wells masters next week .. Shoot, this would have been a good time for the old train to get back together, were LP not doing hot with a regular partner unlike for all of last year .. As he is doing quite well with Rikl now, he has to stick to what is working - so I guess he is unavailable even if these two were to consider playing together again (but we have not seen anywhere that they are ready to consider that, anyway) .. Llodra is a good one for now, but his regular partner is Fabrice Santoro and they are ranked #2 this year .. I need to find out if there is any long-term plans with him - probably not, I guess ..

As for Eagle, we will wish him good luck - he is an accomplished player, who somehow did not click much with MB .. I thought MB with his solid and steady style was not very difficult for most players to adjust to and do well with, as his results in quite a few quick partnerships in the past have shown .. On the other hand, some of MB-JE losses were unexpectedly poor .. They did reach a final (Sydney) in their first event together, but that was followed by 4 losses in the next 5 matches .. Though most of us did not think Eagle was a dominating (grandslam-winner) type player like some of the earlier partners MB had had, it was still somewhat of a surprise that MB-JE did not do better together .. Anyway, we will wait and see what MB does now if they have split for good ..

At the $390K Delray Beach ATP in Florida, the QF for LP is set for tonight .. [QF] L.Paes/ N.Zimonjic vs (wc) L.Jensen/ M.Jensen at 9 pm ..

Two doubles losses to report .. Rohan Bopanna and Toshihide Matsui (JPN) lost the semifinal at the Kyoto challenger to Jan Hajek (CZE)/ Yeu-Tzuoo Wang (TPE), 26 36 .. At the $10K Christshurch NZL F2 futures, #2 Stephane Bohli (SUI)/ Jun Kato (JPN) d. #4 Mustafa Ghouse/ Ajay Ramaswami, 61 76(4) .. Jun Kato is in the singles final also there - that shows why the Japanese thought highly enough of him to bring him in the Davis Cup team despite there being a few other Japanese players ranked higher than him .. It also indicates that RB's tie-clinching straight sets win in the 4th match against Japan at Delhi last month was a higher quality win than we realized then.

The only other remaining match this week to know about is Megha's doubles QF at the Cairo $10K .. No news yet.

Mar 06 Notes

Leander's doubles QF at Delray Beach will be tomorrow (Friday).

At the $25K+H Kyoto Challenger in Japan, Rohan Bopanna has reached the semifinal of doubles .. [QF] R.Bopanna/ Toshihide Matsui d. Branislav Sekac (SVK)/ Michael Tabara (CZE), 64 26 63 .. They now play Jan Hajek (CZE)/ Yeu-Tzuoo Wang (TPE) in the semis.

At the grade-4 in Brunei, Sanam K Singh lost in the final-16 to Tamas Krafcsik (HUN), 46 62 64 .. Marutha Devi beat a really young (12 yr old!) Parichart Charoensukployphol (THA), 64 60 to reach the QF .. I believe she lost to Seul Ki Chin (KOR) in the QF, but I don't know the score ..

Mar 05 Note-2

Good and bad news from the Delray Beach ATP in Florida .. LP-NZ pulled an upset but MB-JE got upset .. [R1] L.Paes/ N.Zimonjic d. #2 David Adams/ Robbie Koenig (RSA), 62 67(4) 61 .. [R1] #1 M.Bhupathi/ J.Eagle l. Simon Aspelin (SWE)/ Nathan Healey (AUS), 36 67(4) .. LP-NZ have wildcards Luke and Murphy Jensen, the traveling humor show .. Good players but not at the level they were a few years back - still capable of winning some matches, though, like they did in the first round! .. They still manage to get some fans to come and see all the pranks they pull on the court.

In New Zealand, Ghouse-Ramaswamy won the QF over Matt Klinger (CAN)/ Ryan Russell (JAM), 61 63 .. They play the second seeds Stephane Bohli (SUI)/ Jun Kato (JPN) next ..

The 5th seed Rushmi Chakravarthi got upset in the second round at the Warrnambool satellite in Australia, 64 63 by I-Ting Wang (TPE,558) .. Correction - the official draw sheet now shows the #2 seeds Rushmi-Ryoko to have lost the first round, unlike what I said in the last note, by the same scores 26 36 .. The tournament is on grass; I am not sure how comfortable Rushmi is, on the surface.

Mar 05 Note-1

At the $390 Delray Beach ATP in Florida,  the top seeds MB-Eagle play Simon Aspelin (SWE)/ Nathan Healey (AUS) at 12 noon today, which will be immediately followed by LP-Zimonjic playing the second seeds David Adams and Robbie Koenig of RSA

At the Kyoto challenger in Japan, Rohan Bopanna and Toshihide Matsui (JPN) reached the QF with a 61 62 first round win over Fred Hemmes (NED)/ Roman Valent (SUI) ..

At the Australian 4-week satellites' $10K leg-1 in Warrnambool, the second seeds Rushmi Chakravarthi and Ryoko Takemura (JPN) beat Arpi Kojian (USA)/ Napaporn Tongsalee (THA), 63 62 .. No news yet on Rushmi's second round singles.

At the $10K Egypt satellite, the 3rd seeded Megha Vakharia and Daniela Bercek (YUG) beat Heidi El Tabakh (EGY) and Simona Matei (ROM), 76(2) 62 ..Megha went down after a brief fight to the tough 3rd seed, Amanda Hopmans (NED), 64 16 16.

At the $10K New Zealand futures, the 4th seeds Mustafa Ghouse and Ajay Ramaswami beat the wildcards Adam McNeil/ Adam Thompson (NZL), 36 61 63 .. That is the first win in 11 main draw matches in two weeks with only ONE solitary set won by the Indians - about as bad as it can get, however you look at it .. Mustafa and Ajay will play Matt Klinger (CAN) and Ryan Russell (JAM) next .. In other doubles R1 matches, #1 Federico Browne (ARG)/ Mark Nielsen (NZL) d. Sonchat Ratiwatana (THA)/ Sunil Kumar Sipaeya, 62 63; Domenic Marafiote (AUS)/ Dirk Stegman (RSA) d. Toshiaki Sakai (JPN)/ Rishi Sridhar 64 63

Three Indians are at the ITF junior grade-4 event that started in Brunei this week .. 15 yr old Sanam K Singh is the 3rd seed in the boys' draw .. 14 yr old Madura Ranganathan is the second seed on the girls side, and 17 yr old Marutha Devis is the 3rd seed .. Sanam advanced in a tough first round, Marutha moved on but Madura was upset .. #3 Sanam K. Singh (IND) d. Billy Wong (BRU), 75 67(0) 61 .. #9 Marutha Devi d. (q) Ayumi Koyama (JPN), 60 63 .. (q) Chiaki Okadaue (JPN) d. #2 Madura Ranganathan, 61 62 ..

Mar 04 Notes

As I expected, ATP made corrections on the latest rankings today, giving porper points for the Dubai ATP .. LP moved up from #33 to #26 in individual doubles, and LP-Rikl moved up to #4 in team rankings as well.

At the Australian satellites' $10K leg-1 in Warrnambool, #5 Rushmi Chakrvarthi beat Ilke Gers (NZL,505), 62 16 63 to exact revenge for last week .. She gets I-Ting Wang (TPE) next in the second round.

Bad news from Christchurch, as all three Indians went out in the first round for the second consecutive week .. #1 Federic Browne (ARG) d. Ajay Ramaswami, 63 62 .. Jun Kato (JPN) d. Mustafa Ghouse, 63 63 .. (wc) G.D.Jones d. Sunil-Kumar Sipaeya, 46 64 62 .. Sunil's loss is disappointing, I guess .. GD Jones is a 16 year old, though very talented .. The Tennis NewZealand site says, ".. drawn out but well fought match by the Aucklander .. His success in the first round came courtesy of his power which had the wristy Indian stranded on several occasions. Another factor in Jones' favour was his patience" .. I guess they talked the talk predicting it was a "winnable match" yesterday and then the kid went out and walked the walk too .. Well, what can I say?

Mar 03 Note-2

The new rankings from ATP do not seem to make sense this week, as they gave only the International Series points and not International Series Gold points for Dubai .. So LP got only 250 pts and not 300 .. Looks like a mistake, as ATP had published 300 even in their last week's International Tennis Weekly .. The tournament web site also has been saying that they have been upgraded to an Intl-Series-Gold status (earlier called championship status) for this year, with higher prize money .. So I will wait to see if ATP will correct the rankings, probably .. The prize money ranking shows LP making $27K also, though I think it was $30K ..

It was good to see some news agency articles at the Indian newspapers about Leander's title - I thought they will miss it altogether, with the cricket excitement on Sunday .. Though it only came a day late, most newspapers have the news in their Tuesday editions .. Tuesday's The Hindu actually had a very good article without a byline (that has Kamesh Srinivasan written all over it, with all the details) about LP's improved results so far this year.

Sania Mirza moved up from #488 to #447 with this week with 31.25 points (6 from the Benin City 1 satellite) .. She will get 6 more points, from the second week's title - enough to take her to around #415 next week .. She is expected to play two more satellites in India next month and that would hopefully be the last satellites for her :-)

At the NZL F2 futures in Christchurch, here are the draws for Indians - #1 Federico Browne (ARG) vs Ajay Ramaswami .. Jun Kato (JPN) vs Mustafa Ghouse .. Sunil Kumar Sipaeya vs (wc) G.D. Jones (NZL) .. GD Jones is a talented junior but I was a bit surprised at the Tennis New Zealand's website saying that this was a winnable match for him .. Hope SKS noticed .. In doubles, #4 Ghouse/ Ramaswami vs (wc) Adam McNeil/ Adam Thompson (NZL) and Sonchat Ratiwatana (THA)/ S.K.Sipaeya vs #1 Federico Browne (ARG)/ Mark Nielsen (NZL) ..

At the $10K Cairo satellite, Megha Vakharia faces the 3rd seed Amanda Hopmans (NED,350) .. Amanda was in the top-75 four years back though she is a bit down .. Very tough draw for her .. In doubles she is seeded 3rd with Daniela Bercek (YUG) and they play Yomna Farid and Amany Khalifa of Egypt .. Megs came up 109 spots to #579 in this week's rankings, thanks to the points from the Indian satellite final.

Mar 03 Note-1

LP and MB may be playing Delray Beach only on tuesday or wednesday.

At the Australian satellites' $10K leg-1 in Warrnambool, Rushmi Chakrvarthi (385) is seeded 5th and plays Ilke Gers (NZL,505), the same girl who beat her last week at the Bendigo challenger first round .. Sonal and Geeta who would have made the draw there, have not gone there, though they were in the entry list originally ..

At the final qualies of the New zealand F2 futures in Christchurch, #848 Ridhi Sridhar went down in the Q1 to #962 Hendri-Susilo Pramono, 75 61 today .. I have not seen the main draw yet.

The AITA list of players selected for the East Asian junior tour was announced today .. Eight players - Boys: Somdev Dev Verman (18 yrs, #50), Karan Rastogi (16 yrs, #63), Chatwinder Singh (17 yrs, #109), Rupesh Roy (14 yrs, #195) .. Girls: Sania Mirza (16 yrs, #33), Isha Lakhani (17 yrs, #67), Sanaa Bhambri (14 yrs, #91), Tara Iyer (14 yrs, #113)  .. No big surprises there and basically these are the top four Indians in the boys' and girls' ITF junior world rankings .. Perhaps the only other names I would have liked to see in the list was Kartiki Bhat (16 yrs, #180) on the girls side, and Sanam K Singh (15 yrs, #291) on the boys' side - but both would have trouble getting into the Grade-1 event's draws .. Kartiki missed some of the Indian events due to school exams and that probably didn't help her cause with a higher ranking .. Also, if she were to be picked, R.Madura (14, #156) would have a complaint too .. Rupesh Rao is in the team but he may also need to play some qualies ..  The four events are in Malaysia (starting Mar 17), Thailand (Mar 24), Philippines (Apr 1) and in Japan (Apr 8) .. All four are grade-1 .. It would have been nicer if there were one or two smaller events to start things off .. For any of the other Indians who might self-finance a trip to the circuit, there is a grade-4 event in Malaysia next week (Mar 10), but otherwise it is a tough grade-1 grind all the way .. Not all the AITA players are playing all four .. Sania will play the first three and come back to play two weeks of $10K satellites in India .. Isha will play the first two and then take a week break before the Indian events .. Sanaa will skip the first week due to exams, and will play the next three .. Tara will play all four .. On the boys' side Somdev and Karan will play all four events and the other two will play only the first three ..  The coach for the team was somewhat surprising - Vasudev Reddy! .. Vasu has been actively playing the domestic circuit till recently and still plays the nationals and all that .. Perhaps there was an argument for somebody more experienced in junior coaching who has gone on this particular Asian junior tour before, but you need to start somewhere with such assignments and he might turn out to be good influence on the kids .. Vasu not being a coach for any of the kids might make things fair too, I guess? .. I look at the coach issue seriously, because the kids do need some help and advice from the coach during this particual tour, which has traditionally not been great for Indian kids who see the tenacious style of many top Asian players and the power play of a handful of top-75 western players for the first time in this circuit .. Sania, Isha, Rohan etc have previous experience on this tour though ..

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Mar 03 ..

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.