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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on March 17, 2003
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Mar 17 Notes

I have added the draw and Monday results from the $15K India F4 futures at the Mumbai futures page .. Not at all a good day for Indians, but almost all the losses were against higher ranked players ..  The top three seeds have withdrawn .. This was not at all unexpected - it didn't make sense that Wang, Dellatorre and Wassen in the top-250 would send entries in for just this event .. Must have been some mistake at ITF or something .. The top player expected is really Fred Hemmes (NED,310) and he should watch out for the qualifier he is drawn against - a very talented youngster from Uruguay, Marcel Felder .. Both Rohan and Harsh have not played yet.

For some good news, 15 yr old Kartiki Bhat has been selected as part of the ITF Asian u16 team to tour Europe soon .. She will take part in a three-day training camp in Bologna, Italy, starting on May 29 and will then play five ITF junior events - Bologna and Milano in Italy, followed by La Baule, Le Pontet and Paris in France .. That is nice - I was a bit concerned that Kartiki might be getting lost in the shuffle as she missed some of the Indian ITF juniors due to exams and then was not ranked high enough to be picked in the AITA team to the Asian events.

Not a great start for the asian tour for the Indian kids though .. At the grade-1 in Kuala Lumpur today, Tara Iyer and Rupesh Roy lost in their first round .. Rupesh lost to Lachlan Ferguson (AUS,174) 36 63 36 .. Pretty good fight by Rupesh .. Tara lost 46 46 to Taka Bertrand (USA), her doubles partner .. Also going down today was Madura Ranganathan, but I don't know the score yet .. Basically our youngest players played today - it's tough for 13 and 14 year olds like Rupesh, Tara, Madura etc to do a lot at this level, but the experience is great .. The more experienced players like Karan Rastogi, Somdev Dev Varman, Chatwinder Singh and Isha Lakhani will all be playing tomorrow.

Mar 16 Notes

I have not seen the draw for the $15K futures starting in Mumbai tomorrow, but a couple of matchups were reported in the newspapers -- 5th seed Rohan Bopanna gets wildcard Parantap Chaturvedi and the 8th seed Harsh Mankad gets a tougher match (never a surprise to see him not get any breaks in a draw!) - against Sunil Kumar .. Actually a tough break for Sunil to have to face Harsh .. No Indians qualified into the main draw and only two were even in the final round of the qualies .. I am surprised at all the people who showed up there for qualies .. Mustafa Ghouse, Ajay Ramaswami, Vinod Sridhar, Manoj Mahadevan, Vijay Kannan and Nitin Kirtane are direct entries .. Wildcards went to Jaco Mathew, Rishi Sridhar and Vishal Uppal in addition to Parantap.

Qualifiers Rohan Bopanna and Fred Hemmes could not pull it off in the doubles final at the Ho Chi Minh city $50K+H challenger - they went down after a fight, 36 63 36 to the 3rd seeds Rick DeVoest and Wesley Moody .. 42 big points for RB there, though.

Sorry for rounding up the rest of the scores from this week only now -- Rushmi Chakravarthi and Ryoko Takemura (JPN), seeded second reached the final of doubles at the $10K Benalla satellite in Australia ..  Scores - [R1] d. Adriana Szili/ Kristen Ven Elden (AUS) 36 63 63 .. [QF] d. Beti SekGood run there by Rushmi .. At the New Zealand F3 futures doubles QF, Sunil Kumar Sipaeya/ Scott Willinsky (JAM) l. #4 Johan Durandt/ Wesley Whitehouse (RSA), 16 46 .. At the Egypt-2 satellite doubles R1, Megha Vakharia/ Ginna Doz (CRO) l. #1 Marielle Hoogland (NED)/ Amanda Hopmans (NED), 26 36

Mar 15 Notes

LP's nine match win streak came to an end yesterday .. [SF] #8 L.Paes/ D.Rikl l. #3 B.Bryan/ M.Bryan, 36 68(6) .. Our pair had one break in the match and the American twins had two .. Not converting 6 of 7 break chances and the other team comng through in 2 of their four chances seems to have been the difference in the match, which looks to be competitive based on the stats .. I couldn't go, as I was having a very busy few days .. According to the forum posting based on the live updates, LP-DR were well on the way to evening it at 5-2 in the tiebreaker, but lost 2 points on serve after that to lose the match ..

Good news from the $50K+H Vietnam chalenger .. Qualifiers Rohan Bopanna and Fred Hemmes are in the doubles finals! .. They face Rik de Voest and Wesley Moodie (RSA) .. [SF] d. Amir Hadad/ Andy Ram (ISR), 63 26 64 .. [QF] d. Noam Behr (ISR)/ John Hui (HKG) 63 36 63 .. That is 42 points (to add to 122) so far for RB and his ranking will move up about 60 from #321 .. Can get 18 more pts from a title.

More later today.

Mar 13 Note-2

LP seems to be in the kind of form that he was in at Wimbledon time in 99 -- simply not losing a doubles match even if he wanted to .. Sorry, I couldn't go today and so have no details, but the win streak continues - [QF] #8 L.Paes/ D.Rikl d. #1 M.Knowles/ D.Nestor, 64 76(4) .. That is a tough team to beat, for sure .. 225 more points for LP .. Next up are the Bryan brothers .. I was hoping they would not schedule it for Friday when I can't go there again .. But it is on at 2 pm tomorrow.

Rohan is in the doubles semis at the Vietnam challenger .. More later; gotta run.

Mar 13 Note-1

LP and Rikl have a tough quarterfinal, set for today at the Indian Wells Masters .. [QF] #8 L.Paes/ D.Rikl vs #1 M.Knowles/ D.Nestor .. Unfortunately I can't go today due to my having to give priority to my students' important PhD exams .. Came close to abdicating my professorial responsibilities, but better sense prevailed I guess :-)) .. If any of you fans watch the match, do send me a match report .. We will try to meet in the forum chatroom .. The match is set for about 5 pm today (6.30 am Friday, India).

I have posted something in our  forum about my chat with LP after the match.  He is basically done with tour level singles though he never officially announced it .. Thank You Leander, for all the tour singles memories, and for keeping India on the tour for quite a few years since RK left the scene.

Mar 12 Note-2

Well, I expected a dandy between the old pals at the Indian Wells Masters, and pretty much got one .. Not that the match was really all that dramatic, but quite an enjoyable and competitive one .. Leander continues his win streak - [R2] #8 L.Paes/ D.Rikl d. M.Bhupathi/ T.Henman, 62 36 62 .. The match was moved to a bigger court as it was getting late on the originally scheduled court, and it started with some 1000 odd people in the stands .. That is an unusually big crowd for a second round doubles match - based on the loud applause for Henman when he was introduced, it appeared that a good number of his fans had walked in to check out what this thing called "doubles" was, I guess .. They definitely got to see some very enjoyable tennis .. The turning poing in the first set was when David Rikl was facing double break points in the 3rd game, following a Henman lob that LP-DR left alone falling in .. LP-DR fought hard to take it to five deuces and 5 break points, with Rikl finally holding for 2-2 ..  In the next game, after an ace, a service winner and a double fault from MB, a terrific lob from LP that hit the chalk behind Henman gave LP-DR the break .. For good measure they broke Henman in the 7th game as well .. 6-2 set .. MB did look a little off-color in the first set, with quite a few shots going too long .. In the second set, LP was broken in the second game as MB and TH attacked the net successfully .. LP-DR broke Henman in the next game, however .. Henman, by the way, was playing very well, coming up with quite a few great touch shots as well to go with some stinging returns and volleys down the middle to no man's land .. MB came to his elements later in the second set, which was the reason for David Rikl being broken in the 8th game to fall 3-5 .. Soon the match was even at a set apiece .. The next turning point was in the second game of the 3rd set when MB was serving .. MB dropped serve there primarily due to two calls that could have gone either way .. One was a second serve that MB thought was good, and another was a lob from DR that MB and TH thought fell out .. I can't say they were bad calls but I wouldn't have been surprised if the call went the other way either .. Anyway, the damage was done .. LP came up with some incredible overhead backhand crosscourts at around this time which made everybody go "oooh" .. David Rikl was steady throughout the match too .. They would not lose the advantage and finished the match with a break on Henman in the 8th game ..

Basically this was a match which had every type of doubles action .. Quite a lot of cute shots and lobs and everything, because they knew that all four were solid players - keeping the opposition off-balance seemed to be the idea .. It was clear to see that Leander Paes (who probably made only one or two unforced errors in the whole match) is back to his best doubles form .. It is also clear that he is enjoying it out there .. Mahesh seemed to be playing quite well too, though I felt he was a little bit off in the accuracy of some of the shots .. All in all, a fun match to see .. One of the two teams had to lose, you know ..

Mar 12 Note-1

Sorry for no updates yesterday - busy week for me, but we had done some score updates in the forum threads .. Do check there also if you are looking for scores and I am late in rounding up here .. I will be rounding up the scores here as usual, but you will also find many of the scores in the forum, posted by myself and a couple of others, though you have to look in multiple threads ..

Mahesh and Tim Moorgiwallah will be playing the 8th seeds Paes and Rikl tonight in a dandy doubles match at the Indian Wells Masters second round .. Yours truly will of course be there rooting for both the teams :-) .. It is the final match on court 5, to start sometime around 4.30 pm in California (6 am India) .. There will also be live score updates at the official site - you can go to our forum chatroom and chat with others who may be there during the match (let me or any of the forum moderators know if you had any problems with that new chatroom - the email links to us are at the forum .. Or post in the forum about any problems) ..

Mahesh says that it will be Tim Henman as his partner for the next event at Miami (Key Biscayne masters) also .. I believe the plan is to get back with Max Mirnyi by the Monte Carlo masters (Apr 14), which is in the second week after Davis Cup in India (which is in the week after the 2-week Miami event) .. Max is a much better partner, probably the best for MB, except for that other partner we all like :-)

At the $50K+H challenger in Vietnam, the top seed Werner Eschauer (AUT,136) defeated the wildcard Rohan Bopanna, 76(2) 61 .. RB has reached the doubles QF though - [R1] (q) R.Bopanna/ Fred Hemmes (NED) d. (LL) Phu-Qui Huynh/ Duc-Duong Ngo (VIE) 61 63 .. That is the same team they had beaten in the doubles qualies also .. Now they get the 4th seeds Noam Behr (ISR) and John Hui (HKG) in the quarterfinals.

Mustafa, who has had such a long run of poor results, has finally come through with some decent wins in New Zealand .. He has reached the QF of the $10K F3 futures at North Shore .. [R1] #7 Mustafa Ghouse (IND,525) d. (q) Hendri Susilo Pramono (INA,960), 75 64 .. [R2] d. (wc) Rob Cheyne (NZL,990), 64 36 76(3) .. Robbie is a Davis Cupper for them and is not an easy player, despite his lower rank .. Mustafa Ghouse now faces the 3rd seed Dirk Stegmann (RSA,439) .. The other Indian to pick up a point is Rishi Sridhar, who entered the main draw as a lucky loser and picked up one win .. [R1] (LL) Rishi Sridhar (IND,850) d. Toshiaki Sakai (JPN,707), 61 26 33 (retd.) .. In the second round he fell to the 8th seed Jan Minar (CZE,470), 46 46 .. in other first round matches, 4th seed Dan Willman (NZL,448) d. Sunil-Kumar Sipaeya (542), 75 63 and 5th seed Stephane Bohli (SUI,461) d. Ajay Ramaswami (IND,622), 62 62 .. So Sunil and Ajay will come back without picking up any singles points from the three futures in NZL .. That's a pity ..  In doubles the NZL Davis Cup doublespair of Alistair Hunt and James Shortall (wildcards) upset the 3rd seeds Mustafa and Ajay, 63 76(4) .. Hendri Susilo Pramono and Febi Widhiyanto (INA) beat qualifiers Jaco Mathew and Rishi, 67(5) 63 62 in the R1 .. Sunil Kumar and Scott Willinsky advanced to the QF with a win over Peng Sun and Yu Wang Jr of China, 62 76(5) ..

At the $10K Benalla satellite-leg in Australia, 6th seed Rushmi went down to Chia-Jung Chuang (TPE,434), 16 36 .. No doubles scores for her yet.

Megha Vakharia is at the $10K Cairo-2 satellite and is drawn to play wildcard Heidi El Tabakh (EGY,943) in the R1, but she would run into the top seed if she wins .. She also had a tough doubles draw .. [R1] #1 Marielle Hoogland (NED)/ Amanda Hopmans (NED) d. Ginna Doz (CRO)/ Megha Vakharia, 62 63 ..

Finally some really good results to report from Sunitha Rao (USA,177), who has qualified into the $50K challenger in Mesa, Arizona .. This one had a pretty impressive main draw cut and one of the tougher qualifying fields I have ever seen .. [Q1] Sunitha Rao d. #4 Maria Goloviznina (RUS,138), 64 36 63 .. [Q2] d. Christina Wheeler (AUS,175) 67(3) 63 75 .. [Q3] d. Elena Baltacha (GBR,163), 64 76(6) .. Wow, those are some tough wins, especially the win over the 4th seed .. In the main draw, she gets the wildcard Terryn Ashley (USA,155)  .. That is a tough match, especially with Sunitha having played three tough ones already in the qualies .. Terryn had reached the semis of the St.Paul challenger a couple of weeks back and is one who has just moved up some 30 spots - so she is paying well too .. Sunitha is really showing these days that she is as good as advertised .. I keep following her rather closely - as we have heard time and again that there is interest from her and her dad about playing for her ancestral country .. On the other hand, some sponsors from India needs to show interest in picking up the girl though - it is not easy for players to just switch countries and lose the sponsors they now have .. Hey, any Indian Industries watching? - this girl is not going away and her name is going to be up in the top-100 soon and for a few years too .. She is just 17, still! .. If that works out, India will pretty much instantly be placed on the map with a team led by two Hyderabadis - Sania and Sunitha.

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.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Mar 10 ..

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.