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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the 2 weeks ending on Mar 18, 2002
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Mar 20 --- I am almost ready to restart the notes - probably by tomorrow .. Done with my tough project .. Quick update - At the Miami masters, LP is playing with Gimselstob - they will play A.Costa-Safin in the first round .. Mahesh playing with McPhie - seeded 7th and has a first round bye .. Doubles matches start by thurs/fri at the 2-week event .. This week has gone well for Indians at the futures .. Vishal Uppal had a big upset of 3rd seed Mark Hilton .. He, Rohan Bopanna and Prahlad Srinath are in the QFs .. At Malaysia Grade-2, Karan lost in the first round to the 4th seed, but Tushar (lucky loser), and Jaco reached PQF .. Isha is in the PQF and Sanaa went down in R1 ..

Mar 16 --- I will be busy for a couple more days more - sorry about no updates for so many days (first time I have done this in 5 years while not traveling - so I was on to some important-enough other work) .. Hold on, I will be back soon .. LP lost in R1, MB lost in R2 with their partners at Indian wells .. Srinath lost in the semis and Bopanna-Kannan were the doubles runners-up at F1 in Chennai .. F2 in Delhi - qualies starting .. Indian kids got to Indonesia only in the last minute - and Karan and Tushar went down in the first round at the Grade-3 .. I expect them to do better next week, when I believe Isha also joins (?) based on the entry list - not sure if AITA is sending others .. Over and out!

Mar 11 Note-1

My updates will be very patchy this week, which is expected to be extremely busy .. No, not because of Indian wells (:-)); just work .. I hope LP or MB will be playing by late week for me to try a trip and see them.

I don't think I will be updating the Chennai futures scores this week either - but AITA has started updating scores for some events, as soon as they get the result sheets - check out http://www.aitatennis.com .. If news seems to be delayed everywhere and if I have something, I will post it here .. Bad draw for Indian players .. Wildcards Vijay Kannan, Srinath and wildcard Sunil Kumar, who face 2nd seed Nir Welgreen (ISR,389), 4th seed Fred Hemmes (NED,445), and 5th seed Lee Child (GBR,448) respectively .. 8th seed Bopanna (#585) plays Alex Sikanov (RUS,748) .. Mustafa and wildcard Vishal Uppal play qualifiers to be determined .. Nitin Krtane, etc, had reached the final round of qualies yesterday and they were to finish qualifying rounds today.

Our junior team has gone to the eastern ITF circuit - news on Karan, Tushar, Isha, etc will be coming this week.

Mar 10 Notes

At the Indian Wells masters, LP and John-Laffnie deJager will play Michael Llodra and Fabrice Santoro in the first round .. MB and Jan-Michael Gambill will play Juan Carlos Ferrero and Tommy Robredo .. No news on when they would both get back, and it may even be months - or I guess they could change their minds and want to play together again sooner .. At this point it's their life and it's their career, in my opinion .. The fans and well-wishers have all done whatever we can, in expressing very well what we all want to see .. To be fair to them, these two themselves have also shown in the past that they did care for what everybody felt while getting back together (and winning 6 more titles including a grandslam after the first split) .. This time we won't cry - as there is no point .. I will be really upset only if they don't come through for India when it counts - starting three weeks from now at the Davis Cup, and very importantly in the first couple of weeks of October when we want them to win us a couple of Gold medals at the Asiad 2002 in Pusan .. I would fully expect them to deliver for India, as both have shown that their individual commitments to the country have always been total.

I have not talked to LP yet, but will try to chat with him some time .. Mahesh was brief in his email as usual - just saying "it wasn't clicking" ..

By the way, I am not even sure of they will be defending their French Open title in May .. It's doubtful if they will .. That's a pity .. They have a 12 match win streak out there, with a 16-1 record in the last 17 matches, since 1998 .. But if they don't play they cannot add to the record - but they will have the unbeaten streak intact :-)

Mustafa Ghouse went down 26 62 64 in the semifinal against 3rd seed Jordanne Doble at the $10K Sri Lanka F1 futures semifinal yesterday, but Rohan Bopanna and Vijay Kannan won the doubles title in a tough comeback, 46 76(6) 63 against the Chinese pair, Ran Xu and Shao-Xuan Zeng.

Mar 9 Notes

They had to do this to me - just when they are at the tournament closest to where I live .. That's it; I ain't going to Indian Wells .. Hesh is playing with Gambill and Lee is playing with deJager at Indian wells .. I know nothing more .. I think they will play Davis Cup together (at least I *think* so) in three weeks, but otherwise the Indian Express is at least temporarily decoupled and shunted .. OK, I might go to Indian wells if I can find time, but not with any of the enthusiasm of the past.

And yes, India did get relegated at the Fed Cup to group-II level in Asia, as they picked the last teams from two unequal groups, in an unjustifiable manner .. but that's life.

The only good news I have is that Harsh Mankad raised his record to 15-1 with an easy 62 64 win yesterday against Henry Beam of the Univ of Michigan who has beaten him in the past and was ranked #58 last week .. Harsh is playing with the confidence of a real #1 in college tennis.

No news from Sri Lanka on how Mustafa did.  The qualies must have started at Chennai for the India F1 futures .. Rohan Bopanna was 8th in the entry list with prahlad Srinath at 9th in the list as of this monday .. Mustafa is also in the main draw, with Nitin the first alternate in the waiting list - he may have made the main draw if anybody withdrew before qualies .. Sunil Kumar, Vijay Kannan and Vishal Uppal have wildards along with Michael Mora of Philippines, who must have got it for the Asian tennis federation's wildcard spot .. Manoj Mahadevan will be one of the seeds in the qualies .. Kamala Kannan, Shivang Mishra etc also will be in the qualies.

Mar 8 Note-2

At least one Indian reached the semifinal at the $10K Sri Lanka futures today .. Mustafa Ghouse ended the upset run of qualifier Shao-Xuan Zeng of China with a 63 64 win in the QF today .. Had Bopanna won, we would have been assured of an India in the final, but instead in the semis Mustafa will face the 3rd seed Jordanne Doble (FRA,437) who beat 6th seed Rohan today 76(5) 64 .. In doubles, Rohan and Vijay Kannan reached the final with a 62 63 win over Mohammed Dakki and Jalal Chafai of Morocco .. By the way, this tournament is on a clay surface, which supposedly is not Bopanna's best surface - so it would have been nice to see him upsetting the 3rd seed, but not today .. Let's hope Mustafa can do that tomorrow .. Bopanna got 2 ATP points for the QF and Ghouse has got 4 so far.

Just got the schedule for tomorrow at the Fed Cup - and only the two ties (the #1s of each pool playing the #2s in the other pool with the two winners advancing) are in the schedule .. That means there is no playoff to determine the relegation teams .. Philippines with 0-5 record in the pool-B is the woirst team out there .. They also have a worse games won-loss record of 65 and 185 than India which had the second worst percentage at 68-153 .. The #4 and #5 teams in Pool-B (THA and UZB) both managed 2-3 records and have better stats than India too .. So, effectively we finished as 10th out of 11 teams .. We will await word on whether we have been relegated to group-II - we may have been .. I was saying for a couple of weeks that disaster was awaiting us - and I felt bad being unusually pessimistic this time .. Somehow I had an inkling that none of our players were in good form at this time .. Rushmi did well in India, but she has traditionally often done poorly outside India - I have never been able to figure out the big disaparity in her performance abroad and in India, despite having gone abroad and played quite a lot over the last 2-3 years .. Manisha looked rusty in the Indian events this month, but did play some close matches at the Fed Cup .. Sonal, Sheetal, etc, also did not look sharp in the Indian events - and so the results were not unexpected .. But then again, every player they faced except one was higher ranked too, many of them much higher .. It again underscores what Nirupama has meant to India .. The last time she did not play, we got relegated .. It may have happened again.

Mar 8 Note-1

India went down to Taiwan today at the Fed Cup to go 0-12 in the 4 ties there and finish as the last team in pool-A .. Chin-Wei Chan (TPE,819) d. Sonal Phadke (IND,642) 62 60 .. Janet Lee (TPE,108) d. Manisha Malhotra 64 64 .. Hsiao-Han Chao / Tzu-Ting Weng d. Rushmi Chakravarthi / Manisha Malhotra 36 63 63 .. I have no idea why we did not play Rushmi against Chin-Wei Chan, the only chance for us in the 8 singles matches to play a lower ranked player .. After I found that Su-Wei Hsieh coul not get a visa and failed to go in the end, I thought India might have had a chance in this match .. And why wouldn't we play Rushmi??? .. That was strange .. Anyway, I am still not sure how the relegation is decided out there .. I was told that in a previous instance with 11 teams with unequal pool sizes, they simply took the last teams from each pool .. That is the most unfair thing I can think of, especially this time because the 5-team pool-A had more top-tier teams (3 of them - INA, KOR, TPE) than the 6 member pool-B (only 2 of them - JPN, CHN) .. We will await news on our fate.

Mar 7 Notes

Rohan Bopanna and Mustafa Ghouse reached the QFs at the $10K Sri Lanka F1 .. Rohan got a walkover from Harel Srugo of Israel and now faces the 3rd seed Jordanne Doble in the QF .. Mustafa beat Raviv Volkovitzky (ISR) 64 16 63 and now faces the tough qualifier Shao-Xuan Zeng (CHN) who had upset the 5th seed Dmitryi Mazur in the first round .. Manoj Mahadevan went down to the top seed Roberto Alvarz of Argentina, 36 36 and Kamala Kannan lost to 4th seed Fred Hemmes, 67(5) 36 .. 3rd seeds Bopanna/ Vijay Kannan reached the doubles semifinal beating Christian Magg (AUT) and Dekel Valtzer (ISR), who retired after dropping the first set .. Bopanna/ Kannan had earlier beaten Benjamin Balleret (FRA) and Christophe Bosio (MON) 63 64 .. Nitin Kiurtane and Amod wakalkar got a walkover from 2nd seed Ghouse and Hemmes and then went down 67(3) 06 to Ran Xu and Shao-Xuan Zeng of China.

India had a rest day at the Fed Cup in China .. We face Taiwan on Friday.

Mar 6 Note-3

The out-of-form streak continues for the Indian Express .. Today they went down to Chris Haggard and Marcus VanHoudt, 46 67(7) .. Something is amiss .. If injuries or anything is affecting them, they ain't saying it .. I guess we will wait for them to regroup .. Snap out of it, fellas! .. We need some wins!

No news has come around from Sri Lanka on how things went at the $10K men's futures today .. Sri Lankan newspapers (all two of them!) are pathetic, and one of them has its website down right now .. We will wait for info to come from other sources.

There is a brand new #1 in the US college singles rankings -- Harsh Mankad moved up from #2 to #1 in the latest rankings released today by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's computer .. Congratulations, dude! .. Even I, a long-term supporter of Harsh's, hardly ever expected him to go up right to the top of the rankings .. Mahesh may have been #1 in singles in 95 (he was right up there, but I don't remember if he was singles #1 - I do remember him and Hamadeh being ranked #1 in doubles for sure), and that was the last and only time any Indian did that .. Prakash Amritraj moved to #98 .. Uzma Khan returned to the top-100 after a gap of almost two years (at the beginning of her freshman year, she was ranked as high as around #80 before she kinda disappeared, and later transferred to UC Santa Barbara from U of Arizona) .. Uzma is at #83 .. Shriranga Sudhakar and his teammate is in the top-50 doubles teams.

Mar 6 Note-2

Absolute disaster against New Zealand today at the Fed Cup in China .. India lost 3-0 .. Ilke Gers (NZL,391) d. Rushmi Chakravarthi (449), 63 64, Shelley Stephens (NZL,277) d. Manisha Malhotra (334) 64 36 61 .. Leanne Baker / Shelley Stephens d. Rushmi Chakravarthi/ Sheethal Goutham 61 62 .. I guess we are pretty much assured of ending up last as #5 in our pool now, with only the tie against Janet Lee's Taiwan remaining .. I am usually not this pessimistic - but considering the general form of our players at this time, and with Niru not playing, I just have to think that we have no chance to upset Taiwan .. The question is whether we can avoid relegation from the 11-member Asian Group-I .. I am not sure how many teams will be relegated - I think the last two out of 11 .. I am also not sure how the last two will be picked, as the other pool has 6 members (two of whom, PHI and THA, are teams we should/could beat, and two others, HKG and UZB, are teams we can possibly beat - but we are not in that pool :-)) .. Hopefully they will have a round-robin between the last 2 from that pool and one from our pool .. If they just use some stats to decide the teams to relegate, like match/set/game won-loss, then we are in big trouble .. We have so far gone 0-9 in matches, 2-18 in sets, and 46-114 in games .. Tough to imagine the numbers improving much against Taipei next .. The last time Niru did not play Fed Cup, about 5-6 years back, we got relegated to Group-II .. Let us hope for the best in the remaining ties out there in Guagzhou .. Go Manisha, Rushmi !

Mar 6 Note-1

LP-MB play the first round at the $400K DelRay beach ATP in Florida this evening at 5 pm.

New Zealand announced their Davis Cup team today for the home tie against India at Wellington (Renouf Tennis Centre), Apr 5-7 .. Daniel Willman (348), Mark Nielsen (418), James Shortall (755), and Alistair Hunt (1312) .. James Shortall replaces Simon Rea from the team that beat Indonesia at home last month .. Rea is at the University of Tennessee and cannot go for the Davis Cup - but he did not play in the Indonesia tie anyway, and so it does not make much difference for them .. NZL captain Glenn Wilson said that Shortall's being a proven doubles player gives him more options in selecting the doubles team at the tie .. Shortall has been playing the circuit for a few months since finishing the college career at the U. of Mississippi where he was Vikrant Chadha's teammate - actually those two played some pro events together too .. He is ranked 376 in doubles ..  Nielsen and Willman would probably play singles I think, although I worry about old guy Alistair Hunt, who is experienced and can play - he pulled off a key win for NZL against Indonesia last month against a top-400 Suwandi .. Nielsen is also in good form - he was in the final of the NZL $10K futures last week and is in the QF this week, but I saw a report that he is nursing some injuries this week as well .. Dan Willman is not playing the futures series.

No news yet about the Fed Cup tie at China between India and New Zealand .. Too much of Kiwis all of a sudden :-)

Mar 5 Note-2

Got today's Sri Lanka F1 futures scores .. I was already disappointed that Sunil Kumar was not playing that futures, and now I find that Ajay Ramaswamy (who was playing the USA F5 last week) also could not get there .. Anyway, #862 Nitin Kirtane went down to the top seed Roberto Alvarez (ARG,354) 26 46 .. Manoj Mahadevan put an end to the Chinese qualifier Sun Peng's upset bid with a 61 75 win - Manoj now faces the top seed .. Qualifier Kamala Kannan beat wildcard Vijay Kannan in a tight match, 76(5) 46 62 and faces the 4th seed Fred Hemmes (NED,448) next .. Ajay's spot was taken up by lucky loser Shivang Mishra who lost to another lucky loser, Raviv Volkovitzky (who replaced the 2nd seed Juraj Hasko), 67(4) 46 .. As I reported yesterday, Mustafa is in the 2nd round and faces Volkovitzky next .. 6th seed Rohan Bopanna is also in R2, and faces Harel Srugo (ISR,754) tomorrow .. Qualifiers Kamala Kannan and Vishal Punna lost to Ben-Qiang Zhu and Yu Wang, 26 36 in doubles .. No other doubles scores yet.

Mar 5 Note-1

LP-MB are not in the monday schedule for the $400K Delray Beach ATP .. They should be playing their first round against Haggard-VanHoudt on wednesday.

India lost 0-3 today to Korea at the Asia-Oceania Fed Cup qualifying rounds in Guangzhou, China .. Mi-Ra Jeon (KOR) d Rushmi Chakravarthi (IND) 61 60 .. Yoon-Jeong Cho (KOR) d Manisha Malhotra (IND) 60 36 61 .. Yang-Jin Chung/ Mi-Ok Kim (KOR) d Sheethal Goutham/ Sonal Phadke (IND) 61 61 .. In the other Pool-A tie, Chinese Taipei beat New Zealand 3-0 .. Interestingly, neither Shelley Stephens nor Leanne Baker have played singles there so far, NZL going with Tracey O'Conner and Ilke Gers for singles .. Stephens-Baker have played the two doubles matches so far .. Tomorrow in Pool-A India plays Uzbekistan and Indonesia plays Taiwan .. In pool-B today, CHN d. HKG 3-0, JPN d. THA 3-0, UZB d. PHI 2-1 .. Yesterday's roundup - Pool A: INA d. IND 3-0, KOR d. NZL 3-0, Pool B: JPN d. PHI 3-0, CHN d. THA 3-0, UZB d. HKG 2-1

Mar 4 Note-4

Just got the Sri Lanka F1 results from today -- Kamala Kannan made the main draw with a 63 16 26 win over Nipun Gupta .. Vishal Punna went down to qual 6th seed Remco Pondman (FRA,1251), 63 57 16 .. #3 seed Shivang Mishra got upset by unranked Ti Chen of Taiwan, 16 67(1) .. Then the main draw started .. BenQiang Zhu of China scalped the 7th seed David Sherwood (GBR,709) 75 61 .. 6th seed Rohan Bopanna (IND,581) finally threw some water on the hot Chinese run there with a 61 63 first round shellacking of Yu Wang Jr (CHN,1081) .. Mustafa Ghouse beat the unranked Sri Lankan wildcard Rohan deSilva by the same score as well .. After the qualifiers were placed in the draw, Manoj Mahadevan now faces Sun Peng (CHN) and Vijay Kannan faces qualifier Kamala Kannan .. Ajay, Nitin, Manoj, Vijay and Kamala play tomorrow .. Only one doubles match was played today, with the Chinese team ran Xu and Shaoxuan Zeng beating Tomer Suissa and Raviv Volkovitzky of Israel .. Bopanna and Vijay Kannan are the doubles 3rd seeds, playing benjamin Ballaret (FRA) and Christophe Bosio (MON) .. kamala Kannan and Vishal Punna qualified in and they face Ben-Qiang Zhu and Yu Wang in the R1 .. Nitin Kirtane and Amod Wakalkar play Ghouse and Fred Hemmes (NED) the second seeds.

Mar 4 Note-3

Lots of Indian players are at the $10K Sri lanka F1 futures, except for the one I was really looking for - Sunil Kumar .. Here is the first round draw info [thanks, SteveG!]  - Nitin Kirtane gets the top seed Roberto Alvarez (ARG,354) .. Ajay Ramaswami faces the 2nd seed Juraj Hasko (SVK,387)  .. Mustafa Ghouse plays a Sri Lankan wildcard - unranked Rohan deSilva .. 6th seed Rohan Bopnna (#581) gets Yu Wang Jr (CHN,1018) .. Direct entry Manoj Mahadevan and wildcard recipient Vijay Kannan are drawn to face qualifiers to be determined .. Ajay and Nitin were unlucky with the draw but they are both capable of upsetting the respective seeds they have got .. Not all the final round qualies were completed on Sunday .. Qualies 2nd seed Kamala Kannan  was to face Nipun Gupta today for one of the eight main draw spots .. #3 seed Shivang Mishra was to face Ti Chen of China, and Vishal Punna was to face #6 Remco Pondman (FRA,1252) .. Vishal beat a couple of decent players, Kai-Lung Chang (TPE) 64 75 and Paul Navarro (FRA) 76(5) 63 to get to the final qualies - I hope he has upset Pondman today ..  At least 1 or 2 Indians would have made the main draw today .. Unraned Xu Ran of China upset the 8th seed Benjamin Ballaret (FRA) and 9th seed Mohammed Dakki (MAR) to make the main draw .. Unranked Sun Peng of China also made the main draw upsetting 10th seed Stephen Donovan (FRA) and 7th seed Raviv Volkovitzky (ISR) .. A 3rd Chinese to make it in was unranked Shaoxuan Zeng who upset the #4 seed Valtzer Dekel of Israel .. So, 5 of the 10 seeds went down to the Chinese (what is up with the Chinese these days - I am curious) .. The draw spared the Indians from the Chinese (I know, I am being nasty today :-)) .. #1 seed Jalal Chafai (MAR) is the 4th qualifer who made main draw .. No news on the other 4 qualifying matches and any main draw match from today .. I am not sure why Sunil Kumar did not go to Sri Lanka.

Mar 4 Note-2

India went down 0-3 to Indonesia in the first tie at the Fed Cup, today at Guangzhou, China .. Angelique Widjaja (INA,127) d. Rushmi Chakravarthi (IND, 449), 61 62 .. Wynne Prakusya (INA,99) d. Manisha Malhotra (IND,334), 62 63 .. Prakusya/ Widjaja d. Chakravarthi/ Malhotra 63 64 .. Well, Wynne and Angie are just too good for us to have expected to do much against them .. I think India is playing Korea tomorrow, New Zealand on wednesday, and then after a rest day, facing Taiwan on Friday.

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.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Mar 04 ..

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.