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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Mar 19, 2001
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Mar 19 Notes

There is good and bad news from Pune today, as eight first round singles matches were completed .. Nitin Kirtane and Manoj Mahedavn won their singles matches to assure themselves spots in the masters leg, but the 8th seed Vijay Kannan was upset by Alexei Gavrilov (RUS,857) and Saurav Panja went down to Economidis of Greece .. Nitin beat Bart Beks (NED,1001) who was a qualifier the last two weeks but reached the top 15 in the points list, thus getting a direct entry into the 3rd leg .. Manoj Mahadevan beat Yevgueny Smirnov (RUS,858) rather easily, 61 64 .. Manoj is one who seems to come ready to play and he shows consistency in his matches, rarely losing to those below the top-600 or so .. Manoj, the youngest among our second stringers at 19, has steadily improved over the last two years though I still believe he left too early from the junior ranks, not playing junior events in his final year of eligibility in 1999 .. Along with Vijay, Manoj and Nitin, we will have at least one more player in the masters leg, as Rishi Sridhar and Vishal Uppal will be going up against each other tomorrow .. Mustafa and Rohan Bopanna also will be in action tomorrow, with decent chances to pull off wins .. See the Pune satellite page for all of today's scores.

No info yet on the main draw at the 3rd leg of the $40K Australian satellites, at Wodonga (Victoria) this week .. I saw the qualifying draw and none of our players were in it - so I guess all three (Manisha, Sai and Rushmi) may have made direct entries to the main draw.

Nirupama has been totally out of action for a few weeks, and I believe she has been in Coimbatore with her family .. We had heard that she would be next in action at the $75K Dubai challenger starting on April 2nd, the week before the Fed Cup in Taiwan .. Niru had said that she had decided not to travel to Europe and US unless it is a good series of events .. The US challenger circuit has been on and off these weeks and it's rather the same in Europe too .. After the Fed Cup, she will be fully in action for a few weeks, I think ..

Mar 18 Note-2

I have added the circuit points for the satellites, as of start of main draw rounds at the Pune leg, at the satellite points page .. As of now, all Indian players except Vijay Kannan will need to pick up at least one win to be sure of making the masters draw.

Mar 18 Note-2

The good folks at the Deccan Gymkhana have promptly updated news at their webpage from Sunday and things went very well for Indians .. A few of our players had their backs to the wall and they came through well today .. Rishi Sridhar, Vishal Uppal and Manoj Mahadevan were the three in the final round of qualies today and all three made the main draw! .. They were staring at not making the 3rd leg and missing out on any ATP points by eliminating themselves from the running for the top-24 that make the masters (4th) leg .. Rishi Sridhar upset the 4th seed Justin Layne (GBR,589) and Vishal Uppal beat Harel Srugo (ISR), the 13th seed in the qualies - both did it in comebacks after dropping the first set .. Manoj Mahadevan had an easier time as his opponent retired in the first set .. Good job by all three .. See our Pune satellite page for results.

The main draw also just came out and they have posted that at their website too .. Vijay Kannan is the 8th seed (the seedings are now based on the circuit points earned in the first two legs) and gets a tough qualifier, Gavrilov in the first round .. The eight Indians in the main draw have generally decent matchups with only one playing a seed (Rohan Bopanna - he plays 6th seed September) .. Saurav gets unseeded Economidis, who is a tough player, as does Nitin, who faces Bart Beks .. Qualifier Manoj gets a qualifier .. Rishi and Vishal play each other and I think the winner will make the masters leg .. Mustafa plays Simon Dickson.

Mar 18 Note-1

The first round qualies and some of the second round qualies were done yesterday at the Pune (3rd) leg of the Indian ITF satellites .. See the Pune satellite page for some of the results .. The entries for the 3rd leg are based on the performances in the previous two legs (as opposed to ATP ranks in the firt two legs) .. Some of the tougher players in the qualies who picked up wins in the first two leg main draws have made the main draw already (those like Vijay Kannan, Elgin, Delk, Sherwood, Beks, etc) .. Manoj Mahadevan was the second seed in the qualies and had reached the final round yesterday .. Awaiting news on the 3rd round today .. Vishal Uppal and Vinod Sridhar did not get wildcards to the main draw this time (Rohan Bopanna and Saurav Panja who did well the last two weeks' qualies getting the wildcards along with Mustafa Ghouse and Nitin Kirtane), and are in the qualies .. Rishi Sridhar is the other seeded Indian in the qualies ..

Take a look at the website of the Deccan Gymkahana at www.Deccan-Gymkhana.com (click on "events") .. Very nicely kept website .. The turnament director Anand Tulpule informs us that they expect to update the results during the tournament everyday by 8 pm their time .. They have updated the results of the first round qualies yesterday .. That must be a first in the ATP tour for satellite first round qualifying results to be posted on the internet the same day anywhere in the world! .. Great job by the Pune folks.

Mar 17 Notes

At the $10K Benalla satellite in Australia, 4th seeds Manisha and Nadia Johnston reached the semifinal beating Simona Arghire and Abigail Spears, 26 62 76(3) and then lost to Monique Adamczak and Samantha Stosur of Australia, 46 26 .. In the quarterfinals, also played today, the same Monique and Samantha had beaten the second seeds Sai and Rushmi 62 62 earlier ..

The wildcards for the 3rd leg of the Indian satellites at the Deccan Gymkhana in Pune have been given to Saurav Panja, Rohan Bopanna, Mustafa Ghouse and Nitin Kirtane .. I assume Vijay Kannan has made the main draw.

Good job by The Hindu in getting hold of all the results for our junior team at the ITF grade-3 international in Kuala Lumpur .. It is fair to say that it was a pretty pathetic week for all our players - none of them except Sania Mirza and perhaps Sunil Kumar doing anything less than embarrassing .. Sunil Kumar, Vinod Sewa, Rohan Gajjar, Amanjot Singh, Sasha Abraham, Megha Vakharia - all lost in the first round .. Sunil, Vinod, and Amanjot were seeded 1st, 6th and 8th in the boys section and Sania and Megha were 3rd and 4th in the girls .. #68 Sania reached the QF and fell to the 5th seed Suzanna Babos (HUN,101) 57 46 .. #66 Sunil Kumar lost in R1 to Gunter Austerhuber of Austria, ranked #106 and the highest-ranked unseeded player there, 61 26 57 .. #79 Vinod Sewa lost to Joseph Victorino (PHI,292), 26 26, #94 Amanjot Singh lost 16 16 to Markus Egger (AUT,109 - he had beaten Sunil 46 46 in last week's QF); #112 Rohan Gajjar lost to Dannio Yahya (MAS,224), 26 46 and #151 Nishank Mishra fell to #3 seed Matthew Smith (GBR,80) 16 16 .. #93 Megha Vakharia lost 67(7) 36 to unranked Sae Mi Lim (KOR) and #168 Sasha Abraham lost 16 06 to #258 Adriana Szili (AUS) .. See the article in The Hindu for more score details .. Sania Mirza had earlier beaten Erico Wada (JPN,371) 60 61 and Dianne Hollands (NZL,264), 63 61 .. 14 yr old Sania was in fact the only Asian girl in the quarterfinals as top seed Da-Jung Hong and other talented players like Pichaya Laosirichon (THA), Czarina Mae Arevalo (PHI), etc, had all lost earlier .. In doubles, #2 seeds Sania and Sasha lost in the first round, as did Megha and Julian Welford (AUS) .. Amanjot and Stephen Amritraj (USA) won a round and fell in the QF .. #2 seeds and last week's grade-3 title winners in Indonesia, Sunil and Vinod retired at 1-5 in the first set of their R1 match .. This was because Sunil Kumar had got hit in his eye by the ball .. He is seeing a doctor today but apparently is OK, according to a press friend who had been in touch with Sandeep Kirtane, the coach for the team ..

I just found further results from the tournament and some of those players who beat our guys seem to be pretty good .. It turns out that Gunter Austerhuber who beat Sunil Kumar, has now reached the semifinal against the 3rd seed Mathew Smith .. Lowly-ranked Adriana Szili who put a horrible-looking loss on Sasha went on to upset the top seed #33 Da-Jung Hong in straight sets and is in the semi now against Suzanna .. But still, there were some pretty poor losses for many of our kids too .. Victorino, who took out Vinod Sewa so cheaply in the first round, had lost to Sunil Kumar and Vinod Sewa in successive weeks last November without taking a set, for instance .. The Malaysian kid who upset Rohan Gajjar easily in R1, had lost to Rahul Rajkhewa last November and to Vikrant Sane at Delhi recently, too ..  It is very curious that every time AITA has appointed a coach with a team of players, either in the juniors or the pros, they all lose so listlessly .. The competition was somewhat similar in the grade-3 at Indonesia last week and Sunil, Vinod, etc, did better! .. Are the players feeling some pressure just because a coach is around or what? .. Can't be, but I have no idea why this strange pattern has repeated so many times now, with various coaches .. The press friend quotes Sandeep Kirtane to be saying that the kids are all doubly excited to prove themselves next week, after the poor show this week .. The problem is that it gets worse now, with the next three week's events in Singapore, Thailand and Philippines being grade-2 events giving up to 100 points for a winner, as opposed to 60 at the grade-3 level .. Let us wish our kids the best next week!

Mar 16 Notes

At the Banalla satellite quarterfinal in Australia, #394 Manisha Malhotra lost (in yet another three-setter) to the 2nd seed Kriten van Elden (AUS,322), 57 75 61 .. Due to rain today, they have postponed three of the doubles quarterfinals to tomorrow; Sai-Rushmi and Manisha-Nadia are all playing the doubles QF tomorrow .. If they advance, the semi also will be tomorrow.

At the Nagpur satellite yesterday, Vijay Kannan reportedly looked too lethargic according to the PTI report to threaten the second seed Ivan Vajda (CRO,301) and went down 26 26 .. This was Vijay's 6th singles match in a row and that showed, I guess .. He had also played three matches including two doubles matches the previous day and it took a toll on him ..  Nitin Kirtane and Saurav Panja reached the doubles final yesterday, however, making sure that there will be some Indian interest on the final day today .. Marach and Vajda were in the singles final for today .. No scores yet, but keep an eye on our Nagpur satellite page for update.

The Hindu reported yesterday that Sania Mirza had reached the QF of the grade-3 junior event in Malaysia - but they had no other info.

The junior teams selected by AITA yesterday are - World Youth Cup (16 and under) Asia-Oceania qualies, Jakarta: Boys - V Vignesh, Karan Rastogi, Arun Prakash, Vikrant Sane (Reserve) .. Girls: Sania Mirza, Ankita Bhambri, Sasha Abraham, Priyanka Parekh (Reserve) .. World Juniors (14 and under) Asia-Oceania qualies (Colombo): Boys - Anshuman Dutta, Rupesh Roy, Keshavan Narsimhan, M Vinod (Reserve) .. Girls: Sanaa Bhambri, Kartiki Bhat,Tara Iyer, Sandri Gangotri (Reserve) .. The selections are generally as expected .. The WYC u16 boys selections leave out some at the top of the u16 AITA ranks, but that seems to be based on the fact that kids like Arun Prakash and Karan Rastogi have played many u18 events and done well too .. Also, I wonder why the #1 ranked u14 junior, Vijay Sundar Prashant of Tamil Nadu was left out in the world juniors team .. On the girls u16 side, Isha Lakhani from maharashtra is one who seems get lost in the shuffle - she is quite talented (she was the finalist in the nationals too) but she has not played much in the last few months and her ranking has suffered.

There is a report in today's Deccan Herald about KSLTA (Karnataka State Lawn Tennis Association) secretary Sundar Raju announcing that they have found a sponsor (Lara Networks Inc., a US company founded by NRIs) for their development scheme including some rural and district-level tennis development schemes .. Let us hope that their efforts will bring out more talent from rural areas, as in the case of the pioneering work by Chandigarh Lawn Tennis Association and Rajan Kashyap who found those like Sunil Kumar from such a scheme .. Lara Networks Inc., will also sponsor PC Tejeshwar, perhaps among the top-5 or so among u16 players in India, for some foreign travel as well .. Always good to see that kind of news .. Check out laranetworks.com to know about the company .. The least we can do to the sponsors of tennis is to take a look at what their company does!

Mar 15 Notes

The Davis Cup team for Japan (Apr 6-8) has been announced today by AITA -- Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi, Harsh Mankad and Syed Fazaluddin, with Vijay Kannan as the reserve .. Good to see Vijay Kannan's two wins over top-500 players in the last two days being taken immediate note of .. The Fed Cup team for next week at the Asia-Oceania group-I in Taiwan has also been announced - Nirupama Vaidyanathan, Manisha Malhotra, Sai Jayalakshmi and Rushmi Chakravarti, with Sonal Phadke as the reserve .. More later.

I believe Vijay lost the QF match today to 2nd seed #301 Ivan Vajda (CRO) at the Nagpur satellite .. Scores awaited.

At the $10K Benalla second leg of the $40K Australian satellite circuit, #394 Manisha Malhotra reached the QF with a win over qualifier Beti Sekulovski (AUS,974), 64 46 64 .. Beti had beaten #502 Jolanda Mens in the previous round and seems to have given Manisha some problems today - Manisha keeps on playing these three-set matches all the time, but as long as she wins we can't complain! .. She plays the 2nd seed Kristen van Elden (AUS,322) in the QF tomorrow .. #514 Rushmi Chakravarti fell to the 6th seed Diana Gherghi (ROM,375) in the second round, 64 64 ..  In doubles, the second seeds Sai and Rushmi beat Wilawan Choptang and Prariyavan Ratanakrong of Thailand, 75 62 to reach the QF .. Manisha and Nadia Johnston (AUS), the 4th seeds, also reached the QFs beating the Australian pair, Sarah Stone and Kristen van Elden, 61 64.

Jyotsna Vasisht (IND,622) is at the $10K satellite at Kao-Hsiung City,Taipei .. She lost after a fight to the 8th seed Jin-hee Kim (KOR,567), 36 62 63 in the first round .. In doubles, she is playing with Wukirasih Sawondari (INA) - they face Kumiko Ijima (JPN) and Eun-Mi Oh (KOR) .. Wukirasih, who was the 2nd seed in singles had retired in the first set of her R1 singles match; not sure if she was in playing shape for doubles ..

No news at all from the grade-3 ITF junior international in Kuala Lumpur, where a bunch of Indian kids are playing .. Not surprising - I had warned earlier that news would be tough to find from Malaysia..

And oh, a little footnote - the "great" Aussies ended their "great" run of test wins on a great day in Indian cricket history as we won a test after following on - only the 3rd time it has happened in test history .. And we took 7 wickets after tea on the last day to do that .. Just in case you are under a rock somewhere and haven't heard the news today :-) .. I see the newspaper scribes who have been thrashing India and the lack of spirit and fight in Indians, still finding it hard to stomach .. One even has already written in a wire story - "this is the kind of collapse that you associate with India, not Australia" .. And they also make it a point that a couple of close lbw decisions went in our favor .. As though the rest of the stuff India did was not worthy of the win .. Go to hell, man! .. Go India! .. What a week for us .. First Gopi does his stuff .. Now this .. Jeev Milkha and Vijay Kannan did their bits too.

Mar 14 Note-2

Great news from Nagpur! .. [QF]  (q) Vijay Kannan d. #7 Donovan September (RSA,430), 63 64 to reach semi as the only unseeded player along with the top three seeds .. Ataboy, Vijay!!! .. This is his 5th win in a row including two in the qualies, and his second top-500 win in a row, following his win over #319 Aisam Qureshi yesterday .. The scoreline of today's match is impressive too .. With the semifinal, he has basically ensured that we will have at least one player in the masters leg of the satellites -- I was beginning to worry about that .. Vijay, who just turned 21, was our national junior champ in 1998, reaching as high as top-65 in junior world rankings and playing in the US Open juniors then .. He was even a Davis Cup reserve then - till a series of futile wildcards into bigger pro events he was not ready for, seemed to take away a lot of the momentum from his career .. He is finally playing with the kind of confidence we were waiting to see for a long time ? - I certainly hope so .. I hope he has truly turned a corner; his talent was never really in question .. In the semifinals, Kannan will play the 2nd seed Ivan Vajda of Croatia .. The other semifinal is a repeat of last week's - between top seed Derepasko and 3rd seed Marach who beat Tomas Cakl and Fred Hemmes respectively, today .. Kannan and Bopanna were one of two teams (Nitin and Panja the other) who reached the doubles QF as well .. In the QF today, Kannan-Bopanna went down in three sets, but Nitin Kirtane and Saurav Panja pulled off a 3-set comeback against Anton Kokurin and Justin Layne to make the semifinal against Laurie Kiiski and Tero Vilen tomorrow .. I will update the Nagpur satellite page soon with all the results.

Go Kannan!

Mar 14 Note-1

Two of the three Indians advanced to the second round at the $10K Benalla leg of the Australian satellites .. 514th ranked Rushmi Chakravarti upset Michelle Summerside (AUS,479), 62 26 60, and the 7th seed Manisha Malhotra (394) did a comeback job on Abigail Spears (USA,535), 26 64 62 .. 4th seed Sai Jayalakshmi (363) got upset by Lucky loser, Annica Cooper (USA,548), 76(5) 46 06 though ..

Awaiting news from Nagpur on how Vijay Kannan did today in the QF .. I was so happy yesterday that he beat #319 Aisam Qureshi yesterday .. Aisam is the highest ranked player to be upset by one of our second string players in a long time; Aisam even has a win over Leander last year, if you remember .. Many had thought that Vijay Kannan would some day come through with some wins like this, but the wait had gone on for a long time .. Unfortunately, not a single online national newspaper or news agency site that I could find had any details on his match (what do you expect?  It's cricket test time .. Except for Naoshirvan Vakil of Times of India, I am not sure if anybody else travelled to Nagpur) .. But for Steve Gocha sending me the result, we wouldn't even know that Vijay Kannan had his career-best win yesterday, following up on his first round win over Mustafa Ghouse who is the grasscourt national winner ..

Mar 13 Note-2

Well, well, well .. Here is some great news -- one of our "forgotten" men, has started playing again! .. Qualifier Vijay Kannan upset the 4th seed Aisam Qureshi of Pakistan in a big comeback, 57 63 75 today to reach the quarterfinal today at the Nagpur satellite .. I had said a couple of weeks back that it was too early to forget about Vijay Kannan, when his name did not appear in the list of selected players who would be in a short preparatory camp before the satellites - for once my optimism turned out to be something correct :-) .. Go Vijay! .. Nitin Kirtane lost to the top seed Artem Derepasko, 26 26 today .. See the Nagpur satellite page.

At the Benella $10K satellite (leg-2 of Australian $40K circuit), the 4th seeded Sai Jayalakshmi plays Ilke Gers (GER,437), 7th seeded Manisha Malhotra plays Abigail Spears (USA,535) and unseeded Rushmi Chakravarti plays Michelle Summerside (AUS,479)  in the first round .. No scores yet.

Mar 13 Note-1

Talked to Mahesh on the boys' plans .. It looks like they have decided to take another couple of weeks off .. Probably to clear their minds after three losses in a row, and then to restart right after Davis Cup .. The plans seems to be to hook up in India for Davis Cup practice week after next (instead of going to the Key Biscayne masters for the next two weeks) .. Then it is Davis Cup (April 6-8), and four weeks of relatively smaller ATP events .. They seem to want to work their way up in those events .. So, expect them to play at the $350K Casablanca Open (Apr 9), $100K Bermuda challenger, $400K Atlanta Open and $350K Houston Open (Apr 30) - all on clay .. Then, depending on entries, they will be at Rome and Hamburg masters, in the weeks before French Open .. By FO time in June, they will be hopefully clicking well .. Mahesh is going to New York for a few days of training before proceeding to India.

Mar 12 Note-2

I didn't know what to think after seeing our boys play today .. What a fantastic match - just as we always expect whenever these two teams play .. Right from the beginning when they met at the Montreal masters in 1997 till now, doubles is always at the highest quality when they play .. Once again our boys played very very well, but it's also now a three-match losing streak against those guys ever since the Indian Express went up 5-2 in career record against them with that unforgettable comeback 5-setter win in the Wimbledon semifinal in 1999 .. Now it's 5-5 against the Canadian-American Combo .. #6 S.Lareau/ A.O'Brien d. (wc) M.Bhupathi/ L.Paes, 64 64 at the Indian Wells masters first round today .. Break sequence - [set1: AO broken in game 1, LP in game 4, MB in game 10], [set2: MB in game 10]

The scoreline does not even begin to say how good a match this was .. [set1:]  Our boys got down to business immediately, breaking Alex O'Brien's serve in the first game .. A couple of scorching returns from Lee and one from Hesh did the trick there .. MB held serve easily at love next, and we were up 2-0 .. Then Lareau/ O'brien woke up and started playing! .. In the 4th game, LP ran into trouble with a double fault .. Then to add to the problem, a foot-fault was also called on him at deuce .. He didn't complain, but his next two serves seemed a bit tentative, and that was the opening SL-AO were looking for .. We were tied 2-2 .. From then on, it was a close match that just seemed ready to swing either way anytime .. LP-MB got their best chance in the 9th game at 4-4, on O'Brien's service .. O'brien, who seemed to be playing flawless tennis the whole day, went up 40-0, and then there was a burst from LP-MB, like we had seen many a time from them in the latter parts of sets .. Hesh won a 6-shot volley exchange with OBrien at the net .. Then an incredible running forehand from Leander (after which he almost ran straight into me sitting courtside - wish I had a camera!) .. That made it 40-30 .. Next it was Mahesh's turn to scream and hit a return straight back at Alex' feet .. Deuce .. Then an unplayable lob from Leander made it a break point .. On a nice return from LP, Lareau hit a volley that somehow graced the chalk at the corner and they hung on .. Our boys couldn't have believed their eyes .. O'Brien followed this with an incredible (I should say impossible) half-volley pickup on an apparent winner from LP for a soft cross court roller .. Now it was time for Leander to do his lunge backhand at the net like only he can, and it was deuce again .. Two nice serves followed from O'Brien and they held on for dear life with Mahesh' final return (another scorcher) going a couple of inches too long .. It's tough to figure out what our boys did wrong in there - nothing much .. They were playing as aggressively as they always were .. This was the game of the match, really .. I could only sit in disbelief about how SL-AO held serve there .. Lareau/O'Brien played their very best, and credit goes to them for hanging on .. What happened next could explain how things have gone for our boys .. They clearly seemed to get affected by the fact that they could not pull off the break in the previous game .. With Mahesh serving, a rather frustrated Leander hit a backhand too long for no reason, which was followed by Mahesh losing concentration and incredibly netting the easiest possible overhead .. Lareau did his job at the net to earn a point in there too .. At set point, Mahesh missed what looked like a great shot by an inch and the set was gone .. 4-6 ..

Set-2:  This set continued to see excellent, entertaining and engaging tennis from both sides .. Again the Indian Express had the first chance to go ahead, on Lareau's serve in the 5th game .. Yet another accurate lob from Mahesh (who had been doing incredible pickups all over the place and hitting winning lobs) followed by a lighting-fast 10-shot volley exchange between all four of them at the net that Hesh finally won made it 15-30 .. Then came another 12-shot exchange with everybody running everywhere, with LP stopping it on a soft drop shot that made the whole place erupt .. This was doubles tennis at its finest form of disarray! .. Now our boys had two break points .. MB went for a killer forehand return that was an inch too low .. LP followed with a lob that he didn't put enough mustard on - he should have hit that for a winner .. And it was deuce .. At AD in, Mahesh wasted a chance for a down-the line winner, instead hitting a corsscourt that O'Brien could handle at the net .. Once again the other guys held and our guys were 1 of 4 in break chances .. Then the action heated up again on Alex's serve in game 7 with our guys trying everything they can to get a break .. A tough overhead winner from Hesh made it 30-40 break point .. Now Lee gets jammed at the net .. Got another chance at AD out and Hesh once again rips an aggressive return to the net .. But Lee followed with another scorcher return, and yet again, for a 3rd time Hesh's aggressive return which looked solid at first ended up at the net .. Mahesh clearly was frustrated at this point that they had gone 1 of 7 in break chances .. O'Brien held serve for a 4-3 lead .. LP then got away with some serving mistakes in the next game .. Two really soft serves (I wonder if the foot-fault call was bugging him) made it 0-30 .. He followed it with a hard-serve which got no return .. Then there was a funny scene with Hesh screaming "out" and Lee in the last minute pulling the racket and falling down .. Hesh's call was correct and they basically had a nice laugh with each other .. It was nice to see their communication at AD in, with Mahesh in I-formation (when he shows signs with his fingers at the back) .. LP called off three different signs from Hesh and picked a 4th plan, which of course they executed to win the point and to tie it up at 4-4 .. Lareau then served well for a love game and almost imperceptibly our guys seemed to have lost a bit of concentration suddenly on their own serve in the next game .. Leander looked tentative on an easy chance for an overhead winner, but he got away with a lucky netchord on a soft shot .. Hesh won a volley exchange and it looked like they were fine at 30-0 .. Suddenly Mahesh hits a double fault, and O'Brien hits a great return .. A big serve followed from Mahesh and it was 40-30 .. Then Mahesh couldn't pull off a very tough half-volley shot, and it was deuce .. Lareau/O'Brien were playing almost flawless tennis at this point, by the way .. Once again Mahesh hits what looked like a winner forehand which clips the net - for a 4th time .. At Ad out, Lareau hit the return at MB's feet, and it was all over .. 4-6, 4-6 ..

The match took about an hour and 20 minutes ..  Our boys won 62 points to the 69 by the other guys, by my count .. The difference may have been about 8 errors, four each from MB and LP which were truly unforced - some of them coming at break points when they usually get aggressive, and some in games when they lost concentration .. But I felt that it would not have affected them as much, had they not let their mistake bother them .. They need to forget any futility they have on break points, if my little amateur analysis is correct .. They need to remember that even in their best times, they were not that great in break point conversion .. Their game was always to go for the shots and keep going for it at break points - and regardless of how many they wasted, they would normally get a couple converted in every set .. A recent tendency may be to take any futility or mistakes in their shots to be more serious than it is .. That is precisely what causes self-doubt .. If they stop getting frustrated and just continue playing their game, they will be more than fine .. They are not getting nervous or anything - neither are they choking .. They are over-reacting to mistakes they make, and losing their concentration at key times  - worst still they both seemed to do it together too, if I am reading it right! .. I say that based on not just this match - but also from noticing that similar patterns happened at Chennai, Australian and at Dubai .. You could see that they were dropping their own games right after games where they wasted break chances .. There is really nothing wrong in their tennis .. Frankly, they played better than I had ever seen them play, for most part of this match .. Come on guys, stop worrying and start winning, OK ??    [Now, that was just my "feeling" .. This may not be the case at all .. I have no idea, and I am not an expert in player-psychology! -- just making a guess]

But, having said all that .. I have to say again what a fantastic match this was .. It was so nice to see all the things our guys are capable of doing, and that they are doing it all still .. The chemistry between them was fully there on court .. There is no reason to say that they will not break out and start going on a run anytime! .. They are going to .. I did feel very sad to see how disappointed they were after the match .. Sanjay Singh was consoling them both .. Both Hesh and Lee looked almost near tears that they lost this one .. They wanted it badly .. But credit goes to Alex O'Brien and Sebastien Lareau .. They had to play their best to get over LP-MB today - and they did.

Rest of the news from today following soon .. Quickly, Vijay Kannan beat Mustafa Ghouse in the first round at the Nagpur satellites .. Nitin beat Rishi .. Panja played well against the 6th seed Economides but went down in a 3rd set tiebreaker .. Other Indians lost .. Details later.

Mar 12 Note-1

OK, LP-MB will be playing the first round doubles against #6 Lareau/ O'Brien at $2.9M Indian Wells masters bright and early today on Monday itself .. Not good, because they prefer playing the first round a couple of days into the tournament after more practice time on the courts .. I will be going up there to catch their match.  There will be live scores at the official site (http://www.masters-series.com/indianwells/) .. You can assemble in our chatroom to keep up with the scores (the match starts on court 6 at about 11.30 am there .. 7.30 pm London ..1 am Tuesday, India; perhaps half hour later) .. My updates will be quite late, as I will be up there.

Better news than last week, from the Nagpur second leg of the Men's satellites.   One Indian (Rishi Sridhar) made the direct entry, and three made it in through qualies (Vijay Kannan, Rohan Bopanna and Saurav Panja), and four wildcards are in the mix too (Mustafa Ghouse, Vishal Uppal, Nitin Kirtane and Vinod Sridhar) .. Rishi plays Nitin, Vijay plays Mustafa, Rohan plays Fred Hemmes (FRA), Vinod plays qualifier Bart Beks, Saurav plays the 6th seed Konstantinos Economidis (GRE) and Vishal plays the 7th seed Donovan September (RSA) .. Alexander Jakupovic (GRE) beat Manoj Mahdevan in the final qualies .. The other qualifiers in the draw are Or Dekl (ISR), Lauri Kiiski (FIN) and Michail Elgin (RUS) ..

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the weeks ending on March 12 ..

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.