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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on March 24, 2003
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Mar  23 Notes

Damn .. Need to travel for a couple of days .. The updates will be patchy or nonexistent till Tuesday late night US time .. Check out the forum for news/score updates that our friends will be posting..

MB-Henman are on schedule for today at the Miami masters.

Mar 22 Notes

Sorry, I seem to have forgotten to upload the news I typed yesterday (below).

The draw has come out at the Miami masters .. Mahesh can't seem to get away from his former partners, as he goes up against Mirnyi (whom he may be getting back to, after Davis Cup) .. Mahesh Bhupathi/Tim Henman (GBR) vs #7 Roger Federer (SUI)/ Max Mirnyi (BLR), in the upper half of the draw .. Leander-David are seeded 6th .. #6 Leander Paes/ David Rikl (CZE) vs Petr Pala (CZE)/ David Prinosil (CZE) .. I don't think the matches are scheduled for today.

Nirupama and Bryanne Stewart went down in the QF at the Redding challenger last evening - 26 26 to Remi Tezuka and Yuka Yoshida of Japan.

Bad news from Mumbai .. Rohan lost 67(4) 67(5) in the final to Zbynek Mlynarik (AUT) .. I am surprised at how well the qualifier has played .. RB had some 15 aces today .. He had a break point at 5-4 in the first set but the Austrian held tough .. RB was then up 4-2 in the tiebreaker, but lost a whole lot of points in a row .. In the second set, once again RB was serving for the set at 5-4 when the other dude broke him ..  The only comment in the PTI report was that RB's backhand was not working today against the tough baseliner .. This was something I saw was reportedly wroking in earlier matches  - probably had a bad day today.. Getting steady on that element is important for him to go up further, if my impression is right .. [Added later -- I am alerted to the fact that Mlynarik was a top-200 player not so long back; returning from injury or something .. So, his ranking is no indication of how good he is.  Good fight from Rohan actually]

Mar 21 Notes

Waiting, waiting, for the draw from Miami .. No sign yet .. Niru's doubles is later in the evening.

Rohan's run continued into the final at the $15K Mumbai futures in a three set win today .. He now has 12 points from this event - a title would be good for him, as he has 13 points to defend for two futures at this time last year .. See the Mumbai futures page .. Harsh Mankad and Vishal Uppal picked up the doubles title - nice run for them, and they made about $475 each for the work ..

Somdev and Isha went down in the semifinals at the grade-1 ITF juniors in Malaysia .. Isha, who was having some cramp problems, went down 46 06 to Montinee Tangphong (THA,75), but very good work from her this week, in upsetting a good top-50 player along the way, etc .. 5th seed Somdev went down 26 26 to top seed Michael Zverev (GER) who seems to be among the very best young talents emerging in Europe, based on his results so far.

Mar 20 Notes

Still no news on the doubles draw at the Miami masters.  I had thought it would be out by today and they would be starting doubles matches from tomorrow ...

Nirupama could not get past Kristina Brandi (USA,247) in the second round at the Redding challenger, going down in a 06 46 match .. Brandi herself is on some sort of a comeback trail after a terrible year last year that started with a few lost months, but she was ranked as high as #27 in WTA a couple of years back though .. I talked to Niru and it was clear that she is feeling much better about her game than she did after the Fullerton challenger in January .. She said Brandi played a very good match and she kept losing those long deuce-filled games today .. A little bit more of accuracy in the shots seems to be what she needs now, but she has been practising well and is still determined to make her comeback .. She will be in two challengers in Mexico soon and will still have about three more events with injury protected ranking after that .. Doubles QF tomorrow for her at Redding.

Rohan "Bofors" Bopanna rolls at the $15K Mumbai futures .. He took out the highest seed, #4 Fred Hemmes (NED,310), 62 63, today .. The Dutch guy started serving big aces, but reportedly Rohan's backhand passing shots did the job .. Nandkumar Marar says in The Hindu, "Rohan Bopanna knew what it takes .... Hold your nerve in the face of big serves and aggressive intent and it is only a matter of time before the bombing stops" .. Looks like Bofors fired a few of his own too .. 9 aces by Hemmes, but RB matched it with 8 .. This is the kind of match that RB might have lost a few months back, and the improvement in his confidence and match experience is showing .. He plays qualifier Jonathan Marray tomorrow .. Vijay Kannan's nice run ended in the QF though .. Harsh Mankad and Vishal Uppal are in the final after upsetting the top seeds Marray and Sherwood, but the second seeds Vijay/Ajay fell in the SFs .. See the Mumbai futures page for all the scores.

Terrific news from Kulala Lumpur .. Two Indians, Somdev Dev Varman and Isha Lakhani are in grade-1 SFs .. Somdev is the first Indian boy to reach a grade-1 SF in many years (perhaps since LP?) .. Sania had reached one grade-1 semifinal in South Africa two years back, but to be fair that was one of the weakest fields at a grade-1 I had ever seen (but then she was just 14!) .. 7th seeded Isha upset a really talented top-50 player, 4th seed Rui Du (CHN,48) today, 76(4) 76(7) .. She next faces 8th seed Montinee Tangphong (THA,75) who upset the top seed Ryoko Fuda (JPN,13) .. Isha's point total goes from 265 to 335, with her rank moving up from #68 to inside top-45 again .. 4th seed Somdev had an easier time - he played the 5th seed Joshua Goodall (GBR,64) who retired when Somdev was leading 61 21 .. He plays the top seed, 31st ranked Michael Zverev, a super-talented 15 yr old from Germany, in the SF .. Somdev will move from #58 to inside top-40 with his points total going up from 270 to 320 .. The good thing is that both Somdev and Isha may have done enough to ensure that their rankings will be high enough for the French Open and Wimbledon juniors this year ..

Mar 19 Notes

The doubles draw is not out yet at the Miami Masters for LP and MB.

Niru has won the first round match against Elizabeth Plotkin (USA) easily 63 75 at the Redding challenger .. She has won the doubles first round also .. N.Sanjeev (IND)/ Bryann Stewart (AUS) d. (wc) Kristina Brandi/ Jessica Nguyen (USA) 62 62 .. Good going .. The next round opponents are to be determined today, and so she has an off day .. It will be C.Brandi or #4 E.Baltacha in the singles R2 for her on Thursday.

Vijay Kannan continues his "never-say-die" approach at the Mumbai futures .. Today also he dropped the first set, but again came back to win and reach the QF .. RB had an easy day into the QF, but Harsh Mankad had a very uncharacteristic loss, to a player ranked a bit below him .. Ajay also bowed out .. See the Mumbai futures page for all the scores.

No news on Megha Vakharia at the $10K Cairo-3 satellite .. She is drawn to play a qualifier Mandy Minella (LUX) in the first round and if she advances, it will be the tough 8th seed Verana Marie Bellar next.

Mar 18 Note-2

No news yet on Niru's match at Redding today..

Every now and then, just when we start to lose hope on our "next string", we get a match that tells us to hang in there .. Today we got one from 23 yr old Vijay Kannan, who upset the 7th seed (effectively the 4th seed) Hasek at the $15K Mumbai futures in an impressive fight .. He did that after facing serve and elimination in the 10th game of the second set, then fighting through 4 match pts in a 16-14 tiebreaker and finally coming through to win the 3rd set .. Kudos, dude! .. RB moved on easily, and HM did not allow any sort of wiggle room to Sunil Kumar to try an upset on him .. Ajay Ramaswamy got past Mustafa to become the 4th Indian to reach the second round .. There was a surprise on the men's doubles side, as Bopanna/ Hemmes, fresh from the heroics at the Vietnam challenger, went down in a 3-setter to a qualifying team .. See the Mumbai futures page for all the scores.

Here are the results from the ITF Kulala Lumpur grade-1 juniors .. Nice wins by Isha and Somdev, but Karan and Chatwinder went down - all four were seeded and had first round byes .. [R2] #4 Somdev Dev Varman d. Stefan Kilchhofer (SUI) 76(3) 64 .. [R2] Gafur Ishmatov (UZB) d. #16 Chatwinder Singh 75 67(0) 63 .. [R2] Jamie Baker (GBR) d. #6 Karan Rastogi 62 64 .. [R2] #7 Isha Lakhani d. Lara Giltinan (AUS) 63 62 ..

Just got more results - this from wednesday (early) .. Both Somdev and Isha have reached the QFs !!! .. [R3] #4 Somdev Dev Varman d. #14 Goran Belosevic (CRO), 64 64 .. [QF] #4 Somdev Dev Varman vs #5 Joshua Goodall (GBR) .. [R3] #7 Isha Lakhani d. #9 Mari Andersson (SWE), 76 in the 3rd .. Isha's QF opponent may be Rui Du of China.

Indian-American Rajeev Ram pulled off his best win, as a wildcard in the Key Boscayne masters qualies today .. He upset the 22nd seed Ricardo Mello (BRA,131) 46 76(6) 60 !! .. He is up against Jean-Rene Lisnard (FRA,89) next.

Mar 18 Note-1

Nirupama Sanjeev is back on court this week, at the $25K Redding Challenger in California .. She got a big break in the draw (she could use all help, as she only has a few events that she can enter with her injury-protected ranking) .. She plays an unranked wildcard, Elizabeth Plotkin - the top ranked u16 player in the Northern California section of USTA rankings (also ranked #10 in the national u16 rankings) .. This shouldn't be a big hurdle for Niru .. I have not seen the draw yet.

The doubles draw is not yet made at the Miami masters for LP and MB .. The singles qualies started yesterday there, and the main draw does not start till wednesday .. Doubles matches will be even later.

At the grade-1 ITF juniors in Kuala Lumpur, here are the R-32 matchups today for Somdev, Karan, Chatwinder, and Isha - all had first round byes .. C.Singh vs Gafur Ishmatov (UZB) .. S.D.Varman vs Stefan Kilchhofer (SUI) .. K.Rastogi vs Jamie Baker (GBR) .. I.Lakhani vs Lara Giltinan (AUS) .. A couple of more scores from yesterday's firs round .. Tina Schmassmann (AUT) d. Marutha Devi, 63 76(0) .. Julianne Welford (AUS) d. Madura Ranganathan, 75 06 62 .. Decent fight from the youngsters in the losses though .. Extremely tough field, especially on the girls's side with all the top Asians except Sania, and a few others being there - Ryoko Fuda, Rui Du, Yan Chong Chen, Yung Jan Chan, Ivanna Israilova, Montinee Tangphong, Zsuzsanna Babos, etc etc ..

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.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Mar 17 ..

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.