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Indian-Tennis: Daily News for the week ending on Mar 28, 2005
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Mar 28 Notes

Mahesh and Woodbridge advanced at the Miami masters yesterday with a 76(3) 62 win over Jiri Novak and David Rikl of CZE, but Leander and Zimonjic had a tough loss in a 2 hour 45 minute match against Jose Acasuso of Argentina and Nicolas Lapentti of Ecuador, going down in a three-stter, 67(7) 76(8) 36 ..  Very close match which ended with 119 points to LP-NZ and 122 points to the winners .. Mahesh and Woodbridge play the second round tomorrow against the American pair, Graydon Oliver and Travis Parrot .. That match is scheduled for 11 am there.

At the $15K+H "KSLTA" Bangalore ITF futures, only doubles matches were done in the main draw, with one good upset by (who else) Karan Rastogi and Ashutosh Singh who beat a pretty darn good Pakistani pair, Aisam Qureshi and Aqeel Khan (who had even beaten Paradorn Srichaph an and Danai Udomchoke in Pakistan's big win over Thailand recently in Lahore) .. A 76(7) 64 upset for our boys .. Heck, at least they managed to beat the Pakistanis, unlike the spineless show that our "world beater" cricketers had today .. Mankad-Sunil and Ajay-Vishal were the other two pairs to make QFs in doubles .. Earlier in the day the qualifying final round was conpleted with only one Indian, P.ravishankar advancing to the main draw .. The field is tougher than even at Chennai  .. Harsh as the 5th seed and Prakash as the 7th seed are the only Indian seeds .. QWuite a few interesting matchups in the first round .. Take a look at the Bangalore futures page .. It does not look like we will have much direct coverage and match reports from there, unlike last week at Chennai.

I still have not seen the main draw for the $25K challenger in Augusta (Georgia, USA), where Shikha Uberoi  is playing .. Neha Uberoi (USA,298) is the 6th seed in the qualies and was drawn against Amanda Johnson (USA,810) .. Not sure if all the matches got done yesterday and I am still awaiting today's scores as well .. Also in action is Sunitha Rao (USA) this week, who is at the $25K Poza Rica challenger in Mexico .. #179 SR is seeded 7th and plays Clarissa Fernandez (MEX,217).

The ITF lists Sania Mirza to have withdrawn today from the $75K Dinan challenger in France next week .. Will find out what is up, but I assume she decided to take a bit more rest to get healthy and bring the ankle back to 100% .. That challenger did not offer a whole lot of points and she had entered mainly to get some clay practice ..

Mar 27 Notes

LP and MB play doubles today at the Miami Masters .. MB-Woody play Jiri Novak and David Rikl of CZE .. LP-Zimo play wildcards Jose Acasuso (ARG) and Nicola Lapentti (ECU) .. MB's match is the second one on court 8, starting at about 12 noon  and LP's is the 4th, which should be about 3-4 hours later ..

Shikha Uberoi is epxected to be a low seed at the $50K August challenger starting monday .. Sania has the week off and will be the top seed at the Dinan challenger in France the week after ..

Mar 26 Notes

Harsh Mankad has been on a fantastic run .. Today he pushed his winning streak to 11 singles matches in a row over three surfaces over this month, starting from the masters leg in the UK circuits on indoor hardcourts to the Davis Cup in Delhi on grasscourts and now the $15K+H futures in Delhi .. The final was expected to be a bit difficult, as the opponent Kamil Kapkovic had done very well in the previous two matches when he got past Rohan Baopanna and Karan Rastogi, though Rohan's lack of match practice and Karan's allround tiredness after all the long matches this week had something to do with too .. The 6 ft 5 inch Kapkovic with a big serve was expected give HM some trouble, but Harsh had other ideas - he went and completely dismatled "Cap", in a 62 61 romp where he allowed Kamil to hold serve only twice .. Mankad's game has turned into a smooth all-court beauty these days, especially when he his hitting his shots and serve accurately .. Mankad has gone 23-6 for the year in singles matches in 8 weeks of play this year and piled up 76 ATP points which is a big chunk of his 139 total points as of next Monday (Apr 4th) when the ranks will be updated .. He will go up to a career-high rank near # 270 then ..

I am sure you have seen the coverage from Chennai by our fantastic onsite fanclub member reporter, Kumar .. On behalf of TennisIndia and the Sports-India forums, I should thank Anand Mohan, the tournamnet director at Chennai, and Puneet Gupta, tyhe ITF referee, for all the help (even some cool drinks in the Chennai heat) provided to Kumar! .. Here is his great report of Karan Rsatogi's great 36 63 64 win over a tough Uzbek Davis Cupper Denis Istomin in the QFs .. Here is the report of Harsh's 62 60 quarterfinal romp over Wang .. Here is the coverage one on Rohan's tough QF loss .. Here is the report on Mankad's big upset semifinal win over Jamie Delgado (GBR,224), aptly titled "HM Reaches Finals as Delgado runs scared!!!" .. Here is his report on Karan's semifinal loss to Cap -- "Karan shows true grit but still losses" .. The report on the final is here - "Harsh Dismantles Capkovic" .. When Kumar was running late on anything, or could not cover matches, we also had a second fan, srivaths, ready to step in (isn't it fantastic that we are able to get such great coverage from our own guys?) .. Here is srivaths on one of Karan's doubles matches on the final .. Thanks guiys for all the great work!

Now, if only I could get somebody (anybody!) from Bangalore to come and help us on the futures starting there now .. Not much news at all from the qualies so far.

There was also nice coverage in The Hindu newspaper by K.Keerthivasan .. Mankad wins with ease on the final .. Keerthi had these comments to start his article on the semifinal .. "There is much more to Harsh Mankad's game than mere angles and depth of shots. He is one player who constantly works on his strengths and weaknesses. Unfortunately, even now many dismiss the 26-year-old saying he lacks the height (5'8") and the power to become a world-class player. But what many miss is his ability and an intelligence to optimise his strong areas. Unfazed, he goes on." .. Well, Harsh is only 25, but Keerthi pretty much summarizes why so many of us fans stay up in the forum trying to see what HM is up to! ..

I have to updated a few of the other news items this week .. Will do soon.

Mar 24 Notes

At the Miami Tier-I Nasdaq-100 WTA,  Neha's first round match starts in a few minutes as I type .. About 12.30 pm (5.30 pm London .. 11 pm India) .. Come to the chatroom for score updates and to cheer her on .. Sania's match follows about 2 and half hours later at aboiut 3 pm +/- 30 minutes.

At Chennai today, Harsh won in a romp, and Karan pulled off a 3-set comeback after droppint the first set to reach semi .. Rohan unfortunately lost in a 3-setter .. More later on all that ..

Mar 23 Notes

Sania's and Neha's first round matches at the $3.1M Miami Nasdaq-100 WTA are not on the schedule for today when the first round matches start there .. Both will be playing tomorrow .. Neha's opponenet will be qualifier Galina Voskoboeva (RUS,137) ..

Today turned out to be one of the best days I remember, ever, in a futures in India .. At the $15K+H futures at the Madras Gymkhana clay-courts in Chennai, Karan Rastogi and Rohan Bopanna pulled upsets of the 2nd and 4th seeds, and Harsh Mankad put an end to the excellent 6-match win streak by Vinod Sridhar .. Three Indians in the QF is the very best result we could have hoped for, as only one was even seeded .. The breathtaking (and seemingly out-of-breath) report is there in our forum, from our own onsite fanclub member, Kumar .. Take a look .. Karan's win over the second seed Simon Greul (GER,226) after a tremendous comeback from being 2-5 down in the 3rd set was really the match of the day .. Well, as Kumar says, on any other day, Bopanna's or Harsh's win would have taken the headlines, but this win by 18 year old Karan is one of the most significant ones by an Indian youngster in a long time .. Easily Karan's career-best win .. Gruel, if you remember, had gone 17-1 in topping the India satellites in November, and 12-0 in taking both the $15K futures titles in India in January .. It was not going to be easy to find a way to beat that guy who had won 29 of 30 matches in India, winning all 15 matches over Indians where the only set he dropped was to Karan once in Karan's two previous losses to him! .. But something told me that our boy was ready to upset the second seed today (and I even made one of my rare predictions of an upset yesterday in the forum thread!) .. Go Karan! - Fantastic win! .. Then we had Rohan Bopanna "serving at his dominating best", as Kumar says .. A 64 61 demolition job on the 4th seed Sebastien Fitz ( GER,280) .. That he has returned fine from shoulder surgery is also terrific news .. As for Harsh's match, Vinod Sridhar put up a serious fight, but HM knew how to stay ahead and beat Vinod, who is very comfortable on those courts and has been playing very well lately, with the title last week .. Pakistan's Aqeel Khan got a bit lucky with an early retirement by the 6th seed Ope Der Heijde and Uzbekistan's Dennis Istomin did well to upset the 8th seed Hemmes .. Istomin vs Karan would be a good match tomorrow ..

Kumar has also done an interview of Karan Rastogi for us .. Take a look .. Karan sounds very mature about where he is now in his tennis development .. He is modest in saying that he wants to get inside top-500 in the next 6-7 months, but I think he could be quite a bit higher, if all goes well, barring injuries etc.

Mustafa Ghouse had a new partner for the $25K+H challenger in St.Brieuc, France .. So, not surprisingly, MG and Daniel Kiernan (GBR) they could not upset the 4th seeded Romanians Viktor Ionita and Gabriel Moraru .. They went down 36 46 ..

I have added the entry list for the women's $10K in Mumbai and the men's $10K in Colombo, both starting on Apr 4th ..

Mar 22 Note-1

At the $15K+H at Chennai, the first round got done today, with four Indians advancing -- Harsh Mankad, Rohan Bopanna, Vinod Sridhar and Karan Rastogi .. Unfortunately, Prakash Amritraj withdrew in the last minute .. Not sure of the reason, but Kumar reports from Chennai about a shoulder problem .. Hope PA is OK, and this is really only because he is tired after 6 matches last week, coupled with his reluctance to get on the dirt surface that he seem to prefer staying away from -- he has not played a single event on clay since a first round loss in a satellite leg at Thiruvananthapuram in 2001, which was the only pro event he ever played on clay, before which had only played one grade-4 ITF juniors clay (in Dominican Republic, 5 years back) .. So, I was looking forward to a "historic" occasion today with PA's first clay match in 4 years .. Unfortunate .. Hope he will be in Bangalore next week on hard courts next week ..

There were also three other withdrawals - Aisam, Sherwood and Taino .. Generally, I expected some of these guys to not be too thrilled to come, after the surface was changed to clay in the last minut .. We should avoid doing it this way - as it is causes the foreign players to be worried about the Indian events and staying away in the future ..

Sunil Kumar went down, unable to do anything much in a 16 16 loss to the 8th seed Fred Hemmes (NED), who is only ranked some 20-30 spots above him .. Clay bites sometimes .. Harsh Mankad took a while to get used to the surface against Jaco Mathew who had done excellent work in three qualies matches .. As the practice courts were off-site, the surfaces were a bit different .. One always takes time to get used to the slippery sandy hard surface that goes for clay in India .. HM found himself down 1-5 immediately, but then got going and won 10 of the next 12 games to completely dominate Jaco, who was unfortunate not to get a better draw after all the nice wins in the qualies, like the upset of Nick Monroe .. Also unfortunate was another qualifier, VM Ranjeet who had upset the 6th seed in the qualies earlier - he went down to the lucky loser, Hsieh of TPE, who had taken Aisam's spot .. Ranjeet could not make use of the gift in the draw .. Oh well .. Karan Rastogi got a bit oif a break as well, because Eric Taino, a former top-150 player, withdrew .. He beat P.ravishankar easily, playing very high-quality error-free tennis with a calm temperament, as reported by our onsite fanclub member reporter, Kumar (Thanks for all the great work for TennisIndia/SportsIndia there, Kumar!) ..  The best news was that Rohan Bopanna had ane easy win, and is continuing to look fine after his return from surgery .. As reported in the forum, Harsh and Rohan were hitting for sometime late in the evening and Harsh said to PKB that Rohan seems to be in good shape and not showing any bad effects from the surgery .. That is great news .. See the Chennai futures page for all the scores.

Mar 21 Note-2

The draw has come out at the Miami Nasdaq-100 WTA .. Wildcard Sania Mirza faces Maria Sanchez Lorenzo (ESP,88) in the first round and wildcard Neha Uberoi (USA) faces a qualifier to be determined ..

The news from the qualifying rounds today was not good though --- Shikha Uberoi went down to the 11th seed Aiko Nakamura (JPN,99), 16 26 .. Unusually poor score there .. I assume Shikhka has not fully recovered from the problems she had last week ..

Mar 21 Note-1

Three Indians (Vishal Uppal, VM Ranjeet and Jaco Mathew) qualified into the Chennai $15K+H futures today .. Excellent work by all three .. That makes it 11 Indians in the draw, though initially only three (Mankad, Amritraj and Sipaeya) made direct entry on the basis of their rankings .. Vinod Sridhar earned a special entry spot for the big title last week at Kolkata, and four Indians got wildcards (Rohan, Vijay, Karan and Navdeep Singh) .. Only doubles matches were done in the main draw today .. Extremely tough field for this futures, almost as g ood as some challengers we have had in the past in India .. See the Chennai futures page for scores/draws.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the weeks ending on Mar 21 ..

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 playera, let me know .. Please email me - R.Jayakrishnan