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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Apr 16, 2001
(Previous week's notes) (Next week's notes) (Daily Notes Index 1997 thru 2001)

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Apr 16 Note-1

LP-MB play their first round match against Landsberg-vanHoudt today (Monday) evening at the Monte Carlo Masters .. It will be starting soon, as I type, by about 5.15 pm there (8.15 am Los Angeles .. 8.45 pm India) .. We will be following the match online in our chatroom.

Apr 15 Note-2

India did win the final tie in the Fed Cup upsetting the second seeds Korea, according to Monday's The Hindu .. It didn't mean much other than in the standings with Indonesia topping the pool and then winning the final to advance from the 10 team group one competition - but it is still a creditable win .. India bt Korea 2-1: (Manisha Malhotra l. Yang- Jin Chung (#405), 26 64 26 .. Nirupama Vaidyanathan d. Kyung Yee Chae (#296), 64 76(3) .. Manisha/ Nirupama d. Chae/ Chung 64 62) ..  Actually this was a good trip, but for the fact that Indonesia was just way too strong and that we dropped a close one to New Zeakand in the second tie .. Some details from The Hindu who talked to Captain Piperno and players Rushmi and Sai on their return today to delhi .. It appears that Manisha came down with some back problems in her three-set singles loss and the last-minute change to the doubles pair caused further problems for us .. As for the 3rd tie, against Indonesia, well, Wynne Prakusya got over Nirupama this time, though Niru had upset her about 2 or 3 times in the past when she was higher ranked than Niru .. With top-75 player (and former top-10 player) Yayuk Basuki playing the doubles also, Indonesia was going to be an uphill battle all the way, as expected ..

I have added the matchups for most Indian players at the $10K satellite for women, at the Chandigarh satellite page.

A couple of good wins by Indians in the US colleges to mention .. A couple of days back, Ajay Ramaswamy, ranked #15, played his final home match of his career (he is a 4th year senior, though he is just turning 21) and upset the #10 player Alex Hartman of Univ of Mississippi, 75 75 .. Today, 52nd ranked Harsh Mankad, in his second year at Univ of Minnesota, upset the #20 player in the country, Graydon OIiver of Univ of Illinois, 62 46 63 .. Also, Harsh and Jorge Duenas, who are unranked, upset the #1 doubles team in the country, Graydon Oliver and Amer Delic today .. Not bad at all .. These two guys have really used US college circuit to improve themselves .. Basically in my view (for wahetever it is worth :-)), these two are perhaps more ready to be in India's plans than most others in the under-22 age group behind the senior four - LP, MB, Sri and Fazal who are all 26 and above ..  That doesn't mean that either has proven to be able to handle top-200 players yet -- we may know that later once they both hit the pro circuit full time - Ajay should be out after tfinishing his studies his summer, and Harsh plans to take a semester off (the maximum allowed by NCAA during the college years) and play from June till early January before returning to school.

I had a chat with Harsh - he said he got dehydrated and started cramping in his 5th match against Motmura, after winning the first set .. Says he was screaming and shouting in excitement throughout the LP marathon before his match along with the whole team, and was probably not ready enough to go out and play a match 15 minutes later, after all the jumping around! .. Harsh said that this was a great learning experience with the whole team being in tremendous spirits .. He also thanked Dr. Vece Paes for giving him lot of advice on physical work from now on to get himself into better shape.

There has been some very good tennis coverage in the Times of India lately (a very good tennis correspondent, Akshay Sawai, formerly of Mid-Day Mumbai, joining them could be a reason? .. well, may be!) .. Here is a good interview article with Patrick McEnroe, the US Davis Cup captain, who guarantees that they will NOT be playing the tie on grass - no surprise there .. Here is another interview from a few days back - with Leander Paes, on his best five matches in Davis Cup .. Here is an interview with Harsh Mankad, also published this week ..

Apr 15 Note-1

Though they would have got a wildcard if needed, LP-MB made it as a direct entry into the $2.9M Monte Carlo masters .. They are drawn to face Johann Landsberg (SWE) and Tom VanHoudt (BEL) in the first round .. The Indian Express could possibly run into the 4th seeds Mirnyi and Prinosil in the second round .. Not sure when they will be playing .. We will be able to follow the matches online this coming week when they play ..

I have added some qualifying results as well as seeds, wildcards, etc, to the Chandigarh women's satellite page .. The qualies started yesterday .. Sania Mirza has been given a wildcard and will be playing her first pro event .. Sai, Sonal, Rushmi, Sruti and Jyotsna will be there .. Niru and Manisha will be at the Vietnam challenger.

Apr 14 Notes

Nothing much ging on, and so I didn't have any updates ..

Just heard that LP and MB are in Monte Carlo for the Masters! .. They got a doubles wildcard in doubles .. They would have missed it narrowly, I think .. That's good news! .. LP and MB were supposed to be at the $100K+H Bermuda challenger .. LP had won the doubles there last year in the company of Siemerink .. Neither would have made the main draw of singles, where the cut off was around the ATP-200 ..

I still have to find the scores from the fourth and final tie India had at the Fed Cup in Taiwan .. Anyway, Indonesia topped India's pool, following it with a win over Taipei who topped the other pool -- So Wynne Prakusya, Romana Tedjakusuma, and the occasionally playing captain Yayuk Basuki have put them in a world group qualifier with that .. Congrats go to them.

Nirupama and Manisha will be at the Vitenam challenger starting Monday .. Not sure if Manisha made the main draw - she was close to making the main draw, if I remember correctly from the list I saw earlier.

Apr 12 Notes

Another tough tie for India at the Fed Cup qualies today - we went down to the top seeds of the pool today .. This was a rather expected result, however .. Indonesia (#1) defeated India (#3) 3-0 .. Romana Tedjakusuma (INA) d Manisha Malhotra (IND) 64 62 .. Wynne Prakusya (INA) d Nirupama Vaidyanathan (IND) 76(8) 67(7) 64 .. Yayuk Basuki/ Romana Tedjakusuma (INA) d Rushmi Chakravarti/ Jayaram-Sai Jayalakshmy (IND) 75 61 .. Wynne Prakusya is ranked #134, and she finally got a win (just barely though) over Nirupama who had upset the youngster a couple of times in the past .. #372 Manisha went down to #367 and upcoming Indonesian, Romana .. And doubles was always going to be tough against Indonesia, as long as veteran Indonesian legend Yayuki was playing .. No upset wins so far for India , like they did last year and we are now 1-2 in three ties, with Korea coming up next ..

Some news from the US -- (Associated Press story excerpts)

"Well, as far as getting the top players to play, there's only so much that any individual can do," (the US Davis Cup captain) Patrick McEnroe said. "If they don't want to play, they're not going to play." ... McEnroe added that Agassi, who has been practicing with 18-year-old Andy Roddick, and Sampras, who has been practicing with 19-year-old Taylor Dent, are providing invaluable instruction ... "Even if those guys never play another Davis Cup match again," McEnroe said. "I think the fact that they're doing that is a huge, you know, testament to how much they do care and do care about the future of Davis Cup and American players in particular." ... McEnroe said that the future will include Roddick.  "I think he's got the potential to be a legitimate top-10, top-5 player," McEnroe said, listing Jan-Michael Gambill, Dent and Mardy Fish also as possible selections to face India ...

As host, the United States gets to choose where to play the matches and on which surface, decisions which have to be made by May 2. Among the cities being considered are Savannah, Ga.; Dallas; Miami; Winston-Salem, N.C.; Louisville, Ky.; Scottsdale, Ariz.; Delray Beach, Fla.; and Wesley Chapel, Fla ... McEnroe ruled out playing on grass, adding, "More likely than not we'll play on a relatively slow hard court or on clay." ..

I prefer Scottsdale, the closest place for me to travel to :-) ..

Apr 11 Notes

Lady luck once again deserted us -- and we ended up getting one of the two worst possibilities out of eight in the ITF draw for the world group qualifiers -- India will travel to the USA in September ! .. Hey, come on down, India -- a lot of us will all be there to cheer (I am in the US, but I am one of those who can cheer India without feeling guilty, as I keep my Indian citizenship after all these years - and I am going to be LOUD! -- the only time I cheer against US is when they play India .. Down, Down, Yankees!!) ..

US is like Australia in Davis Cup - they never leave the world group .. Well, almost .. They have left the world group only once in over two decades, which was when Boris Becker's Germany came down to the US and beat McEnroe, Mayotte, Flach and Seguso 3-2 in the world group qualifiers in late 1987, forcing US to play the zonals in 1988 .. Does anybody remember that 5 or 6 hour marathon that McEnroe lost to Becker in the world group qualifier ? (the score was 4-6 15-13 8-10 6-2 6-2 .. That was Becker at his best for Germany, also winning the 5th match in 5 sets against Mayotte (who had lost to Eric Jelen in 5 sets in day1 too) .. That was one unforgettable Davis Cup .. McEnroe huffed and puffed but made Becker play at his best .. US played two zonals and easily got back to the 1989 world group (thumping a Noah-Leconte France 5-0 in the QF, before falling in the world semifinal in Germany against Becker again) .. Well, India will need to come up with another Frejus-style miracle to reach the world group beating the US in US .. Having said that, it was just two years back that a Gaudenzi and Sanguinetti team from Italy, given zero chance to do anything, pulled off a 4-1 win in the US against Gambill, Gimselstob and Martin .. Those three guys and young Andy Roddick lost 2-3 in Switzerland to Federer and Kratochvil in the world group first round thsi year, which is why US is having to play the WG qualifier in September .. I doubt Pete and Andre will be playing in September .. It should be once again Gambil (#16), Martin (#35) and Roddick (#87), most probably, in the US team .. US never seems to win their doubles match, and that has been true even when top doubles players like O'Brien, Palmer, Leach and Gimselstob played doubles .. They will most probably not win won against India, either .. I will expect them to take India lightly, but they are in for a shock seeing what LP can do in Davis Cup .. Hey, this will be fun (spoken as the true optimist that I am, as always).

In FED Cup in Taiwan, Today was not a good day, as India may have practically already gone out of contention after their second tie by losing a tight one to New Zealand .. New Zealand d. India (#3) 2-1 -- Tracey O’Connor (NZL) d Manisha Malhotra (IND) 61 36 63 .. Nirupama Vaidyanathan (IND) d Shelley Stephens (NZL) 63 64 .. Leanne Baker and Ilke Gers (NZL) d Rushmi Chakravarti and Nirupama Vaidyanathan (IND) 76(2) 76(8) .. India had a good start yesterday against an easy opponent though .. India d. Pacific Oceanea (POC), 3-0 .. Manisha Malhotra (IND) d Nicole Angat (POC) 61 61 .. Nirupama Vaidyanathan (IND) d Davilyn Godinet (POC) 62 61 .. Rushmi Chakravarti/ Jayaram-Sai Jayalakshmy (IND) d Nicole Angat/ Davilyn Godinet (POC) 61 61 .. India now faces the two tougher teams - Indonesia and Korea ..  It doesn't look good!

Apr 10 Notes

The ITF has just announced the seedings for the 2002 Davis Cup world group qualifying round (21-23 September)  .. They are USA, Spain, Argentina, Britain, Belgium, Czech Republic, Slovak Repblic and Italy .. The eight other teams (India, Chile, Croatia, Ecuador, Morocco, Romania, Belarus, Uzbekistan) will be matched up against them in a draw tomorrow in London .. So, I didn't get a couple of the seeds right in my prediction based on ATP ranks yesterday .. India will travel abroad if we are drawn against USA and Argentina .. It will be a coin toss against Slovak Republic whom we have not played in the past .. India has homecourt advantage against ESP, GBR, CZE and ITA .. I am not sure about Belgium .. We have played them three times in Belgium, and the last time was in Australia in 1953 (there used to be neutral sites sometimes those days in a different format) but they have never come to India - so I believe Belgium also will be a home opponent for us .. That means we ended up with excellent chances, much better than I expected yesterday when I seeded the teams based on ATP ranking alone ..

OK, now we wait for another day to see if the 5.5-out-of-8 homefield chance works out in our favor in the draw .. Last year also we had pretty good odds (5 or 6 out of 8) but ended up with the worst possible away-tie after the draw for the QG qualifier - against Sweden .. If bad luck continues, we will get drawn against Argentina down there (and they will be ready for revenge on Vijay Amritraj's comeback win from death against Martin Jaite in 1987 in India) .. Or we will end up in USA .. If lady luck shines on us, we will get somebody other than Britain at home (some team not that comfortable on grass, that is) .. We will hopefully hear some good news tomorrow and will start watering some soft low-uneven-bounce cow pasture at home soon :-)

No news yet from our Fed Cup tie today in Taiwan, another one of the dark corners of the world when it comes to tennis news.

In the latest ITF world junior rankings, 14 yr old Sania Mirza has movedup to #55, the highest ranking by any Indian girl since the final junior year of Nirupama (when she was up in the mid 40s if I remember correctly) .. Sunil Kumar and Vinod Sewa moved up about 25 spots each to #54 and #55 with their grade-2 title in Philippines last week .. In boys' singles, Prakash Amritraj (USA) is at #55, Sunil Kumar is at #65, Vinod Sewa is at #85, Amanjot Singh is at #88 and Rohan Gajjar is at #111 .. In girls singles, Megha Vakharia and Sasha Abraham are at #96 and #164 respectively .. On the whole I think the east Asia junior tour was decent for our team, with some good results for Sania, Sunil, Vinod and Amanjot and some excellent experience for Rohan, Sasha and Megha which will help next year .. I was disappointed that there were no fireworks from Sunil Kumar, but he did OK .. I would have expected a couple more wins here and there by Rohan and Megha but otherwise things went like we expected .. The youngest player of the lot, Sania Mirza, did the best - certainly better than we could have expected, reaching the QF and SF in the final two grade-2 events .. Here is a detailed article yesterday in The Hindu with comments from the team coach Sandeep Kirtane-- Indian coach happy with juniors' performance .. Sandeep seems to have done a good job with the kids, especially seeing that they ended the tour by doing better in the grade-2 events than in the grade-3 events at the beginning.

Apr 9 Notes

There is a bit of confusion going on, with a news agency report (as published in the Times of India and a couple of other places) ..  Anyway, it was reported that India will be playing Uzbekistan (the other team from Asia-Oceania that won in the group-I competition this weekend by beating New Zealand) in a July playoff .. That is not correct .. The Davis Cup situation is as follows (as fas I know!):

The eight teams which won the first round of this year's world group, which are AUS, BRA, SWE, RUS, SUI, GER, and NED, will automatically stay in the World Group for next year .. The other eight will be determined in September in the world group playoffs (sorry, I noticed that I said July in an earlier note below) .. Two teams from Asia-Oceania have a chance to get promoted to the World Group-16 this year in those playoffs (who will join Australia in our zone who has been relegated to group-I level from world group only once in two dacedes!) .. Both Uzbekistan and India will be playing the world group qualifiers, but not against each other, in September .. The eight teams which lost in the first round of the 2001 world group (Ecuador, Morocco, Czech Rep., Slovak Rep., Belgium, USA, Romania, Spain) and the eight teams who qualified this weekend to play them (Argentina and Chile from the American zone; Britian, Croatia, Belarus and Itlay from the European zone; India and Uzbekistan from Asia-Oceania) will be pooled and matched up against each other for the September playoffs .. Out of these 16 teams, eight will be seeded by ITF, I believe mostly based on the rankings of the top two players in each country .. Then the eight unseeded teams will be drawn against the eight seeded teams .. I think this draw is scheduled for Apr 11th, this wednesday ..

If I were to expect, based on the rankings of the top two players last week, the eight seeded teams will be USA, ESP, ARG, GBR, BLR, SVK, CHI, and CZE (or MAR) .. India is of course, dead last in that field of 16 .. Only UZB and India have no players in the top-100 .. India is the only country with neither player in even the top-250 of the world rankings (with Paes at #274 and Mankad at #550), which again shows you what a job Leander continues to do for India, which technically has no business being in the final 24 for next year, trying to qualify for the final-16.. But rankings haven't mattered for us, as we were the lowest ranked team in the world group, pretty much every time in the several years we have been in the world group in the last decade  - and we stayed there by beating other teams in the world group, not by beating any patsies in Asia or anything, as some think (though admittedly some luck in getting some home ties helped)! .. Anyway, assuming that eight of those above 9 teams will be the seeds, let's see how many we have homecourt advantage against in September .. Home - ESP, GBR, CZE .. Away - USA, ARG, CHI .. Toss - BLR, SVK, MAR .. So, we have pretty much a 50-50% chance to get a home tie .. In my view, Czech Republic at home may be our best chance .. May be Spain on homegrass isn't too bad .. Heck, USA in USA hasn't been too tough lately for anybody, especially with Agassi and Sampras skipping Davis Cup .. Any of those three coin-toss teams would be reasonable at home or away .. The worst possibilites are ARG or Chile down in South America .. I have no opinion on a GBR-vs-IND tie in India .. This is all my calculoations -- not sure that ITF selects the eight seeded teams the way I did .. In any event, we are in for some very hard work to make it to the 2002 world group.

OK, on to FED Cup .. India is in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, playing in the 10-team competition which selects one team to advance to the world group .. Two groups of 5 teams .. They play a full round robin over 5 days in each pool .. 3 matches in each tie (2 singles matching up #1-vs-#1 and #2-vs-#2 and a doubles match) .. The teams that top each pook advance to a play off over the weekend which determines the team that qualifies for a world group qualifier .. It's a very tough job to advance, as India is only the 5th best team at best out there .. We are placed in Pool A, along with #1 Indoinesia, #2 Korea, #4 New Zealand and #5 Pacific Oceania (rough seedings) .. Pool B has Taiwan, China, Thailand, Uzebkistan and Kazakhstan .. Topping the pool will be very tough to do, but let's see .. We should have no problem against Pacific Oceania and probably against New Zealand as well .. Indonesia and Korea will be tough, but there are certainly winnable matches for Niru .. If we click in doubles and if Manisha or somebody pulls off a surprise somewhere, we have a chance to come out of the pool .. We came awfully close last year.

India had a bye today .. I would have preferred a bye in the middle of the week like last year, but now we will have to play four days in a row .. In our pool, INA d. POC, 3-0 .. KOR-NZL, 2-1 .. In Pool-B today, CHN d. KAZ, 3-0 and TPE d. THA 3-0 (UZB had a bye)

LP and MB had originally considered playing at the Casablanca ATP this week -- I don't think they are in any shape to play rightwaway after the tough work in Japan .. So, this week is for time off.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the weeks ending on Apr 9 ..

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.