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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Apr 23, 2001
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Apr 23 Notes

Quick updates -- LP-MB are the 4th seeds at the $400K Verizon Atlanta Tennis Challenge ATP .. They face the wildcards, Goldstein and Roddick in the first round .. Hey, hey, we don't want any steenkin US Davis Cuppers playing our guys to scout -- what is this, someone fixing a draw or what ?  (kidding) .. They are not in the schedule for today .. Great news from Vietnam -- see The Hindu article about Niru and Manisha winning the doubles title .. The semifinal jinx in singles once again for Niru  -- this time she had 2 match pts at 5-4 in the 3rd and then lost in the tiebreaker to the second seed Na Li .. Oh well .. But a great week for her and Manisha - congrats ! .. I will compile and give all their results soon .. Here is the new page for the Pune satellite - I have updated today's scores .. Radhika had a tough win over Sheetal .. Sonal had a surprisingly tough time against Preeti Rao but played well in the end to move on .. Sania had a double bagel win! .. Dea and Rushmi (last week's finalists) will meet in the second round .. More later.

Apr 22 Notes

It appears that Niru had reached the quarterfinal at the $25K challenger in Vietnam .. When we heard last, she was to play Shiho Hisamatsu (JPN,302) in the QF .. It also seems that Nirupama and Manisha had reached the smifinals of doubles as well, and were to play Na Li and Lui-Li Shen of China (thanks, danker for the info!)

At the $10K Pune ITF satellite qualies, there were a couple of upsets by Indians today in the final qualies - Medini Sharma upset the 7th seed (and last week's cinderella semifinalist!) Karen Paterson (GBR), 16 64 62 .. Then Radhika Mandke upset the #4 seed Pichaya Laosirichon (THA), 61 76(1) too .. Other results from today are - Liza Pererira d. Preeti Rao, 61 61 .. Nandini Perumal d. Chirashanti Rajur, 63 63 .. Isha Lakhani d. Lata Assudhani, 63 60 .. Samrita sekhar d. M.Kamini, 63 60  .. Maruta devi d. Kalpita Raje, 61 63 .. Mojca Mileta (SLO) d. Ashlesha Lokhande, 63 64 .. So seven Indians made it through the qualies - good show .. We will know the main draw matchups soon, and I will start a page for the event.

Apr 21 Note-2

LP-MB will be headed to Atlanta tomorrow, and will be playing doubles at the $400K Atlanta Tennis Challenge ATP, according to Mahesh .. That means they have not made any changes in their schedule and should be playing at Atlanta this coming week and at the $400K Houston ATP the week after .. The fanclub folks in Atlanta will get to see LP and MB for the first time since the Olympics, and the folks in Texas can catch them for the first time ever.  Cool!

Here is a preview article on the Tata Tennis Legends tournament starting in Mumbai on May 3rd with Borg, Leconte, Vilas, Bahrami, Ross Case and V.Amritraj .. It looks like the title sponsors for the event are the Tata Group .. That is good news too .. I had written below about Pepsi also being a sponsor for this event .. Need to keep an eye open for the big sponsors coming into tennis - now that ITC is out.

Sorry folks - still no news about Niru and Manisha at the Vietnam challenger ..

The qualies started at the $10K ITF women's satellite at Pune today (Check out the wonderfully prompt news at the website by the Deccan Gymkahana - - I wish more tournaments around the world would do what we do in India) .. Only the first round was there and most top entries in the qualies had byes to the second round .. In one notable result, Radhika Mandke beat Donna Calvert (AUS) 76(2) 62 .. Preeti Rao, M.Kamini, Kalpita Raje, Lata Assudhani, Medhini Sharma, Chirashanti Rajur and Ashlesha Lokhande were the others to advance to second round of qualies .. Liza Periera, Nandini Perumal, Isha Lakhani, Pichaya Laosirichon (THA), Samrita Sekhar, Karen Paterson (BGR), Maruta Devi and Mojca Mileta (SLO) are seeded into the second and final round already.

Apr 21 Note-1

LP-MB had a 9 match win streak on clay going back to the start of the French Open in 1999, wich ended today in what we expected as a very tough match, to the team of the year  so far .. Paes-Bhupathi l. J.Bjorkman/ T.Woodbridge, 36 26 in one hour and 10 minutes.

The first set started OK, with LP-MB hitting most of their first serves and the other guys having a bit of trouble in that .. However, JB-TW seemed to win points on second serves from both sides .. In game 6, we were down 15-40, but held after going through three break points and 4 deuces .. Trouble returned in the 8th game with us dropping serve at 15-40 .. Again, we had a 77% first serve rate and they had 45% at that time - which meant they were winning whenever the ball was in play neutrally .. Perhaps a case where our boys were taking time to get used to how those two played together while BJ and TW knew everything about how the Indian Express combines when the ball was in play .. Actually whenever they hit a first serve, they won 75% of those, while we only won 50% of our first serve points .. The set ended at 3-6 .. On second serves, the other guys pretty much won every point, it seemed .. Kept waiting for something to change ..  Nothing of that sort happened, as LP-MB dropped serve in the first game of the second set as well, and then again in game 5 to fall to 1-4 .. JB-TW seemed to hold serve easily every time and raised their first serve % a few spots while LP-MB's percentage dropped a few spots too .. That means this match was quickly getting over .. We fought off three match points in the 7th game in a fight for pride, from 15-40 .. Held serve to send it to an extra game, but the Indian Express could not prolong it much more, going down in the next game for a 36 26 loss ..  3 of 12 in break opportunties for the other guys while LP-MB could not get even a break chance on them .. About as bad an ambushing as our pair has ever had to go through .. Have to just tip the hat to the two great doubles players, and walk away from this match to fight the fight another day -- but make no mistake, the Indian Express will figure out that team also sometime soon and get their revenge on them ! ..

Apr 20 Note-3

LP-MB will get a big test tomorrow, when they go up against the top seeded and the #1 ranked team in the world, Jonas Bjorkman and Todd Woodbridge in the Monte Carlo Masters semis .. Jonas and Todd have played together in only four events this year and have reached the final every time - winning one title, which was the biggest of this year, at the Australian Open beating B.Black/ Prinosil in the final .. They lost to Nestor/Stolle at the Sydney ATP final, lost to W.Ferreira/ Kafelnikov at the Indian Wells masters final, and to Novak/ Rikl at the Ericsson Key Biscayne masters .. They have a 17-3 record in the 20 matches they have played together! .. Bjorkman has also won the Rotterdam ATP doubles title this year, though in the company of Roger Federer .. Woodbridge played one pro event with another partner this year (Wayne Arthurs) and reached a final at Adelaide as well .. So, these two are clearly continuing to do very well in doubles .. No surprise, as they have 68 and 23 doubles titles each in their careers .. It is hard to believe that Woodbridge, the legend, only turned 30 this year - and can probably still play for 2 or 3 more years and rack up more titles to add to that 68 total ! .. He is ranked #1 in the world with about 5400 points - simply incredible that he is up there after all these years, and has not dropped a bit despite not having the other legend (Woodforde) as a partner anymore .. Bjorkman is #5 ..

As for LP-MB, this has been a good tournament, finally, after such a long time .. They have earned $42,300 to share .. They will move up from a #46 team ranking to somewhere just inside the top-20 with the semi .. A final would push them inside top-15 and a title will take them inside the top-8 .. But first they need to get past a team that is .. well .. very good .. to say the least!

At the Chandigarh satellite today, Rushmi Chakravarti picked up her second pro singles title and 8th doubles title (I believe all in Sai's company) .. She has been in terrific form all week, not even dropping a set, and did the same today too - simply played a great match to get past Dea Sumantri, who had upset two pretty good seeds on the way to the final .. 62 64 win for Rushmi .. In doubles, Rushmi and Sai beat Dea and Radhika Tulpule in straight sets too .. Congrats to Rushmi, who picked up 5 WTA points and should go up a bit from the #465 to somewhere near 425 with the title .. See the Chandigarh satellite page .. We move on to Pune for the next week's $10K event ..

Apr 20 Note-2

Once again our fellows made a mid-match turn around and once again they showed that they have got back the ability to raise their level of play when needed .. They upset the 5th seeds today at the $2.9M Monte Carlo Masters QF .. Paes-Bhupathi d. #5 D.Johnson/ J.Palmer, 16 75 75 ..The first set got done in 22 minutes flat, with our guys dropping serve twice (games 2 and 6) and looking pretty much out of sorts .. We seemed to be serving OK though, with about 65% in first serves, but the other guys converted 2 of the 3 break chances they got .. LP-MB had one break chance at 1-5 that they couldn't convert .. In the second set, LP-MB started badly again, falling to 15-40 in the first game, but they fought off break attempts and held .. We had a chance to break the other guys in the second game, but after 3 break points for us and 7 deuces, DJ-JP also held serve .. Then it went with serves till 6-5 .. Both sides seem to be serving well, with over 70 in first serve percentages .. Just when it looked like we would be going to a tiebreaker, with DJ-JP serving at 30-0, the Indian Express pulled out one of their patented bursts .. four points in a row to us, the dynamic duo converted the first break chance at 30-40, and we were all tied up at 1-6, 7-5 !! .. The 3rd set started with the Indians facing break pts at 15-40 in the first game .. They faced another break attempt in game 3 also, but held on in both games .. It went with serves with neither side having any break attempts till 6-5, when our guys made their timely burst again, just as in the second set .. Again this was after DJ-JP went up to 30-0 .. Our guys took it to three deuce and coneverted the second match pt at AD out .. Viola .. It is a masters semifinal for our guys .. The match took 2 hours and one minute .. 73% in first serves for the Indians and 71% for the Americans (that is good qualitty serving - or bad returning :-)) .. 1 ace to our pair and none for the other .. 3 doubles faults for our dudes, 8 for the others .. 2 of 7 break chances converted by LP-MB (2 of 3 at set points) .. 2 of 7 in break chances for DJ-JP also ..  The dynamic duo was just that marginal bit better when needed, and that is why they are in the semis .. They will run up against a very very difficult team next though -- the top seeds Jonas Bjorkman and Todd Woodbridge .. LP-MB will need to play their very best, because those two won't let our guys do the kind of tight-rope walking they did for three matches in a row!

Also, Rushmi won the chandigarh $10K satellite title today, beating Dea Sumantri (INA), 62 64 ! .. More later ..

Apr 20 Note-1

LP-MB are again playing on the center court today at the $2.9M Monte Carlo masters - Paes-Bhupathi vs D.Johnson/ J.Palmer in the QF .. It is again the 5th and last match on center court, and should be starting around 6 pm out there (9.30 pm India .. 9 am Los Angeles), plus or minus an hour .. Come to our chatroom for ball-by-ball scores and discussion.

Still no news on what has transpired in Vietname for Niru - all we know is that she had won the first round at the $25K challenger in singles.

Rajeev Ram of Indiana won the 18s singles title at the very competitive Easter Bowl USTA junior championships in the US yesterday .. Prakash and Stephen Amritraj of California, quite definitely the best junior doubles team in the US, won the doubles title as well (they had beaten Rajeev and Jonathan Stokke in the semis) making it a clean sweep for Indian-Americans out there! .. How about that?

Apr 19 Note-2

This was again old style tennis from our pair today .. [R2] Paes-Bhupathi d. (wc) A.Clement/ S.Grosjean, 75 06 62 .. Yet another example that two top singles players, even if they have played doubles together a lot and are playing the match seriously, will find it tough to beat a team like the Indian Express .. This match started with back and forth breaks (twice each) in a break-fest .. It settled down at 3-3 and our duo faced double break points at 3-4 again .. They fought off those to tie it at 4-4 .. Then a timely break in the 11th game gave our guys the 6-5 lead, with Mahesh serving off the 12th game for the set .. The next set started in old style with LP-MB falling behind in the second game to fall 0-2 .. Actually the games were going rather fast here and the French pair who were 2 of 9 in break chances in the first set, converted pretty much every other break chance they got for 4 service games in a row from our guys .. Once again it looked absolutely bleak with our guys having lost 8 games in a row to fall to 75 06 02 .. But the dynamic duo never says never -- just as in the last match, LP-MB seemed to take it to the next level at the right time and turn the tables on their opponents .. Now it was the Indian Express winning six games in a row with three breaks on the French, converting 3 of their last 4 break chances for a very good 6-of-11 break stat for the match (3 of 6 in the first set) .. The end result was that old predictable Indian win (:-)) .. Our pair again served decently, getting 60% of their first serves in .. They advanced to the QF, to face the 5th seeds Donald Johnson and Jared Palmer, who reached QF with a second round walkover from Haarhuis-Schalken .. The QF will be tomorrow (Friday).

This is the first masters QF for our guys since the Indian Wells semifinal in 1999 March, if you can believe it! .. Even in the fantastic grand slam year of 1999, our boys did precious little in the other tournaments, actually - though we don't even remember that because they kept coming up big in the biggest events (four grand slams, Chennai and the World doubles that year with three titles and three runner-up finishes - that's all they really did in 1999, which was enough to make it one of the greatest doubles years ever by any team!) .. The QF gives them an additional 50 more points for 125 total .. They share $22,200 for reaching the QF ..

We had a visitor in the chatroom today during the match -- Syed Fazaluddin! .. He is back in Philadelphia and is recuperating from a back injury he picked up while in Japan  .. I had wondered what happened to him, as I saw that he was replaced in the draw at the $10K future in Kuwait this week, which he had expected to play earlier .. Fazal was a lot of fun in the chatroom, as he stayed on and cheered on the Indian Express throughout the 2 hour match ..

Some important news from India -- according to a Times of India article today, Pepsi has been announced as the sponsors for the Legends event at the CCI courts in Mumbai next month (May 3-6), which will have participation from Borg, Vilas, Leconte and Vijay Amritraj ! .. This is a very important development because ITC which has sponsored all the biggest tennis events in India lately (Goldflake Open in Chennai, and the WDC and Legends in Bangalore) have been forced to pull out from sports sponsorship by Governmental opposition to tobacco advertisement, causing all the big tournament organizers serious worries about title sponsors, some of the events having $400K and $750K in prize money .. Hopefully Pepsi's entrance into tennis bodes well for top tennis in India .. Pepsi has been a big supporter of cricket for a while ..

I also believe there were some press reports last week, about people worrying about cricket's popularity slipping a bit despite the fantastic series we had recently against Australia .. It seems that despite the great interest while the series was on, people don't seem to look at cricket at other times with the prolonged passion as they used to a decade or more back when cricket was religion even in the many months between the seasons .. Modern-day attitudes for "instant gratification" may be a reason too .. One-day cricket seems to have made people think cricket with so much fervour for short bursts and then forget it .. Some of these are speculations in the press, but it looks plausible .. It may be time for tennis to make a move -- the boost from Davis Cup will hopefully continue, along with LP-MB beginning to win some big ones again - that will all make it easier for sponsors to decide to come into tennis .. Pepsi is apparently tight-lipped about any events after next month's legends and may wait and watch before doing more.

Anyway, I will drink to that news from India .. I already downed a Pepsi today (no jokes!) .. I like that other drink (:-)) for the few occasions when I drink the unhealthy sugar-liquid .. But I will buy a few more Pepsis from now on, even if I am not into sugar-sodas .. I suggest all tennis fans to buy a few more bottles of Pepsi from now on - till the other Cola companies also starts sponsoring tennis :-) ..

At the $10K ITF women's satellite at Chandigarh today, Rushmi got past Jyotsna Vasisht to reach the final .. 18 yr old Dea Sumantri of Indonesia made a big comeback from dropping the first set againt Karen Paterson of Britain who tired after that .. Rushmi-vs-Dea will be a good final .. Rushmi clearly has the experience and the ability to beat Dea, if she stays in a positive winning frame of mind like she has been all week .. Both Rushmi and Dea have a chance to make it a double crown friday as well, as they face each other in the doubles final as well, in Sai's and Radhika's company .. See the Chandigarh satellite page.

Apr 19 Note-1

LP-MB's second round match is the only doubles match scheduled on the center court today at the $2.9M Monte Carlo masters - partly because their opponents are top-15 singles players, Clement and Grosjean .. It is the 5th and last match on center court, and should be starting around 6 pm out there (9.30 pm India .. 9 am Los Angeles), plus or minus an hour .. Come to our chatroom for ball-by-ball scores and discussion.

At the Chandigarh $10K ITF women's satellite yesterday, Rushmi had a terrific win, beating the 7th seed Nicola Payne (GBR,580), 60 61 .. Rushmi seems to pull off this kind of wins when she is in full flow - I wish she would do that more consistently .. Top seed Sai was upset in three sets by the surprising qualifier, Karen Paterson (GBR), who had beaten 5th seed Shruti and talented Sania Mirza before .. Based on Kamesh Srinivasan's report in The Hindu, this was a match Sai should have won though .. I believe sai had 6 points to to defend (falling off next week) and will only get 1.5 points for the QF .. Jyotsna beat Radhika Tulpule, to face Rushmi in the semi and thus making sure that there will be an Indian in the final for sure .. As for Dea Sumantri of Indonesia, she has been playing some smashing tennis -- not easy to beat somebody like Sheetal 61 61 like she did today! .. See the doubles scores also, at the Chandigarh satellite page.

Some news from the US, on Indian-Americans -- yesterday at the prestigious Easter Bowl in Palm Springs (a USTA domestic junior event - Super National Spring championships) single semis, 3rd seed Rajeev Ram of Carmel (Indiana) beat the top seed Ytai Abougzir of Florida, who is also the #4 junior player in the world, 61 36 63 ! .. This was in the 18s section (where Rajeev actually is playing for the first time - he is only 17) .. Rajeev is ranked 87 in the ITF world rankings, but he has not played all that many ITF events yet .. This guy really is a super talent and seems bound straight into the US team in a couple of years, at this rate! .. By the way, Prakash Amritraj was also in the same tournament (seeded 4th) and did alright to reach the quarterfinals where he was upset .. Rajeev Ram faces the 9th seed Hamid Mirzadeh in the final today .. He is also in the doubles semifinals with Jonathan Stokke -- they upset the #1 seeds in the QF .. Also in semis is the Prakash-Stepehen combo in doubles.

Apr 18 Notes

Nirupama won the first round at the $25K challenger in Ho Chi Minh city by beating a wildcard, Kim Trang Nguyen, unranked but the top Vietnamese player, 60 60 .. No other info from there (Thanks Luke danker for info!)

An article to read .. There was a wonderful piece by Rohit Brijnath, who is the best in writing passionate and emotionally charged articles, in ..  "Lea, and behold!", about Leander Paes .. Look at the ending of Rohit's article --

"He told me something I can never forget. Because it wasnít about winning, or a match, or a tournament. But a night at the Britannia Amritraj Tennis academy where he learnt his craft, a night like any other, when he would finish his homework and then practice his strokes in front of a mirror. Except the lights went out, and he could have said forget it and slept, but instead he lit a candle, placed it in front of the mirror, and he did what he always did ... That candleís still there in him. Itís smaller, and itís flickering, but the flame still burns .......... One day, not too far away, he will quit and it will go out ......... And only then will we know how bright his light was" ...
Damnit, Rohit, do you have to make us all cry ? .. Anyway, the last time I felt that sad about anybody quitting was when I heard an announcer of the Texas Rangers baseball team talk in 1990 about Nolan Ryan the legendary pitcher, whom I am a huge fan of -- the announcer said, "we all live in perpetual sadness thinking about that terrible day when Nolan will finally walk away from the pitcher's mound, never to return" .. Nolan played till he was 44 or something, still firing in 94 mph fastballs at that age and completely dominating the batters till the very end .. LP will definitely not play till he is 44, but he will be around for a few more years .. I hope!

Here is another nice article -- by Ravi Chakravarti in the Deccan Herald last week - "Man for all seasons and surfaces" ..

By the way, also take a look at this article by Prajwal Hegde in the Deccan Herald a couple of weeks back, with comments from Sundar Raju, secreatary of the Karnataka State Lawn Tennis Association, about their ambitious plans - "Keen to take game to the masses" .. Always good to hear of good state associations like KSLTA, CLTA (Chandigarh), TNTA (Tamil Nadu), MSLTA (Maharashtra) continuing to do their good work.

Apr 17 Note-2

The only information I have about the Vietnam challenger, is that Nirupana was drawn to face a Vietnamese wildcard, Kim Trang Nguyen ..

There were no big surprises at the Chandigarh $10K ITF women's satellite today but there were two upsets .. Radhika Tulpule upset the 2nd seed Sonal .. Radhika has done that to Sonal in the past too, these too both being from Maharashtra who have played each other a lot of times .. I had pretty much called Indonesian Dea Sumantri's win against the 3rd seed Andrea Nathan .. Sania Mirza apparently played pretty well today ("gave a harrowing time to Karen Paterson," according to the Chandigarh Tribune), but she lost .. She gets her first WTA point for the first round win though .. Sheetal Goutham has quietly reached the quarterfinal, but will have a tough customer to tackle tomorrow, in Dea .. Sai and Rushmi advanced, though 15 yr old megha Vakharia gave Sai a scare winning the first set .. 15 yr old Ankita Bhambri fighting hard against the 8th seed Jyotsna Vasisht was good to see too .. No doubt that the standard of competition among the Indian women have improved a lot over the last couple of years with the international events .. Rain played spoilsport and I believe some of the first round doubles matches were not finished today .. See the Chandigarh satellite page for the scores.

Apr 17 Note-1

The second round opponents for LP-MB at the Monte Carlo masters will be the wildcard French guys, Arnaud Clement and Sebastien Grosjean, ranked 11th and 15th in singles, and forming a pretty good doubles team together, despite their doubles ranks near the 150s (they upset the 2nd seeds Ferreira-Rikl at the Auatralian Open, for instance) .. They are ranked #30 in the team rankings, but have only played 5 doubles events this year - they seem to play doubles only rather rarely, but they almost exclusively in each other's company .. Anyway, the French guys upset the 4th seeds Mirnyi-Prinosil easily, 61 62 today .. The second round match will be on thursday for LP-MB, as Grosjean in playing singles tomorrow ..

Still no news from Vietnam about how Niru is doing at the challenger.

Apr 16 Note-3

Things went pretty much as expected on the first day of the $10K ITF women's satellite at Chandigarh today .. A fourteen year old started her pro career, which hopefully will take her to much bigger heights in the future .. Sania Mirza played her first pro match, and did that in style, thrashing Geeta Manohar (not a bad player, really), 60 61 .. Sania played "sporting unbridled confidence that saw her flood the court with winners," says Kamesh Srinivasan of The Hindu .. 5th seeded Shruti Dhawan has been concentrating on college studies lately, and played this event only because it was at home in Chandigarh - the rust showed, as she went down in three sets to qualifier Karen Paterson (GBR) who faces Sania next .. The talented Shruti's career has been basically off and on for a long time - it is tough for me to advocate against academics (I am a univ professor after all :-)), but really pro sports and academics don't mix very well, unfortunately .. According to Kamesh, this is exam week for Shruti, who has to skip next week's event in Pune also .. Keiko Tameishi of Japan, the 6th seed, also went down .. 2nd seed Sonal was troubled in the second set by the Czech opponent she faced, but came through in three sets .. Sai, Rushmi, Sheetal, Radhika Tulpule and Jyotsna Vasisht, all won their matches to reached the final-16 .. Sonal-vs-Radhika should be a good R2 match .. Megha runs into Sai .. Archana Venkatraman will try to get past the 4th seeded Rushmi .. Wildcard youngster 15 yr old Ankita Bhambri had a good win over qualifier Marutha Devi but she goes up against the 8th seeded Jytosna next .. So far a good start by Indians with 11 of them in the second round .. Not sure whay Radhika Mandke is not playing this week, by the way .. Watch out for Dea Sumantri of indonesia .. She is a talented junior player trying her hand at the pros .. She is capable of giving the 3rd seed Andrea Nathan (USA) some troubles .. See the Chandigarh satellite page.

Another piece of news -- Anshuman Dutta of Assam, the #2 ranked under-14 boy in the AITA rankings, was in the final of the ITF East Asian under-14 championships over the weekend .. He went down to Sunu Wahyu Trijati of Indonesia, 46 64 46 in the final .. Anshuman had beaten Abdulkalikov of Kazakhstan 62 62 in the semis (source: Satusport, Indonesia)

Apr 16 Note-2

The Indian Express seems to have had one of their better matches in recent times today at the big Monte Carlo masters .. Paes-Bhupathi d. J.Landsberg/ T.VanHoudt, 75 60 in the first round .. The match started ominously with our pair dropping serve in the first game itself .. They broke back immediately to get it back on serve in the second game, however - both teams converting on the first break chance they each had .. It went with serve till the 7th game when LP-MB dropped serve again .. It looked like the typical problems, perhaps, from not having played on clay for a very long time .. Actually this was their first match together on clay in almost TWO years - the first time since that wonderful day at the French Open in May 1999 when they beat Ivanisevic and Tarango for their first grand slam title! .. Was it that long ago? .. Anyway, they had a couple of break chances in the 8th game to break back, but the other guys held after some 6 deuces to go up 5-3 .. After Mahesh held serve in the next game, it looked like very serious trouble in the 10th game with JL-TV serving at triple set points at 5-4, 40-0 ... but wait ...

Something started clicking like old times for our boys at that juncture .. They fought off three set points, and converted their second break chance there to tie it up at 5-5 .. Suddenly the Indian Express seemed to have kicked it into top gear and started cruising .. They did not drop a game from that point onwards, winning the final 9 games in a row from facing triple set points!! .. After starting 1 of 4 in break chances, they converted 5 of the next 7 to completely take the Swedish-Belgian combo out of the match .. For the match, LP-MB had 66% of their first serves in, winning 72% of the points after a good first serve .. They only had one double fault in the match, to go with one ace .. That means they played steady tennis today .. That is a good start for the clay season .. Their second round opponents are not yet known .. 4th seeds Mirnyi-Prinosil play a very good wildcard pair, Clement-Grosjean, tomorrow, the winners facing our boys on wednesday or thursday in the second round .. The win gives our pair 75 entry points .. It would be good for them to pick up some good points, with LP having 255 points falling off after this week and the next for his titles with Siemerink at the Bermuda challenger and the Orlando ATP last year .. If his ranking falls below the current 84, it would start causing problems for entries in the masters events .. But none of it is much of a concern if our boys are clicking like they did today -- they are capable of raising their rankings all the way inside top-20 pretty easily.

No news from Ho-Chi Minh city where Nirupama and Manisha are in the $25K challenger .. Niru is the 4th seed, and Manisha made the main draw as well (she was the first in the waiting list when the entries closed originally, but there were some withdrawlas by the weekend).

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.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the weeks ending on Apr 16 ..

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.