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LP/MB/NS/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Apr 26, 2004
(Previous week's notes) (Next week's notes) (Daily Notes Index 1997 thru 2003)

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Apr 26 Notes

At the $15K Qatar F2, Harsh Mankad beat Rohan Bopanna 63 60 in the first round .. I hate these two ending up against each other, but another good win for Harsh .. He faces Peter Lugassy in the second round .. Rohan m,ight need a couple of weeks of rest now .. He will against be at the Saudi Arabia $15K after a couple of weeks ..  The Qatar trip didn't go all that well for him, and he is probably still not 100% healthy either.

The big news was at Budapest at the $110K WTA TierV event -- Shikha Uberoi (USA/IND) had a terrific time in the qualies, pulling off the upsets of two top-200 seeds to advance to the main draw .. [Q1] S.Uberoi (USA,386) d. Christianne Hoppmann (GER, 484) 63 64 .. [Q2] d. (5) Cristina Torrens-Valero (ESP,167) 76(9) 67(9) 64 .. [Q3] d. (4) Edina Gallovits (ROM,165) 64 63 .. In the main draw she faces Marion Bartoli (FRA,72) .. Neha did not do as well - [Q1] N.Uberoi (USA,378) d. (wc) Zsuszana Fodor (HUN,662) 16 62 63 .. [Q2] l. (4) Stephanie Foretz (FRA, 140) 76(5) 46 36 .. Those are two big wins for Shikha over the weekend .. She has really been coming on lately too (the sisters are both making everyone sit up and take notice of them) .. Tough fiorst round matchup, but Go Shikha!

Shruti Dhawan won the first round of qualies at the Bournemouth $10K .. No news on the Q2 ..

Apr 25 Notes

Mahesh is playing doubles with Paul Hanley (AUS) at the 990K Barcelona ATP .. Seeded first, they have a first round bye .. Will play the winners of the Graydon Oliver/ Travis Parrot vs Lucas Arnold/ Augustin Calleri first round match .. Looks like thyis was another week when LP could have played with MB has gone down the tubes .. Leander doesn't seem to be playing anywhere this week either .. Ah, I am getting more and more impatient and frustrated .. LP and MB need to do something and get on the same page on the matter of preparing for the Olympics .. Time keeps going by, and chances are going down the drain .. I am sorry, I am beginning to give up on a medal at Olympics, despite all the optimism I have based purely on what these two are capable of .. The historical tragedies in Indian sports do not seem to ever end .. Look how coach Rajinder Singh and the Hockey Federation have run our hoceky team's morale completely down to the ground .. What looked like bright possibilities of medals in hockey and tennis a few months back are now begining to look like distant dreams .. What is new? - we will always remain snake-bitten in sport, even when we are good.

Harsh Mankad, Rohan Bopanna and Mustafa Ghouse are at the $15K Qatar F2 this week ..
Just got word from Qatar that the draw shows Harsh playing Rohan in the first round, once again .. Mustafa went down in the final round of qualies this weekend but will wait and see if there is any lucky loser spots that clear up ..

Sunil Kumar and Ajay Ramaswami are in Uzbekistan where there is a one week break in the futures series .. They are both in the list (Ajay in qualies) for next week's
$15K UZB F3 .. Prakash Amritraj joins them next week (May 3rd) for two weeks of $15Ks in UZB followed by the $25K+H Fergana challenger (May 17th) for which the entries close tomorrow.

Sai Jayalakshmy and Liza Pereira are in the main draw list for the $10K in Jakarta this week .. Young Parul Goswamy went down in the qualies today at Jakarta .. Everybody else seem to be taking time off this week.

In other news, Shruti Dhawan is in the qualifying entry list for two $10K events in UK (Bournemouth and Edinburgh), starting on May 3rd and 10th .. Somdev Dev Varman is expected to get back to playing in 2 weeks time at the USA F11 and F12 futures (May 10th and 17th) - aspparently his board exams got postponed and all his schedules went for a toss, so he decided to come to the $10Ks in the US which is probably the only decent place for $10Ks, Mexico being the other, where he can play and get into the main draw .. He is expected to play two claycourt futures near Jacksonville and Tampa then .. Still no sighting of the Asian Junior champion ArunPrakash for a few weeks.

Apr 24 Notes

Sania went down 67(3) 16 to Suchanan in the first match .. She had some 5 break points to jump ahead on Suchanan's serve in the second set first game, but that didn't work .. Then again had deuces on her in the 3rd game .. Instead, she dropped serve in the 4th game to fall 1-3 and went down from that point with a whole ton of mistakes .. Cutting down on her mistakes and getting the "comeback strategies" and second-options when the strengths aren't working - that is what Sania needs to get coached on, now ..

Rushmi just lost 06 16 to Tammy Tanasugarn in the second match ..  Oh well, we did our best to make it into the semifinal .. Next year we will be so much better with experience from this .. Time to get Sania and Ankita into some serious coaching (I am alwasy asking for that, aren't I?) and get them ready for next year ..  And Neha, come on over and join too :-) ..

Later update:  After surviving a couple of scray second set match points in the deciding doubles match, Wynne Prakusya and Angelique Widjaja won in three sets to put Indonesia into the world group playoff, winning a 2-1 tie against New Zealand .. So India can claim that we only lost to the two teams (INA, THA) that advanced out of the 9-team event ..

Apr 23 Note-4

Well, Indonesia won the doubles match late at night (Widjaja-Prakusya d. Kim-Cho, 63 75) and India advanced with them to the semis .. Fantastic! .. I would have never expected that India would finish among the top-4 in the 9-team Asian regionals; Realistically we are the 3rd best team because I think we had the goods to beat the #2 team from the other pool, NZL .. Wow! .. But the work is not yet done, as we need to win a very tough tie against the toppers of the other group, #1 seed Thailand, to make the WG playoffs .. Here are the final pool standings -

INA 4-0, 9-3, 19
IND 3-1, 8-4, 16
KOR 2-2, 7-5, 17
TPE 1-3, 2-10, 6
UZB 0-3, 4-7, 8

By the way, the score of the doubles win today for Sania-Manisha over Vlada Ekshibarova/ Ivanna Isroilova (UZB) was 7-6(21/19), 6-1 .. What a thrilling tiebreaker that must have been!

As for the semifinal, our opponent Thailand has two very good players in Tamarine Tanasugarn (#56) and the in-form Suchanan Viratprasert (#234) .. Suchanan won both her #2 matches so far - but the pool-A has been so week that it is not much of an indication of anything .. She did 
win the Vietnam challenger last week (her first challenger title) and had also reached her first challenger final a couple of months back, so she is really coming on strong these days .. You might remember her winning the Delhi $10K beating Shruti, Isha, Samrita and Chin-Bee Khoo in straight sets late last year .. Her rank has been steadily going up and she is playing top-200 caliber singles now .. Can we pull one out from her?  (I assume Tammy will be very difficult to upset unless everything clicks for us) .. This may be a match were Rico might just roll the dice and send Sania in as #2 to face Suchanan and Rushmi in as #1 against Tammy .. But I think it should be done only if the playing styles and matchups clearly show that Sania has a better chance than Ankita to beat Suchanan .. It shouldn't be on the basis of any vague expectation of Sania having more potential to beat top players - we sometimes play those kinds of games based on gut feelings which never works .. Rico needs to look closely at the playing styles and make a determination of whether SM or AB is better to face Suchanan .. SM's relatively unusual style and unexpected playmaking abilities *might* confuse Suchanan who is not a huge "weapons" player .. But the reverse argument is that she may also be experienced enough to take out Sania's strengths and reduce her options like experienced top players sometimes do .. In that case, Ankita's steadier game may be better ..  Let us wait and see what Rico decides .. It will be perfectly honorable of captain Piperno to stick to the guns and continue the trust he has shown on Ankita, to which she has responded splendidly .. I love another coaching line from Darrell Royal, the great American college football player -- "Sometimes you have to suck it up and call a number" which he said about his famous and very risky 4th and long call in the dying minutes of the 1969 Texas-Arkanans game for a comeback Texas win in what was then called the "game of the century in college football", with the US president Richard Nixon in attendance... OK, suck it up and call a number, Rico! -- you have had the golden calls this week.

And GO INDIA!!!!.

Apr 23 Note-3

Sania tied it up for us at 1-1 against UZB with a 64 62 win over Akgul Amanmuradova who has had a terrible Fed Cup, having lost all three of her matches at the #1 spot .. Meanwhile Wynne Prakusya pulled a very tight match out from Korea, winning 75 67(3) 64 over Mi-Ra Jeon to even up that tie at 1-1 as well .. All down to the final doubles matches .. Korea loses the doubles and we advance with Indonesia .. It doesn't look like it matters what we do in the doubles match .. Here are the standings as the doubles matches start.

INA 3-0, 8-3, 17
KOR 2-1, 7-4, 17
IND 2-1, 7-4, 14
TPE 1-3, 2-10, 6
UZB 0-3, 4-7, 8

The good thing is that Indonesia NEEDS TO win the doubles to top the pool and face NZL rather than THA in the semi .. I was worried that they would be already assured of  topping the pool and would give away the doubles match to KOR to rest Prakusya and Widjaja .. We are in good shape, but touchwood still.

Apr 23 Note-2

The day did not start too well, as Ivanna Isroilova, who had won all her previous three matches and had been playing very well, beat Ankita 64 64 .. I believe Sania won her match against Akgul Amanmuradova and tied it up .. The Indonesians dropped their first match against Korea, as Kim beat Gumulya, but I think Wynn Prakusya has tied it up at 1-1 too .. It may be coming down to the last match .. We need Korea to lose, because I don't think we will make it on a thre-way with 3-1 record even if we win the doubles match, if Korea also wins the doubles .. Chances are that Korea could drop the doubles to Indonesia's Angie-Wynn combo, possibly the best team at this Fed Cup.  Let us wait for some score confirmation.

Apr 23 Note-1

Today is the crucial day at the Fed Cup with India, Korea and Indonesia fighting to be among the two who advance.  Here are the standings (Country, Tie-record, Match-record, Sets won)

INA 3-0, 7-2, 15
KOR 2-1, 6-3, 14
IND 2-1, 6-3, 12
TPE 1-3, 2-10, 6
UZB 0-3, 3-6, 6

As for the Friday matches and possibilities (as far as I can see; you may want to cross-check!),
If IND beats UZB, and KOR loses to INA, we are through
If IND beats UZB, and KOR beats INA, it's a three-way tie with 3-1 in ties and it will come down to matches and sets and we are in bad shapes due to 3 losses without any sets won.  (If IND wins 2-1 and KOR does 2-1, it will be a 3-way tie in matches too, and we go to sets, where we may not do well ... If India wins 3-0 and Korea does 2-1, we top the pool and KOR will be behind .. If we do 2-1 and Korea does 3-0, then Korea will top the pool with us behind). 
If IND loses to UZB, and KOR loses to INA, both are 2-2 in ties and we go through, on head-to-head with Korea.
If IND loses to UZB, and KOR beats INA, we are out.

In other words, even beating Uzbekistan tomorrow is not sure to get us into the semis, the way we dropped straight sets matches today after Ankita's win .. The easiest would be for Korea to just lose to INA and it doesn't matter what we do tomorrow .. It will be interesting.

Thanks go to the AITA folks who sent out the complete scores even at 12.30 past midnight the last two days and had last night's scores out to the press as soon as they got to the office this morning (after finishing the night session previous night at sometime past 1 am).

Apr 22 Note-2

I believe in a match that got done at some time past 1 am or so, Sania and Manisha went down to Angelique Widjaja (INA,16) and Wynne Prakusya (INA,85), 67(2) 36 .. Good fight against a top doubles team .. India goes down 1-2 to Indonesia .. Still a good chance for semifinal but we cannot top the pool now though .. Great job by Ankita to
pull one match out from the Indons and keep us in good shape in the tiebreakers with a 6-3 match record, should we falter against the Uzbeks tomorrow.

In the QF at the Monte Carlo Masters, the top seeds Mahesh and Max were upset by Eltis and Rodriguez, 76(5) 64 .. Bad day, except for Ankita's nice win.

Apr 22 Note-2

In the late night match, Sania Mirza went down to Wynn Prakusya (INA,246), 57 46 and so it is all even between India and 2nd seeds Indonesia at one match apiece .. The organizers are hoping to have matches at 10 am, as opposed to the normal 4 pm tomorrow, to finish off the backup from the dust-storm-and-rain delay this evening .. I believe they may be playing the postpones doubles match between India and Indonesia only after the singles against Uzbekistan though .. Not sure - we will awiat the schedule .. Having picked up a win against Indonesia, we are in good shape to make the semifinals barring big problems (unexpected) against Uzbekistan, but we need to win the doubles match against Indonesia certainly for us to top the pool it seems - without that we will end up with top seeds Thailand from the other pool in the semis, rather than a much better opponent in New Zealand .. Let us see what transpires tomorrow ..

Apr 22 Note-1

What a week Ankita Bhambri is having! .. Once again she has given India a flying start winning the first match against the 2nd seeds Indonesia .. She beat Sandy Gumulya (INA,492), 64 64 .. Hey, I called it yesterday that the girl would do the job .. Come on India, win one of the next two matches and we are safely through to the semis with a pretty sure chance of leading the pool too .. There was a rain delay for about an hour and half - hope they can finish the ties today .. Sania vs Prakusya coming up ..

At the $15K Qatar F1, Rohan-Chucri reached the doubles semi, but Mankad-Ghouse went down in a tough long three-setter .. Later on that.

Apr 21 Note

Mahesh and Max reached the quarterfinal of the Monte Carlo Masters with an easy 64 61 win over the French wildcards, Julien Benneteau and Nicolas Mahut .. They are seeded first there and had a bye in the first round .. Up next tomorrow at 2 pm are the 7th seeds Gaston Eltis and Martin Rodriguez of Argentina ..

There was bad news at the $15K Qatar F1 futures today as both Harsh Mankad and Rohan Bopanna went down .. HM lost to  Roman Valent (SUI,411), 26 67(5) .. Valent was a top-10 junior and was ranked as high as #300 last year .. So he is a very good player, but I had hoped HM could get past him .. Rohan lost to Ladislav Svarc (SVK,394), 26 36 .. What guys, you went out and ate some bad stuff together or what? .. OK, better luck next week .. Both got back later in the day and won their doubles matches .. Top seeded Mankad and Mustafa Ghouse beat Ivan Dodig (BIH)/ Aleksander Maric (SCG) 60 62 .. They face Frank Moser and Bernhard Parun of Germany next .. Rohan Bopanna and Patrick Chucri (Lebanon) upset the 3rd seed Jean-Michael Pequery and Nicolas Tourte of France, 76(3) 62 .. Their QF is against another French pair, Augustin Gensse and Gary Lugassy ..

At the Delhi Fed Cup regionals, India had the off day today .. Indonesia beat Taipei 3-0 and Korea beat Uzbekistan 2-1 in our pool .. Tomorrow we have the big tie against Indonesia .. Both Kamesh Srinivasan of The Hindu in his article and S.Kannan of the Hindustan Times in his article have written about some murmurs about a rift in the Indonesian team and the top ranked Angie Widjaja not playing singles because of that (though she has played doubles), like today .. Both suggest to Rico about exercizing the option of playing Sania as #2, which would require playing Rushmi who has a higher rank than Sania .. The idea would be to get Sania to beat their #2 player., who should be Sandy Gumulya - both corrrespondents seem to feel that Wynn Prakusya is playing some really good tennis at #1 and would be tough to get past .. They may know more as they have seen these players play, but I don't know if I agree even if they may be right .. I often believe in the famous "you dance with who brung ya" line from the American college football coach Darrel Royal .. Ankita brought us this far .. She should play tomorrow .. She can beat their #2 as well, after all .. I think Rico has some decisions to make tomorrow .. Let us see how it goes .. At least one win needs to be pulled out from the Indons, and that would make things easier should the worst case scenarios develop .. So far Uzbekistan is out of the running for a semifinal spot but all the other four are in it still .. India is in a better position than Korea and Taipei, having beaten them both ..

Apr 20 Note-2

s, it was #195 Sania and unranked Manisha who won the doubles match at midnight against Yoon-Jeong Cho and Mira Jeon who are both ranked very high at #128 and #159 .. 76(2) 75 score ..

Got to give big credit to Rico for the win today .. He has rolled the dice very well so far .. It was a master stroke to send Sania in with Manisha last night for the dead-rubber doubles match even after we had won the TPE tie .. Had they not had that match practice, I doubt they would pull off this close big win against two top-150 caliber doubles players .. It might have left Sania a bit tired for the singles today, but that match was anyway going to be tough against a top-225 caliber player .. Now Sania gets a day of rest to get recharged after 4 matches in two days .. Great job by Rico .. Of course trusting Ankita's talent and not taking a chance with (probably still injured) Rushmi's experience was also a key decision yesterday by Rico .. And hats off to everybody for thinking of Manisha as the 4th player .. She is a tremendous doubles player, who was ranked inside the top 150 less than two years back and is in good playing shape, as a hitting partner and coach for Rodionova .. So far so good, but we have a lot of work to do with two more ties remaining.

Just got the full schedule of the week (finally), and we are not yet there to start thinking of a semi .. The info I had from the ITF FedCup site was wrong.  All teams play 4 ties each in group-B .. India still has to play Indonesia and Uzbekistan after a day of rest (the ITF schedule showed 4 teams playing 3 ties each in pool B like in pool A with Uzbekistan alone playing 4 ties; that didn't look right, but that's what they had) .. So we are not in the semis yet.   A win against either of those teams would put us into the semis, I would think .. A good showing against #2 seeds Indonesia (at least one win) is essential to have any chance if we lose the tie against UZB also ..

Apr 20 Note-1

STOP PRESS! .. India has upset 3rd seeds Korea at the Fed Cup, 2-1 .. #480 Ankita Bhambri upset #325 Kyung Mi Chang, 61 46 62 to start it off .. Sania had a poor day against #229 Mi-Ra Jeon, falling 46 26, but India then won the doubles 76 75 .. Not sure who played doubles for us .. With us having a 2-0 record in ties and a 5-1 match record so far with one tie to go, we may already be assured of a semifinal spot, but I need to work the numbers out and make sure (edit: no we are not in, see above) ..  Is this incredible or what? .. Ankita is too much!

Apr 19 Note-2

Excellent stuff from our ladies (girls) today at the Fed Cup regionals in Delhi .. India beat Taiwan thanks to some nice work by Ankita and Sania .. #480 Ankita Bhambri set the tone with a 63 61 win over #532 I-Ting Wang, and #408 Sania followed it up with a very good 64 76(3) upset win over #303 Chia-Jung Chuang .. Sania was quite error-prone today according to reports, but that is not unusual for her - she comes up with enough superlative stuff to counter that and she knows how to win when something is riding on it! .. Chia-Jung is no easy foe, as she had won the title at Delhi two weeks back and had reached the QF of the Ho Chi Minh City challenger last week as well - this was a very good show by Sania .. In the latenight doubles match, Manisha Malhotra and Sania Mirza (quite a tough doubles pair, if I were to guess) won 75 61 over I-Hsuan Hwang and Tin-Wen Weng to complete the sweep of the Taipei girls .. Go India! ..  Tomorrow is not an easy day for us as we face the 3rd seeded Korea woth Yoon-Jeong Cho (#202) and Mi-Ra Jeon (#229) .. It will take some big upsets for us to win that tie.

At the $15K Qatar F1, Rohan Bopanna showed that some of his old form is returning, with a nice upset of the 7th seed Jonathan Marray (GBR,382), 64 64 .. Harsh Mankad advanced with a 63 64 win over qualifier Julien Maes (FRA,1094) .. Not sure if Mustafa has played yet.

Apr 19 Note-1.

Last week turned out to be pretty eventless as expected and so it was a good time for a break for me .. Back at work this week :-)

Mahesh and Max are top seeded at the Monte Carlo masters as the clay season starts now .. They ahve a first round bye .. Strangely, LP is not playing this week .. I don't know why .. He has a lot of points dropping off over the next few weeks and needs to keep a decent ranking for a seeding at Olympics - I am surprised he is missing a Masters event with a lot of points ..

The Fed Cup Asia-Oceana Group-I is underway from today at Delhi .. When will ITF learn to use the word "Tier" rather than "Group" to make it easier for people who are not long-term tennis fans to understand how Fed Cup and Davis Cup works? .. Just one of my old pet peeves .. Anyway, in this "Group-1" competition there are two "groups", which should be called "pools" as they would be called in normal sports parlance, but the folks in London are again weird as usual :-) .. I will use the term "pool" all this week.  Pool-A has #1 seed Thailand, #4 China, Philippines and NewZealand .. Pool-B has #2 Indonesia, #3 Korea, Uzbekistan, India and Taipei .. The teams will play each other during four days of round robin in the pools and the top two teams from each pool will advance to the semifinals .. The two winners of the semifinals qualify for the "World group qualifiers" just like in Davis Cup, where they play teams from other regions in the world to qualify for the
Fed Cup World Group  in 2005 .. The Indian team is Sania Mirza, Rushmi Chakravarthi, Ankita Bhambri and Manisha Malhotra .. As Isha and Megha are injured and ITF did not approve a quick change of nation for Shikha Uberoi (USA), we picked Manisha in the last minute, based on her experience and abilities as a doubles player as well .. That was a smart move .. But our chances for advancement to the semifinals will depend on our ladies pulling some upsets, because most of these teams have pretty good players ranked well above our players .. See an excellent preview in The Hindu by Kamesh Srinivasan with all the details of the teams .. The bottom two teams out of the 9 will get relegated to the second tier (group II) in Asia-Oceania .. Last year we were in the Group-II in Asia, having fallen there after a depleted team did poorly in the group-I in 2002 .. We did well to come back to group-I and barring serious problems, we should be at least staying in group-I after this week .. If everything works (hey, there is homefield advantage also), could we do the unthinkable and move up from group-I to the playoffs? ..  Last year, Indonesia and Japan advanced from Group-I to the WG playoffs, where Japan managed to move to the world group this year, which is why they are not at Delhi .. Indonesia lost the WG playoff and are back in Group-I ..

Mankad, Bopanna and Ghouse are all at the $15K Qatar F1 futures .. Mustafa had to win two qualifying matches to make it in .. Here are the matchups --
[R1] (4) Harsh Mankad (IND,329) vs (Q) Julien Maes (FRA,1094) .. [R1] Rohan Bopanna (IND,427) vs (7) Jonathan Marray (GBR,382) .. [R1] (Q) Mustafa Ghouse (IND,707) vs (8) Ti Chen (TPE,393) .. My good friend in Doha has been sending us some updates every day .. Take a look at the forum thread on Qatar F1.

Last week's news -- As we reported in the forum pages, Sunil Kumar was at the Uzbekistan $15K and won a round before falling to a seed .. Ajay Ramaswami qualified in but went down in the first round.

.. Previous notes (before a week of vacation for me) are at Notes for the week ending on Apr 12 ..

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.