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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Apr 28, 2003
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Apr 28 Notes

LP and MB are not playing this week .. Manisha was at the qualies for the $50K challenger in Gifu, Japan, but retired at 46 01 against her earlier doubles partner Leanne Baker (NZL) .. Bad news for Manisha - a twisted knee, and so she is returning to India .. Get well fast, Manisha!

Karan Rastogi "played his heart out" against Arvind Parmar, according to Kamesh Srinivasan in The Hindu .. Three set loss, but he saved three match points in the end and went down in a big fight .. Parmar was in the top-150 ealier and was/is a member of the UK Davis Cup team, so this is yet another eye-opener match from the 16 yr old Karan .. He will get his first ATP points for making the main draw, but points and rankings are not much of an issue now for him as he goes back to the junior tournaments where he has another year after this .. I am sure the show this week will give him tremendous confidence from now on in the junior circuit .. Vijay Kannan, who picked up an upset win last week and is the 3rd Indian in the top-500 this week behind RB and Harsh, could not repeat it this week, losing in straight sets today .. Harsh and Vishal reached the doubles QF but Rohan and Prakash, last week's doubles semifinalists, went down .. Harsh, Vishal, Rohan and Prakash play singles tomorrow .. See the New Delhi Challenger page.

Apr 27 Note-2

I have posted the draws at the New Delhi Challenger page .. Not a great draw for Indians, but the way our players are doing right now, who cares about the draw? :-)

Take a look at some of the scores from the qualifying and look at what our top two juniors, Somdev (who just turned 18) and Karan (still only a few months past 16!) have done -

Qualifying Round 1:
  Karan Rastogi (IND) d. #6 Jamie Delgado (GBR,433) 67(5) 76(0) 64
  Somdev K. Dev Varman (IND) d. #4 Orest Tereshchuk (UKR,329) 75 60
  #7 Jonathan Erlich (ISR) d.  Vinod Sridhar (IND)  36 76(7) 76(1)
Qualifying Round 2:
  Nathan Healey (AUS) d. #5 Todor Enev (BUL,422) 64 62
  Karan Rastogi (IND) d. David Sherwood (GBR,538) 62 62
  Somdev K. Dev Varman (IND) d. Ajay Ramaswami (IND,609) 64 60
Qualifying Final Round:
  Vishal Uppal (IND) d. Nathan Healey (AUS,787) 63 76(2)
  Karan Rastogi (IND) d. 3 Luke Bourgeois (AUS,306) 46 62 62
  #7 Jonathan Erlich (ISR,434) d. Somdev K. Dev Varman (IND) 62 16 61

I still cannot believe that the kid, Karan, upset a player ranked #306 with 62 62 final sets .. And look at Somdev's 60 second set on #329 .. Somdev went down to Erlcih in three sets but proved that he is ready to move to the pros soon .. As for Karan Rastogi, I am simply out of words to describe what he has done .. Tremendous, stupendous, incredible .. WOW! .. I had felt for a couple of years, ever since he reached the Morocco (Syria?) junior semis as a 14 year old that he could be something special .. Injuries and inconsistency for over a year has kept him from creating the kinds of noise that Sania, for instance, has made on the girls' side .. I think Karan may have arived! Go kid, GO! .. So much of positive news the last few days, I can't take it any more! :-)

Apr 27 Note-1

OK, I went missing for another day .. And at the worst time, as some incredible, studpendous stuff was going on in  the qualies at the Delhi challenger .. 16 yr old Karan Rastogi made the main draw with incredible upsets .. Somdev reached the final qualies with upsets too .. Vishal also made the main draw .. Terrible draws though .. More later .. Will be back .. Go KARAN RASTOGI !!! .. What he did this weekend is probably the most positive thing in junior tennis in India since Leander Paes, as somebody mentioned in our forum.

Apr 26 Notes

Sorry to go missing for almost two days .. Hope everybody saw the scores in the the Bangalore challenger page (only got time for that yesterday) and the forum discussions ..

Harsh Mankad's "Hey-I-am-ready-people!" run ended yesterday in a 67(3) 67(6) loss where a few more points here or there could have made the difference .. Here is Kalyan Ashok his article in The Hindu - "Harsh Mankad's gallant quest ended on a poignant note. He went down battling to the second seeded Gregory Carraz of France in heart-breaking tie-breaker sets at 6-7 (3-7), 6-7 (6-8) in the semifinals of the $25,000 Indian Oil Servo ATP Challenger Championship at the KSLTA courts here on Friday ... Harsh was defeated but not disgraced. He gave it his best but it wasn't enough to stop the hard hitting Frenchman ... Mankad, played the way he did in the earlier rounds, without putting pressure on himself. He hit solid returns, but there were couple of points that swung the other way and made a huge difference. All credit must go to the Carraz, ranked No.15 back home and 151 on the ATP list" ... Prajwal Hegde's article reports the comments from the players in the Deccan Herald - "“I had to go for my shots. Just guiding the ball back doesn’t work in these conditions and besides, it isn’t my style. I think when I am returning well I can play anybody and I showed a little bit of that on court today. A few points is what turned the match in his favour. Had I made those shots it would have been a different story,” Mankad said ... Carraz said that he was surprised by Mankad’s play. “When I learned that I was playing a wild card in the semifinals I thought I had a great chance to make the final,” the Paris-based pro said. “But he’s a tough player and has a very good return of serve. He can be very, very dangerous. The only problem with him is he hits some great shots and then makes some silly mistakes. I think that’s what cost him the match.” ... That sums it up uite well.

Harsh had a great chance at 5-4, 40-0 in the second set to get back in it -- Prajwal reports, "Mankad then got three second serves but all three times he failed to control his returns. It was a similar situation in the eighth game with Carraz down 15-40. On his first breakpoint opportunity, Mankad came up with a classic down-the-line but Carraz, who just about got his racquet to the ball, sent it back deep. Mankad wasn’t expecting his return to come back at all and so wasn’t ready to do much with his second shot. That was perhaps playing on his mind when he sent a forehand wide on the next point ... In all, Mankad had five chances to break in the second set. Every time the young man from Mumbai seemed to have picked the right shot, he failed to control it. That’s the thin line that separated Mankad and Carraz today. Lack of consistency on the big points then is what is holding Mankad back from moving to the next level." ...  It looks like a bit more of situational experience is what Harsh needs to get the proper consistency .. He fought till the end, after being down 1-4 in the tiebreaker .. Made it 5-5 but then made a mistake that brought down the curtains.

His second serve accuracy and his reliance on his returns as some sort of a weapon, seem to be what showed some tangible improvement this week .. That is what he needs to do .. He has always had other intangibles like superb positioning and anticipation for the next shot and smooth movements on the court .. Harsh is a very intelligent thinker of the game and we can expect him to get up the rankings if he keeps up the focus .. His temperament also will stand him in good stead for the next moves up the ladder with more and more confidence in his own style and his own weapons .. Harsh probably does model his game somewhat on the kind of game Andre Agassi plays .. He is nowhere near Agassi in his game, but we should all remember that not having a 140 mph gun is not necessarily going to keep him from going further up in the rankings, if he keeps up what he has been doing ..  There may also be the effects of some recent changes in his physical training and diet adjustments, based on advice from former pro Tamer El Sawy down in Florida a couple of months back .. If the cramps and "tired-legs" prolem he has had at times in the past have gone away, that is an improvement too .. I am guessing this aspect - I have not had any recent chats with Harsh, but none of the newspaper reports mentioned any stamina or other physical problems at all this week .. In any event, a wonderful run from the nice guy from Mumabi!

The wildcards for the next challenger in Delhi have gone to HM, RB, PA and Vijay Kannan .. Vishal justified his wildcard last week in a fighting match, but Vijay Kannan's fine upset of Rehnquist helped him get the nod ..

It seems Divij Sharan has again reached a semifinal in Uzbekistan .. Will find some scores later.

Apr 24 Notes

STOP PRESS!! STOP PRES!! .. Harsh Mankad in a challenger semifinal!! .. Totally unbelievable stuff.

He came from behind today, for yet another top-300 win .. [QF] (wc) H.Mankad d. (q) Fred Hemmes (NED,299), 67(3) 63 63 .. The win gives the Mumbaikar 22 ATP points and will raise his point total to 69 .. His ranking will be moving up about 90 spots from 457 to inside 370 .. The semifinal tomorrow will be against the 2nd seed Gregory Carraz (FRA,151) - heck, the way HM is playing anything is possible!

I just learned that Mahesh and Max had given a walkover at Barcelona yesterday itself, because Max Mirnyi has fallen ill .. Actually MB is already back in Bangalore for a few days.

Latre news from yesterday at Bangalore -- Rohan and Prakash reached the doubles QF with a tough win over Vijay Kannan and Ajay Ramaswamy .. See all the scores at the Bangalore challenger page.

Sunitha Rao could not force an upset on the 7th seed at the tough $75K challenger in Dothan, Alabama .. She lost 57 36 to Maria Elena Camerin (ITA,127) ..

Apr 23 Notes

Great stuff from Harsh Mankad today at Bangalore, though RB and VK went down in tough matches .. [R2] H.Mankad (IND,457) d. Dmitri Vlasov (RUS,254), 75 63 to reach the quarterfinal !! .. He will play qualifier Fred Hemmes (NED,299), who beat Vijay Kannan 63 76(6) today ..  Rohan came close to making the QF too, but no cigar, as he went down 61 67(2) 57 to the 4th seed Ivo Heuberger .. Harsh will pick up 12 points for this and raise his point total to 59 and ranking to right near #410 .. Good to see him picking up top-150 and top-250 caliber upset wins back-to-back .. Shall we pronounce that Harsh also has taken the proverbial "next step" ? .. Looks like it.

A job well done, as expected -- News on Fed Cup from AITA -- The Indian Eves Finished Supreme in Fed Cup Group 2 by winning their last league match against Pacific Oceania by winning both the singles. Sania Mirza ran through the match by winning it easily (d. G.Korinihona 62 60) and after 2 tough matches in the first two ties, Manisha Malhotra won quite convincingly (d. M-A.Hoy, 63 62). Megha Vakharia & Isha Lakhani could not enter the court for their match as the Indians conceded the doubles due to a flight to back to Delhi thus making the score line 2-1 in their favor.  With this victory, India claimed the top position in the league by winning all their ties. India thus will be in the Group 1 of the Fed Cup Asia Oceania Zone in 2004 .. Good job, ladies!

Sunitha Rao plays her first round today at the $75K Dothan challenger in Alabama.

Apr 22 Note-2

Forgot to mention earlier that Mahesh is at the Barcelona ATP, playing with Mirnyi.  Seeded first .. They had a firt round bye and will play the winners of the wednesday match between Arnold-Hood and Kratzmann-Tarango .. Their R2 match will be on thursday.

LP is not playing this week .. A bit surprised; I should try to find out if there is any injury problems or anything.

Really great stuff so far by Indians at Bangalore - hope you saw the score I had posted at the the Bangalore challenger page .. Rohan simply blew Britian's Arvind Parmar off the court with aces left and right today .. Vijay came back from dropping the first set to get his first challenger win too .. Not in my wildest dreams did I imagine that three Indians would be in the second round of a challenger (with the toughest field in a long time in India), that too with upsets over top-200 players .. Simply marvellous .. The last time three Indians were in a challenger second round, you wonder? -- well, that was over three years back in Dec 1999 when LP, Kirtane and Srinath were in the second round -- totally different story at Lucknow then, as the latter two won against two Indian lucky losers, in a challenger that had an entry cut at an unbelievably low #864 .. The ongoing challenger has a draw that closed right outside 300 ..  The only bad news was that Prakash could not put up much of a challenge, as he has been troubled by an ankle injury (which may explain a slightly poorer results in the last few weeks in the US college circuit too - I didn't know about the injury); and he reaggrevated it in a bad spill early in the match today too .. Hopefully PA will be able to play doubles with RB tomorrow .. Mankad-Uppal went dwon 46 46 to the second seeds today.

At the $75K Dothan challenger in Alabama, #185 Sunitha Rao plays the 7th seed Maria Elena Camerin (ITA,127) in the first round ..

Here ar ethe details of India's 3-0 win over Kyrgistan, from AITA - "India won their second round robin league tie against Kyrgystan by 3-0. Sania Mirza gave India a flying start by beating Y.Klimchenko 6-0 6-0 in less than 35 minutes. Manisha Malhotra had to use all her experience and will power to beat K.Koichumanova by 6-1 3-6 6-2. Manisha won the first set very easily 6-1 but in the second set K.Koichumanova displayed some sensible tennis, winning the set by 6-3. Manisha came back strongly to won the next set 6-2 and won the marathan match in 1 hour 14 minutes .. The youngsters Isha Lakhani / Megha Vakharia did the final honours for India by winning the doubles and making it a whitewash.  They beat O.Alekseyeva / K.Koichumanova easily 6-0 6-3 in less than 50 minutes ... On Wednesday 23 April, India take on Pacific Oceania in their 3rd tie".

Apr 22 Note-1

Bangalore has turned into a "happy hunting ground" for Indiana!  .. Rohan Bopanna upset #189 Arvind Parmar 64 62 and I just heard that Vijay Kannan made the main draw as a lucky loser and beat a Swedish player (which must be the 6th seed #181 Bjorn Rehnquist??) .. Awaiting news.

India easily beat Kyrgistan 3-0 at the Fed Cup and pretty much locked up topping the pool at the Tokyo group-2 Fed Cup regionals.

Apr 21 Notes

Lots of good news today .. First, MB's 28th title yesterday at the Monet carlo masters, where MB-MM made it 8 straight wins on their return together .. Tough match, as we expected against the tough French guys who were a top-5 team last year and had beaten LP-Rikl earlier .. [F] #3 M.Bhupathi/ M.Mirnyi d. M.Llodra/ F.Santoro, 64 36 76(6) .. Congratulations to them, and MB has got back to the flow of things.

Now the really heartening news from the Bangalore challenger .. When I saw the draw yesterday, I was feeling really bad for Harsh Mankad for continuing to get no help from the Draw Godess for the umpteenth time in a row .. Thank God he wasn't feeling sorry for himself! .. He went after the 3rd seed, picking up the biggest win of his career .. [R1] (wc) H.Mankad d. #3 Jean-Francois Bachelot (FER,155), 63 64 .. In fact Harsh was the only one who remembered that he had beaten the same guy a few years back in some qualifying rounds when he was ranked much lower .. I guess HM showed that he too has improved a lot in his tennis over the years .. Harsh picked up 5 ATP points and now awaits the winner of the Dmitri Vlasov (RUS,254) vs Yuri Schukin (RUS,227) match .. The bad news was that Vishal Uppal let go off a great chance to upset the 4th seed Ivo Heuberger today, after leading 4-2 in the 3rd .. He went down in a 3rd set tiebreaker .. I was a bit uncomfortable with the decision to give Vishal a wildcard over others who have done better in singles (in particular Vijay Kannan who did well in the last set of futures and also came very close to qualifying in a 3-set loss in the final qualies to the top seed there) .. Vishal did wonderfully justify the wildcard in the match today, though he couldn't punch the door open in the match .. The other two wildcards, Rohan Bopanna and prakash Amritraj will be playing tomorrow .. I believe Vijay Kannan is the second in line for a lucky loser spot - hopefully there will be a couple of withdrawals and he will make it in.

All the scores are at the Bangalore challenger page .. One nice thing in the qualies were the very competitive displays from Somdev Varman and Karan Rastogi .. Somdev almost upset Nathan Healey, in his first match - and Healey is an experienced player highly ranked in doubles and all that (top seed in the main draw) .. Karan played very competitively in a 75 64 loss to the 5th seed Erlich as well, after a 60 60 first round win .. At least the young ones don't look like they are too far behind the top-600 ATP players .. Vinod Sridhar also did well in the qualies.

India won the first tie 3-0 against Philippines at the Asia-Oceania group-II Fed Cup today in Tokyo .. Here is the news from AITA - "Sania Mirza gave India a flying start by beating F-M.La'o 6-2 6-3. Manisha Malhotra, ailing with fever had to use all her experience & will power to beat C. Arevalo after going down in the first set 1-6 .. She came back strongly to win the next 2 sets 6-2 6-3. The youngsters Isha Lakhani / Megha Vakharia did the final honours for India by winning the doubles & making it a whitewash. Megha / Isha beat F-M. La'o / Arevalo easily with the score reading 7-5 6-2 ... India are the favorites in the Fed Cup Group 2 Competition. The group is left only with 5 countries which include Philippines, Pacific Oceania, Kyrghystan, Lebanon & India after Syria & Vietnam have pulled out of the competition. India is along with Kyrgystan, Philippines & Pacific Oceania in the round robin group. On Tuesday 22 April, India take on Kyrgystan in their 2nd tie of the competition" ... It is a worry that Manisha is sick, but we have enough of firepower and it will take humongous miracles for us not to advance to group-I, I would assume.

A round-up of some score that I could not report earlier ..

The final has just started at Monte Carlo .. [F] #3 M.Bhupathi/ M.Mirnyi vs M.LLodra/ F.Santoro .. The other guys had upset 5th seeds LP-Rikl in the second round, so I had expected that they were in pretty good form .. Hopefully MB-MM will have enough to move past them to their second successive title .. At the San Luis Potosi challenger, [SF] N.Sanjeev/ Zuzana Hejdova (CZE) l. Kildine Chevalier (FRA)/ Lana Popadic (CRO), 57 26 .. At the jackson challenger, [QF] 183 4 Sunitha Rao l. (q) Tina Schiechtl (AUT) 26 46 .. [QF] Sunitha Rao/ Natalia Dziamidzenka (BLR) l. #1 Terryn Ashley (USA)/ Abigail Spears (USA), 16 46 .. At the Kalamata futures, #6 R.Bopanna l. (1) Bjorn Rehnquist (SWE,181), 67(5) 06 ..

I am also looking for the scores for Divij Sharan, who was at the grade-3 ITF juniors in Uzbekistan - I believe he had reached the SFs, probably for both singles and doubles when I heard last.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Apr 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 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.