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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on May 1, 2000

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May 1 Note-1

Leander and Siemerink won the doubles title at the $100K+H challenger in Bermuda (worth 80 ATP points for title) today, beating the second seeds Haygarth and Coetzee, 63 62 easily.

The singles draw at the $320K Orlando Disney US Claycourt championships is out .. Leander plays qualifier Xavier Malisse (BEL,148) in the first round .. Here is the bottom half of the draw

6 Nicolas Massu (CHI)       vs   Laurence Tieleman (ITA) \
  Jan Kroslak (SVK)         vs   Fredrik Jonsson (SWE)   / \
W Michael Russel (USA)      vs W Hugo Armando (USA)      \ / \
3 Gianluca Pozzi (ITA)      vs   Alexander Popp (GER)    /    \ _ Final
7 Andre Sa (BRA)            vs Q Razvan Sabau (ROM)      \    /
  Tomas Zib (CZE)           vs   Markus Hantschk (GER)   / \ /
  Leander Paes (IND)        vs Q Xavier Malisse (BEL)    \ /
2 Jan-Michael Gambill (USA) vs Q Ramon Delgado (PAR)     /
I would have preferred many of the others players in the main draw over a qualifier like the young and talented Xavier Malisse .. I believe the match will be on Tuesday, based on a schedule for Monday that just came up at the Orlando Sentinel newspaper site.

Leander may have reached Orlando after his title today at Bermuda, across the sea .. I have not been in touch with LP or MB for a few days to know if they will be playing together at Orlando .. Leander's partner at Bermuda, Jan Siemerink (with whom he had a shared-title at Hertogenbosch after an abandoned doubles final as well), is also at Orlando.

Apr 30 Notes

Wow.. I was away for a day and could not report on the incredibly close pool finish at the Fed Cup in Japan .. As it turned out on Saturday,  India won their 4th tie 3-0 over Hong Kong to finish 3-1 in the pool, and Japan was upset by Thailand to force a three-way tie between India, Japan and Thailand .. India was 0.1percent behind Japan in the percentage of sets won, and ended up #2 in the pooll behind Japan .. What is disgusting in all this is that, had Thailand won the doubles match in straight sets over Japa in stead of in three sets, I believe they would have had to go back and get India to play the doubles match again Japan that was abandoned on Thursday due to rain .. I have to agree with coach Nandan Bal's comment that India would have even beaten Japan's doubles team and topped the pool .. I don't fully understand the rules they have used, but anyway it's all over in an agonizing finish with Japan advancing to the title round against China from the other pool .. Anyway, Niru, Sai and Manisha deserve all the kudos in the world, along with Nandan Bal for playing their best out there in Japan and bringing India that close to a final - something that nobody in this world expected as possible .. It almost became the biggest miracle for Indian tennis since Frejus in 93, but it was not to be.

At the $100K+H Bermuda challenger, Leander and Siemerink reached the final beating Jocelyn Robichaud and Michael Sell, 46 63 76(4) in a late night match on Friday and will be playing the second seeds Brent Haygarth and Jeff Coetzee of South Africa in the final today.

Apr 28 Notes

India had a rest day today at the Fed Cup and plays Hong Kong in their final tie tomorrow .. Thailand and Japan face each other today in a crucial tie .. Will be almost a miracle for Thailand to upset Japan and force a three way tie at the top of the pool - otherwise Japan will be in the final against the other pool's winner on Sunday .. For the record yesterday's results: India bt Kazakhstan 2-0 (Nirupama Vaidyanathan bt Valeriya Khazova 6-2, 6-2; Sai Jayalakshmi bt Alissa Velts 6-2, 6-3) ..  Japan bt India 2-0 (Asagoe bt Sai Jayalakshmi 6-3, 6- 1; Ai Sugiyama bt Nirupama Vaidyanathan 6-2, 6-3) .. India did not play doubles yesterday, but if by some chance a three-way tie develops, they will play the doubles matches to break tie.

Leander and Siemerink play the doubles semifinal at the Bermuda challenger today against Jocelyn Robichaud and Michael Sell, who upset the 3rd seeds Hood-Prieto yestdray.

Pretty good news from Uzbekistan -- Srinath is showing signs of life after a long time! .. He upset the 4th seed Alexander Shvec (BLR, #233) in the first round, 76(1) 76(4) - one of the highest ranked players Sri has ever beaten in his career, actually ..  He then beat  qualifier Evgueni Smirnov (UZB,1310), 63 64 in the second round to reach the QF .. In the QF today, he went down to the 5th seed Yaoki Ishii (JPN,248), 36 36 .. Good to see Srinath showing that he can still play some tennis after so many months of lackluster matches ..  In doubles, Srinath and Oren Motevassel (ISR) were the 3rd seeds .. They beat Elgin/ Kokurin the first round 63 64 and then lost the QF against Kunitcin and Golovanov, 36 26 ..

Apr 27 Notes

Early news - India lost to Japan 0-2 today at the Fed Cup in Osaka, Japan .. They had rescheduled yesterday's rained-out ties for today and had Japan and India play two ties each, with the doubles tie not played if any team went up 2-0 .. India seems to have won another tie today (I believe against Kazakhstan), but I haven't seen all the scores .. The only match score I have seen in early reports is that Nirupama lost against the Japanese #1 Ai Sugiyama (world #22) 26 36 .. Thanks go to Yasir Abdul Quadir of the fanclub for forwarding the wire news .. India still is at #2 in the Pool B, which is better than expected, and we should finish at that spot barring a huge upset of Japan by Thailand that causes a three-way tie between Japan, India and Thailand - not sure what the tiebreaking rules are, in that case ..

At the $100K+H Bermuda challenger, Paes and Siemerink are in the semis after their 61 36 63 win yesterday over Karsten Braasch and Dirk Dier of Germany .. They await the winners of the match between 4th seeds Mariano Hood & Sebastean Prieto and Jocelyn Robichaud & Michael Sell, which may be today .. The semifinals will be either Friday or Saturday .. This is one of the rare weekends when Leander can play doubles without worrying about missing the singles qualies at the next event .. That's because Leander is already a direct entry in the main draw at the Orlando ATP next week, based on his ESP rank 5 weeks back, which was about 20 spots higher.

By the way, LP had told me last week that he will be in the Olympics singles draw .. Based on the usual critieria to fill the 64 spots, he may have missed the entry if all the top players from each country decided to play .. Two players can enter the singles draw from each country - which mean there was a chance that LP would end up a few spots if most top players decided to play - though he may have got squeezed in somehow in the end .. Anyway, the Asian tennis Federation will recommend him for the draw and he will be in the draw - since he is the bronze medalist from last time and he is only a few spots out from the list, he will have no problem .. So, that's good news .. In doubles there is no problem for LP and MB to be in the draw - it remains to be seen what their rankings will be and how they will get seeded (I believe the rankings from the week after Wimbledon will be used for final entry, but I am not sure which ranking will be used for seeding).

No news from Uzbekistan on how Srinath is doing in the $15K Andijan futures .. I don't think Fazal is playing anywhere this week.

Apr 26 Note-2

Leander and Jan Siemerink won the doubles match yesterday at the Bermuda challenger, 46 63 62 over Tuomas Ketola (FIN) and Gareth Williams (RSA) .. They face the German pair, Karsten Braasch and Dirk Dier in the second round.

Apr 26 Note-1

I have not seen any news reports yet about the Fed Cup in Japan today - India was to play top seeds Japan .. Just saw a headline ticker that rain had caused postponement of the matches for the day (wednesday) - not sure if all the ties have been postponed.

Some good news on two of our guys who have been working hard in colleges out here in the US .. In today's latest collegiate rankings, Harsh Mankad and Ajay Ramaswamy finally cracked into the top-100 .. Ajay (at Lousiana State Univ) is listed as a Junior though I thought this was only his second year of playing here .. Harsh (at Univ of Minnesota) of course is one of the top-ranked freshman players here .. Ajay is ranked #92 and Harsh at #94 .. Their big upset wins a couple of weeks back that I mentioned last week probably pushed them inside the rankings .. Harsh actually is the 9th highest ranked first year player in colleges right now behind 7 foreign players and one American, and so it is actually a good achievement for Harsh to get ranked already - I believe the last Indian player to do that in his first year was Mahesh 6 years back, but he reached pretty high ranks quite fast .. On the girls side, it appears to be a bit easier for first year players to get into the rankings .. Uzma Khan (Univ of Arizona) was the 19th highest ranked freshman player at #88 in the rankings last week, and the second ranked Indian behind 18th ranked 3rd year player Jahnavi Parekh (Baylor university) - this week's girls ranks are not out yet .. Though Uzma has done pretty well this year, she perhaps has not created any big ripples like I had hoped she would - it's always a learning experience in the first year in colleges in the US.

I need to find out what happened in Leander's doubles match at the Bermuda challenger yesterday in Siemerink's company.

Apr 25 Note-4

At the $100K Bermuda challenger, Lareau beat Leander 46 63 62 .. Close match, as I expected - wish he could pull it off .. It's rather rare that Leander loses to anybody after winning the first set - almost invariably it has happened in the past only when some physical ailment struck him .. I hope there was no such problems today .. He is playing the doubles right now and I don't have a score for that yet.

Apr 25 Note-3

Srinath is at the $15K Uzbekistan futures in Andijan this week .. He is drawn to face the 4th seed Alexander Shvec (#233) of Belarus in the first round - tough match-up .. In doubles, Srinath is playing with Oren Motevassel and they are seeded 3rd, facing Michail Elgin and Anton Kokurin of Uzbekistan in the first round ..  I have not seen any scores yet.

Forgot to mention that Leander is also playing doubles at Bermuda .. He is top seeded with Jan Siemerink in the draw .. He had done well with Siemerink last year in one event (reached the final at sHertogenbosch, but the final was abandoned due to rain and the title was shared) .. I wonder if there is any change in plans again about LP-MB playing next week at the Orlando ATP - otherwise, playing with Siemerink in a challenger does not make much sense, even though this is a big challenger that offers up to 80 points for the winners .. We will see .. Paes/Siemerink are drawn to face a qualifier pair in the first round.

Apr 25 Note-2

Here is the bottom half of the draw at the $100K+H Bermuda clay challenger - Leander will be playing Sebastien Lareau in the first round today ..

6 Ronald Agenor (HAI)   d. Q Jeff Salzenstein (USA)   62 76(4) \
  Michael Tabara (CZE)  d. W Paul Kilderry (AUS)      60 75    / \
W Richey Reneberg (USA) vs W Todd Woodbridge (AUS)             \ / \
4 Andre Sa (BRA)        d.   Fredrik Jonsson (SWE)    60 64    /    \ _ F
7 Jiri Vanek (CZE)      d. Q Giorgio Galimberti (ITA) 61 62    \    /
  Jan Kroslak (SVK)     vs   Laurence Tieleman (ITA)           / \ /
  Leander Paes (IND)    vs   Sebastien Lareau (CAN)            \ /
2 Gianluca Pozzi (ITA)  d.   Lorenzo  Manta (SUI)     63 63    /
Leander lost to Lareau in a very one-sided match last year at the Indian Wells qualies in straight sets, mostly due to a late arrival early in the morning from India and then having to play at 9 am .. Lareau has not been doing all that well in singles and is ranked two spots below Leander at #140 .. He is not a great clay player, and LP does have a decent chance to beat him .. We will see.

Apparently Sweden has not made the final decision that the Davis Cup tie will be in Bastad, but it seems pretty sure they will pick that location .. Here is a note from fanclub member Dr. Sanjeevi in Sweden:  I spoke to the administrative secretary for the Swedish Tennis Association.  She told me that the Davis Cup match will be played in the outdoor courts. Definitely not in indoor stadiums. The dates are July 21-23, 2000. Since it is decided that it will be played in outdoor courts, the only big outdoor facility available in Sweden where they can have this Davis Cup is at Båstad. There are no proposals to have it in any other stadium yet.  However, the Swedish Tennis Association will meet on May 3, 2000 to make a final decision. It is most likely to be in Båstad. For tickets, the telephone number to contact is: +46-431-71295 ..  All the information on this will appear in the Swedish Tennis Association's web site: www.tennis.se .. Unfortunately, it is all in Swedish. More information on Swedish Open at Båstad and about Båstad can be seen in the following website: http://www.swedishopen.org/index_en.php3 .. Thanks Sanjeevi!  Good to have one of our people out there for news.

Apr 25 Note-1

Great news from Japan -- India upset 4th seed Thailand 2-1 today !! ..  Tamarine Tanasugarn d. Nirupama, 63 63 .. Sai Jayalakshmy d. Napaporn Tongsalee 64 62 .. Niru and Manisha Malhotra d.  Tanasugarn and Benjamas Sangram 76(8) 62 .. In today's match, Niru and Manisha fought off two set points in the first set before winning it and then totally outplaying the higher ranked Tammi-Benjamas pair .. Our doubles combination was a bit of a surprise to me .. You may remember me saying for a couple of years that Niru and Manisha should play together, as they have perfectly complementing games - but I believe they have not played together ever since the Asiad in 98 -- I thought we were never going see them playing together again (I leave out the details of why I say that -- anyway, great to see them together again) ! .. AFP reports - "I went into the match thinking that my singles match was going to be tough. I believed in myself, but she was just better than me, there was nothing I could do," said Vaidyanathan .. "The doubles was what mattered. We had an absolutely open mind. I was playing well and my partner really supported and played really aggressive tennis, so I'm happy that we won." .. Tamarine praised the Indians teamwork .. "It was their day today, they took their chances and they didn't give us any .. India's captain Nandan Bal said: "We were very confident, because both my singles players have been playing very well the last two weeks on the tour. Nirupama and Manisha have played together for almost three years now, they know each other, and they know they can take on anybody. When we got the first singles win, I was confident to beat Thailand," he added -- Nandan Bal is not actually correct .. Niru and Manisha have not played together in a long time .. Kudos go to him for putting them together and pulling off the upset win .. In Pool A with us, Japan was idle today, but Kazakhstan won a close 2-1 tie over Hong Kong .. The other two seeded teams who played today won -  but in Pool B #2 China beat Korea 2-1, #3 seeds Taiwan beat Singapore 3-0 and Indonesia (with Yayuk Basuki back) won 3-0 over New Zealand.

India takes on a tougher team tomorrow - #1 seeds Japan.

Apr 24 Notes

Leander is at the $100K big clay challenger in Bermuda .. Pretty tough field out there - All eight seeds are in the top-100 actually, with #98 Marcus Hantschk seeded eight ! .. #55 Andrew Ilie is the top seed in the field, which also has top players like #71 Pozzi (second seed) and #76 Stoltenberg (3rd seed) .. Leander is unseeded as he is ranked #138 in the entry ranks this week .. We should know the draw within a few hours .. I have no idea what form Leander will show on clay - it's been a long long time since he played a singles event on clay - first time in three years at a challenger, actually .. He has played a couple of French Open qualifier matches in the last two years on clay and that's it .. He has put in a bit of practice on clay at Orlando this week though .. I have always been of the opinion that LP, despite his dislike for clay, can be a pretty darn good clay player if he really wants it (some of his best results in Davis Cup have come on clay too!) and tunes himself mentally to do what is needed to win on clay .. I doubt he has substantially changed his view about the surface though :-) .. So, I am not looking forward to great results in Bermuda, but as always, who knows - anything is possible with LP! -- I am just glad to see him back on the singles circuit.

India is drawn in a pool of 5 teams at the women's Fed Cup Asian qualifiers in Japan ..  There are two pools of 5 and 6 teams each.  Teams in each pool play each other (each tie having a doubles match and two singles matches - #1 vs #1 and #2 vs #2) and the pool toppers play in a final on Sunday to advance to the world group .. India is drawn in Pool A with Japan (#1 seeded team) and Thailand (#4) .. Japan with Ai Sugiyama playing the #1 spot and Thailand with Tammi Tanasugarn at #1 will both be tough foes for India .. We play Thailand on Tuesday, Japan on Wednesday, Kazakhstan on Thursday and Hong Kong on Saturday .. The first two matches will be tough .. Japan has #22 A Sugiyama and about 4 other players in the 100-200 rank range .. Thailand has #62 Tammi and #352 Benjamas Sangaram as their top two players .. It would be too much to expect for us to upset Japan, but beating Thailand is not out of the question, as both Niru and Sai have a chance to pull off upsets, and our doubles team is pretty good if Niru and Sai play that too .. #224 Nirupama will of course play the #1 spot for us .. Nandan Bal has said that for the #2 singles spot he will select #407 Sai, ranked about 70 spots below Manisha, but in better form currently as Manisha is returning from an injury .. He hasn't decided who will make up the doubles team .. Niru-Sai will be our best team, but he may choose not to play them in all ties to keep them fresh .. I would expect them to play doubles Tuesday in the first tie against Thailand if it is tied 1-1 after the two singles matches, though .. Manisha has not played with Niru for a very long time (neither has she played with Sai), but Manisha and Radhika should be a pretty good doubles team too .. Pool B has #2 seeded China, #3 seeded Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, New Zealand and South Korea .. I think that is a tougher group .. India should have no problem beating Kazakhstan and Hong Kong in our pool - in fact it would be a big upset if either of those two end up beating the other tree teams in the pool - thus the tie between them would probably be to determine who gets relegated to the lower group in Asia ..  I am optimistic about India putting on a decent show, though it would be very very tough to advance to the final on Sunday .. At least our players are in good form and good spirits after those two very timely satellites in India.

Apr 23 Notes

Leander must have left from Orlando for the $100K Bermuda clay challenger starting on Monday .. He was in Orlando, training for a week or so, and I talked to him a couple of days back .. In good shape, and looking forward to the long stretch starting now .. I will update his schedule soon.

Nirupama had no difficulties yesterday in winning the final at the $10K Delhi ITF satellite, beating Sai 62 63 .. Sai's arm was hurting after playing 18 matches in 12 days and she could play well only in patches, which is not enough against someone of Niru's caliber .. She picked up 10 total points in two weeks which will raise her points total fromaround 25 to 35 points and her ranking should go up by about 70 spots from the current 443 to a career-high around 375 in two weeks .. For Niru, the 6 WTA points from this title are not much, but the match pactice was very useful.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Apr 24 ..

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.