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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on May 5, 2003
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May 5 Note-1

LP and MB will both be at the $2.45M Rome Masters this week after a couple of weeks of rest .. MB with Max Mirnyi, seeded second and LP with David Rikl, seeded 4th .. Both have first round byes .. MB-DR play the winners of Agustin Calleri/ Guillermo Coria (ARG) vs Frantisek Cermak/ Leos Friedl (CZE) and LP-DR pay the winners of  Marat Safin/ Mikhail Youzhny (RUS) vs Roger Federer (SUI)/ Paradorn Srichaphan (THA) ..The R2 matches won't be before wednesday.

The draw for Sunitha Rao at the $25K Sea Island challenger in Georgia, US, should be known by tomorrow .. This event is suddenly getting a lot of interest because of Anna Kournikova, mired in a big ranking slump, deciding to play there.

Harsh Mankad starts the $25K four-week satellites in Portugal, all legs on red clay .. The first leg this week is at Carcavelos, POR - the main draw starts tomorrow .. Saurav Panja was the 9th seed in the qualifying draw for the first week, with Nishank Mishra and Saurav Sukul also in the draw, all with byes into the round of 32 for 8 qualifier spots .. No results yet.

Sunil Kumar is the 3rd seed at the $10K futures in Kuwait .. He plays a wildcard, Ali Sherif (UAE), in the R1 .. Vishal Punna is also there, and he plays a qualifier, Horia Tecau (ROM) - the same guy who beat him in the R2 last week.

The u16 girls are at Kuala Lumpur for the junior Fed Cup regionals.

I have started a page for the "BSNL" -sponsored Indore $5K satellite leg .. See the draws at the Indore satellites page .. Most of the top Indian girls are there, starting with Sonal Phadke as the top seed .. Geeta Manohar is the only Indian listed for a foreign satellite - at the $10K in Surabaya, Indonesia.

May 4 Notes

Our u16 boys foght back in the 3rd place match at the Asia-Oceania regionals of the Junior Davis Cup for a 2-1 win over Chinese Taipei .. #2 Sumit Prakash Gupta l. Chia-Chu Lien 62 16 46 .. #1 Rupesh Roy d. Huai-En Chang 62 26 63 .. R.Roy/ S.P.Gupta d. Chin-Yu Huan/ C-C.Lien 64 16 64 .. Looks like Sanam could not play again .. Indonesia beat S.Korea for the top spot .. Good job by Rupesh, Sanam and Sumit to qualify for the world group - first time in 5 years for us .. Nothing else to report today.

May 3 Notes

The #2 seeded Indian u16 boys went down to #3 S.Korea in the semifinal today at the Asia-Oceania Junior Davis Cup regionals .. All I have found so far is the Jakarta Post reporting that "South Korea came from behind to upset second seed India, 2-1" .. Looks like we lost the #1 spot match and the doubles .. As the ITF site takes a holiday as usual on a Saturday, no details out there either .. It would have been good to pick up a couple more wins to possibly get a seeding in the world group - now it will become tougher for Rupesh and party there, but good job by them to get to the world group anyway .. I believe we will be playing Taiwan tomorrow for the 3rd place in the regionals.

The Delhi challenger title went to Ivo Heuberger, of course near top-100 earlier and coming back from an injury (back?) .. He beat Danai Udomchoke of Thailand, who was in his first challenger final .. Danai had pulled off the big upset of the top seed Van Lottum in the semi yesterday .. Congratulations to Heugerger, and also to Danai, who I understand goes by the name "Pik" among his Thai fans (according "Jiro" who posts in our forum) .. The Thais seem to always do something extra in India, like Paradorn, Tammy, Montinee, etc .. See the New Delhi Challenger page for all the scores.

Next week we have the Rome masters series, where both LP and MB should be .. Sunitha Rao is currently about the 6th seed in the Sea Island challenger in the US .. Sunil Kumar is the 3rd seed for the $10K futures in Kuwait ..  Rohan has the week off and Harsh starts the Portugal satellite first leg as (probably) the second seed .. Starting this coming week at Indore will be the four-week ITF developmental satellite circuit ($5K each for each leg, masters leg of 16 decided on points from the first three legs and only masters leg giving WTA points) that goes on to Delhi for three weeks after Indore .. At Kuala Lumpur our u16 girls team of Sanaa, Tara and Karitiki will prabably be the top or second seeds in the regionals for the Junior Fed Cup regionals.

May 2 Notes

The Indian boys have made the world u16 final-16 for the first time in FIVE years! .. At the Junior Davis Cup regional quarterfinals in Jakarta today, India beat Hong Kong 2-1 to make the semifinal against the 3rd seeds Korea .. The final four advance to the world group to be played in Europe later .. It got a bit iffy today, with India dropping the #1 spot singles, but a strong doubles display pulled them through .. India (2) d. China Hong Kong 2-1 .. #2 Rupesh Roy d. Xiao-Peng Lai, 62 76(6) .. #1 Sanam K Singh l. Martin Sayer, 06 63 26 .. Sumit Prakash Gupta/ R.Roy d. X-P.Lai/ M.Sayer, 63 64 .. Not sure if Sanam is having any problems, because he did not play yesterday .. Good work by Sumit and Rupesh today ..

Heuberger upset Carraz to reach the final at the Delhi challenger today .. Awaiting the other semi's score.

Harsh Mankad takes off to Portugal tomorrow for the four-week satellites there on clay .. He should be the second seed going in .. After the four weeks, he is expected to be basically done with the futures/satellites deal and focus on challengers .. Some 20-30 points from the POR satellite will push him up inside the top-300 and ready to do the challenger circuit .. Rohan is taking next week off, I assume .. He was quoted as saying at Delhi that he was tired from too many weeks of play .. Not sure where he will be after next week.

May 1 Notes

With Harsh Mankad and Vishal Uppal bowing out to the second seeds in the doubles QF today, the Indian challenge ended at the Delhi challenger .. Ajay-Vijay also had gone down in doubles .. Danai Udomchoke reached the SF with an upset of the top seed Van Lottum .. See the New Delhi Challenger page.

India reached the QF by topping the round-roin group-4 today at the u16 Boys Junior Davis Cup regionals in Jakarta .. Today, India (2) d. Uzbekistan (8), 2-0 .. #2 Sumit Prakash Gupta d. Vaja Uzakov, 46 63 64 .. #1 Rupesh Roy d. Akmal Sharipov, 61 63 .. Gupta/ Roy v. Jamol Umarov/ V.Uzakov, 10 (rain, abandoned)  .. I am not sure why our #1 player Sanam Singh did not play today .. Hope he is not injured or something - because we might need him against Hong Kong tomorrow .. Sumit came through well in a gritty comeback to avoid trouble today though .. Winning the QF puts us in the world group and further wins would help get us a seeding in the world group too .. We face the second place team from group-1 in the QF .. Hong Kong upset #7 New Zealand and made it in behind the top seeds Indonesia from that group .. We play Hong Kong next, and it may not be a cakewalk.

By the way, the Dutch Tennis federation had announced a week back the venue for the World Group playoff for Davis Cup .. As reported by our biggest Davis Cup fan, Florian Buechting (of the "my passport is German, my heart is Indian" fame) last week, "the Dutch Tennis Federation has announced the city of the Playoff tie today (May 24) .. They chose to play in the Ijsselhallen in Zwolle. Zwolle is a small city near to the North Sea and an about 120 km drive from Amsterdam. Cards will be on sale from June, 2nd. I will surely order immediately on that date. So if anyone wants to have tickets and wants to sit in a group of Indian fans, just contact me (webmaster@final-match-tennis.de) .. The surface is not decided so far... I could not find any information about the capacity of the Ijsselhallen (http://www.ijsselhallen.nl/) .. It appears to be a flat roof conventional hall where they might place bleecher seats for the tie and lay a carpet or something .. Florian has also posted some info on the town and the hotels at our forum today .. All of you planning to go to Netherlands, take a look and let Florian know, so he can organize a cheering squad!

Apr 30 Notes

Prakash went down in a decent fight against Yves Allegro today, 67(6) 46 at the Delhi challenger .. Not his best serve and volley game today - according to PTI, his volleys were often weak and he ended up getting passed by Allegro .. He has the kind of tools where serve and volley could become a big strength for him, but give him time to get good at it .. PA did go a break up in the first set and later also had a set point at 6-5 in the tiebreaker before losing the last three points, the last one on a double fault; Oh boy - not a good day, but a good tournament from the youngster nonetheless .. Awaiting doubles scores.

At the Kuwait futures this week, 8th seeded Vishal Punna beat a qualifier Salah Bou Zidani (ALG) 61 61 .. He will play another qualifier Horia Tecau (ROM) next .. This futures has turned into some sort of a joke, as a lot of player could not even get to Kuwait because of the war situation .. In fact the cut for the main draw entry was at 1 ATP point! .. In doubles, wildcards Vishal Punna and Ahmed Rabeea (KUW) d. Mohammed Al Foudari/ Hamed Al Solaiteen (KUW) 46 61 64 and they face the 3rd seeds Amadeus Fulford-Jones (GBR) and Christian Grunes (GER) in the QF.

India beat Pakistan today to ensure advancing to the QF at the u16 Junior Fed Cup regionals in Jakarta .. #2 India d. Pakistan, 3-0 .. (#2 Rupesh Roy d. Aftab Anwar, 61 61 .. #1 Sanam K Singh d. Shahrukh Khan Niazi, 63 62 .. Sumit Prakash Gupta/ R.Roy d. A.Anwar/ Tanveer Ashiq, 60 60) .. India plays Uzbekistan next to top the pool and get a second place team in the quarterfinal ties.

Apr 29 Notes

Sunitha Rao is also not playing this week, and will be at the Sea Island Challenger in Georgia, USA, next week in the main draw .. Not sure when Niru will be back on the tour.

The steam the Indian players had at Bangalore last week ran out today at Delhi, as Rohan, Harsh and Vishal lost in straight sets .. A bit disappointing that all four senior players went down without even a set this week, after a much better showing at Bangalore .. The good news is that Prakash Amritraj won his first round, a 76(5) 64 upset over Noam Behr (ISR,265) .. That is a big win for Prakash, who had had one top-200 win earlier in a challenger in Texas .. That makes it TEN top-500 upset wins by our players so far in the challengers (3 by Harsh, 3 by Karan, 1 by Rohan, 1 by Prakash, 1 by Vijay, 1 by Somdev) .. That is quite a heartening stat - there were a few years recently when we hardly had 10 top-500 wins in a whole year or two .. Prakash plays Yves Allegro (SUI,231) who upset the 4th seed Noam Okun today .. Vijay and Ajay won a marathon 3-tiebreaker doubles match to make the QF, joining Harsh-Vishal in the round .. See the New Delhi Challenger page.

BTW, here is a nice article on young Karan Rastogi's loss yesterday, by S.Kannan in the Hindustan Times - Karan goes out, all guns blazing .. Lots of details in there about the kind of match he played and the kind of player the kid is .. All positive.

Our junior Davis Cup team (u16) is at Jakarta for the Asia-Oceania regionals .. India is seeded 2nd behind Indonesia in the 14-team field .. Two groups of 4 teams each and two groups with 3 each .. Three days of round robin matches to determine the top 2 in each group who will make the QF, and then three days of knockout rounds .. Four teams making the semifinals advance to the world group-16 to be played in Europe later in the year .. India and Indonesia are in 3-team groups .. India has a relatively easy group with 8th seed Uzbekistan, and unseeded Pakistan .. India and Indonesia had off-days today ..  We play Pakistan tomorrow (UZB beat PAK 3-0 today), followed by UZB the day after ..  Our team is Sanam K. Singh at the 1-spot, Rupesh Roy at the 2-spot and Sumit Prakash Gupta at the 3rd spot .. 2 singles and a doubles match in each tie .. Lats year's u16 team with Tushar Liberhan and Karan Rastogi failed to advance to the World Group (Karan was returning from injury and had not reached full form yet) .. This year's team is quite strong and should make the QF barring a miracle from Pakistan ..

In other news, 16 yr old Divij Sharan made his second consecutive grade-3 semifinal last week at Namangan, Uzbekistan, again both in doubles and semis .. Unfortunately he fell in both semis just like the previous week .. Still a decent showing from Divij .. He moved inside the junior top-175 with the points .. Vikas Punna was the doubles partner .. Divij also tried his hands this weekend in the challenger qualies at Uzbekistan, but went down in the first round.

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.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Apr 28 ..

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.