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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on May 8, 2000

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May 8 Note-1

Here are some exceprts from the nice writeup at the TennisHit site about yesterday's doubles final at Orlando - In game 2,  "Lareau, looking nervous, struggled to keep his side of the court covered and, at the end of the game, Gimelstob, surprisingly hit two shots into the net to give Paes and Siemerink a 2-0 lead. Paes didn't surprise too many people by holding his serve to make it 3-0" .. "The ninth game of the set at 40-15 brought the best exchange at the net with a flurry of volleys and ground strokes as both teams were forced into defensive positions. Paes ended it with a terrific shot that just scraped the baseline to give Paes and Siemerink the set 6-3. Both sides had their tactics firmly in place by the start of the second set. Paes and Siemerink hit everything at Lareau. Gimelstob and Lareau did their best to keep the ball away from Paes. But Paes, is not the number one doubles player for nothing and constantly managed to insert himself between the ball and Siemerink to hit decisive winners between the opposing pair" ... "At 5-4,  40-30 Siemerink served a perfect 104 mph ace to end the set and win the match 6-3, 6-4. It's hard to detract from the skill and hard work of Lareau and Siemerink but Paes and Gimelstob were on a level of their own in this match. If Paes and Bhupathi are not able to mend some fences that seem to have been trampled recently, a team of Paes and Gimelstob would surely win everything there is. Whether they could spend long enough in each other's company is something else again".... Hmmm .. Rather interesting write-up from them.

That brings up exactly the reason why Leander and Mahesh are such a great team .. There is really no way anybody can get away by attacking either of them .. Leander ends up having to do much more by himself when he plays with other partners, as the opponents try to keep the ball away from him .. If they do that with Mahesh on the AD side, they will end up paying for it !

Mahesh is playing doubles at Rome with Mark Knowles and Leander does not seem to be playing this week .. Also, the four week $20K ITF developmental satellites for women is starting today in India .. More later.

May 7 Note-2

The win streak continued for Leander and Siemerink to 11 matches .. They followed up their upset of the top seeds Woodies in the QFs with an upset today of the second seeds Gimelstob-Lareau, 63 64, to win the doubles title at the $320K Disney US Claycourt Championships at Orlando, this evening .. Congrats go to Leander who gets his 17th doubles title, and the second title in the company of somebody other that Mahesh (he had won the Newport title with Arthurs last year - ATP does not count the shared title in Siemrink's company at the the abandoned final in sHertogenbosch last year) .. Beating the Woodies and Gimelstob-Larau (the top two seeds) in straight sets is quite impressive..  The title gives LP 175 points which should move him up a couple of spots from the #6 ranking he has this week .. For Siemerink, this would be a pretty good jump of around 25 spots from 103 to inside 80 (he was 113 before hooking up with LP last week and winning the Bermuda challenger) .. They each made over $11K from the title .. More details on today's final awaited.

The Indian boys' run ended in the final at the ITF u-14 World Youth Cup Asia-Oceania regionals today at Bangkok, as they lost 0-3 to Thailand .. Thai No 2 Kirati Siribut beat Tushar Liberhan 64 64, Natapong Pongkunsub defeated Karan Rastogi 63 75, and then Siribut-Pongkunsub d. Liberhan-Rastogi 63 60 today ..  Thailand, India, Japan and Australia finished as the top 4 in that order from Asia-Oceania and will all advance to the world group competition in the Czech Republic in August .. China, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan finished as top four on the girls side and will go to world group competition [source: The Nation, Thailand]

May 7 Note-1

Our under-14 boys continue to do very well in Bangkok at the ITF World Junior Tennis Asia Oceania qualifiers ! .. After qualifying for the world group by reaching the semifinals on Friday, they upset the second seeds Australia 2-1 in the semis yesterday to reach the final today against 8th seeds Thailand ! .. Great show by the 5th seeds to go unbeaten in the league ties and two knockout ties .. Congrats again!

The doubles final at the $320K Disney US Claycourt Championships at Orlando between Paes-Siemerink and Gimelstob-Lareau is set for about 4.30 pm Eastern time today.

May 6 Note-2

Leander and Jan Siemerink are in their second successive final (make it three in the three tournaments they have played together) - They played yet another three-setter for that, this time beating Coetzee-Haygarth, 57 63 62 .. According to TennisHit (they have been covering the tournament very nicley - the website itself will be officially announced only later this month, I am told), at the beginning of the first set, Leander "slumped to the ground after being hit at the net with a hard ball from Haygarth. He still lay on the court in obvious pain a full minute as concerned officials gathered round waiting for the arrival of the trainer who had been summoned by Umpire, Norm Chryst. However, he was on his feet and ready to play within another minute - to the obvious relief of his partner! " .. Then JS was broken in game 5, they got the break back in game 6, and LP was broken in game 11 for them to lose the first set .. After that they were all over the South Africans, however .. TennisHit says, "One remarkable feature of the second set was at 4-1 when Siemerink overruled the line judge on two consecutive points to award the points to his opponents - and was applauded by his partner and the crowd. Nice to see!" .. They go on to say, "Without wishing to take away from the skill of the other players, Leander Paes showed why he was the number one player in doubles in 1999. His quickness, superb volleying skills and his uncanny ability to predict the trajectory of the ball were truly amazing. Gimelstob watched the whole action from the stands. Tomorrow's match promises to be an interesting doubles final..."  Paes and Siemrink will now face the second seeds Justin Gimelstob and Sebastien Lareau .. That will be a tough pair to beat .. LP-JS have beaten quite a few good teams though, now that I think about it .. At sHertogenbosch last year, they beat Florent-MacPherson, Damm-Suk, and Haarhuis-Nestor, and now they have beaten Woodies, and are going up against Lareau-Gimelstob.

Are we seeing the partnership with Siemerink getting pretty serious? .. I hope not ! --- and I guess you know why I say that .. LP seems to be having some fun again now though - something that seemed to be missing for a while for both MB and LP, with all the scrutiny, and pressures and expectations, not to mention the people around and in between them .. Actually, in a way I go back and forth on what I feel about what these two should do .. Having some approximate sense of what is straining their relationship, I sometimes feel that they should perhaps just play apart for a period and play together whenever they feel comfortable doing it -- in other words, take it easy for a while and enjoy some tennis .. In my mind however there is no doubt that neither LP nor MB will possibly ever find a partner as perfect as each other .. And to an extent they both know that too .. If only they could bring back that old fun, friendship, trust and respect again .. They certainly can do that though over time - I say that because neither has done any big harm to the other, and they don't have any hatred or anything towards each other .. They should keep the communication channels open and see how things go .. All just my opinions .. Of course, I will be the happiest man if I see them playing together right next week at Rome (not any big chance right now for that, I believe - but they have surprised us in the past too by suddenly coming to some understanding, playing and winning grand slams :-)).

May 6 Note-1

Leander and Siemerink are playing some really good doubles at Orlando .. They had their 9th win in a row together, beating the top seeds Woodies in the quarterfinals yesterday, 76(10) 62 .. Based on a description at an unofficial website on the tournament, this was the best doubles match of the tournament so far, and LP/JS had to play some very strong tennis to get past the Woodies going for a record number of titles .. In the semifinal today, LP-Siemerink play a rematch against the South Africans, J.Coetzee and Brent Haygarth, the same team they had beaten 63 62 in the finals last sunday at Bermuda challenger.

The Indian under-14 boys have reached the world group of the World junior tournament ! .. At Bangkok, they advanced to the final eight on Thursday, consisting of the top two teams from each of the four pools (a correction - India had beaten Philippines 3-0 and had not lost to them in the league matches, says an Indian press friend - unlike what was reported by the Bangkok Post - that means they went undefeated in three league ties to top their pool)  .. Then on Friday, India beat China 3-0 to finish among the top 4 teams from Asia-Oceania, to make the world group (of 20 teams) .. Japan, Thailand and Australia are the other three teams to make it .. Big congrats go to our young pups, Tushar Liberhan and Karan Rastogi, for this! .. India was seeded 5th, and was second in its pool - this performance is better than expected ..   Taiwan, China, Japan and South Korea are in the semis of the girls event.

Finally some news from the Gifu challenger in Japan - Justin writes with some news on Manisha:  I went to Gifu and so I know the results of Manisha's matches .. In singles she lost first round to the on-fire qualifier and veteran, Catherine Barclay 6-3 6-3 .. Then in doubles the next day with partner Benjamas Sangaram, she lost to the Japanese sister duo of Haruka Inoue, Maiko Inoue 7-6(1)  6-3 .. I saw a bit of the doubles match and it seemed that Benjamas was making a ton of errors, and though Manisha made some of her own, she definitely was the stronger of the pair and with a stronger partner she could have won that match .. So, that's the news.

Harsh Mankad, in his first year at the University of Minnesota, was selected this week as the "freshman of the year" in the Big-10 conference in the US, one of the top 4 collegiate conferences .. He is among the highest ranked 6 or 7 freshman players in US colleges, and led Minnesota to their best season since 1995, as they finished the big-10 season ranked #18 in the country .. Congratulations to Harsh!

May 5 Notes

Mahesh and Arthurs lost a close one last night in the quarterfinals, with a big US crowd cheering the Bryan twins, but in a way I think it was not a bad thing .. For one, the two close matches against pretty good players at Orlando show that Mahesh is able to play a decent level of tennis, which is good news .. Also, it is perhaps a good thing for him not to play too many matches in the very first week of return anyway .. I will talk to Hesh and see how the shoulder is feeling.

Leander and Siemerink continue to pull off these tough three set wins - it seems like every other match they play is a three setter; but they keep winning .. Including the four matches last week and three last year at sHertogenbosch, they have won eight matches in a row now! .. Today they have a tough QF against two guys who are, let's say, rather good -- the Woodies, who are the top seeds and are chasing history for a 57th title that would make them the team with most titles in history .. The QF match is scheduled as the second match on center court today - at about 7 pm in Orlando.

Indian boys beat Indonesia 3-0 on Wednesday, but lost to Philippines 0-3 yesterday, after their 3-0 win over Uzbekistan on Tuesday .. Indian girls beat Philippines 3-0 yesterday, but are out of contention for the knowckout stage, I believe .. I will confirm later.

By the way, a couple of press friends informed me (thanks!) that Niru and Sai returned from Japan and only Manisha stayed back for this week's Gifu challenger .. I have not seen any results from Gifu yet.

May 4 Notes

LP and Siemerink won the first round 46 76(5) 64, and MB-Arthurs lost a close one in the QF, 57 67(4) just now at Orlando .. More later.

May 3 Note-2

Good news on Mahesh's return .. He had a breeze of a win today, in the company of Arthurs, against Lan Bale and Michael Hill, 64 61 .. Bale and Hill are decent doubles players, and this may mean that Mahesh is looking pretty good out there on the court ..

May 3 Note-1

3rd seeded Bhupathi-Arthurs pair plays the first round doubles today against Lan Bale and Michael Hill today - the last match of the day on center court at night .. Actually I wonder which side MB and WA are playing - I have to guess that Mahesh would continue on AD court; Arthurs was playing AD court when he played with Leander two months back but perhaps he is playing deuce court though he is a left-hander .. Mahesh is feeling no pain or discomfort on his shoulder and is getting good serve speed too - he just needs to build up confidence about using his shoulder, that's all .. Unseeded Paes-Siemrink pair seem to be not in today's schedule - they should be playing the first round against qualifiers Mark Merklein and Michael Sell tomorrow .. As they play only after 5 pm out there (probably due to the humid weather), the doubles draw has been moving slowly so far with 2 first round matches on each of the first 4 days .. They will have QF, SF and F from Friday through Sunday .. The second seeds Gimselstob/Lareau and 4th seeds Gambill/Humphries advanced over the last two days, and the 3rd seeds MB-Arthurs play today .. Top seeds Woodies play tomorrow along with Paes-Siemerink placed right next to them in the draw ..

I had heard that Niru, Sai and Manisha were staying back in Japan for the $50K challenger this week at Gifu city .. No news yet on whether Manisha and Sai made the draw, and about Niru's matches.

The ITF World Junior Tennis (under-14) Asia-Oceania qualifying got underway yesterday in Thailand .. India won the first tie against Uzbekistan 3-0 yesterday in the boy's section .. From the boys and girls sections 4 teams each will advance to the world group (of 20 teams each) .. Boys Grouping:Group 1: South Korea, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka and Thailand .. Group 2: Taiwan, Pakistan, China and Japan .. Group 3: Indonesia, Philippines, Uzbekistan and India .. Group 4: Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and New Zealand .. Girls Grouping: Group 1: China, Malaysia and Thailand .. Group 2: Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and New Zealand .. Group 3: South Korea, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Japan .. Group 4: Taiwan, Philippines, India and Uzbekistan .. I will try to find out more details on the Indian teams' performance.

May 2 Note-2

News from Orlando continues to be bad -- Leander lost the first round match just now, rather cheaply, to Xavier Malisse, 26 36 ..

News from Uzbekistan is not better either - Srinath lost to 5th seed Alex Shvec (BEL,233), 26 46 .. Sri had upset the same player in straight sets last week and reached the QF, but the momentum did not carry to this week, I guess.

May 2 Note-1

Leander plays Xavier Malisse at 5 pm today at the $320K Orlando Disney US Claycourt Championships ATP tournament ..  Will have scores later .. No live updates or anything from this tournament which does not even have a proper website .. Hey, Disney! -- I thought you guys had enough money to run at least a web site for a tournament .. How shameful! .. No doubles matches on schedule for Paes or Bhupathi today .. Both may be playing doubles tomorrow with their respective partners.

No update on the Paes-Bhupathi "situation" .. They had a chat yesterday I believe, but things are still at an impasse.

May 1 Note-2

Darn! .. Mahesh is playing with Wayne Arthurs (they are the 3rd seeds) and Leander is playing with Jan Siemerink at Orlando .. I had an inkling that something was up ..  This may hopefully be yet another temporary thing till they work out whatever is now between them .. I don't know what the latest issues are - but my sense is that it's all probably the same things which have been between them for over a year that never seem to go away other than for brief periods; they work things out for a while, and they go right back to square one pretty soon after .. One of them told me a few days back that till some things are agreed upon by both, they may have no choice but to go separate ways for a while though it was just not what he wanted or preferred .. Based on a phone call to one of the two today, they are still on talking terms though .. I am deliberately staying away from mentioning who is saying what, and we will just have to wait and see how things transpire from now on .. I hope they will both see the right sense and do whatever is needed to restart their partnership .. One probably feels his partner needs to do some things to create the proper environment without which there won't be the right spirit and enthusiasm to do well together and they would be wasting time - the other probably feels his partner shouldn't be worrying about those things and that it isn't such a big deal .. My read may not be perfect, but it is something like that and that's about as impartial a description as I can say about the complicated mess between these two .. Honestly, I have not tried to find out more from either - I would like to stay away from the details and just hope that they would work things out.

3rd seeds MB-Arthurs play Lan Bale and Michael Hill in the first round .. LP-Siemerink play qualifiers yet to be determined.

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.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on May 1 ..

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.