Notes for the week ending on May 13, 2002
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May 13 Note-1
Mahesh and Gambill pulled an upset today at the Hamburg masters, 36 62 (10-7) against the 5th seeded Bryan twins. Glad to see MB-Gambill win, but I am also sad that the Bryan twins have not really gone to the top like many fans expected early last year (the Bryans reaching the top could have helped improve the interest in doubles a bit in the US; somehow Johnson-Palmer have been unable to capture much of fans' imagination out here, IMHO) .. LP-Cibulec play tomorrow at Hamburg.
Rushmi Chakravarti is in the main draw entry list at the $25K Shanghai challenger starting today .. I have not seen the draw .. No idea if Manisha is playing anywhere this week .. She was in Warsaw last week for the WTA event doubles, but I didn't see her in the Poland challenger qualies where she could have squeezed in - not sure if she is playing doubles there or something.
The Vishakhapatnam satellite leg has started .. In a coincidence, yesterday was the hottest day in recorded history (since 1978), according to Vizaginfo.com! .. 45 deg celsius at the airport .. Eight players did qualify for the main draw yesterday, playing in the heat! .. I have added the main draws and today's first round results at the Vishakhapatnam satellite page .. The heat notwithstanding, it is nice to see one more location with good facilities for tennis - the tournament is being held at the refurbished Andhra University courts .. Here is the preview article in The Hindu, which talks about the hard work put in by the folks out there to get the courts ready, led by the local district collector .. There were no surprises in today's matches .. Young Jaco Mathew has quite possibly assured himself of making the masters leg and picking up his first ATP points with a win over Yasser Arafat today .. Vishal Punna also has done the same .. By the way, I have started the points tally page - take a look.
The Indian girls won the 3rd place tie 2-1 over Indonesia yesterday to finish 3rd in the Jakarta regionals .. Here are the scores from the weekend ties .. [Semifinal] China (1) d. India (3) 2-1 .. #2 Wan-Ting Liu d. #2 Sandhya Nagaraj 62 64 .. #1 Shuang Wu l. Sanaa Bhambri 16 26 .. Liu / Yi-Fan Xu d. Bhambri/ Vandana Murali 62 64 .. [3rd place] India (3) d. Indonesia (8) 2-1 ..#2 Sandhya Nagaraj l. Nancy Metriya 46 16 .. #1 Sanaa Bhambri d. Gusti Ayu Kd Fani Damyanti 61 63 .. Bhambri / Nagaraj v. Damyanti / Metriya 76(3) 46 62 .. Good show by the girls to hang in there and win the doubles tie yesterday .. Sandhya Nagraj's losses in the final twoi days were a bit unfortunate .. Actually it would be interesting to see whether Sandhya or Vandana Murali would be the #2 in the world group matches at Czech republic in August, considering Vandana's good showing in the satellite last month (that is if she continues to show good form) .. I believe once the player orders are submitted a few weeks before the tournament, changes are not allowed other than for injuries .. Anyway, congratulations to the team (and coach Kawaljeet Singh) for qaulifying to the world group, and losing only closely to the top seed in the reegionals .. So our u14 boys/girls team finished with a 11-1 record in ties (30-3 in matches) in the regionals - strongest regionals show in our memory, for sure.
The Asia-Oceania regional qualifying for the Junior Fed Cup starts tomorrow in Jakarta .. That is the ITF u16 girls event .. Our team is Sania Mirza, Ankita Bhambri and Kartiki Bhat - a strong one .. The coach is Sunil Yajaman.
May 12 Note-2
MB is playing with Jan-Michael Gambill and LP is playing Tomas Cibulec at the Hamburg Masters starting on Monday .. Mirnyi is at Hamburg, but playing only singles .. Frankly, I don't understand the point behind all this stuff that our two guys are doing, but I have stopped trying to figure them out long back .. And what do I know anyway, and when did fans' interests figure into anything really anyway? .. LP and MB could face each other in the R2 if they win their respective first round matches .. Bhupathi-Gambill play the 5th seeded Bryan twins, Mike and Bob .. LP-Cibulec play unseeded Friedl-Rikl .. Cibulec-Friedl used to be a good team earlier .. Rikl's longtime partner Novak is playing with Stepanek at Hamburg .. If the doubles players wanted people to take them and the game of doubles seriously (ATP certainly does nothing more than lip-service), there needs to be strong teams that people can identify and follow, for starters .. Rather than complain about ATP, the players should all be doing their part too .. Right now they all seem to be doing a fine job of messing things up .. It is the 5th month of the year, just two weeks to go for the French Open and they are all still into musical chairs? .. At this rate even the very few fans who used to have even a minimal idea about at least a few teams, are also going to be saying "see you" .. It's positively embarassing how empty the stands seem to be, for the doubles matches .. Other than bitching and moaning about ATP, I am not aware of anything that the doubles players seem to be doing to improve the situation .. I mean, some of the teams do not even care to show up for the year end doubles tournament .. If the players can't get their act together, the fans aren't going to be patient for ever and the game of doubles may be dying even faster than we all think .. When will they all understand? .. Again, I am just speaking from the fans' perspective - whatever the excuses are, the fans don't know that, and even the forgiving fans can't do much if they don't know what is going on .. Fans being taken for granted is not unusual in sports, but in the long run, the fans are the ones who determine where any professional sports goes .. Right now th situation is terrible in doubles .. The Indian fans of LP-MB generally have an idea about what they are doing and to some extent why they do it, because our press does keep up and we do hear from LP and MB occasionally, but a good number of foreign fans that the Indian Express had are gone now .. Not too many other teams are building up fanbases anywhere either, and that is a cause of serious concern .. Frustrating .. End of my Sunday sermon :-)
May 12 Note-1
Sorry for skipping a day .. was travelling .. Mustafa Ghouse won the second leg of the satellite circuit at Mumbai yesterday with a very impressive 62 62 final against Sandeep Kirtane .. Mustafa reportedly aced the heck out of Sandeep, starting with a couple of aces each in his first two service games .. When his strong serve is clicking Mustafa is a tough player to play .. Great news to see him back in form like this .. Nitin Kirtane and Vishal Uppal had won the doubles title on Friday.
In other news, the Indian u14 girls' win streak came to an end in the semis against the top seeded China, if I am reading the patchy Indonesian Bahasa news reports correctly .. #5 NZL beat #8 Indonesia in the other semi, and #3 India played #1 China, which must have had a very strong team, because our team with Sanaa, Sandhya and Vandana was quite strong themselves .. India went down 1-2 in the semi to China, I think .. ITF has not posted news on the regionals after Friday, so I don't know the match scores .. India is anyway into the world final-16 with the QF win, and so the loss against China affects only the regional placing.
May 10 Note-2
Oh well .. Nothing is working .. At the Rome Masters, #3 seeds MB and Mirnyi also went down to the same #5 seeds that LP-DeJager went down to, though today's QF was a pretty close one .. They lost 64 46 (3-10) .. So, that's that, for that .. This super-tiebreak business seems to give an advantage to the established teams, generally.
Mustafa Ghouse seems to be playing some pretty darn good tennis in the satellites .. Harsh Mankad told me the other day that Mustafa was actually down with some illness for a while, and that was part of the reason for a poor run for a few months from him .. Looks like he is back .. Today Mustafa defeated Vinod Sridhar and Sandeep defeated Volkovitzky to reach the final, which will be a repeat of last week's QF between them which Mustafa won.
May 10 Note-1
MB and Mirnyi advanced yesterday to the QF with a 76(2) 64 win over Arnold-Etlis .. They play the 5th seeds Black-Ullyett today.
Three Indians made the semifinals yesterday at the Mumbai satellite - Mustafa, Sandeep and Vinod Sridhar .. Vinod took out Manoj Mahadevan, who has not had the greatest time so far in this circuit .. Teenager Somdev Varman's run ended in the QFs .. Here is an interesting article about the kid from Tripura who moved to Chennai, from Midday-Mumbai ..
The u14 Indian girls continued their domination in Jakarta at the world junior tennis regionals, as they reached the semifinal with yet another straight sets 3-0 win over Thailand .. They have also now qualified for the world group final-16 joining the u14 boys .. #1 seed China, #3 India, #5 New Zealand and #8 Indonesia are the four teams in the SFs, who have qualified for the world group .. Today, IND d. THA 3-0 [ #2 Sandhya Nagaraj d. Punjaporn Ditthim, 63 63 .. #1 Sanaa Bhambri d. Porntip Mulsap, 60 61 .. Bhambri/ Vandana Murali d. Ditthim/ Kamonthip Saovana, 64 60] .. Make it a 27-0 record in regional matches by our u14 boys/girls teams ..
Here is a very complimentary article about Harsh Mankad that appeared in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune [thanks, Daniel Kern, for sending me the link!] .. Lot of interesting stuff there.
May 9 Notes
Mahesh and Mirnyi play the R2 at the Rome masters this evening against Argentinians Lucas Arnold and Gaston Etlis.
There were a couple of late results from yesterday at the Satellites that did not hit the online news wires (and The Hindu which is the only national newspaper with a correspondent reporting from there, had technical problems in their online edition) .. Anyway, there was also a 64 61 upset of the 6th seed Hayato Furukawa (JPN,982) by 17 yr old Somdev Dev Varman .. Sandeep Kirtane said to G.Vishwanath of The Hindu while commenting about his disappointment at a couple of players he coaches - "Probably they need time .. Look at Somdev Varman. He's strong legs. He can move fast. He has to be encouraged" .. As always, any mention of a stronger physique catches my eye - because the age-old problem of not having legs (and once you have it, not having upperbody strength :-)) is still with a lot of Indian players .. Somdev turned 17 this February and has not played much of higher-grade junior ITF tennis (actually there was some press criticism about him being not picked for the AITA team to the east too, I believe) though he won the Kolkata grade-4 early this year .. I think Somdev may be already in the semifinal, as his QF opponent Raviv Volkovtzky gave a medical walkover in the doubles match in the evening yesterday .. The other win was a tough three set comeback job by Vinod Sridhar to become the 6th Indian in the QF, which is a very good show, as only three Indians were seeded .. 4 unseeded Indians have reached the QF .. Today's QF results coming later.
The Indian u14 girls seem to be on a mission too -- today they topped their pool in Jakarta with their 3rd 3-0 win in a row, this time over 6th seeded Japan .. Sandhya Nagaraj d. Chie Moriuchi, 46 61 60 .. Sanaa Bhambri d. Akari Inoue 60 63 .. Bhambri/ Vandana Murali d. Akari/ Satomi Yatake, 62 64 .. In the quarterfinals tomorrow, India plays Thailand - winning that tie places India in the world group-14 .. Impressive that our boys and girls u14 teams have so far gone 24-0 in their regional matches dropping just three sets so far .. One more important tie left - but tomorrow's opponent Thailand does not seem to be a "gimme" team, but our girls should be able to handle them.
May 8 Note-3
It is not getting better for LP, as he and DeJager went down 46 26 to the 5th seeds Black-Ullyett, but MB-Mirnyi advanced after a tight one, 64 46 (10-6) against Barnard-Haggard this evening at the Rome masters .. I don't know how long LP should go before looking for another partner - it is kind of sad to see the trouble he is having without a decent partner; they are not even winning a set ..
May 8 Note-2
At the Mumbai satellite today, 15 yr old karan Rastogi's 4 match win streak ended against Vijay Kannan, 26 36 .. Mustafa, Manoj, Sandeep, etc have also reached the quarterfinals - good to see our players doing alright this week, unlike last .. See the Mumbai satellite page.
The u14 girls team continued today from their good start at the Asia-Oceania ITF u14 junior tennis regionals by beating Malaysia 3-0 and qualifying for the final-8 .. Another easy tie for India - Sandhya Nagaraj d. Mary Ngiam 62 63, Sanaa Bhambri d. Tinusha Sivaganam 60 61, and Bhambri/ Vanada Murali d. Ngiam/ Puvaneswary Vajayandran 60 61 .. Both #3 India and #6 Japan are tied for the top 2 spots in the round robin pool by beating both Malaysia and Philippines; both have qualified for the quarterfinal now .. Tomorrow India plays Japan to decide the pool topper and get a better QF matchup, which is important - the semifinalists advance to the world final-16 in August in Czech Rep.
May 8 Note-1
LP-DeJager and MB-Mirnyi play their first round matches this evening at the $2.95M Rome masters - against Black-Ullyet and Barnard-Haggard respectively.
Manisha Malhotra and Shelley Stephens (NZL) lost in the first round at the Tier-4 WTA event yesterday at Warsaw, Poland, 46 67(3) to Kim Grant (RSA) and Abigail Spears (USA) .. Seems like a close match.
Some nice news item from last week -- About AITA bringing Rohan and Sania for financial support .. Here is the article from The Hindu .. What caught my eye in the article is the mention in passing that they have picked up Harsh Mankad for support as well .. I knew that this was in the works for the last few weeks, but was waiting to see if AITA would announce anything officially .. AITA has been in touch with Harsh and had asked for his pro schedule and expense estimates for the rest of the year (he has pretty much decided to leave college and hit the tour full time soon, and the support from AITA was one big reason for him to take the plunge, because that requires some solid cash and AITA has promised some) .. I don't think all the details have been worked out yet, but things are looking up .. That is all good news!
Here is another article from last week - interesting one from Sukhwant Basra in the Times of India with some thoughts on the Delhi satellite leg performance of some of our players - especially about how they all need to improve their "legs" -- yeah, that same old problem in Indian sports .. Good comments in there .. There is also some inside stuff on some coaches getting into trouble, also in that article.
Here is an article from a few weeks back, for laughs (especially if you like PJs and puns like I do) -- not the funniest article out there or anything, but a lighter look at the latest divorce between YellPee and YemBee .. Of course, don't take any of that seriously - LP does not drink any alcohol (at all!) and I don't think Bhupathi Sr would make such a racket and become a "tormentor" of Hesh - but the writer (who is a Nair like me, though I don't know if he is as deboNair as I am) seems to be taking LP's side in a subtle way, or he zimbly wanted to write some stuff for laughs ..
May 7 Note-2
Forgot to mention that Tennis Australia announced on Monday the venue for the Sep 20-22 Davis Cup (2003) world group qualifying tie between AUS and India .. It will be on outdoor hardcourts at Adelaide (Memorial Drive, where the ATP tournament isi held) .. One reason for selecting Adelaide was that it is Lleyton Hewitt's hometown, because without him Australia could run into some serious trouble against India (Rafter is not available and Ilie, etc aren't doing that hot either) ..
The 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 7th seeds bit the dust today at the second leg of the India S1 satellites in Mumbai .. 2nd seed Nitin Kirtane had a bad outing after his title run last week, and was upset by a Japanese qualifier .. #1077 Vijay Kannan upset the 7th seed Ivan Syrov (RUS,1054) - not really an upset; just that Vijay is just way to under-ranked for what he is capable of, having hardly picked up much ATP points in the last year .. Vijay next faces the youngest Indian possibly to win a round at a pro event - Karan Rastogi .. The 15 yr old is the other qualifier who made the second round, with a 61 63 shellacking of Vijayendra Laad .. I am not sure what is up woth Laad (who had an 06 06 loss last week to Shivang Mishra too), but the kid Karan has been really playing well, which is good news .. Youngster Shivang is also playing well, as he beat Vishal Uppal today - not sure if Vishal has recovered from last week's injury problems .. See the Mumbai satellite page.
By the way I also forgot to mention the name of the coach for the victorious boys u14 team that topped Asia-Oceania in Colombo - Hemant Bendre, who I believe is from Pune .. Hemant deserves credit for the nice show by the boys .. Yes, he had some serious talent to work with, in Sumit, Rupesh and Jeevan, but what was impressive is that the boys stayed fully focussed throughout the week, showing the "killer instinct" to go after the other teams one after another, and that normally requires some good work by the coach .. The 3-set wins in singles against Australia in the key round robin tie also shows some good focus by the team .. Actually ITF had planned not to play the final on Sunday but the Indian team requested for that, as they wanted to finish the job off by beating Australia once more and getting the undisputed "title"! .. That's the spirit .. According to press reports, Hemant was optimistic of a good show by India at the world u14 final-16 in Prostejov (CZE) in August .. That will be on red clay, and he said it would help that Sumit will be part of an ITF subjunior team doing the European clay circuit before that.
May 7 Note-1
LP-DeJager and MB-Mirnyi are both playing their first round doubles matches at the Rome masters tomorrow (wednesday) .. There is a curious report in today's Telegraph (Kolkata) with some comments from Leander .. Here are some excerpts - "We have always done well on clay… it’s good we capitalised on our experience to win at Mallorca,” Paes told The Telegraph just before leaving for Rome this afternoon. And, then, almost in the same breath, added: “It’s a shame we can’t play the entire clay season together” .. [well, you can say that again! - they may have whatever reasons to decide to play apart, mutually felt or not, but I do think the timing was not great, because these two could have and would have won a lot on clay even in their sleep, despite all the "issues" .. But on the other hand, finding other partners would be even more difficult after French Open, because Wimbledon immediately follows and US Open is the only grand slam remaining for a new pairing to hope to do well in, and that may have been the reason for splitting up before the clay season itself] .. The article continues “See, both of us have to take care of our careers by making smart moves. That’s why I agreed when Mahesh asked me whether I’d play with him at Mallorca,” Paes explained. What if Bhupathi wants to defend the French Open crown in three weeks’ time with his old partner? “We’ll cross the bridge when we come to it,” was the diplomatic answer. It can easily be interpreted as a statement in the affirmative by virtue of it not being a negative one .. I think the newspaper may be reading a bit too much into the diplomatic comments from Leander .. I doubt we will see them together for a while, if I were to guess, but I have learned not to guess anything about them - they are about as unpredictable as it can get!
Manisha Malhotra made the doubles main draw at the $170K WTA event in Warsaw, Poland with her other Kiwi partner, Shelley Stephens (Leanne Baker is playing in Japan, I think) .. They play Kim Grant (RSA) and Abigail Spears (USA) in the first round .. I did not see Manisha in the singles qualies - probably couldn't make the entry cut.
Following on the smashing success of our u14 boys team that finished tops in Asia, the u14 girls team has also started well in the ITF world junior tennis regional qualies in Jakarta .. Today in the first tie, the 3rd seeded India (grouped with 6th seed Japan, Malaysia and Philippines) beat Philippines 3-0 in a totally easy tie .. #2 Sandhya Nagaraj d. Melissa Rose Orteza 60 61, #1 Sanaa Bhambri d. Noelle Conchita Corazon Zoleta 62 60 and Sanaa / Vandana Murali d. Ivy Kristel De Castro/ N.C.C.Zoleta 62 61 .. There are 14 teams in the regionals looking to finish in the top 4 and qualify for the world group-16 .. The teams are split into 4 groups for the round robin .. China is the #1 seed and Australia is the #2 seed .. India has a pretty strong in the u14 girls level as well, as in the case of the boys.
Here are the QF and finals
results for our boys who went undefeated with 15-0 record in 6 ties, winning
all 12 singles matches! -- [QF] #5 India d. #4 Japan, 2-0 .. #2 Sumit
Prakash Gupta d. Takeru Yamamoto 63 61 .. #1 Rupesh Roy d. Fumiaki Kita
62 64 .. [SF] #5 India d. #2 China, 2-0 ..
S.P.Gupta d. A.Peiji, 62 76(5) .. R.Roy d. Hao Zhu, 61 64 (sorry for wrong info earlier - ITF website wrongly reported Ind d. Kor in SF) .. [Final] #5 India d. #3 Australia, 2-0 .. #2 S.P.Gupta d. Stephen Fotakis, 62 62 .. #1 R.Roy d. Todd Ley, 75 64 .. In the final India was facing Australia for a second time (they had played each other in the round-robin in the same group) - if Australia managed to take Rupesh and Sumit to three setters in the first tie, they could not even do that the second time around .. India should really have been seeded first in the qualies rather than being a 5th seed and not even tops in the round robin group - I think what happened was that ITF did not have much on Rupesh Roy (while Sumit was well-known, having won the central asian and then the east asian ITF u14 tournaments in the last couple of months) .. Rupesh was our secret weapon! .. The 3rd member of the team was Jeevan Nedunchezhien, who is pretty good too, but did not get to play much in Colombo, especially with a few doubles matches being skipped with us winning the singles comefortably! .. Let us wish the u14 team well in the world group 16 coming up in a few months.
I have added the draws and all qualifying results in the Mumbai satellite page.
May 6 Notes
The Indian Express did a one week run to exercize the fly wheels and has gone back to the shed .. The right wheel plays with John-Laffnie Dejager and the left wheel plays with Max Mirnyi this week at the Rome masters this week .. LP-JD have a tough draw, as usual, getting the 5th seeded Zimbabwe pair, Wayne Black and Kevin Ullyett in the first round .. MB-MM are the 3rd seeds and play Marius Barnard and Chris Haggard of RSA ..
The title run this week extended the clay winning streak to 10 matches for LP-MB, going back to the French Open last year .. Actually they have a 21-3 record in the last 24 matches on clay, which comes from 7 tournaments in the last 13 months with 4 titles (Houston, Atlanta, French Open and Mallorca titles, Monte Carlo semifinal and two R1 exits at Rome and Hamburg just before FO 2001) .. 4 of the last 6 titles have come on clay, with Cincinnati masters and Chennai as the other two (on hardcourts) .. They picked up 35 ranking points (175 entry points) for the title yesterday, sharing $21.9K .. They have 99 ranking points for the year which puts them right around #10 or #11 in team rankings but that is immaterial unless they get back together later this year - no indication of any of that right now .. I have updated their doubles points tally page.
The dazzling diaper dandies dynamic duo of Sumit Prakash Gupta and Rupesh Roy, the former from UP and the latter from Bihar (now under Paes en Sport watch in Kolkata), finished off their total domination job in the Asia-Oceania regionals by winning the semifinal at Colombo against the second seeded China and then the final against the 3rd seeded Australia (beating them for a second time) .. They have a decent chance to be even seeded in the world group final-16 later this year.
The other very heartening news is the return of Karan Rastogi (who along with Tushar Liberhan had done very well in the 2000 Asian u14 regionals reaching the final) to competitive form .. After making big news reaching ITF world top-120 as a 15 year old last year, he went down with some injuries, and had looked totally out of sorts on his return in the Asian junior circuit a few weeks back .. Karan qualified into the satellite leg in Mumbai today with a straight sets win over Partha Bhattacharya who is a pretty good player who had upset the 3rd seed Stephen Donovan of USA 62 62 yesterday to reach the final qualies (Partha plays for the Pepperdine Univ in the US) .. Karan beat some decent guys like Elad Stern of Israel in the qualies - he basically bulled through to the main draw with straight set wins in all three rounds .. Still 15, he must be one of the youngest Indians to qualify into a pro satellite main draw - I need to check that. I have not got all the draws and scores from today yet, but check the Mumbai satellite page for some matchups, etc .. Sandeep Kirtane continues to get drawn against promising youngsters - this time it is Vishal Punna .. Nitin and Manoj get qualifiers in the first round.
.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on May 6 ..
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.