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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on May 19, 2003
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May 19 Notes

Quick updates .. LP and MB are taking this week off to prepare for the French Open doubles late next week .. LP moved to #12 in doubles, MB stayed at #4 in today's ranks .. LP-DR are at #4 in team ranks with 282 pts, and MB-MM are #6 with 277 points, with Damm-Suk with 279 in between them .. Harsh Mankad won the first round of the 3rd leg at the POR satellites today, but Saurav Panja fell .. The 3rd leg of the Women satellites started today with no surprises .. At the WTT qualies in Melbourne, our boys won easily 3-0 over Malaysia but our girls got upset 2-1 by Hong Kong today .. Most details are at the forum .. Later!

May 18 Note-2

At the POrtuguese satellites second leg, Harsh Mankad and James Shortall won the doubles title today, with a 63 63 win over the second seeds Igor Fejzula (SER)/ Jan Minar (CZE) .. Good job by the Indo-Kiwi pair;  Congrats! .. They have reached two finals and won one now ..

I have added a points list page for the circuit standings for the ongoing $20K ITF 4-week women's satellites .. The 3rd leg starts tomorrow in Delhi .. I think my unofficial calculations are roughly correct.  The seeds at Delhi are as in my list .. The 3rd leg entry and seeding are based on circuit points only, and the top sixteen players after three legs make the final leg and get WTA points .. I will update the points after every day for the last two weeks, as usual.

The ITF World Junior Tennis u14 regionals for both girls and boys start tomorrow in Melbourne, Australia (actually the monday matches must be done already) .. You can find all the details on the round robin and knockout groupings and schedule in the threads in our forum .. Indian boys team (Agnel Gladwin, Arnav Jain and Mesher Vaswani) are seeded 3rd and the Indian girls' team (G K Shweta, Ashmita Easwaramurthy, Gyatri Krishnan) are seeded 4th .. Both round robins have three groups each .. 12 teams on the boys side in three groups and 11 teams on the girls' side in three groups .. India has #4 Korea with us in the boy's group-2, and #3 Thailand with us in the girls' group-2 .. All three groups' runners up advance to the knockout stage (along with a couple of 3rd place teams too) .. The quarterfinal winners will, as usual, advance to the world group final-16 to be held later in the year .. All the best to our kids! .. Both teams have players lesser known than the last years u14 bunch that included Rupesh, Sumit, Sanaa, Tara, etc, but don't be surprised if these kids make some noise in Melbourne .. I was relatively surprised that we got a seeding though, especially in the girls section .. Agnel Gladwyn has perhaps created enough noise in the ITF asian u14 events this year to earn us a seeding on the boys' side, but Shwetha and Ashmita had a bit of trouble against some of the Thai and central asian girls if I remember correctly (but Uzbeks and Kazakhs are all missing, strangely) .. Advancing to world group in either section would be terrific and I believe both teams can do it, though it's fair to say that I don't know enough about the kids to be as confident as last year ..

May 18 Note-1

At the $2.45M Hamburg Masters, Mahesh and Max simply could not get past the top ranked doubles team out there, who showed why they are the top team in the world in the end today .. [F] #2 M.Bhupathi/ M.Mirnyi l. #1 M.Knowles/ D.Nestor, 46 67(10) .. I don't know the details of the first set, but followed the second set online .. Our team fell behind after MB's serve in the 3rd game and were soon 2-4 down .. They broke MK-DN in the 8th game to even it though .. I believe they also had a break chance in the 10th game, but the top seeds held .. After strong service games from MM and MB, we were in a tiebreaker .. At first it was all MB-MM who went up to a 6-1 lead and had a ton of set points to get back in the match .. I thought, "do these guys ever lose a tiebreaker?" .. That stuff about counting unhatched chicken, I guess .. There go Knowles-Nestor saving set points one after another, three off our guys' serve and two on their own in a row, and it was 6-6 .. MB-MM had two more set points off the other guys serve at 8-7 and 10-9 for SEVEN set points total .. In the end it was Bahama-Canada pair that saved them all and won it .. That is truly phenemenal stuff from those two .. Though Mahesh could not defend the title with Gambill there last year, he retains 350 of the 500 points .. Good run by MB-MM ..

No news yet about Harsh Mankad's doubles final at Portugal.

May 17 Note-2

One more threesetter for Mahesh and Max but they came through to reach the final at Hamburg .. [SF] #2 M.Bhupathi/ M.Mirnyi d. #3 B.Bryan/ M.Bryan, 76(2) 36 64 .. Our friends in Germany may post a match report in the forum .. MB-MM now play the top seeds Knowles-Nestor.

Harsh Mankad and James Shortall (NZL) reached their second consecutive final, at the second leg of the claycourt Portuguese satellites .. Thery beat the 4th seeds Pedro Leao and Rui Machado of Portugal 62 61.. They now run into the second seeds Igor Fejzula (SER)/ Jan Minar (CZE).

Liza Pereira picked up her first satellite singles title today, and did that in style by completing a grand double, at the ITF Delhi satellite leg .. She beat Ankita Bhambri in three sets .. Liza seems to be playing with a lot more conviction these days - don't forget that she is also not too old, being in the juniors just a couple of years back.

Vishnu Vardhan, who is just under 16, completed his fine run at the AITA National Series (u18) event at Hyderabad .. I am not sure how he ended up seeded 12th (his apr 28th AITA u18 rank is #14, but even some of the players below him were ranked ahead of him) .. Anyway, he was clearly not the 12th best player in the field and based on reasults in the past year or so, he really is much higher ranked than the 12th best junior player in India .. For some reason, I have not seen him being taken seriously .. He was part of the Indian u16 team last year with Karan and Tushar Liberhan, but he did not make the u16 team this year with Rupesh, Sanam and Sumit, though he was age-eligible .. Vishnu Vardhan had beaten Sumit Gupta in the DSCL u14 nationals in Dec 2001, had won most of the south Indian events, etc .. He didn't do as well in the u16 DSCL nationals last year, but beat Anshuman Datta (4th seed this week) before losing to Divij Sharan, whom he then beat two months later at the Adidas Masters in Delhi too .. Now he has beaten top seed Rupesh Roy and 3rd seed Aditya Madkekar at this National Series event .. In fact, when I look at Vishnu Vardhan's results, I find that he seem to often beat some of the seeds ahead of him .. I think he has not played as many events, especially ITF events at the beginning of this year (I think I have commented on this before) and he tends to get ranked and seeded low probably because of that too .. Anyway, I don't know much about the pluses and minuses of his game (check the picture in the Dec 24, 2001 notes, with the u14 title and you can see he was already a tall guy) .. He should aggressively play a lot more ITF events from now on ..  The girls title was won by 3rd seed Poonam Reddy .. See the Hyderabad u18 National Series page .. Sania easily picked up the doubles trophy with K.Pooja and a mixed doubles trophy with Vikas Punna too - she played probably just to stay match fit this week :-)

Mar 17 Note-1

Lee and Rikl went down today in the semifinal of the Hamburg Masters to the top seeds, who are also the world #1 team .. [SF] #5 L.Paes/ D.Rikl l. #1 Mark Knowles (BAH)/ Daniel Nestor (CAN), 36 46 .. That is a tough team to beat .. Despite the loss today, it is good to see LP-DR picking up some good wins on clay, going into the French Open .. They got 225 points to cement their position in the top-5 of the team rankings and to take LP's rankings a bit closer to the top-10 .. Leander has been playing particularly well there, according to the reports from two of the fanclub friends over there - Florian Buechting and Daniel Fuchs .. Florian has posted some onsite fanclub member reports in the forum pages under the LP and MB threads for yesterday's QFs.

Mahesh and Mirnyi come up later today in the oither semi against the 3rd seeds Bob and Mike Bryan (USA) .. In the quarterfinal yesterday, MB-MM had some mid-match blues and had to contend with a really pumped up Prinosil (there were no Germans in the singles QF and this pair was all that was left for the home fans - oh, how the mighty have fallen in tennis since the Becker years) .. [QF] #2 M.Bhupathi/ M.Mirnyi d. (wc) D.Prinosil/ A.Waske, 76(6) 36 63 ..  After a patchy start, MB played strongly in the 3rd set from MB and Max .. By the way, Mahesh is the defending champion, as he won the title with Jan-Michael Gambill last year, and so he has 500 points to defend there.

Harsh Mankad reached the semifinal of doubles at the Poruguese satellite second leg at Espinho yesterday .. After a first round walkover earlier, Harsh and James Shortall (NZL) beat Richard Brooks (GBR)/ Tony Holzinger (GER), 61 64 .. They play the same team they beat last week in the semis, #4 Pedro Leao and Rui Machado of Portugal.

At the Delhi satellites, Ankita Bhambri seems to be playing really well, as she got past Shruti Dhawan in straight sets .. Based on her first three matches, Shruti seemed unbetable but 16 yr old Ankita had other ideas .. Liza Pereira who has been quietly getting closer to the top echelon of domestic players had an easy win against Archana Venkatraman .. Isha and Liza won the doubles title too.

The top seed Rupesh Roy was upset by J.Vishnu Vardhan (AP) yesterday at the AITA National series u18 event .. Vishnu is a player with a big serve and a power game if I am not mistaken .. He has been playing quite well in a lot of national events, though he has not got much news coverage in the media .. Aditya Madkekar of Maharashtra faces him in the final .. On the girls side top seed K.Pooja was upset by Meghna Paritala, who now faces Poonam Reddy who beat Sandri Gangotri .. See the Hyderabad u18 National Series page.

May 16 Notes

Lee and Rikl seem to have got their touch back .. Very nice win today over a tough team, to reach the SF at the $2.45M Hamburg Masters .. [QF] #5 L.Paes/ D.Rikl d. #4 J.Bjorkman/ T.Woodbridge, 75 67(3) 61 .. Our pair was down 3-5 after dropping serve in the 8th game of the first set .. They went on a tear there and broke JB-TW in three of their next 4 service games, to lead 75 31 .. It went with serve till 75 54, but then some still fight from the experienced opponents .. LP-DR dropped serve while serving for the match .. They broke right back to serve again at 75 65 but again got broken .. In the tiebreaker it was all JB-TW from 3-3 all .. But as it turned out, that was the end of their fight as LP-DR broke them at will in the 3rd set and finished the match.

MB-MM come up in a couple of hours for their QF.

May 15 Note-2

Oh yikes .. Things not going well for Harsh at the Portuguese satellites right now .. Another close loss like last week in 3 sets .. In the R2 of the second leg, Harsh went down to Alex Vargas (ESP), 36 61 67(5) just now .. He is in some sort of trouble now .. He will make the next leg without qualies thanks to the one win this week and 4 circuit points so far, but he won't be seeded next week and will need to pick up at least one win next week to be sure of even the masters leg and any ATP points .. Oh well, it is a learning experience on the clay for all Indians .. His chance to pick up a whole lot of ATP points from the satellites is now shot, but hopefully he will come back a better player thanks to the experience.

May 15 Note-1

Finally a good dominating doubles match on clay from Lee and Rikl .. At the 2.45M Hamburg Masters, [R2] #5 L.Paes/ D.Rikl d. J.Eagle/ J.Palmer, 63 63 .. They had two breaks in the first set and could have finished it faster, but for letting go of some 4 break points at 4-1 in the second and then a match at 5-2 as well .. They were basically all over Eagle and Palmer, which is a good team .. Next up for LP-DR are the 4th seeds Bjorkman-Woodbridge ..

Mahesh and Max struggled a bit in the match today but moved one after a strong tiebreaker in the end .. [R2] #2 M.Bhupathi/ M.Mirnyi d. T.Cibulec/ P.Vizner, 64 36 76(2) .. They dropped serve early in the first two sets - came back in the first to even it at 2-2 in both sets .. Faced some serious resistence late in the 3rd set and were down 0-30 at 5-6 on their serve too .. In the tiebreaker, as usual the Bangalore-Belarus bombers were too much for the Czechs.

At Uzbekistan today in the doubles QF of the challenger, the 3rd seeds Rohan Bopanna and Jonathan Erlich (ISR) lost to Alexey Kedriouk (KAZ) and Orest Tereshchuk (UKR), 36 16 .. I believe Rohan is supposed to go to France for some training now before Wimbledon qualies, etc .. Also at the UZB challenger, Sunil Kumar and Sergei Krotiou (RUS) made it in as the second lucky loser pair yesterday into the doubles R1 but they lost to the 2nd seeded pair, Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE) and Danai Udomchoke (THA), 26 16.

Harsh and Shortall got a walkover in the doubles R1 yesterday at the Portuguese satellite second leg .. They play Richard Brooks and Tony Holzinger next .. HM plays the singles R2 this afternoon out there in Espinho.

At the $10K Jamaica F5, Cary Franklin (USA) beat qualifier Srinath Prahlad in the first round, 62 61 ..

At the Indian satellite second leg, I suppose I jinxed Madura with all the hype yesterday .. She hardly got anything right today in the QF against Shruti Dhawan who is eating everyone for lunch this week, it seems .. Isha went down to Ankita .. Liza and Archana are also in the semis .. See the satellite 2nd leg page.

I have updated whatever scores I could find so far, at the Hyderabad u18 National Series page .. The QF lineup was determined yesterday in both draws.

May 14 Note-2

In the first round of the second leg at the Portugal satellites, in Espinho, the top seed Harsh Mankad beat Pedro Leao (POR) 61 63 just now .. He faces Alejandro Vargas-Aboy (ESP) tomorrow in the R2 .. He should be playing the doubles R1 also tomorrow .. Rohan's doubles QF at the Uzbekistan challenger may be tomorrow as well ..

May 14 Note-1

LP and MB play their first matches (in round 2 after byes) thursday at Hamburg .. Harsh Mankad's match at the Portuguese satellite is the featured evening match - score not in yet.

One more 14 year old is making some noise .. Madura Ranganathan upset the 2nd seed Sheethal Gautam, 61 26 76(5) today in the second round of the India satellites second leg .. I am heartened by that scoreline, actually .. We have witnessed countless times in the past when established players have found it impossible to get past Sheethal's craft, guile and nerves when she is pulling her comeback rope trick .. She was of course doing that to Madura today too .. It seems to indicate a lot about the young girl's mental strengths that she held up to that and held the nerves in check in a 3rd set tiebreaker .. Madura, who turned 14 last september, had won both the u14 and u16 girls titles at the DSCL Nationals, if you remember .. That was in the absence of our big u16 talents Sania, Ankita, Sanaa, Tara, and Kartiki and probably did not get much airplay .. Today's win is another indication that this girl also perhaps needs some attention from us ..  She has only started out on the junior ITF circuit this year and has not made big noises there yet .. Seeds Archana, Isha, Ankita, Shruti, Liza etc advanced today at Delhi .. See the satellite 2nd leg page.

The big news today was the official announcement from Globozport that Sania Mirza has signed a contract with them .. She had been fo course already helped and partly managed by CGK Bhupathi, though GVK Industries and AITA had provided sponsorship .. AITA had released her from their list of sponsored players (actually they had released Rohan Bopanna also, according to a Deccan Herald news item last week) .. Globosport will now be finding sponsorship and managing her tour planning, coaching plans, etc.

The press release from Globosport is posted under the Sania thread in our forum .. Here are the Times of India article and the Rediff.com article .. CEO Mahesh Bhupathi said, "Instead of just exploiting established stars, we want to promote all sports, and support the best young sportspersons in India, people who can become global stars. Sania clearly falls into this category. She is the best young women's player in Asia, and the best (young player) in Indian tennis history" .. "We have a unique opportunity to help her reach the top echelons of the sport and I urge companies to look beyond the over-cluttered cricket space, and support this outstanding talent," .. I like his line that Indian companies should get out of the "cluttered space" in cricket sponsorship .. I mean, the companies ought to realize that somewhere along the way they are simply not going to get enough mileage from cricket sponsorship competing with everybody else for  soda and washing machine sales by 5 or 10 people .. Some fresh names like Sania (and dare I say Sunitha too in the future?) could help .. Globosport does have upcoming cricketer Salvi under them, but they do everything including racing with Karun Chandok, etc ..

It's perhaps not technically correct that she is the first one to be signed up by a professional sports management company .. Nirupama was signed up by IMG .. That was different though, and they were not doing day-to-day management and tour planning .. They helped her with one wildcard (to the qualies at Manhattan Beach Tier-II) once and probably also helped her with her TV commentary career and perhaps some cheaper air travel deals or something .. That was about it .. Sania's case is much earlier in the career when a lot of help is really needed and so I am glad to see Globosport taking it up seriously.

May 13 Note-2

Rohan Bopanna could not upset the 8th seed, but put up a good fight at the Uzbekistan challenger - [R1] #8 Louis Vosloo (RSA, 220) d. Rohan Bopanna (IND, 320), 67(5) 61 75 .. Close match .. Sunil Kumar made the main draw as the second lucky loser, but lost to Radoslav Lukaev (BUL,268), the top Bulgarian player, by a score of 64 75 .. SKS will get 1 point for that.

At the POR satellites second leg, Nishank Mishra made the doubles second round but the Saurav pair went down .. [R1] (q) Nishank Mishra/ Ervin Eleskovic (SWE) d. (wc) Rodrigo Brito/ Martim Manoel (POR), 64 64 .. [R1] Tiago Godinho (POR)/ Riccardo Rondinelli (ITA) d. Saurav Panja/ Saurav Sukul, 76(3) 61 .. Harsh plays the singles R1 tomorrow.

At the Jamaica F5 futures, Srinath made the main draw as his final qualies opponent, #15 Ryan Moore gave a walkover .. Sri plays Cary Franklin (USA) in the first round.

At the India satellites in Delhi, all the seeds except Iciri Rai advanced today .. Iciri lost to M.Kamini in three sets .. See the satellite 2nd leg page.

At the AITA National series u18 today at Hyderabad, Rupesh Roy, Sumit Gupta, Jitin Bishnoi, Anshuman Datta etc reached the final-16 .. I was glad to see two boys in the main draw from my home state Kerala for a change; I don't remember any Kerala boys in a national event for at least 5 years (though Jaco Mathew now listed under Kerala was in the juniors as a TN player for a while) - actually Reynold Timothy from KER even won a round, before falling to Sumit .. I have not got all the scores at the Hyderabad u18 National Series page, but whatever the Deccan Chronicle reported, is there .. I am not sure if the newspaper sports desks know that this is one of the top 4 domestic junior events .. Perhaps AITA should change the "National Series" name and simply call them "Nationals" ?

May 13 Note-1

The first AITA National Series u18 event got underway in Hyderabad yesterday .. If you are wondering what the National series is, take a look at the AITA junior tournament structure document .. I had posted earlier AITA's ummary document on juniors-changes .. Basically, now there are no u16 rankings and the events are in the u14 and u18 catgory .. That gives those who advance from the u14 levels a chance to play much tougher players for a few more years to get ready for the pros afterwards .. The tournaments are now split into four types with increasing points (point table iis in the tournament structure document) -- Talent Series, Championship Series, Super Series and National Series .. There is also a prestigious Masters at the end of the year which awards points only for the year end ranking .. The other tournament points carry over to next year ..  The event that got underway yesterday at the Ace Tennsi Academy courts in Hyderabad is the first National series event .. This is on synthetic hardcourts .. There is another NS event in August in Chennai and I believe that will be on clay (what used to be the de-facto national claycourt juniors, I suppose) ..

Pretty good participation at the Hyderabad event, as I see all the top juniors except for the ITF top-100 types in there .. For added attraction Sania Mirza is making an apperance in doubles as well! .. The boys draw got underway yesterday - I have placed the results in the Hyderabad u18 National Series page .. Hopefully we will get newspaper reports of scores during the week or AITA may post them .. Big 64-draw for boys, led by Rupesh, Sanam Singh etc .. Girls have a 32-draw, and the field does not look as impressive as the boys ..

May 12 Note-2

Rohan Bopanna won the first round of doubles at the $25K+H Fergana challenger today .. [R1] #3 R.Bopanna/ Jonathan Erlich (ISR) d. Radoslav Lukaev (BLR)/ Dmitri Vlasov (RUS) 61 76(3) .. In the singles tomorrow, Bofors plays the 8th seed Louis Vosloo (RSA, 222) .. Sunil Kumar unfortunately could not qualify in, as he went down in the final qualies to the 2nd seed Peter Capkovic (SVK, 431), 36 06 ..

Harsh Mankad is the top seed this week at the second leg of the Portuguese satellites in Espinho .. He plays Pedro Leao (POR) in the first round .. In doubles, top seeded HM-Shortall play a Spanish pair Arkiatz Manzarbeitia and Alex Vargas (ESP) .. In the singles qualies, Saurav Sukul fell in the first round, and Saurav Panja and Nishank Mishra in the second (final) round .. [Q1] S.Sukul l. #5 Josselyn Ouanna (FRA), 06 26 .. [Q1] N.Mishra d. David Cardoso (POR) 64 63 .. [Q2] NM l. (2) Javier Foronda-Bolanos (ESP), 16 16 .. [Q1] #7 Saurav Panja d. Daniele Cerboneschi (ITA) 62 64 .. [Q2] l. Andrea Roscioli (ITA), 16 46 .. Saurav is the next in line for a lucky loser spot on Tuesday, after one LL went in today (news courtesy: SteveG, the reliable!)

There were nothing surprising at the ITF India women's satellite in Delhi today .. Varsha Shivshankar had a very close and unlucky loss to Jung-Yoon Shin (KOR), 64 46 67(5) .. The opponent's coach disrupting her concentration at a crucial point, etc, according to Kamesh in The Hindu .. Shruti, who seems to be in great form, had a double-bagel win too (now THAT's a change, after all those 3-setters last week .. This girl is always at extremes :-)) .. See the draws at the satellite 2nd leg page.

May 12 Note-1

MB-Mirnyi are the 2nd seeds, in the bottom half of the draw and LP-Rikl are the 5th seeded in the top half of the draw at the $2.45M Hamburg Masters on clay in Germany .. Both with first round byes .. Actually, for LP-Rikl, who really need to get moving on the clay surface with some wins before the French Open, it would have been preferable not to get a bye and have to face a team with good match practice on the court surface .. #2 MB-MM get the winners of the match between Tomas Cibulec/ Pavel Vizner (CZE) vs Michael Kohlmann/ Rainer Schuettler (GER) .. LP-Rikl face the winners of the match between Joshua Eagle (AUS)/ Jared Palmer (USA) and David Adams (RSA)/ Gaston Etlis (ARG) .. The good news is that Nishank qualified into doubles with one win; with Ervin Eleskovic (SWE) he beat Cameron Hobbs (AUS)/ Chris Morris (GBR) 61 62 .. They face the wildcards (WC)Rodrigo Brito/Martim Manoel (POR) in the R1 .. Saurav-Saurav made the doubles draw directly, and will play Tiago Godinho (POR)/ Riccardo Rondinelli (ITA) in the R1.

Srinath Prahlad, retired but still seemingly itching to play once in a while (:-)), is in the final qualies today at the $10K Jamaica F5 futures .. [Q1] S.Prahlad d. Haydn Lewis (BRA) 75 06 64 .. [Q2] d. Jamal Parker (USA) 62 62 .. [Q3] vs #15 Ryan Moore (USA).

Sonal Phadke had to withdraw from this week's second leg of the $20K 4-week women's ITF circuit, due to a knee(?) injury .. Unfourtunate .. The action is at Delhi .. Sanaa Bhambri will play doubles with sister Ankita, but Sanaa is not trying singles .. See the draws at the satellite 2nd leg page.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on May 12 ..

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.