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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on May 28, 2001
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May 28 Note-1

Still no news on the doubles draw at Roland Garros .. It should be coming out later today.

I have added the matchups for Indians at the satellites masters in the Chandigarh satellite page.

Here is a nice article from the Deccan Herald "Sportscene" section last week which interviews Nandan Bal .. Pretty interesting comments from him regarding the future of Indian tennis .. He talks about Mustafa at 20, Ajay Ramamswamy at 20, Harsh at 21 and Prakash at 17 as possibilities for the next set of Davis Cup players, as of now .. A couple of them will need to breakthrough and come to the very top in the next couple of years.

Indian girls are beginning to show up at different pro events around the world .. Considering that another four-week Indian ITF circuit for women is starting next week with the first leg at Mumbai, I was surprised to see that Geeta Manohar is playing this week in the main draw of the $10K satellite event in Durban, South Africa, starting today .. She faces a qualifier Nadia Solomon (RSA) in the first round .. In doubles, she is playing with Maretha van Niekirk (RSA) and they face Jessica Hubbard (RSA) and Stefanie Hershfield (USA) in R1.

In the first round of the Astrid Bowl grade-1 junior ITF event in Belgium, the big preparation event before FO juniors, #69 Sunil Kumar plays Jakob Olson (NZL,94) in the first round .. #96 Amanjot Singh plays qualifier Mathieu Moncourt (FRA,120) .. #117 Rohan Gajjar, who had two good wins in the qualies, went down unfortunately in the final round against Jo-Wilfred Tsonga (FRA,147) in straight sets yesterday .. He is 3rd in line for a lucly loser spot, but I doubt he will make it in.

May 27 Notes

I think we have to wait for a couple more days to see the doubles draws at French Open for LP-MB and Niruapama .. Doubles won't start till Tuesday or more probably Wednesday, anyway ..  Just saw that Niru has made the main draw for the Surbitron grasscourt challenger in UK, which is druing the second week of French Open .. That is traditionally the toughest $25K challenger on the WTA circuit, because even top-45 players show up there (I believe there were three of them there last year) to get whatever little grasscourt experience they can get before Wimbledon .. It is crazy on the WTA tour - with so much interest in women players and top players willing to play in quite a few weeks like this, why doesn't somebody organize a few more events for the women ? .. Niru was 4 out from the main draw when it originally closed, but there have been 4 withdrawals and she has squeezed herself into it .. It will be odd to see Niru at a grass event, by the way - that doesn't happen too often.

Or Dekel from Israel, who had to play qualies in the first two legs as he had not entered the satellites on time, finished his good run with a title yesterday at the Ahmedabad satellite-leg, beating John Doran of Ireland .. So, Dekel goes from being a qualifier to being the 3rd seed in next week's masters leg! .. Mustafa Ghouse and Doran won the doubles title beating Rishi Sridhar and Fazaluddin .. See the Ahmedabad satellite page ..

Jyotsna Vasisht was in the US last week .. She started at the $10K El Paso satellite in Texas this past week but went down in the first round of both singles and doubles .. Will see where she plays next in the US.

The field for the masters leg at Chandigarh starting Monday was pretty well set after one round of matches this week at Ahmedabad .. The top 24 in the circuit points list make the masters leg, and there are 10 Indians in it .. Mustafa Ghouse and Nitin Kirtane will start as 6th and 7th seeds; they will both get first round byes in the masters leg, and are assured of 5 circuit points there .. Fazal is at #10 and needs to win at least three matches to get some decent ATP points .. Rishi Sridhar, Manoj Mahadevan, Vinod Sridhar, Shivang Mishra, Rohan Bopanna, Anant Sitaram and Kamala Kannan are the others .. See the satellite points page.

I believe some Indian juniors will be at the Astrid Bowl, grade-1 event in Belgium, this coming week .. #69 Sunil Kumar and #96 Amanjot Singh should probably be in the main draw .. #117 Rohan Gajjar is in the qualifying final round .. He faces Jo-Wilfred Tsonga (FRA,147) tomorrow .. He beat Goran Vujaklua (CRO), 63 64, in Q2 and had a pretty good win in the Q1 as well - over Ricardo Barone (BRA,171), 62 46 61 ..

In the college championships in the US, Ajay Ramaswamy lost in three tough sets 46 75 46 to Al Garland of Pepperdine Univ in the final-16 yesterday .. Garland seems to be on a hot streak, having upset three players to reach the semis there today ..  Harsh Mankad and Jorge Duenas, unseeded, upset the #8 team in the country in doubles, but fell to the #7 team yesterday 76 46 46 in the final-16 .. That finishes four years of college tennis for Ajay (with the final one becoming a real break-through year) and it completes the second year of college tennis for Harsh .. Ajay and Harsh finished last year just inside the top-100, and they finish this year near top-10 and top-40 respectively.

May 25 Notes

Nothing much to report .. The doubles draws at French Open will be known only after at least another couple of days.

John Doran and Or Dekel reached the final of the Ahmedabad satellites today, after the semis .. Both the Indians in the QFs, Manoj Mahadevan and Rishi Sridhar went down yesterday .. Mustafa and Doran are in the doubles final .. Fazal and Rishi had reached the doubles semi too yesterday .. See the Ahmedabad satellite page.

Lee and Hesh were together at a public function in Delhi where they commented on their French Open chances, upcoming players, etc .. See the reports in The Hindu  and in the Hindustan Times.

The Hindu article had a wonderful picture of Lee and Hesh - not sure if it is from yesterday's meeting with the press at the inauguration of a new Adidas shop in Delhi .. If it is from yesterday, that means Lee has again started growing a beard .. The man can't seem to stop messing around with his look .. You look fine whichever way, dude! .. So, just stick to one thing, man  :-) ...  I am copying the picture without permission.

By the way, here is an excellent article by Kamesh Srinivasan in Saturday's The Hindu with comments from the coaches of the Indian teams for the junior u-14 and u-16 ITF world competitions' qualifying rounds for Asia .. Have to agree with a lot of the comments from the coaches on the need for team selection to be based on "true talent" and world-class winning attitudes of the players (the latter part is more important than we normally think - and it is becoming more and more important in tennis as time goes on), rather than just based on the points and the domestic rankings .. While those rankings are pretty good, they don't always reflect the potential of a player to win in world-class competitions .. It is also true that some kids do gather a lot of relatively cheap points over easier domestic competitions .. But on the other hand, we may leave ourselves open to even more of subjective selections and personality politics if objective systems are not used .. I have to admit that I have occasionally felt that there have been some locational biases in player selection, though I don't think any undeserving kids were ever picked to the teams .. Neither am I sure that such apparent biases were clearly deliberate .. The comment by the coach about a player having a more defensive style of play and another one possibly having a better chance abroad, did catch my eye though! .. The coaches did seem to be speaking their minds, and were unusually candid .. That is good .. I hope AITA selection committees would take the comments positively.

Ajay Ramaswami had another straight sets wins and has reached the final-16 of the NCAA National collegiate championships in the US .. Harsh Mankad and his partner won their doubles first round in a comeback three-setter and moved into the final-16 as well.

Sunil Kumar - Amanjot Singh, as well as Rohan Gajjar and Doskarayev (UZB) went down in the QF of the grade-2 junior ITF event in Austria yesterday.

May 24 Notes

The server was having some problems and was down all day .. Ther updates are delayed today.

Nirupama had a pretty poor match today in teh secnd round of qualies, as she went down 06 36 to #167 Lenka Nemeckova, who has been one of the hot players on the circuit lately .. Niru should be staying for the next week there, for the doubles maiun draw.

At Ahmedabad, Manoj Mahadevan pulled an upset over the 8th seed Fazaluddin in three sets yesterday - big win for the 19 yr old, who is a pretty good fighter and a player who has been slowly and steadily improving .. Rishi Sridhar was the other Indian who reached the QF yesterday - he upset the 7th seed Harboe from Chile .. See the Ahmedabad satellite page .. Awaiting today's score.

There was an important match (for Indians) in the NCAA national championships in Georgia in the US .. Harsh Mankad, in a strage twist of the draw, ended up facing Ajay Ramaswamy in the first round of the 64-draw national collegiate teennis singles championships .. Ajay is seeded among the 8 players in the 8 through 16 spots .. It has been a very very long time since any Indian has beaten Harsh - that would be Srinath about two years back or so, and Harsh played quite a few Indians in the satellites, KTC championships etc, in India .. Ajay on the other hand has been an unknown quantity, in the US colleges which he he left for rather early (he is already in his 4th year, though he is younger than Harsh at just about 21) .. Ajay of course has had a break-through season in US colleges this year, shooting straight up into the top-10, after being virtually unranked in the top-100 during his previous three years .. More impressivly, he has kept his ranking throughout the year, beating the ranked opponents all year long .. He faced Harsh today, and finally beat Harsh today .. 63 63 was the score, as he broke Harsh 4 times while being broken once .. I guess that is one more case in point that Ajay is somebody to be taken very very seriously - Harsh is not an easy guy to beat.

Some of our junior boys are in Europe .. Sunil Kumar, Amanjot Singh and Rohan Gajjar are at the Villach Cup grade-2 event in Austria which started on Tuesday ..  Sunil is the 3rd seed and fell in the second round yesterday to unseeded Daniel Haimovic (USA), 26 46 .. Sunil had won 63 63 over wildcard Andreas Pfeifer of Austria in the first round .. Amanjot was unlucky to run into the top seed Marcel Felder of Uruguay and lost 16 26 in R1 .. Also in the first round, Frantisek Polyak of Slovakia beat Rohan Gajjar, 67 16 .. Sunil and Amanjot are the 4th seeds in doubles and have reached the QF .. Rohan is playing with Daskarayev of Uzbekistan, and they are also in the QF.

There is a report that Sania Mirza will be at the French Open juniors .. She will be the youngest player in the field, at just about 14.5 yrs of age .. She is also the youngest Indian to ever play in a grand slam event .. She will stay in the Europe for 4 or 5 events .. She is not at any of the events this week - we will see if she plays any of the events next week to preapre for the FO junior in the week after.

May 23 Note-2

Nirupama is almost unbeatable in the first round qualifying matches at the grand slams - and she has beaten a whole hell of a lot of seeds there too .. Today was no different .. [Q1] N.Vaidyanathan (IND.175) d. #14 H.Parkinson (USA,128), 64 63, in a match that just got done .. Niru started well, taking Holly to a deuce and then breaking her in the first game .. The lead did not last very long as Holly broke her right back in the second game .. They held serves till 3-3 .. Niru had two AD-out break chances in game 7, and she converted the second one to go up a break again .. She won the set at 6-4 quite easily after that .. In fact she won 15 of the last 20 points of the set and was on a good roll there .. She kept that momentum into the second set, breaking Parkinson in the first game again at 30-40 .. As in the first set, she dropped serve immediately at 30-40 in game 2 to lose the advantage though .. Once again, she took HP to a deuce in the next game but she didn't get to a break point there .. Niru ran into some trouble in the 4th game, having to serve a couple of deuces, but she held to go to 2-2 .. The Niru ran into serious trouble in the 6th game, going through 6 deuces and two break attempts - she came through in the end for a 3-3 score .. Holly must have been affected by wasting those chances, and Niru went after her in the very next game, breaking her at 15-40 to go up to 4-3 and serving .. Niru served a love game to go up 5-3 .. The end came very quickly, as Niru broke Parkinson once more to close the deal in the next game .. The match took an hour and 18 minutes .. Perhaps the best stat for Niru was break point conversion .. By my count, she was 5 of 7 on that .. Let's hope she does well tomorrow too .. She goes up against Lenka Nemeckova (CZE,167), who beat Goni today .. Schnitzer vs Nagy is the other match tomorrow in Niru's bracket.

An important note for Indian tennis fans in the US .. The Davis Cup tickets go on sale TODAY at 10 am (8 am for USTA members) .. See the details posted by "Prof" in our forum .. Make sure you get your tickets - we need to create some hell out there in North Carolina!

May 23 Note-1

Niru's first round qualifying match starts bright and early on Wednesday (in an hour actually, as I type), at Roland Garros .. She faces Holly Parkinson (USA,128) at 9 am today .. That is 12.30 pm India, 12 am Los Angeles .. We will be in our chatroom following the match ball-by-ball ..

The draw for Niru is,

 8 Miriam Schnitzer (GER,121) vs Yuka Yoshida (JPN,146)          \
   Kyra Nagy (HUN,163)        vs Angelika Bachmann (GER,142)     / \ _ main draw
   Lenka Nemeckova (CZE,167)  vs Ainhoa Goni (ESP,193)           \ /
14 Holly Parkinson (USA,128)  vs Nirupama Vaidyanathan (IND,175) /
Not th toughest draw, but not an easy one either .. Holly Parkinson is a tough opponenet - the last Niru played her, at the Albuquerque challenger last October, Niru went down 57 57.

At Ahmedabad, there was good news from two youngsters, Anant Sitaram who just turned 18 and has been one of the top juniors in the domestic circuit who has hardly played much ITF junior tennis, upset Barry Fulcher (#883) to reach the second round .. Anant has pretty much qualify for th masters leg and will get his first ATP point .. Fulcher who played much better last year in the June satellites - he has had a horrible series so far this time) .. Wildcard Shivang Mishra, another one who just turned 18, also pulled off a decent win - over Timo Nigri (GER) .. The badnews were from the top two Indian seeds .. Both Mustafa Ghouse and Nitin Kirtane fell in three set matches .. Fazal advanced, as did Vinod Sridhar, Rishi Sridhar and Manoj Mahadevan .. See the Ahmedabad satellite page.

May 22 Notes

The qualifying draw is not out yet at the French Open - we should know sometime today, I believe .. The women's qualies start tomorrow .. The men's qualies started today, but no interest for us, as LP is not playing - he may have had to squeeze into the draw, but as he was down with a viral fever and needs a few days to recuperate, he is in Kolkata.

I have added a page for the Ahmedabad satellite, with the singles draw, all the qualifying results and the doubles results from yesterday .. More today, with the first round singles scores .. Prakash Amritraj skipped the leg and that cleared up a wildcard .. Actually Tushar Gautam also had a wildcard, and he too skipped the leg .. I was wondering why the wildcards were being wasted for Tushar -- he had got a few in previous satellites too, but has hardly won a round (even going down for a double bagel last week) .. He was a talented young player a few years back, but had not made much improvement after going to the US for college (troubled by injuries too, I think) .. Anyway, Tushar himself decided not to play .. Manoj Mahadevan was offered a wildcard, but chose not to take it, instead playing the qualies and picking up an extra circuit point too - great decision by him, as he was going to be a seed with probably having no trouble moving through to the main draw in two rounds .. Nice confidence by the young man .. He was rewarded with a good fort round draw as well, against (what else, a wildcard) Davinder Bhusari .. Manoj shouldn't have much problem picking up a win, and easily qualifying into the masters draw.

May 21 Notes

Nothing much was going on, and so I was conveniently taking a little break from the updates ..

The French Open qualifying draw for Nirupama will be known in a day or two, and she may be playing as early as wednesday there.

The qualies are done for the 3rd leg of Indian satellites at Ahmedabad, and the main draw looks good for Indians .. Dhananjay Kawade, Vishal Punna, Ibrahim Kimmerling, Mathew Snowdon, Clin Bennet, Nipun Gupta, Manoj Mahadevan, and Anant Sitaram are the qualifiers, and SK Shivshankar made it in as a lucky loser too .. Based on the circuit points from the first two legs, Mustafa Ghouse is the 5th seed, Nitin Kirtane the 6th and Fazal the 8th .. Vinod Sridhar, Rishi Sridhar, Rohan Bopanna, and Kamala Kannan made direct entry, Neil Shah, Davinder Bhusari and Shivang Mishra are wildcards .. Prakash Amritraj seems to have decided to skip the leg (which means he gave up on the satellite this time, and may be playing the French Open juniors? .. we will find out later) ..  Ghouse plays Ghedina, Fazal plays Kannan, Nitin plays Sherwood, Rohan plays Rishi, Manoj plays Bhusari .. It's a pretty good draw for Indians, actually .. Will add a page for the satellite with the results tonight (US time) .. A bit delayed, but the main draw singles starts only tomorrow anyway, with only doubles scheduled for today.

More later ..

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the weeks ending on May 21 ..

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.