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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on June 2, 2003
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June 2 Notes

We will have a chat session in our OLD chatroom tomorrow, Tuesday, during the LP-vs-MB match (around 2.30 pm Paris .. 6 pm India .. 8.30 am NY)

I'm still not fully back from the flu troubles, so only short update today too .. But good to have friends posting all kinds of updates at the forum .. MB-Elena were at 76(5) 36 11 when the MxD second round was postponed today at the FO .. The big LP-vs-MB doubles QF tomorrow .. In the junior draw, Sania-Sanaa advanced to the R2, but Karan-Somdev went down in a tough 3-setter .. Rohan Bopanna won two rounds and reached the final qualies at the Surbitron challenger in UK on grass today .. The Indian satellites started with Rohan Gajjar, Mustafa Ghouse, Vijay Kannan, Ajay Ramaswami, Vinod Sridhar, etc moving to the second round at Mumbai (haven't seen the draw yet) .. Nirupama is expected in the main draw at the $10K Hilton Head tomorrow, which is more like a practice event for the challenger that follows for her .. Harsh Mankad is off this week and will play two futures in Portugal next two weeks ..

June 1 Notes

One more quick update today, as I wait for a silly flu to go away .. At the French Open, LP and MB both won their 3rd round matches easily (LP-DR were particularly impressive in the 62 60 shellacking of the 9th seeds Eagle-Palmer .. LP-DR versus MB-MM in the much-expected QF showdown on the most favorite courts of the two engines, on Tuesday .. MB-Likhovtseva play the MxD second round tomorrow but LP-Navratilova went down to Bjorkman-Morariu today in the R2 .. Bad day for our juniors today, as Sania, possibly still ill, and Sanaa recovering from a knee injury last week going down in straight sets, and Somdev going down in a tough 3-setter to the 16th seed .. Karan lost in the qualies Q1 .. Karan-Somdev are seeded #6 in doubles and unseeded Sanaa-Sania get a wildcard team .. Harsh Mankad won the doubles title at Portugal yesterday and topped the doubles circuit list, picking up 33 ATP points .. Sai and Rushmi were in the Surbitron grass challenger in UK and lost to seeded players in the Q1, Rushmi retiring with a knee injury .. Rohan is the 3rd seed in the men's challenger at Surbitron, but rain prevented the Q1 match against Naim Lalji (GBR) today .. At t he Hyderabad u14 national series, Parija Maloo and Tejas Chaukalkar won the titles yesterday .. I will post the scores later for all these, but you will find most of them in the forum threads .. Awaiting draw news on the men's satellites starting tomorrow in India.

May 31 Notes

Quick updates .. MB won both the doubles R2 and the MxD first round at the FO today .. LP-MN won the MxD first round yesterday .. LP-DR to play R2 doubles this evening, soon .. Mankad plays the masters doubles final today in POR .. Ankita beat Isha for the Indian satellite masters yesterday .. Srinath won the Q1 for a futures in the US yesterday .. Rushmi and Sai are at the qualies for the Surbitron challenger in UK .. Parija Maloo vs PoojaShree and Tejas Chaukalkar vs Krishna Karsolia at the Hyderabad u14 National series finals today .. Details later.

May 30 Notes

Leander and Martina Navratilova starts of their mixed doubles campaign this evening at the French Open .. They play Patricia Wartusch (AUT) and Joshua Eagle (AUS) at about 5 pm there.

Sunil Kumar reached the semifinal of doubles at the Morocco $10K futures .. #4 Paul Logtens (NED)/ S.K.Sipaeya d. Alberto Brizzi (ITA)/ Brian Dabul (ARG) 62 75 .. They face Fabrice Betencourt and Jean-Michel Pequery of France next.

At the AITA u14 National Series in Hyderabad, the singles semifinals are set .. On the boys' side, most top seeds got upset in the first 4 rounds .. The semifinalists are Jairaj Desai (MAH), Tejas Chaukalkar (MAH), Krishna Karsolia (UP) and Tariq Jacob (TN) are the semifinalists .. The top seed Kinshuk Sharma fell in the PQF to Tariq Jacob (TN) and other top seeds like Debendra Das (ASM) and GP Prajnesh (TN) fell in the QFs .. Yuki Bhambri fell to Prajnesh in the PQF as well .. On the girls' side, the top seed Parija Maloo (MAH), the 3rd seed Poojashree Venkitesh (KAR), Taskeen Bains (CHD) and Sanjana Kapoor (DLI) are in the semis .. V.Poojashree is the only u13 player left in either draw.

May 29 Note-2

No big problems, except for a slow start, for Hesh-Max today at the French Open .. [R1] #2 M.Bhupathi/ M.Mirnyi d. Thomas Shimada (JPN)/ Myles Wakefield (RSA), 75 63 .. They were down a break early but pulled even soon and picked up a crucial break on their second set point chance off Shimada's serve in the 12th game .. In the second set they got a break in the 8th game and finished it off soon after.

Harsh Mankad and Leonardo Tavares (POR) reached the final at the satellite masters in Miramar, Portugal, beating Gael Monfils/ Josselyn Ouanna (FRA), 61 60 .. HM's 3rd doubles final in the circuit .. They play the final tomorrow against the second seeds Rui Machado/ Pedro Leao (POR) .. HM and Shortall had beaten that pair twice in the semis of the first two legs .. Actually HM is leading in the doubles circuit point tally and may have assured himself of at least a tie with Machado and Leao for the top spot even if HM-LT lose the final .. Good job picking up somewhere between 27 and 33 points in doubles, which will bring up his doubles ranking from #410 to somewhere right inside #325 .. Harsh has now decided to stay for three more weeks in Portugal .. After a week of rest (he has been playing for the last 6 weeks continuously), he will play two clay futures in Lisbon before moving to hard courts with the Granby challenger in Canada next month.

May 29 Note-1

Good start at the French Open for Lee and Rikl .. [R1] #5 L.Paes/ D.Rikl d. David Adams (RSA)/ Justin Gimelstob (USA), 63 62 .. Easy match today .. I don't have any details though (we will start the chatroom cheering sessions from the next round matches) .. MB-Mirnyi come up later this afternoon.

The mixed doubles draw is out, and again LP and MB are drawn to face each other in the QFs if theseedings hold up .. Leander is playing with the Legend, of course .. [R1] #7 M.Navratilova/ L.Paes vs Patricia Wartusch (AUT)/ Joshua Eagle (AUS) .. MB has returned to his earlier partner, Elena Likhovtseva .. [R1] #3 E.Likhovtseva (RUS)/ Mahesh Bhupathi vs Tatiana Golovin (FRA)/ Mansour Bahrami (IRI) .. That is a pretty interesting pair they are playing .. Mansour Bahrami of Iran is the oldest tennis player out there while Tatiana is one of the youngest at around 16 ..  Mansour is a big crowd favorite for all the magic he does - he is like the Harlem Globetrotter of the tennis world.

At Delhi, 3rd seed Ankita came up big when it mattered for WTA points, and took out the top seed Liza Pereira in a 60 62 romp today in the masters semifinal at the ITF satellites .. She runs into the other most talented player out there, 2nd seed Isha Lakhani who advanced in a three-setter against Shruti Dhawan .. Isha and Ankita are old arch-rivals and the final will again be a dandy tomorrow .. See the Masters leg page for scores.

May 28 Note-2

Sunil Kumar went down 57 62 26 to qualifier Rabie Chaki (MAR) in the singles first round yesterday at the Morocco futures, so things are still not picking up for Sunil .. He continued his doubles success though - [R1] Paul Logtens (NED)/ Sunil K. Sipaeya d. Yassir Bouyahya (MAR)/ Gregory Chambaz (SUI), 62 76(0).

Sunil Kumar is in the entry list for the $25K four week Indian satellites starting next Monday at Mumbai (to be followed by one week at Chandigarh and then two at Delhi) .. Sunil may be the top seed, based on this week's ranking, with Prakash Amritraj, Tomer Suissa (ISR), Vijay Kannan, Ajay Ramaswamy, Mustafa Ghouse, etc, as the top entries .. AITA has announced the wildcards - Stephan Amritraj (USA), Kamala Kannan, Aditya Madkekar, Rishi Behl .. Good to see Stephen playingh this satellite .. He had recently missed over two months in college tennis due to an injury, and returned only a couple of weeks back .. It is a good time for him to play this satellites -- he has hardly played much singles tennis since he stopped playing the juniors about a year back, and really needs singles practice at the higher levels, especially as he didn't get to play a whole lot in the college season ..

More bad news on the singles front, in a disappointing week for everybody -- Sania Mirza went down 26 36 to Marta Domachowska at the Astrid Bowl grade-1 this afternoon .. Not unexpected, knowing how good Marta is, and with Sania being ill, but disappointing nonetheless .. That is all she will get for clay practice before French Open .. Clay season has pretty much always been a washout for our players traditionally, anyway .. Except for doubles for LP and MB who actually have clay as their best surface (and for Niru when she used to play clay challengers in Europe - she was fine with clay).

Not much news coming from Hyderabad on how the u14 Nationals is going .. All I saw was some partial results for boys published by Deccan Chronicle .. Top seed Kinshuk Sharma and 10 yr old Yuki Bhambri have reached the 3rd round .. No news on the girls' draw .. Perhaps AITA should start reporting all the junior events' results on their website ..  The aitatennis.com website has been excellent since it was revamped a few months back with frequently updated rank lists, ITF events' daily results and player acceptance lists .. The players and parents are basically supposed to use the website for all info, and whatever is the latest rankings posted up there are used officially for draws/entries, etc, now  .. But as usual, when someone does a good job, we get greedy; we now want junior and other AITA events' results as well :-)

May 28 Note-1

LP and MB are not in the schedule for today at the French Open .. They should both be playing tomorrow, probably.

Harsh Mankad reached the doubles SF at the POR satellite masters, with yet another partner (the masters leg has only 8 teams as usual) - [R1] Harsh Mankad/ Leonardo Tavares (POR) d. #1 Iverson Barros/ Lucas Engel (BRA) 63 63 .. That is the same team that beat HM and Shortall in the final of the first leg .. HM now leads the doubles circuit point list out there, which is impressive considering he has had to change partners twice .. In the semifinals, they face Gael Monfils/ Josselyn Ouanna (FRA) .. Saurav Sukul and Nishank Mishara made the masters as the last pair, but got lucky too, as they got a walkover from the 4th seeds to the semis .. Now they play #2 Pedro Leao and Rui Machado (POR) ..

Forgot to report that Sunil Sipaeya has been at the futures series in Morocco for two weeks .. In the $10K last week, seeded 3rd, he got upset by a talented upcomig junior player, Brian Dabul (ARG), 46 26 .. Sunil Kumar did well in doubles though, finishing runners-up with Julien Couly (FRA) - they were the 4th seeds .. They beat (wc) Omar Fathi El Idrissi and Kamil Filali (MAR) 62 61 in the R1 and then Baptiste Dupuy/ Julien Mathieu (FRA) 62 62 in the QF .. After upsetting the top seeds Karim Maamoun/ Mohamed Maamoun (EGY), 67(8) 62 62, they fell in the final to the second seeds Oualid Jallali/ Malek Jaziri (TUN), 76(5) 62 ..

In this week's Morocco F2 $10K, Sunil Kumar is seeded 6th and plays a qualifier Rabie Chaki (MAR) in the first round .. He is seeded 4th in doubles with a new partner, Paul Logtens (NED) .. They play Yassir Bouyahya (MAR)/ Gregory Chambaz (SUI) first.

At the Indian women's satellites masters today in Delhi, the four seeds entered the semifinals - Liza, Ankita, Shruti and Isha .. Isha beat an in-form Sonal easily in straight sets .. Shruti got past Archana too .. See the Masters leg page for scores.

At the Astrid Bowl grade-1 ITF juniors in Charleroi, Belgium, Sanaa Bhambri could not do much against the top seed, Ryoko Fuda (JPN,8) and went down 16 46 yesterday in the final-32 .. Sania runs into Marta Domachowska (POL,43) in the final16 today .. Marta was a semifinalist at the Australian Open juniors this year and was ranked as high as #9 earlier - she is ranked low only because she has stopped playing the juniors .. If Sania (who has been running a temperature for three days according to The Hindu, as well) can somehow get past Marta, it would actually be the best win of her career .. The draw was quite unkind to our players out there .. By the way, the qualifier guy who beat Karan in the first round has now reached the QF with two more upsets.

May 27 Notes

LP and MB are drawn in the same quarter of the draw at the French Open, so one of them will be unable to defend the SF points from last year for sure - Argh; they could face each other in the 4th round (QF) .. [R1] #5 LP-Rikl vs David Adams (RSA)/ Justin Gimelstob (USA) - they are drawn in the same 1/8th of the draw with #9 Eagle-Palmer .. [R1] #2 MB-Mirnyi vs Thomas Shimada (JPN)/ Myles Wakefield (RSA), with #14 Cermak/ Friedl as the potential 3rd round opponent ..

Terrible news from Portugal .. Yet another three-set loss for Harsh in the first round of teh masters leg .. Guillermo Platel (ESP) d. Harsh Mankad, 26 75 64 .. I think he finished with a 3-4 record in singles with some 3 or 4 three-set losses and a couple of 3-set wins .. Only 11 circuit points and 2 ATP points .. I am sure he learned a bit on clay, but probably more importantly that he shouldn't waste a lot of time on that surface! .. He has the game to play tough matches against the clay monsters from Spain, but probably not enough to win a lot .. Her will find hard courts much easier after this experience though, I am sure ..  saurav Panja did not make the masters leg - awaiting doubles news, and on whom HM is playing doubles with .. His good partner, James Shortall skipped the 3rd week, as he was not sure of making the singles masters leg; so he is ineligible to play the masters and Hm need to find another qualified partner.

At Delhi, Archana beat Sheethal Gautham to reach the QF, along with Liza, Ankita and Sonal .. Poor Sheethal, who had won three legs on a trot last year at the same circuit has been off-color throughout this circuit with a nagging injury .. See the Masters leg page for scores.

Good news - Sanaa Bhmabri also made the main draw at French Open, as the withdrawals come in .. So Sania, Sanaa and Somdev made it in .. Karan at #63 is probably still some 5 or 6 spots out from the main draw .. Doubt ful he will make it, but he should be among the top seeds in the qualies ..

At the ITF grade-1 Astrid Bowl juniors in Belgium, after a bye, the second seed Sania Mirza just won a tough match over Sarah Raab (GER,158), 75 46 75, to reach the PQF .. She had admitted earlier that clay was not her best surface, and she seems to have been made to sweat today .. Sanaa plays the top seed Ryoko Fuda (JPN,8) today .. Late last evening, Somdev went down to Lachlan Fergusson (AUS,99), 46 63 26 .. The same Aussie guy had beaten Somdev in straight sets in Thailand a couple of months back, so I guess this was a better match .. No news on the doubles draw yet.

May 26 Notes

The doubles draws at the French Open are not out yet - we should know in a day or two ..

At the masters leg of the Indian satellites at Delhi today, half of the first round (PQF) matches were done today .. Isha, Shruti, R.Madura and M.Kamini reached the QF (1.5 WTA points each) .. See the Masters leg page for scores.

No news yet on the masters leg draw at the Portugal satellites .. HM is in the draw, and Saurav Panja may have made it too, hopefully.

Good and bad news from the grade-1 Astrid Open ITF juniors in Belgium today .. Sania, Sanaa, Somdev and Karan are there .. Sania is seeded 2nd and has a first round bye .. #53 Sanaa Bhambri had a fantastic win on clay out there - completley taking out Agnès Szatmari (ROM,60) 61 61 to reach the final-32 where she faces the top seed Ryoko Fuda (JPN,8) .. Karan Rastogi could not do much against Aleksey Malajko (GER,152), falling 36 36, though .. No news on Somdev's match against Lachlan Fergusson (AUS,90) ..  AITA announced today that Somdev made the main draw at the French Open juniors next week .. Sania will be among the top seeds, and I think Sanaa at #53 still has a chance to make the main draw, I think .. As of now Sanaa and Karan are in the qualies.

Now that this year's u14 teams could not finish in the top-4 in Asia to advance to the world group, I thought I would take a look at the next group of kids, for what is in store for next year .. We will see some of the u13 kids in action at the u14 national series tournament starting in Hyderabad today .. If I find enough scores, I will have a page for the event .. Along with the u14 kids, some of the u13 kids to look at are the higher ranked ones born in 1990 and later .. V.Poojashree (KAR), Amritha Seth (DLI), D.Tejaswini (AP), Surabhi Varma (MAH), Supriya Mallya (MAH), Unnathi Purushotham (AP) in that order are the top ones from the u13 ranks in the girls .. Except for Amritha and Tejaswini, others are in the list for Hyderbad .. Poojashree is very talented and is the #2 seed along with older u14 kids - you might remember her winning the u12 Nike tour title last year and representing India in South Africa in the world u12 championships .. On the boys' side, all four top u13 kids, Debendra Das, Nikhil Kumar Reddy, Yuki Bhambri and Ankesh Bhargava, are in the list .. There is that last name "Bhambri" again, by the way :-) .. This boy doesn't turn 11 for a couple of months more, but has started creating noises in the u14 level already .. Another name in the list is Shriram Balaji, who represented India in RSA in the u12 boys (and reached the QF in the singles championship, along with Poojashree who made QF and Sana Bhambri who made SF in the u12 and u14 .. M.Jeevan was the u14 rep from India and he won the consolation draw as well there) .. I will keep an eye on the proceedings at Hyderabad this week.

Speaking of the u14 and u12 levels, things are in good shape now, with two tours being organized by Globosport, continuing on their nice work last year with the Nike tour .. The AITA - Nike Tour (u12 and u14) this year by Globosport will be based on four zonal events and then a masters at Bangalore .. Dates:  (25 Aug) Delhi and Hyderabad zonals .. (01 Sep) - Mumbai and Kolkata .. (13 Oct) - Masters at Bangalore (Tennis Village) .. Another new sponsor in the kids division is Nutrine this year .. Here are the details on the AITA - Nutrine Naturo Junior Classic Circuit for u14 and u12, also conducted by Globosport .. Dates - (14-17 May) Mumbai .. (4-7 Jun) Delhi .. (23-26 Jul) Chennai .. (10-13 Sep) Kolkata .. (1-4 Oct) -Masters at Bangalore .. The Nutrine tour does not require a kid to play all four legs, but total points from the legs determine the entry to the masters .. I like the u12 level competition becoming more extensive .. As a spokesman from Globosport said on launching the new tour earlier this month, "Entry to the under-14 Zonals will be on the basis of AITA rankings while the under-12's will have an open draw since the objective is to set up a structure where none exists .. It's good of Nutrine to support this junior Tennis initiative... it's a good brand fit for Nutrine and it's great to see them look beyond inter-school cricket tournaments" .. Let's hope that the circuit throws up some good talent" .. Using the old catch-phrase, we need to "catch em young" .. Things are much better now than in the past, for sure.

On the other hand, there are still considerable imepdiments in terms of all the costs involved for parents to bring the kids up the ladder .. But here is a wonderful article from the Times of India with a lot of candid and motivational thoughts from Leander Paes that all aspiring Indian kids (and their parents) should read .. Nothing is impossible!

By the way, the first of the u12/u14 events, the Nutrine event in Mumbai was a few days back .. The winners were G/12- Rashmi Teltumbde (runner-up:  Aishvarya Srivastava) .. G/14- Rashmi Teltumbde (ru: Supriya Mallya) .. B/12- Aadish Sardesai (ru: Mansingh Athare) .. B/14- Abhijit Tiwari (ru: Jairaj Desai) .. Some new names to look for, there .. Rashmi, who won both titles was a qualifier into the u14; she must be a good one ..

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on May 26 ..

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.