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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on June 5, 2000

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June 5 Note-1

Rain played havoc again today at the French Open, and a lot of matches are postponed to Tuesday .. They still have not scheduled the 3rd round mixed doubles match for Leander .. That should be on wednesday now.

There were only two main draw singles matches today at the Mumbai (first) leg of the $25K ITF men's satellites today .. It seems the referee accommodated all the eight qualifiers who wanted to get a day of break (they had played a match on saturday and two on Sunday to qualify) .. So, twleve of the matches are scheduled for Tuesday .. Six first round doubles matches were done today .. 4th seed Harsh Mankad defeated Vijay Kannan, 64 62 and 6th seed Sandeep Kirtane easily beat young CS Mohanty, 61 60 ..

I have added all the results, including the complete official qualifying results at our Mumbai satellite page .. There seems to be a couple of good foreign players who have come through the qualies .. Sometimes, there are such surprises, who may be talented players making their first breaks in a satellite .. Two good players, Ajay Ramaswami and Akshay Jagdale, went down to a Alexei Gavrilov from Russia, in the qualies - he has to be a good player .. In doubles main draw action today, Gavrilov and Sikanov upset Fulcher and Vijay Kannan, also .. Kirtane-Panja, Mankad-Ramaswami, and Ghouse-Uppal reached QF today.

I am awaiting news to see if Niru, Fazal and Manisha are playing this week anywhere .. By the way, one fanclub member wrote to me asking why I was trying to justify Fazal and Srinath missing the Indian satellites .. In his view, it was a bad decision by both to lose so many points, as that will mess up their plans to enter other tournaments .. Actually, I was not trying to justify it or anything - I was just guessing that they may have basically "had it" playing the satellites .. It is perhaps not a prudent idea not to pick up points from the satellites, which both of them have found much easier to do than to find points at futures and challengers .. On the other hand, they may have decided that they are just going to take that risk and are going to fight it out in the next level, somehow - at a certain stage, many tennis players take such a decision, though it's normally when they think "it's now or never" - I have no indication that either Fazal or Srinath has reached that stage, though .. Even in that case, however, it may have been prudent to keep the easier points in the kitty for the next 5-6 months before jumping into the deep waters, so to say .. Again, I don't know what their reasonings are, and I don't want to misrepresent them .. Just making my guesses, that's all .. We will know, when we see where they play and how well they do from now on .. I suspect that both have enough of fire left in them still to prove themselves at the next level.

June 4 Note-2

Leander's 3rd round mixed dubles match at the French Open is not in the schedule for Monday ..

The India satellites are all set to go in Mumbai .. There are over 20 Indians in the main draw, with five more making it in as qualifiers today - Vikrant Chadha (good to see him back in the the mix), Amod Wakalkar, P.Ravishankar, Abhishek Jagnani, and Kedar Shah .. Srinath and Fazal are skipping the satellites .. Both will lose a bunch of points, but they may have had it with the satellites and may have decided that if they are to continue on, they would rather try to take the next step in the futures and challengers, as there is nothing much to prove in the satellites other than to show that they can defend some points (and both have a lot to prove in the next step - so why not go for it?) .. The two seeded Indians that people may be looking closely at, are Vishal Uppal and Harsh Mankad, the 3rd and 4th seeds - potentially the two who may have shown more improvement in the last year than most others .. There is also the so-called "Group of Seven" (Uppal, Vijay Kannan, Saurav Panja, Mustafa Ghouse, Chandrasekhar Mohanty, Vinod Sridhar and Rohan Bopanna) ..  The G7 name appeared in the G.Vishwanath article in The Hindu - they are the ones who took up the AITA call and went for the preparatory camp organized by Jaideep Mukherjee with the Australian coach Kachel .. Most were also in an earlier Bangalore camp with CGK Bhupathi .. They will have the help of a traveling coach during the four week of satellites (S.Narendranath, according to The Hindu - I believe he is Pune-based) - so AITA finally delivers on that .. Jaideep himself will be traveling too, it seems - he is quoted as speaking highly of Vishal Uppal .. As for the Mumbai leg, a very nice matchup is on tap in the first round between Harsh Mankad and Vijay Kannan .. Vijay is fully capable of pulling the rug from under Harsh, especially if Harsh takes too long to adjust to the heavy balls used in India after nine months of college play .. Seeing how three college players went through and qualified, it looks like they have all adjusted nicely .. Ajay Ramaswamy seems to have fallen in the second round of qualies - not sure to whom, as I have not seen the second round results reported anywhere (see the Mumbai satellites page for the entry list and the qualifying results I have patched together) .. I was surprised that SK Shivshankar had to play qualies while Vijendra Laad at the same rank and Kamlesh Shukla ranked below made the draw .. Also, Tushar Gautam may have made it in as a wildcard, which surprises me a bit .. I know he returned to India from the US colleges a few months back and was perhaps at the Calcutta coaching camp - Tushar was highly thought of a few years back, but never lived up to it in the US - perhaps he is showing something again ?

The seven match win streak ended for Manisha and Leanne Baker today .. In the $10K San Antonio satellites, they lost the final to Emma Gott and Melanie Clayton of Australia, 46 76 (5) 75 .. That is yet another three-set match for Manisha .. She did pick up a lot of doubles points in two weeks, though she would have liked to get a few more singles points (her only consolation is that she only lost to the eventual winner and runner-up in these two weeks through - both in three-setters) .. The qualifier who beat her yesterday in the semis (Skavronskia) won the title today.

June 4 Note-1

Leander and Lisa Raymond are in the 3rd round of mixed doubles - L.Paes/ L.Raymond d. N.Miyagi/ M.Hill, 62 63 .. I was away and couldn't follow this match, but it seems to have been a breeze for LP-LR .. Their final-16 opponents will be the 12th seeds Marian DeSwardt and David Adams, 63 63 winners over (alas!) Navratilova-Siemerink .. The match may probably be on Monday itself.

Manisha lost the semifinal of singles at the $10K satellites in San Antonio yesterday in the match between two players who have played most this week there - qualifier Lioudmila Skavronskaia, playing her 8th match in seven days beat Manisha who was playing her 7th match in 5 days (singles and doubles), 57 64 64 .. I guess all the three-set matches in the Texas heat finally took its toll on Manisha, who had beaten the same opponent in straight sets last week .. In doubles, Manisha and Leanne Baker reached today's final, as their SF opponents - Ojeda and Embry - retired at 62 12  [apparently they retired because they had a wedding to attend!] .. They play unseeded Australians Emma Gott and Melanie Clayton in the final today .. So, all the hard work in two weeks gave Manisha only 1.5 and 2 points for the QF and SF in two weeks of singles .. She is about to lose about 11 points from a final and a title last year at this time, which will drop her ranking by about 50 spots, but it should be inside top-375 ..

I saw the draw at the Tallahassee (Florida) challenger qualies ongoing this weekend - Fazal has not gone there.

June 3 Note-4

I am still in a depressed mood, after the losses by LP and MB at the FO, but here is some interesting news - according to an article posted in a tennis newsgroup, Siemerink said on Dutch TV that Leander Paes was Martina Navratilova's first choice to partner with, for the French Open .. When Leander said that he already had a commitment to his partner Lisa Raymond, Martina asked Siemerink .. Well, as it turns out if Leander can win a round of mixed doubles and Martina can win one more round (Martina and Siemerink beat Neiland/Suk today), they could meet in the final-16 ..

The qualifying rounds have started for the $25K Men's ITF India satellites Leg-1 at Mumbai today .. I have posted the score I have found so far, at the Mumbai satellites page .. There seem to be a lot of players playing the qualies .. Ajay Ramaswamy, Akshay Jagdale, P.Ravikrishna, P.Chaturvedi, P.Ravishankar, etc have all won the first round matches.

June 3 Note-3

For a second week in a row, fazal and Kauffman fell in the semifinal of doubles .. The 4th seeds lost to the 3rd seeded Enrique Abaroa and Mauricio Hadad, 36 46 yesterday at the $10K USA F14 futures in Tampa, Florida .. Fazal picked up 6 points each these two weeks in doubles which should be enough to bring him inside the top-250 in dubles soon .. There is no futures for next week, but there is a challenger in Tallahasseee, Florida .. We will watch out and see if Fazal makes it down there today for the qualies.

Here is a story in the San Antonia Express - Malhotra overcomes fatigue for double win .. The lady is putting in some tough work - bananas, bagel and alka-seltzer in 100 degree Texas heat, with a two-3setter schedule every day! .. She is the only player in both the singles and doubles semis now at the $10K satellites.

Here is a very nicely written article in The Hindu by VV Subrahmanyam about Sania Mirza, our national #1 in under-14 (actually she is the Asian #2, and has been the youngest player in the ITF junior world top-200 when I looked recently) .. She is a different customer ..  Lots of great news on the women's tennis side from youngsters lately .. Cannot thank Nirupama enough for paving the way and giving the self-confidence for a lot of girls and their parents to take tennis as a serious profession .. The article talks about sponsors in Hyderabad being wary of supporting her, due to a probably mistaken-notion that Uzma Khan has "bolted" to the US and has "settled down on the pretext of studies" .. I don't think that is true, but I don't know .. Anyway, it is silly if the sponsors start thinking in such funny ways .. Sania seems to be something special so far, and AITA or whoever with a stake should come up with some funds for her .. By the way, the fanclub here has been threatening (:-)) to start something for raising funds for the juniors for a while, but there did not seem to be too many young players who were proving themselves well-enough in the international events in India (at least on the boys' side) to start seriously thinking of efforts to help them out .. I am sure people from India and abroad can be brought together for funding those who are proving themselves decently in the chances given to them (so far, in my view, only girls have done it - Sonal, Megha, Radhika, Sania etc) .. Sania is alright for now, with ITF paying for a European u-14 trip, but more may be needed in the future.

June 3 Note-2

The second round match for Mahesh is over at the French Open .. J-I.Carrasco/ J.Velasco d. M.Bhupathi/ D.Prinosil, 64 67(4) 61 .. This looked like a match without much fireworks at all at any time .. The first set started with an early drop of serve (I believe in the 3rd game) by Mahesh and Prinosil, and the Spanish pair made it hold up from there on, as our pair seemed to be unable to trouble them much on their service games .. In the second set, our pair were taken to a deuce in the 3rd game, and the other guys in the 6th game, but both held with no hiccups .. The next time anything interesting happened was in the 10th game as our pair took JC-JV to a break point (set point) at AD out .. MB-DP could not convert that one chance, and the set then meandered towards a tiebreaker .. In the tiebreraker, our pair finally seemed to come alive, as they went up two minibreaks with JC-JV dropping both their first two serves .. After MB-DP served two, it was 5-0 .. The other guys got one minibreak back and brought ot closer to 6-4 but then dropped serve .. We were now at one set apiece .. The 3rd set started badly for our guys again as MB-DP dropped serve after a couple of deuces in the second game to fall 0-2 .. The Spaniards were in full flow now, going up 3-0 and again attempting to break our guys in the 4th game .. MB-DP fought off two break attempts at 30-40 and AD out and held to go 1-3 .. They had JC-JV serve a couple of deuces in the next game, but they still could not take the Spaniards to a break chance (I believe that set point in the second set may have been the only break attempt on the other guys in this match) .. Then MB-DP dropped serve once again in the next game to fall 1-5 and it all got over without a whimper, 46 76(4) 16 .. The match took an hour and 45 minutes to complete.

That finishes the doubles work for the two engines of that once-famous Indian train ..  One engine chugged on for an extra stration, but neither was destined to go far - but didn't we all know that?

June 3 Note-1

Mahesh and Prinosil are scheduled to play Juan-Ignacio Carrasco and Jairo Velasco in the second round today - that is at about 2 pm in Paris (8 am New York, 1 pm London, 5.30 pm India) .. The chatroom will be open as usual.

There is an agency report today about the Paes and Bhupathi doubles matches yesterday - I am not sure where it came from, but many Indian newspapers reported this piece of garbage - excerpts: "Following the heart-breaking split, the big-serving Bhupathi has adjusted himself to the new situation while Paes seemed troubled with lack of commitment going into the second Grand Slam of the year" .. Huh ? .. What "lack of commitment" ? .. From himself ? .. New partner ? .. What does that mean ? .. Anyway, the story becomes more ridiculous, "The unseeded pair of Paes-Siemerink, who struggled in the past few weeks before the Indian took a two-week-long break from tennis, barely managed to hold their serves in the first set before tie-breaker was applied" ..  What's that - they "struggled before?" .. Winning two tournaments in a row is a struggle ? .. Actually those two had won 11 matches in a row before actually having a bad day today .. And as for that comment about "barely managing to hold serve", I wonder if this reporter ever went anywhere near the court .. LP-JS had 8 break points and three set points in that first set - doesn't count as "managing" to hold serve in my book (I cannot remember if our pair faced a break point in the first set - I don't believe so) .. Anyway, a humble request to our newspapers - please stop using anything more than the score from any foreign news agency when it comes to doubles - none of them ever watch any doubles .. Either spend money sending one of the good Indian reporters to cover doubles matches, or just don't do it .. Actually come to think of it, be careful about even reporting the scores from these agencies - for instance, the score of  Mahesh's doubles final at St.Poelten was originally reported wrongly by all news agencies I saw (I had called the ATP room on site and I had reported the correct score here) - that did not surprise me; there was a rain delay in the middle of that match - fat chance for any of those folks to have stayed on till the end of doubles .. Sorry to go on a harangue on this, but sloppy reporting work on doubles matches always bugs me .. One of my pet peeves.

4th seed Manisha Malhotra reached the semifinals at the $10K San Antonio satellites on Friday, beating Corey Ann Avants (USA), 64 36 64 .. Manisha plays too many three-setters where she drops the second set - not sure why .. I won't complain as long as she keeps winning :-) .. She plays Lioudmila Skavronskaiya (RUS) who upset the second seed Jacqueline Trail of USA 76 60 in the QFs .. Manisha had beaten Lioudmila in straight sets last week in the second round .. In doubles also Manisha has reached the semis, with Leanne Baker .. They beat Jane Chi and Stephanie Mabry 75 62 .. They face the American pair, Jennifer Embry and Alison Ojeda in the semis.

June 2 Note-3

Manisha reached the quarterfinals of the ITF $10K satellites in San Antonio (Texas) yesterday, beating qualifier Yumiko Kitamura, 60 67(3) 63 .. She faces Corey Ann Avants in the QF today .. She has also reached the QF of doubles, with leanne baker, beating qualifiers Varalee Sureephong and Varita Sureephong, 62 57 64 .. They play Jane Chi and Stephanie Mabry in the QF [courtesy: BobLarson].. Manisha's QF opponent is a qualifier who actually took up the spot of the 8th seed when the draw was made (Benjamas Sangram of Thailand withdrew! -- funny that I had made a wisecrack about her no-show habit in the May 30 Note-1 below .. I am surprised to see that she actually *was* a no-show here too! :-))

Good and bad news about Fazaluddin at the $10K USA F14 futures in Tampa (Florida) yesterday .. Fazal reached the semifinal of doubles again, with Cedric Kauffman .. They beat Rafael DeMesa and Zach Fleishmann, 62 32 (retd.) yesterday .. They play the 2nd seeds Enrique Abaroa and Mauricio Hadad in the semis .. In singles, Fazal could not keep the mementum from the big first round upset of the second seed, as he went down in R2 to Dmitryi Toursounov of Russia, 46 46 [courtesy: Steve Gocha]

June 2 Note-2

[R1] M.Bhupathi - D.Prinosil -d.- W.Arthurs - M.Tebbutt, 6-4 7-5 .. As this was on a small court and there was no Netcam for pictures, I couldn't find the order of service (how long will it take for IBM and ATP to figure out that this is an important piece of info to show on the online scoreboard for doubles? -- but then again, who cares for doubles these days they would ask!) .. The games went with serve till the seventh when our guys converted their second break chance at Ad-out to go up 4-3 .. In the next game, our guys went through a few deuces but held .. The set was over soon at 6-4 in our favor .. The second set started with MB-PD facing a few decues and finally falling in the 3rd break attampt to go down 0-2 .. They got the break back in game 5, winning four points in a row after WA-MT served 30-0 .. Now they were on a tear, holding serve easily and winning the next game with four straight points to go up 4-3, up a break! .. Then, while serving for the match at 5-4, our pair ran into trouble facing a break point at 30-40 and they dropped serve at Ad-out .. It was even at 5-5 .. MB-DP weren't done yet, as they forced the break in the very next game on their second chance to go up 6-5 and serve for the match once again .. They had double match points at 40-15 but saw it go to deuce, finally converting the 3rd match point at Ad-in to win it .. The match took an hour and 5 minutes to complete .. The break sequence was, [set1: WA-MT broken in game 7], [set2: MB-DP broken in game 2 and 10, WA-MT in game 5, 7 and 11] ..

So at least Mahesh moves on to the next round.

June 2 Note-1

[R1] L.Paes - J.Siemerink  -vs- G.Forget - G.Raoux in front of a pretty good crowd on one of the show courts (court-10) .. The match started with no fireworks in the first few games, till 4-3 when LP-JS had four break chances off Forget's serve, only to see him hold after seven deuces .. Our pair appeared to have no trouble in holding serve and generally seemed to be in control of the proceedings .. Then in game 10, they had Raoux down facing double set points at 15-40 .. After two more break chances were lost, it was again 5-5 .. Our pair had gone 0-for-6 in break attempts .. Once again in game 12, they had a break chance and set point at 30-40 off Forget's serve .. Now it was beginning to get rather ridiculous .. Again it was lost chances, and Raoux held serve for 6-6 .. In the tiebreaker, LP started serve but was down a minibreak .. The other three also dropped serve ihn order once each in their chances .. Then, finally Raoux won both his points to go up from 4-5 to 6-5 and Siemerink dropped serve .. And our pair had lost a set they seemed to dominate .. They were down 67(5), just like that .. LP-JS perhaps had only themseleves to blame for the missed chances .. You cannot give a good pair of artful veterans that many lives! .. Then our pair dug themselves an even bigger hole with Siemerink falling to 15-40 on his serve in game two and dropping serve on the second break chance for the other guys [at the risk of sounding disrespectful of Siemerink, let me say that I wished LP had started serve - see, this was a key point where, had it been LP-MB playing it would not have mattered who started serve - it is an important game to hold when you had just lost a tough set so fast like that - I know I am only following the ball-by-ball updates but I said right then that the match was over, and despite a little resistence later, it really was - perhaps I exaggerate, but the mental battle had been lost and the other guys had got all their momentum from that] .. LP-JS were soon down 1-4 .. After LP held serve, in game 7 they had Raoux down 0-40 - and our guys finally made use of their 8th break chance to bring it on serve at 3-4 .. Now it was finally LP's turn to face his first break point at 30-40 .. And the other guys converted the point to go 2 of 3 in break chances [this was the key stat, as LP-JS was 1 of 8 in that] .. It was 3-5 down and desperation time .. Forget was not going to let it go .. Our guys fought off one match point at 40-15, but it was over in the next point .. 6-7(5) 3-6 loss to them, in a match that took an hour and 30 minutes .. And I am about to throw up! .. Yikes .. This hurts.

Mahesh comes up for his doubles match in a couple of minutes. At least that would end in a win, let me hope!

June 1 Note-3

According to the schedule for Friday at the French Open, Leander plays at 11 am on court 10 and Mahesh plays at about 12.30 pm on court 3 .. The Leander match will be at 5 am New York Time, 2.30 pm Indian time .. We will have the chatroom open at that time, and continue on with the Mahesh match, following it ball-by-ball.

The big upset today was Rodriguez-Eltis (huh? who?) beating 4th seeds E.Ferreira-Leach .. No other upsets among the top 8 seeds, as 2nd seeds Woodies adavanced, as did 3rd seeds Haarhuis-Stolle, 5th seeds Bjorkman-B.Black, 7th seeds W.Ferreira-Kafelnikov and 8th seeds Novak-Rikl ..

Here is the mixed doubles draw till the semifinal for Leander, who is seeded 2nd with usual partner Lisa Raymond  (Mahesh has chosen not to play mixed, for fer of straining the shoulder):

6 M.Bollegraf (NED)/ R.Leach (USA)          Bye
  N.DeVilliers (RSA)/ S.Aspelin (SWE)    vs J.Halard-Decugis (FRA)/ M.Llodra (FRA) 
  J.Dokic (AUS)/ S.Humphries (USA)       vs K.Kschwendt (AUT)/ A.Kitinov (MAC) 
  A.Carlsson (SWE)/ N.Kulti (SWE)           Bye
  M.DeSwardt (RSA)/ D.Adams (RSA)           Bye
  M.Navratilova (USA)/ J.Siemerink (NED) vs L.Neiland (LAT)/ C.Suk (CZE) 
  L.Horn (RSA)/ A.Olhovskiy (RUS)        vs N.Miyagi (JPN)/ M.Hill (AUS) 
2 L.Raymond (USA)/ L.Paes (IND)             Bye
Yes, that is Martina Navratilova who is playing with Jan Siemerink .. So, she too thinks highly of 79th ranked  Siemerink's abilities in doubles, eh ? .. LP won't be playing mx-D till probably Sunday or so, as he has a first round bye in the 48-team draw.

At Dehi today, Sonal finally evened the score on her younger friend Megha with a straight sets win today in the final (after losing twice to her in the previous two legs) .. Megha and Isha won the doubles title over Sheetal and Liza .. See the Delhi masters page, and Kamesh Srinivasan's article in Friday's The Hindu .. Sonal will debut at around #580 on the WTA rank list with 13.5 total points so far from three events, including 5 from here .. She says she will continue playing junior events till she gets done with the US Open juniors in September .. This is her last year in the ITF juniors.

The score of Manisha Malhotra's R1 win over Marcelle Hirt (BRA,721) was 60 62 yesterday .. Nirupama may be taking the week off, as she is not at the Modena challenger in Italy .. There is a challenger in China - not sure if Sai and Rushmi went there from Vietnam last week .. No news yet today from Tampa where Fazal was to play the second round of singles today.

June 1 Note-2

Neither Mahesh nor Leander is scheduled to play today at the French Open, though the first round of doubles gets underway today .. Both should be playing tomorrow .. I believe MB had asked for a Friday start, to give the shoulder an extra day of rest.

The entry list for the $25K men's satellites starting next week in Mumbai is completed now .. Artem Derepasko of Russia (#266), and Danai Udomchoke of Thailand (303) seem to be the highest ranked entries, followed by Srinath (317), Per Thornadtsson (SWE, 525), Vishal Uppal (634), Harsh Mankad (690), Barry Fulcher (GBR,743), Sandeep Kirtane (779), Vinod Sridhar (791), Kunj Majmudar (USA,833), Rohan Bopanna (844), Mustafa Ghouse (862), Vijay Kannan (875), Alexandre Sikanov (RUS,898), Manoj Mahadevan (961), Marian Leysek (SVK,973) and Gwenael Gueit (FRA,997) .. Vijendra Laad (1049) and Kamlesh Shukla (1110) are the other two Indians which makes it 11 Indians with direct entries .. There should also be eight qualifiers and four wildcards, which should add up to a few more Indians .. The only Indians who are not listed in the press release (published by Times of India) are Fazal (476), Nitin Kirtane (636) and Saurav Panja (970) who would all have made the draw .. As Fazal has been playing for a few weeks in the US, he is perhaps not playing the satellites .. There will also be a couple of withdrawals usually from the foreign contingent, probably nearer the top ..

The satellites promise to give us some nice fireworks, with quite a few of the Indian players feeling a bit of an urgency to make their mark ..  Top 4 finishers in last June's satellites were Srinath, Derepasko, Fazal and Mankad .. For Srinath, the 40 points from those satellites form a big chunk in his total of 93 pts .. If Fazal is not playing the satellites, I guess he will be taking a pretty big risk of losing about 33 points out of the 49 he has, unless he does well in the US circuit .. For Harsh Mankad who is returning from a year in the US college, this will be basically his next pro event after last June's satellites, except for playing one futures and winning a round on his arrival to the US last summer - he will be defending 17 points .. Any other players returning from the US colleges will have to play qualifiers or get wildcards as they have no points (Ajay, Vikrant, Amod, etc.)

June 1 Note-1

At the San Antonio satellites on wednesday, Manisha Malhotra won her first round match in straight sets over Marcelle Hirt of Brazil (source: San Antonio Express, no scores) .. She faces Yumiko Kitamura (JPN,718) in the second round.

At the Delhi satellites yesterday, there was a very impressive upset in doubles as well by 15 year old kids Megha Vakharia and Isha Lakhani (coach Manoj Vaidya must be a very happy man!) .. They beat the Venkatraman sisters, who rarely get beaten by anybody from India .. The sisters had gone unbeaten in the previous three legs winning all three titles, but faltered when it mattered as far as WTA points are concerned, as they will now get only 2 points, as opposed to 4 by Megha-Isha who will meet Sheetal Goutham and Liza Perieria in the final .. Also, with the semifinal singles win yesterday, Sonal Phadke has assured herself of 4 more points in singles, taking her tally to 12.5 WTA points from her first three events (she had won 6 and 2.5 points from two $10K satellites a few weeks back - her first two pro events) .. WTA requires a minimum of three events with points to list anyone in the rankings, so 17 yr old Sonal will crack straight into the rankings rightaway at around #600, as #5 in India behind Niru, Manisha, Sai and Rushmi .. That is amazing! ..

By the way, Kadambari Murali writes in the Indian Express - "A pleasant sight at the end of this match was when Sonal chatted with Isha and comforted her. All three Mumbai girls (the third being Megha) are coached by Manoj Vaidya and are good friends. The camaraderie makes for nice viewing .... Megha's win over Archana will obviously be very tough on the latter's self-confidence. Both Archana, and elder sister Arthi, who lost to Megha in the first round here, have been around for some time now. Twenty-two-year-old Archana, seven years older than Megha, has lost thrice to the teenager in the past three weeks ....On a last note, it must be mentioned that Archana didn't shake hands with the chair umpire after the match,  following a couple of disagreements over line calls and the rules. She is no rookie and there is no excuse for bad behaviour, whatever the provocation" .. That last part is bad stuff, coming from one of the more experienced players - these stories about the Venkatraman sisters never seem to end .. And it's not nice to hear of it - after all, the elder players are supposed to set examples for all the kids who are coming up in these satellites, aren't they? .. Well, what can I say?

May 31 Note-3

Here is the doubles draw at FO

 1 A.O'Brien (USA)/ J.Palmer (USA)      vs    T.Carbonell (ESP)/ M.Garcia (ARG)
   E.Alvarez (ESP)/ D.Vemic (YUG)       vs    P.Pala (CZE)/ P.Vizner (CZE)
   L.Hewitt (AUS)/ P.Rafter (AUS)       vs WC A.Clement (FRA)/ S.Grosjean (FRA)
16 P.Norval (RSA)/ K.Ullyett (ZIM)      vs    M.Mirnyi (blr)/ N.Zimonjic (YUG)
 9 M.Bhupathi (IND)/ D.Prinosil (GER)   vs    W.Arthurs (AUS)/ M.Tebbutt (AUS)
   J.Carrasco (ESP)/ J.Velasco Jr (ESP) vs    J.Robichaud (CAN)/ J.Waite (USA)
   A.Martin (ESP)/ C.Suk (CZE)          vs WC S.Huet (FRA)/ C.Saulnier (FRA)
 7 W.Ferreira (RSA)/ Y.Kafelnikov (RUS) vs    J-M.Gambill (USA)/ S.Humphries (USA)
 3 P.Haarhuis (NED)/ S.Stolle (AUS)     vs    M-K.Goellner (GER)/ E.Taino (USA)
   D.Bowen (USA)/ B.Coupe (USA)         vs    P.Kilderry (AUS)/ P.Tramacchi (AUS)
WC J.Benneteau (FRA)/ N.Mahut (FRA)     vs WC T.Guardiola (FRA)/ E.Prodon (FRA)
14 N.Kulti (SWE)/ M.Tillstrom (SWE)     vs    A.Lopez-Moron (ESP)/ A.Portas (ESP)
11 W.Black (ZIM)/ A.Kratzmann (AUS)     vs    B.Ellwood (AUS)/ A.Prieto (BRA)
   S.Aspelin (SWE)/ J.Landsberg (SWE)   vs    N.Godwin (RSA)/ M.Hill (AUS)
   J.Balcells (ESP)/ G.Ivanisevic (CRO) vs WC A.DiPasquale (FRA)/ R.Gilbert (FRA)
 6 D.Adams (RSA)/ J-L.DeJager (RSA)     vs    J.Eagle (AUS)/ A.Florent (AUS)
 5 J.Bjorkman (SWE)/ B.Black (ZIM)      vs    M.Llodra (FRA)/ B.Nargiso (ITA)
   M.Hood (ARG)/ S.Prieto (ARG)         vs    J.Oncins (BRA)/ D.Orsanic (ARG)
   J.Boutter (FRA)/ F.Santoro (FRA)     vs    R.Koenig (RSA)/ A.Olhovskiy (RUS)
12 J.Gimelstob (USA)/ M.Knowles (BAH)   vs WC J-R.Lisnard (FRA)/ O.Patience (FRA)
13 S.Lareau (CAN)/ D.Nestor (CAN)       vs    N.Escude (FRA)/ R.Federer (SUI)
   P.Galbraith (USA)/ B.Macphie (USA)   vs    B.Bryan (USA)/ M.Bryan (USA)
   P.Albano (ARG)/ C.Haggard (RSA)      vs    N.Marques (POR)/ T.vanHoudt (BEL)
 4 E.Ferreira (RSA)/ R.Leach (USA)      vs    G.Etlis (ARG)/ M.Rodriguez (ARG)
 8 J.Novak (CZE)/ D.Rikl (CZE)          vs    F.Bergh (SWE)/ A.Kitinov (MKD)
   E.Nicolas (ESP)/ G.Puentes (ESP)     vs    D.Macpherson (AUS)/ P.Nyborg (SWE)
   L.Paes (IND)/ J.Siemerink (NED)      vs WC G.Forget (FRA)/ G.Raoux (FRA)
10 M.Damm (CZE)/ D.Hrbaty (SVK)         vs    J.Coetzee (RSA)/ B.Haygarth (RSA)
15 O.Delaitre (FRA)/ J.Tarango (USA)    vs    T.Shimada (JPN)/ M.Wakefield (RSA)
   D.Del rio (ARG)/ E.Ran (isr)         vs    M.Barnard (RSA)/ F.Montana (USA)
   L.Arnold (ARG)/ D.Johnson (USA)      vs    M.Bertolini (ITA)/ C.Brandi (ITA)
 2 T.Woodbridge(AUS)/ M.Woodforde (AUS) vs    L.Bale (RSA)/ M.Ondruska (RSA)
Not too many surprising pairs or dark horses  out there .. Balcells and Ivanisevic ? -- that's an odd pair ..  That's about it .. Rafter is playing doubles with Hewitt ..  For MB, the first two rounds should not cause too many problems, if the shoulder is feeling fine after all the exertion last week in winning the title in St.Poelten .. For LP, the first round should be no problem, but then Damm/Hrbaty and the Woodies are ahead .. LP-JS have already beaten the Woodies once though ..

At the $10K satellites at San Antonio, 4th seed Manisha Malhotra is scheduled to play the first round today .. Only about six first round matches were finished yesterday .. Manisha and Leanne Baker (doubles champs from last week at the El Paso satellite) are the top seeds again in doubles, and they play the qualifier pair, sisters Varalee and Vareeta Sureephong in the first round.

May 31 Note-2

As the FO site refuses to post the draw, I have just got it emailed to me (Thanks, Steve!) .. Unseeded Leander and Siemerink are in the bottom half of the draw and play wildcards G.Forget and G.Raoux in the first round (Forget is still around, eh?) .. They may face a very difficult team in the second round though - 10th seeds Damm and Hrbaty .. Mahesh and Prinosil are the 9th seeds  in the upper half of the draw, drawn with 7th seeds Ferreira/Kafelnikov .. They play Arthurs/Tebbut in the first round ..I will post the full draw soon.

May 31 Note-1

There is STILL no sign of a doubles draw at the official French Open site, and no usual news sources including the ATP site has posted the draw which was made about 3-4 days back .. I guess that's how seriously they take doubles these days! .. All of the days play was washed out on Tuesday from rain, and everything is running a day late .. Doubles may not start seriously before thursday, it seems.

Good news from US .. Yeah! .. Fazaluddin just pulled off one of the biggest wins of his career, beating #248 ranked second seed Louise Vosloo (RSA), 7-6(5) 6-2 at the $15K USA F14 futures in Tampa, Florida .. I guess Fazal *can* play decent clay tennis, unlike what people think .. Good show! .. It's nice to see him putting in the hard work and showing the determination to play out of his troubles from earlier in the year, by coming to play the toughest futures series out there, on a surface which is not his favorite .. Fazal next plays the winner of Dmitryi Toursounov (RUS) and Ben-Quiang Zhu (CHN) .. Here is what the press release from Harbor Island says - Tampa, Florida, USA (May 30, 2000) - "Two No. 2 Seeds Fall In Two Days" -- Pete Sampras was not the only No. 2 seed in menís professional tennis to fall in a first-round match this week.  In Tampa Bay, Philadelphia-resident Fazal Syed, who represents his native India in Davis Cup, ousted the No. 2 seed, Louis Vosloo of South Africa, in first-round play at the 2000 USTA Futures at Habour Island. It took the Calcutta-born Syed 1 hour and 35 minutes to win 7-6(7-5), 6-2 in a match he dominated from start to finish ... Syed made an explosive debut on the international tour. In December 1998, in only his second professional effort, he won a title as a qualifier at an ITF Futures Circuit event in India .. Actually it was 1997, but I will pardon them .. Always good to see Fazal getting some props, after all the less-than-complimentary press coverage he has got lately!

Fazal and Kauffman also won a doubles match yesterday, to boot .. The 4th seeds got revenge on Dustin Mauck and Keith Pollak who upset them in the semis last week, by beating the same team 64 76(2) yesterday to reach the doubles QF ..

How about Megha Vakharia ? .. She beat Archana Venkatraman for a THIRD time in a row, 75 61 today, to reach the final against Sonal (she beat Isha Lakhani 75 63) .. What is impressive is that Megha was down 0-4 in the first and then won 13 of the next 15 games against the 3rd seeded veteran Archana .. This girl has got to be a super talent! .. I will add the doubles score as soon as I see them, at the Delhi masters page.

May 30 Note-2

Fazal is in the draw for the $10K USA F14 futures this week at Tampa, Florida .. I am a bit surprised that he is playing for a 4th week on a trot in the US - that would make it 8 weeks of tennis in a row, if he continues with the Indian satellites starting next week (I think he will have to play at the Indian satellites as he has over 30 points to defend, having finished as #3 last year in the June satellites) .. Anyway, the luck of the draw continues to elude Fazal, as he is pitted against the second seed for a second week in a row - this time he plays #2 Louis Vosloo (RSA,248) .. In a draw that has 8 qualifiers and 4 wildcards ranked below 550, Fazal ends up with a top-250 player again! .. In doubles, fazal and cedric Kauffman are seeded 4th and face Keith Pollak and Dustin Mauck, the same team that beat them in the semis last week at Boca Raton, Florida.

Not sure where Nirupama is, this week .. Possibly at the $25K Challenger in Modena, Italy - will await the draw from there.

I believe Srinath Prahlad has been off the tour for the last three weeks after the trip to Uzbekistan ..  He too has about 35 points to defend in the satellites in India from last June - so he may be getting ready for the 4-week grind from next week.

Our LP-MB fanclub member Nick Rainey of U. of Southern California lost in the company of Ryan Moore in the final of the US collegiate (NCAA) tennis doubles national championship to a pair from the Univ of Illinois on Sunday .. The singles title was won by Alex Kim of Stanford (the same player that Harsh Mankad was on the way to beating last week in the team event 76 32 when the match was called with Minnesota losing enough matches to Stanford already - I guess Harsh's effort was worth more than I thought then, seeing how Alex Kim went through the 6 round singles draw this week dropping just one tiebreaker set, that too only to the #3 ranked college player) .. The 1999-2000 US college season is over with that .. It was a bit more fun following the colleges this year, as a number of good Indian players were active here.

May 30 Note-1

The doubles draw is still not posted by the French Open website, though I think it's made already .. Mahesh says he is playing with Prinosil and will be facing Tebutt and Arthurs in the first round .. MB says he is not playing mixed doubles this time, to avoid putting too much stress on the shoulder right now .. I will need to get hold of Leander to see if he plans to play mixed doubles - I would expect him to play.

At the $10K San Antonio (Texas) satellites, Manisha Malhotra is again the 4th seed - she plays Marcelle Hirt of Brazil (#721) in the first round .. She is drawn in the bottom half of the draw in the same quarter as the 8th seed Benjamas Sangram  of Thailand (whose name I have often noticed popping up out of the blue in some draws, only to find later that she did not show up :-)) .. The main draw starts today .. I have not seen the doubles draw, but since Leanne Baker is the 3rd seed there, I assume Manisha would continue to play with her at San Antonio as well.

At Delhi, the satellite masters is moving along briskly, and the quarterfinals were done today (Tuesday) .. Three teenagers are in the semis, with top seed Sonal facing unseeded Isha Lakhani and 2nd seed Megha Vakharia facing 3rd seed Archana venkatraman, who at the age of 21 must be feeling like a very old lady in the middle of the 15 to 17 year olds .. Isn't it impressive to see three Maharashtra kids in the semis, all picking up 2 WTA points each so far ? .. Isha Lakhani pulled the upset yesterday in the first round (prequarterfinals) over 4th seed Shalini Thakur .. The youngsters are showing a lot of spunk - this girl fought off a 3rd set match point and had to reel of six straight points from 1-5 down the tiebreaker to win it against 22 year old Shalini who herself is known for a lot of grit .. The somewhat unfortunate player in the draws always seems to be Sheetal Goutham, who keeps running into statemate Archana Venkatraman who has her number - Sheetal, who could very well be among the best 4-5 players in these satellites, had to be content with just one WTA point for making the masters - she ran into a Venkatraman sister and lost in every one of the four legs, thrice to Archana, despite beating those like Radhika Mandke and Shalini Thakur in these satellites .. Sricharanya, Karishma, Mandke and Yamini will end up with 1.5 points each for reaching the QF .. Megha and Sonal have been cruising .. The semis will be fun .. By the way, I am throroughly impressed with the quality of 15 year old Megha's wins so far -- Sonia, Archana, Shalini, Sonal, Karishma, Radhika, Sonal, Archana, Arthi, Yamini in that order so far in the satellites .. All but one match against Sonal have been straight sets wins too .. See the Delhi masters page for results .. I will update today's doubles scores later .. Check out this article in The Hindu which also has some interesting details on Sonal and her doubles partner Nona.

Sai and Rushmi lost in straight sets in the first round of doubles at the Ho Chi Minh City challenger last week.

May 29 Notes

The doubles draw at the French Open has not been posted yet .. It should be available by at least tomorrow.

Last week was not a bad one, despite Leander and Nirupama falling in the french open qualies .. There were four pro titles by Indians .. Mahesh's at St.Poelten, Megha's and Venkatraman sisters' at Pune, and also Manisha's doubles title - that's the most by Indians in any week that I remember .. Manisha Malhotra and Leanne Baker beat Kaysee Smashey and Varalee Sureephong of USA, 62 76(2) to win the title at the $10K ITF satellites at El Paso .. The title gives Manisha 5 WTA points ..

The 4th (masters) leg of the $20K Indian satellites (the only one that gives WTA points) starts in Delhi today .. With only the top-16 players from the first three legs making up the draw here, there should be decent competition from the first two rounds itself .. I will add results at the Delhi masters page as soon as they become available today.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on May 29 ..

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.