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LP/MB/NS/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on June 16, 2003
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June 16 Notes

David Rikl got married a couple of days back and that is why he has not played with LP for two weeks, according to Leander, as reported by S.Kannan in the Hindustan Times .. That confuses me, because I thought he was married all along (for a few years at least, according to ATP's profile page; but that may be old info that they never updated) .. Anyway, apparently he will be there at Wimbledon with LP and that is good to know! .. I was beginning to worry about what was up with Rikl.

Not much news to report today .. The 3rd leg of the Indian satellites started in Delhi today .. The title sponsor is "GAIL" for this one .. The seedings and entry are based on performance in the first two legs .. Prakash, with 31 circuit points lead the field as the top seed .. Only four main draw matches were done today, with Sunil Kumar and Rohan Gajjar advancing to the second round .. Sunil beat Eliran Dooyev and according to Kamesh Srinivasan's report, he looked good today -- it's been a while since he played to the best of his abilities, nagging injuries causing him trouble .. Good to see the young guy in the mix again .. Rohan was the 8th seed, and beat the wildcard Parantap Chaturvedi easily .. Speaking of wildcards, I was quite sad to see young Jaco Mathew not get one for this leg .. He had entered the main draw as a lucky loser and had won a round in the last leg too - he deserved a wildcard .. As it turned out he had to play qualies for a 3rd time and ended up not making it, after reaching final qualies twice earlier .. Three of the four wildcards had won one round at least in the earlier legs (Parantap, Stephen and Chatwinder), so no complaints about that .. The fourth wildcard should have gone to Jaco .. The only player with a win in an earlier leg who did not make the 3rd leg draw is Jaco .. One wildcard would have given him 5 circuit points and would have quite possibly put him in the masters leg, giving him an ATP point - he has reason to complain .. I rarely complain about wildcards in the domestic international events, as I usually don't find too many unfair things (unlike how it happens in most places around the world) but I wanted to mention it this time .. Kamesh Srinivasan of The Hindu also noted this yesterday in his article .. Ture that Jaco has only himself to blame for a couple of relatively unexpected losses in the qualies, but he did have a lucky loser main draw win in the second leg, losing only to the circuit leader Prakash - he will now miss the masters leg .. It's like the guy couldn't get a break from anywhere .. Oh well, stuff happens, and the young man would learn from it ..  See the Delhi 3rd leg page for scores and draws.

I had hoped to see Niru in the women's qualies at Wimbledon .. She probably chose to use her injury proitected ranking for a few smaller events (probably a wise decision) .. Our newest player, Sunitha Rao (USA/IND,168) is in the qualies though .. She plays Nathalie Vierin (ITA,159) .. If she wins, she could run straight into the #2 seed Claudine Schaul (LUX,105) .. The Q1 match, I believe, is tomorrow ..

At the $10K Portuguese F9 futures in Lisbon, Harsh Mankad is seeded 3rd and plays Marcos Jimenez-Letrado (ESP,708) in the first round, either tomorrow or wednesday.

No news yet on the draw at the grade-4 grasscourt ITF juniors in Halle, Germany .. The Indian kids are probably looking at this event only for grass practice, ad the points are pretty much useless for all four of them ..

Sania is #9, Karan is #12, Somdev is #16 and Sanaa is #19 in the latest junior world doubles rankings .. How about that? .. Karan Rastogi moved up nearly 20 spots to #50 with his semifinal at the Frankfurt grade-1 last week .. He is now the second youngest player in the singles top-50 and his ranking is by no means biased with any easy points from Indian events .. Impressive!!

Kartiki Bhat is at the Derby-Cadets u16 ETA tournament this week in France .. She has a first round bye and faces the winner of Agustina Lepore (ARG) vs Louise Doutrelant (FRA).

June 15 Notes

No luck with a title today for Mahesh and Max at the Queen's Club final .. [F] #2 M.Bhupathi/ M.Mirnyi l. #1 M.Knowles/ D.Nestor, 75 46 67(3) .. Close but no cigar once again .. They always seem to fight closely in the finals, but their record in finals is not the greatest, though they have pulled off some big ones like a grand slam .. They did defend their points from the final there last year .. The team they lost to is not sliced cheese by any means though .. This was the 31st title for Nestor and 29th for Knowles .. Their 21st title together and they are the active team with the most title together (LP-Mb, if activated would be the best woth 22 titles together) ..

For this coming week, both LP and MB do not have their regular partners .. At the Nottingham ATP in Britian, [R1] #2 Mahesh Bhupathi/ Todd Woodbridge (AUS) vs (wc) Jamie Delagdo/ Arvind Parmar (GBR) .. At the sHertogenbosch (Rosmalen) ATP in Netherlands, [R1] #1 Donald Johnson (USA)/ Leander Paes vs Sjeng Schalken/ John van Lottum (NED) .. Mirnyi and Rikl are not playing this week .. I am not sure what's up with David Rikl; hope all is well for Wimbledon; I guess LP-DR will need to go in there cold.

Harsh won the doubles title at the $10K futures in Lisbon today .. [F] Harsh Mankad/ Leonardo Tavares (POR) d. Baptiste Dupuy/ Gregory Girault (FRA), 61 62 .. Harsh has been pretty much unbeatable in doubles out there in Portugal on clay .. 45 total points there so far - he will move up to right around #300 in doubles now.

June 14 Notes

Three singles semis losses to report (but all three did fine reaching there, so no big complaints), along with four doubles wins (two titles and two more playing finals tomorrow), and on the first professional title by Vijay Amritraj's son! ..

At the Queen's Club, London, MB-Mirnyi had no trouble at all in a 61 64 semifinal win against Xavier Malisse (BEL) and Andre Sa (BRA) who had beaten Hewitt and Philippoussis in three sets yetsterday .. They now run into a really tough team, the top seeds Knowles-Nestor, tomorrow .. This is the second consecutive final for Mahesh at Queen's - they had lost to Black-Ullyett in the final last year after a beating Knowles-Nestor in the semi.

Rohan Bopanna probably had one of his worse losses today in the first round of qualies at the Nottingham ATP .. He was seeded 7th in the qualies, but was upset 64 62 by Mark Hilton (GBR,381) .. Somewhat of a surprise .. I thought Hilton would be the kind of player that RB would be able to overpower on grass courts .. Oh well, this grass season has not gone as planned for Rohan, unfortunately.

Harsh Mankad lost the semifinal against Miguel Angel Lopez-Jaen (ESP,336), 46 57 at the Lisbon futures .. Considering how well Jaen has been playing lately, that is not a big surprise, and I am happy that Harsh played well in the loss and did much better this week than in the earlier satellite legs .. He continued his doubles run with Leo Tavares, beating Clement Morel/Gilles Simon (FRA) 64 76(6) to reach the final and raise his ATP double points collection from 5 weeks in Portugal to 41 points with 8 more at Lisbon .. The final is against Baptiste Dupuy/ Gregory Girault (FRA).

Prakash Amritraj showed that he is ready to be considered among the top few in Indian tennis, with a clinical 63 61 win over Vijay Kannan who had looked good throughout the week .. Here is the Kamesh Srinivasan article in The Hindu about the final today at Chandigarh .. See the Chandigarh satellite page .. Prakash Amritraj now leads the points list and will be the top seed in the 3rd leg at Delhi ..

The best news is from our kids in Frankfurt .. Both the boys and girls teams won doubles titles at the Grade-1 ITF juniors there .. Karan Rastogi and Somdev Dev Varman and beat Bastian Koch/ Peter Steinberger (GER), 16 76(3) 61 in the semifinal yesterday and Hyun Joon Suk (KOR) and Chris Letcher (AUS), 64 64 in the final today .. This is their 3rd grade-1 title together in four finals (earlier titles at Thailand and Japan in April, with a runners-up finish at Philippines) .. The girls, Sania Mirza and Sanaa Bhambri won the final with an impressive 61 60 shellacking of Maren Kassens (GER) and Alla Kudryavtseva (RUS) .. They will all be ranked near the doubles top 15 now with Sania inside the top-10, and both teams will be seeded among the top 5 or so at the Wimbledon juniors too .. The most impressive was still Karan Rastogi's nice run to the semifinal, though he fell today to a claycourter from Argentina, Juan Pablo Amado (ARG,58) 26 26 .. If you had told me a couple of years back that we would see a 16 yr old Indian boy capable of making a run into the semis of a grade-1 on clay in Europe, I would have said you were crazy .. This boy Karan is something special, but I also have a feeling that you ain't seen nothing yet from him! .. Watch out!

Kartiki Bhat's dream run ended in the semifinal at the Avvenire ETA class-1 tournament in Milan yesterday .. The 10th seed went down to the 7th seed Katia Sabate (ESP), 06 57 .. I think after last week's doubles final and 5 singles matches this week, she was probably too tired to put up a big challenge to the Spanish girl, who went on to win the singles and doubles titles today .. Great job so far by Kartiki on the tour that moves to France for three weeks now.

June 13 Note-2

MB and Max Mirnyi had reached the final at the Queen's club last year, and they seem to be feeling comfortable there again .. They beat the 6th seeded Aussies, Wayne Arthurs and Paul Hanley, 63 76(9) .. In the semifinal tomorrow, they play Xavier Malisse (BEL) and Andre Sa (BRA), who beat Hewitt and Philippoussis in three sets .. Doubles is a totally different game and sometimes top singles players can go down to two guys who are NOT doubles specialists! .. This despite Scud and Lleyton having once been pretty good in doubles when they used to play it.

A couple more scores .. Harsh Mankad and Leo Tavares (POR) reached the doubles SF at the Lisbon futures - they beat Denis Matsukevitch (RUS)/ Ali Relata (CRO) 60 63, and will face Clement Morel/ Gilles Simon (FRA) in the semi.

Sania-Sanaa continue to look good in doubles, following the semifinals at Wimbledon .. I thought the QF doubles win I reported earlier today was today's score .. But The Hindu reports that they have won the semifinal also .. Over Jessica Engels/ Daniella Dominikovic (AUS), 61 62 .. Those are a couple of talented girls they beat so easily! .. They will play the final against Maren Kassens (GER) and Alla Kudryavtseva (RUS) .. This will raise Sania's doubles rank one or two more spots and Sanaa's rank up by over 10 to right outside top-20 .. The only younger player ranked above her in junior doubles will be Michaela Krajicek - and that is pretty impressive!

June 13 Note-1

MB-Mirnyi play an evening QF match at the Queen's club.

Good news from the Lisbon $10K futures .. Harsh reached the semifinal just now with a nice comeback - [QF] #5 Harsh Mankad (IND) d. Guillermo Platel-Vargas (ESP,667) 36 62 62 [source: Lagos Sports, POR] .. Platel had beaten Harsh in the first round of the satellite masters in three sets (26 75 64) two weeks back; so this is sweet revenge. Don't let the rankings fool you; these are some good quality claycourters he is playing .. Platel had also upset the 4th seed #323 Roberto Menendez (who finished #1 in the Spanish satellites(!) ongoing at the same time as the POR satellites) in the second round. Harsh seems to have made some good improvement during this 6 week trip that looked like a total nightmare earlier .. In the semis, he plays the 6th seed Miguel Angel Lopez-Jaen (ESP,336) .. Lopez-Jean is a quality clay player too, as he had finished #4 in the Spanish satellites 2 weeks back .. Go Harsh!

No fireworks today at the Chandigarh satellite leg as Prakash Amritraj and Vijay Kannan reached the final .. Mustafa Ghouse, unfortunaley was having shoulder trouble and retired at 46 23 against PA .. Vijay beat Widhiyanto 64 64 in the other semi .. Good job by both PA and VK .. In doubles, Vijay and Saurav Panja won the title as Ghouse-Uppal had to give a walkover.

Terrific news from the Frankfurt grade-1 .. Karan Rastogi reached the semi of the grade-1 ITF juniors today .. [QF] Karan Rastogi (IND,69) d. Andreas Weber (GER,43) 63 36 63 [source: AITA] .. This was one of his finest wins .. Weber is the #2 German junior with some good claycourt credentials, with wins over some of the best Europeans in his grade-2 title and grade-1 runner-up finishes earlier .. Karan continues to impress, and is filling up a resume with a whole lot of top-50 wins, quite surely the best record since LP ..  The SF tomorrow will be against Juan Pablo Amado (ARG,58) .. Good news in doubles as well, as Karan-Somdev and Sania-Sanaa have both reached the semis .. [QF] #2 S.D.Varman/ K.Rastogi d. Juan Pablo Amado/ Horacio Zeballos (ARG), 46 60 64 .. Next up are Bastian Koch/ Peter Steinberger (GER) .. [QF] #1 S.Mirza/ S.Bhambri d. Klaudyna Kasztelaniec/ Natalia Kolat (POL), 46 64 62 .. semi for them is against Jessica Engels/ Daniella Dominikovic (AUS) .. Great to see our players getting some experience and (doing well too) on clay .. This is a brand new thing for us, as the clay season has often been non-existent or a total washout for our players over the years .. I am thrilled to see it -- for me, ability to play on clay has become the litmus test for success on the tour (I know, I have been praising clay a lot for a while, despite my not liking baseline tennis as a spectator :-))

June 12 Notes

The second seeds Mahesh and Max Mirnyi advanced to the QF today at the $800K Stella Artois ATP at Queen's Club, London, with a 63 64 win over Jarkko Nieminen (FIN)/ Raemon Sluiter (NED) .. Tomorrow they face the 6th seeded Australians Wayne Arthurs and Paul Hanley, who I think are a bit of a dangerous team.

Harsh Mankad and Leo Tavarez won the first round of doubles yesterday, over Marcos Jimenez-Letrado and Jose Pablo Serna of Spain, 62 64 .. Next up is Denis Matsukevitch (RUS)/ Ali Relata (CRO) .. HM's second round singles seems to have been late tonight, and so I have not seen the results hit any of the news outlets by press-time..

Three Indians reached the semifinals at the second leg of the Indian satellites, at Chandigarh .. Mustafa Ghouse, who had done well in the satellites over a year back but then went into a big tail spin for a year with injuries and bad form, seems to be playing well again after a few months of good training, reportedly .. He upset the 4th seed Ajay Ramaswami .. Prakash Amritraj easily beat the 8th seeded Eliran Dooyev (ISR) - he runs into Mustafa next .. Vijay Kannan had no trouble with Vinod Sridhar .. See the Chandigarh satellite page.

Good news on Karan Rastogi, who reached the QF of the ITF claycourt grade-1 junior event at Frankfurt, Germany .. Unfortunately, Somdev and Sania went down in the 3rd and second round respectively .. Somdev had a good win yesterday though - over Lachlan Fergusson, who had beaten him before .. All Indians have reached the QF of doubles so far .. Sania seems to be a bit uncomfortable (to put it mildy!) on clay, but I am sure she will be doing her thing the next two weeks on grass, before wimbledon juniors .. Here is the roundup of all scores so far -
Singles:
[R1] Saana Bhambri l. (ll) Antonia Foehse (GER) 26 67(2)
[R1] Tara Iyer l. Sarah Raab (GER,175) 67(4) 36
[R1] Sania Mirza d. Veera Nurmi (FIN,537) 60 62
[R2] Sania Mirza l. Zec Peskiric (SLO) 16 62 62
[R1] Somdev Dev Varman d. (wc) Philipp Piyamonkol (GER,543) 67(4) 61 76(2)
[R2] Somdev Dev Varman d. Lachlan Ferguson (AUS,106) 06 76(4) 61
[R3] Somdev Dev Varman l. Woong Sun Jun (KOR,90) 16 67(2)
[R1] Karan Rastogi d. Jochen Schoettler (GER,199) 36 64 62
[R2] Karan Rastogi d. Antal van der Duim (NED) 63 63
[R3] Karan Rastogi d. Roman Herold (GER,239) 64 62
[QF] Karan Rastogi vs  Andreas Weber (GER,43)
Doubles: (all three teams had first round byes)
[R2] Lara Giltinan (AUS)/ T.Iyer d. Camelia Todorova (USA)/ Masa Zec-Peskiric (SLO) 63 62
[QF] Lara Giltinan (AUS)/ T.Iyer vs  Maren Kassens (GER)/ Alla Kudryavtseva (RUS)
[R2] #1 S.Mirza/ S.Bhambri d. Gayatri Krishnan (IND)/ Bhavani Tirumurti (USA), walkover
[QF] #1 S.Mirza/ S.Bhambri vs Klaudyna Kasztelaniec/ Natalia Kolat (POL)
[R2] #2 S.D.Varman/ K.Rastogi d. Roman Herold/ Philipp Piyamangkol (GER), 75 62
[QF] #2 S.D.Varman/ K.Rastogi vs Juan Pablo Amado/ Horacio Zeballos (ARG)

More good news -- this on Kartiki Bhat, who has reached the singles semifinal at the European Tennis Association (ETA) Grade-1 u16 event, Avvenire tournament in Milan .. Today, she beat a pretty good Italian player, Karin Knapp, 63 62 .. Karin is ranked 92 in the ETA u16 rankings, but has had some top60 wins on the ITF circuit .. Kartiki herself will now be ranked in the ETA u16 rank list top-100 after this - only the second of the 5 events she will play (ETA also ranks non-Europeans who play ETA events)!

June 11 Note-2

At Chandigarh, five Indians reached the quarterfinal .. 6th seed Vinod Sridhar beat last week's runner up Simpatiaji (INA) .. Mustafa beat Stephen Amritraj .. Also reaching the QF were 2nd seed Prakash Amritraj, 3rd seed Vijay Kannan and 4th seed Ajay Ramaswami .. See the Chandigarh satellite page.

Kartiki Bhat, touring Europe and playing the competitive European Tennis Association u16 tour as a member of the ITF team, seems to be doing fine this week .. She has won three and reached the QF in a 64-draw at Milan .. [R1] d. Alena Bayarchyk (BLR,22), 63 62 .. [R2] Anna Fitzpatrick (GBR) 62 60 .. [PQF] d. Florencia Molinero (ARG,59) 26 63 60 .. The ranking are their u16 ranks updated today, which is a bit skewed for non-Europeans who go there to play only a few events ..  Nice comeback win today for Kartiki against Molinero who was the runner-up last week in Bologna ..

June 11 Note-1

Leander could not pull off any magic with Don Johnson at Halle, and went down to the Czechs, Tomas Cibulec and Pavel Vizner, 26 67(2) .. The first round is always the toughest when you play with a temporary new partner, even with a good partner like DJ .. Hopefully Rikl will be with him next week.

Mahesh play his first match at the Stella Artois ATP, tomorrow.

Forgot to mention yesterday that Harsh Mankad, seeded 5th, won his first round at the $10K Portugal F8 claycourt futures at Lisbon .. He beat Carlos Rexach-Itoiz (ESP,680) 26 60 63, and faces the young qualifier Eric Scherer (GER) tomorrow in the R2 .. Eric was a top-40 junior player recently, and has looked good in his matche there .. In doubles, Harsh and Leo Tavares (POR) are the second seeds and were to play the Spaniards, Marcos Jimenez-Letrado and Jose Pablo Serna .. Harsh has moved up about 80 spots to #327 in doubles this week, after topping the POR satellite circuit in doubles.

Early news is that Sania went down and Karan moved on to the 3rd round, at the grade-1 Frankfurt juniors .. Awaiting news on Somdev.

June 10 Notes

LP and Don Johnson play their first round at the Gerry Weber ATP at Halle, Germany, tomorrow at noon ..

In the Indians satellites second leg at Chandigarh, the top seed Sunil Sipaeya went down in the first round against a Japanese qualifier .. I think Sunil is still not recovered from some injury problems, and he has been in injury trouble for quite some time .. Vijay Kannan, Vinod Sridhar, the Amritraj cousins, all advanced .. Jaco Mathew got in as a lucky loser and picked up a win over Sonchat Ratiwatana (THA), as Sandeep Kirtane did not arrive .. Rain prevented play in the final four matches, which are postponed to tomorrow .. See the Chandigarh satellite page.

Sanaa and Tara went down but Sania, Somdev and Karan advanced today at the Frankfurt grade-1 ITF junior tournament .. Sania was originally planning to play qualies at an Italian challenger, but had to miss it due to being in the junior doubles semis at the FO .. She got a wildcard at the Frankfurt event and became the second seed there .. Karan pulled a nice comeback from 36 24 down, winning 10 of the final 12 games .. Somdev won in a 3rd set tiebreaker too .. Sania Mirza d. Veera Nurmi (FIN) .. Saana Bhambri l. Antonia Foehse (GER) .. Tara Iyer l. Sarah Raab (GER) .. Somdev Dev Varman d. Philipp Piyamonkol (GER) .. Karan Rastogi def. Jochen Schoettler (GER)

Our friend Florian Buechting in Germany has posted some nice match reports on the kids' play at Frankfurt, in the forum (under the thread on European Junior Circuit for Indians) .. He has also posted a nice picture gallery for the kids .. Take a look at www.unihockey-pics.de ..

Niru did not make it to the Allentown challenger .. In other news, Sai Jayalakshmy lost in the Q1 at the $50K Marseilles challenger, to Mariam Ramon Climent (ESP), 46 46 .. After winning three rounds and reching the final qualies at the USA F14 satellite, Srinath Prahlad had to retire in the 3rd set .. Injuries have never really gone too far away from Sri throughout his career - sadly, it still continues.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on June 09 ..

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.