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Indian-Tennis: Daily News for the weeks ending on June 18, 2007
(Previous week's notes) (Next week's notes) (Daily Notes Index 1997 thru 2006)

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June 18 Note-1

Qualifiers Sunitha Rao and Ryoko Fuda (JPN) won the doubles title yesterday atthe $25K challenger in Allentown, Pennsylvania, USA .. They upset the 4th seeds Angela Haynes and Lindsey Lee-Waters of USA, in a tough comeback 67(3) 64 61 .. They were even a break down in the second set but then went on a very good run to pull it off.

June 17 Note-2

Good news! .. At the $10K ITF in Montemor-O-Novo in Portugal, second seeded Tara Iyer (IND,452) won the final today, 64 76(5) over the 4th seed Elisa Balsamo (ITA,540) .. Tara is the second Indian woman other than Sania in eight years to win a $10K title in Europe .. Sandhya Nagaraj had won a $10K in Spain last year at this time .. Manisha Malhotra won the last Indian title before that, in UK in 1999 .. Sania played her last $10K event and won the title at Hempstead, UK in Aug 2004 - and had won ten such titles abroad in four continents .. Shikha Uberoi won three in the US (Edmond, FortWorth in 2004 and Harrisonberg in 2003) .. If I am not mistaken, Sunitha Rao has not won a $10K though she only played a couple of those .. As for other titles abroad by Indians, Isha Lakahni had picked up the $10K title in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, 4 years back .. Megha Vakharia had an ITF title in Lagos, Nigeria five years back .. Before that, Manisha Malhotra won a $10K at Baltimore, USA, in 2000 and one each at Harrisonberg, USA and Sunderland, UK in 1999 ..
Sai Jayalakshmy won her lone title abroad in Algeria in 2002 .. Though she has a bucketload of titles in India, Rushmi Chakravarthi has never won an ITF title abroad, going down to Sania in a final once - at Jakarta in late 2003 .. I don't believe the Bhambri sisters - Ankita and Sanaa - have won a title abroad yet .. Winning one in Europe is an even tougher job, and it is nice to see 18 year old Tara coming through.

June 17 Note-1

Sania Mirza and Daniella Hantuchova gave a walkover in the first round of doubles at the DFS Classic WTA in Birmingham, after rain delayed the match being played all the way to the weekend .. Meanwhile, the draw came out for the $175K Tier-III "Ordia Open' in Rosmalen (sHertogenbosch) in Netherlands next week.  Sania has a tough first round match against Francesca Schiavone (ITA,29).  SM is not paying doubles there.

At the $25K Allentown challenger, Sunitha Rao (IND) went down in the semifinals, 62 26 26 to Channelle Scheepers (RSA,324) .. This was only her first $25K semifinal since last October in Melbourne, Australia .. Despite the loss yesterday to Scheepers who seems to be in excellent form this week with upsets of two seeds, Sunitha has played well this week, after a very long time .. She had reached three challenger finals before she turned 19, including one in Mexico City when she had just turned 17 .. Though it has been 2.5 years since her last challenger final, in Australia in lat 2004, I am feeling a clear upswing in her game.  Sunitha has been quite injury-prone for many years and seems to be playing without the injury bug for the time being .. She is not done at Allentown, as she is playing the doubles final today, in the company of Ryoko Fuda (JPN) .. They had to qualify into the field, but has upset the third seeds on the way to the final today against the 4th seeded American pair, Angela Haynes and Lindsey Lee-Waters.

Good news from Tara Iyer (IND,452) who has reached her first $10K finals this week, at Montemor-O-Novo in Portugal .. She has beaten Catarina Ferreira (POR,639)  61 64, Tara Wigan (GBR,1109)  61 63 in the R2, Noppawan Lertcheewakarn (THA,614)  76(4) 64 and Valentina Sulpizio (ITA,498)  61 60 .. The SF win over the very talented 16 year old Noppawan in the SF was significant, because Tara had lost to her just last month in a $10K in Indonesia .. The scoreline of the semi over a top-500 local payer yesterday also shows that 18 year old Tara is beginning to play like what a lot of us expected when she came up to the world junior top-50 three years back as the last of the "new millenium girl gang" (Sania, Isha, Ankita, Sanaa, Tara) after which India has not produced a top-50 junior girl.  Tara spent a year (2005-2006) at the Duke University in the US, but turned pro last summer.   In my view, unlike men's tennis, women's tennis in US colleges is waste of time, tennis-wise, though it could help in giving some personal maturity and confidence to youngsters .. With these results, Tara will move closer to top-400 .. She plays the 4th seed Elisa Balsamo (ITA,540) in the final today.

June 16 Notes

It has been a long 8-month break for me due to a lot of backed-up work in my academic life that I just had to take care of ..  Sorry about that, but I am back once again to celebrate a bunch of good news ...  My sojourn matched up pretty well with a whole host of our players (Sania, Harsh, Prakash, Shikha, Sunitha etc) all being injured and out for most of the first six months of this year, but now Sania, Sunitha, Kash etc are back ..

The India #2, Sunitha Rao (IND,278) had one of her best wins in recent times yesterday at the $25K Allentown (Pennsylvania) challenger in the USA, upsetting the top seed #139 Stephanie Dubois of Canada, 64 62 .. If you had not heard, 21 year old Sunitha changed her country of affiliation to India and represented India in the April Fed Cup regionals in New Zealand, where he joined Shikha Uberoi and anchored India quite well in the absence of Sania who has been injured.

Another great bit of news is that Prakash Amritraj has come back with a bang, winning three futures in a row in India, beating Karan Rastogi in all three finals .. The futures were at Chadigarh, Chandigarh and Delhi that concluded with the Delhi final today .. Sunil Kumar also did well in the circuit with QF, SFand SF, losing to Kash twice and to Karan once.  No teenage youngsters did all that great, though Sanam Singh had a couple of good wins.  Divij Sharan, Vivek Shokeen and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan were all injured or out of form, to make any news.  Prakash, who had a left writsinjury that sidelined him for nearly 10 months or more, when he tried to play some 4-5 events but got nowhere, had fallen out of top750 in ranking, but will now be back in a hurry to around #415 in a couple of weeks - he will be backin the top-300 in no time, looking at the super form,  focus and determination he has shown in the last three weeks.    In fact, PA's work is what finally gave me the push to get back to doing these pages again, along with Somdev Dev Varman's momumental title in US college championship three weeks back.

Speaking of Somdev Dev Varman, he finished his third year in college as the #1, winning the NCAA title in the end upsetting the top seed John Isner who is some sort of a recent legend in college tennis.  In case you have not seen all our posts in the sports-india forum on the title, previously won by illustrious plaers like McEnroe will write more

The India #1 on the men's side, Rohan Bopanna, has not had a great year so far, but he is ranked #266 and will be in the Wimbledon qualifying next week .. Bops has had an excellent year in doubles though, and he is now #147 .. Harsh Mankad is still on knee injury rehab, and has taken injury protected ranking, as he has not played since early December last year.  When or if he will ever return to full time tennis is all uncertain at this point.

In doubles, while I was gone, we had Leander Paes and Martin Damm winning the Indian Wells masters title and Mahesh Bhupathi and Radek Stepanek reaching the French Open final.  Reigning US Open champions, LP-Damm has looked very good in several events, including a runner-up finish at the Miami masters.   Mahesh had had a nightmare time earlier this year, taking too long to fully jell with new partner Radek Stepanek and losing a lot of heartwrenching supertiebreakers, but it all ended with a fantastic run to the French Open finals, with upset wins over three seeded teams including #2 Bjorkman-Mirnyi .. That prevented MB from possibly falling to around #35 in doubles rankings, and he is back at #20 .. LP is now at #10 .. In team rankings, Leander-Martin are #4 and Mahesh-Radek are #9 now .. Looking forward to Wimbledon starting in a few days!

Tara Iyer is in a semifinal today at the $10K Montemor-O-Nava ITF in Portugal .. 18 year old Tara is now ranked #452 and has moved ahead of Ankita, Sanaa and Isha (all near #500) as the India #5 behind Sania Mirza (#42), Sunitha Rao (#278), Shikha Uberoi (#280), and the evergreen Rushmi Chakravarthi (#373) ...

Lots and lots of more stuff to talk about, including how juniors like Rupesh Roy, Poojashree Venkatesha, Yuki Bhambri, VenkatIyer, Sweta Solanki, etc etc are doing ... I will get to most of them over the nextfew weeks ..

Good to be back .. Hopefully for good!

.. Previous notes, before a good 9 month are at Notes for the week ending on Oct 2, 2006 ..

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 playera, let me know .. Please email me - R.Jayakrishnan