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Indian-Tennis: Daily News for the weeks ending on June 20, 2005
(Previous week's notes) (Next week's notes) (Daily Notes Index 1997 thru 2005)

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Jan 20 Note-1

Sania's first round match against Akiko Morigami (JPN,71) at Wimbledon is one of the kick-off matches out there today, bright and early at 12 noon on court 17 (one of the bigger courts between the center court and court 1, if I am not mistaken) .. That will be 4.30 pm India, 7 am New York, 7 pm Singapore .. We will be in the chatroom, all fired-up, wishing a great start to a great Wimbledon for the 18 year old ..  Sania was quoted today in the Indian press, to be saying that her ankle injury is all gone .. She also said that her fans seem to be expecting too much too soon, but that she will give it 120 percent .. Go Girl!

Tough matches for our kids at the prestigious grade-1 Roehampton ITF juniors in London which started yesterday - two of of three Indians went down in the first round though definitely not without good fights .. Our highest-ranked junior, Vivek Shokeen (IND,27) pulled off a comeback win over Pavel Chekhov (RUS,45) 67(3) 64 63 .. Always impressive to get wins over top-50 players at this time when the rankings have stabilized a little bit .. Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan (IND,32) seems to have played a very close match to the 9th seed Sam Querry (USA,11), but fell 67(4) 67(4) .. Though a loss, that was an indicator of Jeevan's  level of tennis that he stayed that close to a top-10 caliber player a year older than him .. Sanam Singh (IND,37) also went down after a tough fight, 67(3) 63 36 to Dylan Arnould (USA,61) .. Oh brother! ..

June 19 Notes

The latest ATP ranks, dated June 20th show Harsh Mankad at a career high of #241 with 154 ATP points ..  He inched one spot ahead of Aisam Qureshi (#242) of Pakistan to claim the 7th spot in Asia .. Actually the top spot in all of the west asia and middle-east portion (16 Davis Cup countries) of Asia-Oceania .. Good g oing, Harsh! .. Mankad is off for two weeks now, and will be in action next at the Nottingham challenger on July 4th ..

Neha Uberoi (USDA,293) is at the $25K Fontanafredda clay challenger in Italy .. She is the 4th sed in the qualies with a Q1 bye, and won the Q2 round today with an impressive 60 61 route of Daria Kustava (BLR,517) .. She plays Christina Chiechtl (AUT,342) monday afternoon ..

Mustafa Ghouse was at the $25K+H Reggio Emilia challenger in Italy (clay) this weekend .. No luck once again, as the singles form that deemed to broefly reappear a few weeks back, is refusing to break out once again .. He lost 26 67(4) to unranked Andrea Merati of Italy - possibly because of trouble to adjust to clay .. Mustafa is seeded 2nd in the main draw of doubles, playing with Aisam Qureshi there .. That is a pretty good combo who could do very well out there in doubles.

There was no doubt in my mind that 16 year old Rupesh Roy would pull off a win and take the title at the grade-3 USTA International grasscourts ITF juniors in Philadelphia .. He did that in style, taking out the sixth seed Wil Spencer of (USA,304), 61 62 .. The double crown gives Rupesh 60 + 50/4 = 72.5 points, taking his point total to 191 points and his ranking up to about 185 from the current 300+ .. Good job on the way back up the ranks, Rupesh! .. By the way, this is the ONLY grass court junior event in the USA and Indians have generally done well there .. Unseeded R. Arun Prakash upset everybody to win the title there in 2003 .. Stephen Amritraj was a runner-up there in 2001, Manoj Mahadevan was a semifinalist in 97 (where the heck is Manoj, by the way???) .. I had an email from our beloved ex-Davis Cupper Syed Fazaluddin, who is at the same club in Philadelphia - he was impressed with Rupesh's abilities and competitive spirit ..  Of course Fazal had some angry choice words about how one of the best talents to be unearthed in India in recent years has not even got a shoe or racket contract from India and has had to get help from a country club in Boston (the Bosse Foundation) to advance in his career .. Come on, we need to do better than this .. By the way, Fazal is just finishing his degree out there at the Temple University - congrats, Fazal.

June 18 Note-2

Rupesh Roy won the semifinal at the grade-3 USTA International grasscourts junior ITF in Philadelphia today, beating Corey Parr (USA) in the semifinal, 63 76(4) .. Parr was ranked at about #3 in the USA 16 and under ranks some time last year, and so he was quite a good player .. He faces Wil Spencer of USA in the final tomorrow .. Rupesh won the doubles title today, as well .. [R1] (3) R.Roy/ Bradley Cox (USA) d. Jeff Dadamo (USA)/ Shan Sondhu (USA) 63 63 .. [QF] d. Christopher Lee (USA)/ Ruan Roelofse (RSA) 76(4) 63 .. [SF] d. (2) Alberton Richelieu (LCA)/ Matthew Sands (BAH), 76(2) 63 .. [F] d. Clint Bowles (USA)/ Michael Sroczynski (USA), 67(8) 75 62 .. Good job, Rupesh! .. He has picked up enough points to move closer to top-200 in junior ranks, and hopefully be all the way up near top-50 once again in the next few months.

June 18 Note-1

At the Gurgaon satellite 3rd leg final, Peter Clarke again got the better of Rohan Bopanna, possibly extremely tired by now from an unbelivable number of matches he has played in singles and doubles .. 64 75 .. Based on forum comments on the televised matches, Rohan has reportedly been staying back quite a lot in these two finals against Clarke, a 24 year old on a comeback trail (he was ranked as high as #229 once!) .. Though the reports talk about how RB should be more aggressive to beat Clarke, I actually like what Bofors is doing .. One needs to learn to stay back and play too; we know what the guy can do when he gets aggressive and does his serve and volley .. In the long run, if this is deliberate from Rohan, it will only help .. Just my view - I may be wrong .. As of now, Rohan still leads the circuit point tally with one title and two finals, 8 points ahead of Clarke .. He is also assured of finishing at least runner up in the final tally, and so he is already sure of 35 total ATP points, even if he loses in the first match next week .. Beyond Clarke and Rohan who are playing at an entirely different level from trhe rest of the field, the circuit is wide open, and any among about 10 odd guys can all end up #3 .. If it is another loss for Bopanna to Clarke next week in the final, by my calculations, they will tie for the circuit topper (which means 6 bonus ATP pts) and a 3rd player can end up getting the 3 runner-up bonus points! .. So, an interesting week is ahead in the satellite .. The whole caravan now moves to a nicer place than the NTA courts in the booooooring village near Gurgaon with apparently nothing to do other than tennis, from what I hear .. Actually they are off to a much nicer place for the masters leg - to the Doon School courts in Dehra Doon, Uttaranchal .. See the Leg-3 results and the points tally page.

Good news, but not unexpected, from Philadelphia .. 5th seed Rupesh Roy won the QF yesterday at the grade-3, beating the top seed John Hamui (USA,141) easily - 62 61 .. He plays unseeded Corey Parr (USA,582) in the semifinal ..

Jeevan, Vivek and Sanam gets going in UK at the main draw of the prestigious grade-1 at Roehampton (grass), which is the final preparation before the wimbledon juniors starting next weekend .. The Roehampton main draw matches start tomorrow (Sunday).

June 17 Notes

The draws have come out at Wimbledon .. Sania Mirza plays Akiko Morigami (JPN,64) in the first round next week .. If she can advance, she may run into the 5th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS,5) who has been waiting for a while to pay Sania back for the loss at Dubai .. But first Sania needs to tackle 24 year old Morigami, who is not the easiest foe out there .. On the other hand, she is beatable though -- Shikha Uberoi had upset Morigami at the Indian Wells first round this March .. Sania should perhaps talk to Shikh and  get some tips on what kind of a game Morigami plays .. There is an even chance for Sania to advance, in my view, if she plays her steady game and does not ger over aggressive and mistake-prone, which has really been Sania's problem lately, if I am not mistaken.

In doubles, Sania and Anna Chakvetadze (RUS) are facing Alina Jidkova (RUS) and Tatiana Perebiynis (UKR) .. If they advanbce, the second rouond could be against the 15th seeds Loit-Strycova and if they can keep going, the PQF would be against the tough second seeds Cara Black and Liezel Huber.

In the men's doubles, it is good to see that Leander and Mahesh, both having some injury problems lately, but expected to be fine by next week, are in the draw .. Just a couple of days back it looked like both might have to skip the Big W ..

LP and Zimonjic play Lucas Arnold (ARG) and Daniele Bracciali (ITA) .. Thy are in the upper quarter of the bottom half .. Potential erd (PQF) against 10th seed  Damm-Hood and the QF against 4th seeds Black-Ullyett .. If LP is recovered from the elbow injury and is in form, they actually have a pretty good draw in doubles.

Mahesh and Tood Woodbridge are seeded 6th and they play Graydon Oliver and Jared Palmer of USA in the first round ..  That os a tricky pair, Oliver with hig huge serve and veteran Palmer with great touch .. LP-TW ar in the bottom quarter of the upper half - their potential PQF is against 9th seeds Cermak-Frieldl and QF could be against a scratch pair seeded 3rd - Knowles and Llodra .. It would be interesting to see how Knowles would play with Llodra, as his regular partner Nestor is injured(?) ..

In other news, Rohan Bopanna and Peter Clarke reached the final of the Gurgaon challenger today .. Neither had any big problems .. Jaco and Gurmehar won the doubles title over Rohan and Vijay in a 3-setter .. I am really concerned about all these matches, especially so many 3-setters in doubles, that Bofors is playing .. See the results in the Gurgaon leg-3 page.

Rupesh Roy is at the grade-3 USTA International grasscourts junior ITF at the Philadelphia cricket club .. Seeded 5th, he has reached the QF, beating a couple of guys ranked in the 400s .. Rupesh himself has not played too much junior this year and so his rank is only #306 now .. But of course the 16 year old was ranked as high as about 51 when he was just turning 15 last year, and so it is no surprise that Rupesh would do well in an event like this .. He runs into the top seed John Hamui (USA,141) tomorrow  .. I am glad to see that he is back in the junior circuit (he should have never stopped playing it!) .. His advisors at the Bosse Foundation in Boston seems to be getting him ready to move up to the higher levels of the juniuor circuit .. Hopefulyl he will win a couple of grade-3 and grade-2 type events and get back near top-50 to play the US Open juniors by September .. He needs to play grade-1 and grade- A events at least till the end of next year (he has 2 years more of eligibility left AFTER this year) - because that is where he will get to play a lot of the top-25 ranked juniors to improve his game, whilke he mixes in some pro events also - One does not get to play too many matches at the pro level, which is really what slows down the development at this age if you only do pro events.

June 16 Notes

Good news today about Leander .. He has been clared by the doctors to play next week at Wimbledon!! .. yeah!! .. Go Lee ..

At the $25K Incheon challenger in Korea, qualifier Ankita Bhambri (IND,533) lost to Su-Wei Hsieh (TPE,369), 36 46 .. Su-Wei is a former top-150 player who is on a comeback trail and on a hot streak, with a title last week, etc .. So, Ankita did not get a break in the draw .. Sister Sanaa Bhambri (IND,520) also went down after a brief attempt at an upset, 64 26 26 to Junri Namigata (JPN,335) .. In doubles, the 4th seeds Rushmi Chakravarthi and Napaporn Tongsalee (THA) were upset, 64 61 by Kyung-Mi Chang and Jin-Hee Kim of Korea as well .. So our ladies did not get to do much at Incheon.

Harsh Mankad has left for India after another successful trip to UK .. He will be taking 2+ weeks of break now before returning for yet another swing in UK .. He will be at the Nottingham challenger starting on July 4th .. he is in the main draw there, according top the entry list that came out this week .. Prakash, Rohan etc are also in the alternate list there, and both would need qualies .. As for Harsh, he is expected to put in some 10 days of physical training and a few days of hitting in Mumbai before heading out west again .. After so much of continuous polaying, it is a good time for Harsh to be back home for a break and recharge before the big hard court summer season in the US later.

At the satellites in Gurgaon,  Vishnu Vardhan's fine run ended in a loss 46 67(4) to the tough second seed Pater Clarke (IRL), but Vishnu still showed something in the match .. To be able to figh that guy for over two hours in a loss, shows how far this young man has suddenly come up .. He has qualified for the masters leg and will pick up a handful of ATP points to get a ranking for the first time .. I have added a points tally page for the circuit .. The other big story is Nitin Kirtane, though we know that he is talented enough and experienced enough to pull off quite a few wins .. Nitin has reached the SF beating fellow qualifier Nima Roshan of USA .. Rohan vs Nitin and Vinod vs Clarke in the semis tomorrow.  See all the scores in the leg-3 results page.

June 15 Note-2

Shikha's qualifying second round match ended in a loss to Viktoria Kutuzova .. 46 57 .. The match was quite close all through, though Kutuzovbba seemed to be keeping her nose a bit ahead throughout the match .. You will see the game-by-game transcript of the match in the forum - first set, second set .. The match took an hour and 40 minutes .. Shikha stayed tough, saving quite a few break attempts etc, and had a big last-gasp fight in typical Shikha style, saving three match points off Kutuzova's serve in the final game  .. She however could bnot convert the three break points she had in the final game and finally went down after a marathon game .. Kutuzova is a very talented teenager you would hear a lot more about, in the futures ..

Unfortunately Sunitha Rao (USA) had to give a walkover in her second round match to Mara Santangelo (ITA) too .. So, we only have Sania in the main draw of singles next week .. Also, Hesh and Lee in doubles.

Great job by 17 year old Vishnu Vardhan who upset the 6th seed Gurmehar Singh to reach the QF of the satllites today .. Also reaching the QF were qualifiers Kamala Kannan and Nitin Kirtane, along with seedd Rohan and Vinod .. I am really glad to see how well the young boy Vishnu from Hyderbad has done in this satellite .. He and Vijay Sunder prashant are really the best story so far in these staellites, for me.

June 15 Note-1

Update 2: After a 4 hour rain delay, Shikha's match just started at 3.10 pm (7.45 pm India) .. Come to the chatroom ..

Update 1: As of 9.30 am in London, Samarth reports that it is raining cats and dogs .. It looks as though Shikha's match will all be delayed quite a bit till well into the afternoon today ..

Shikha Uberoi's second round clash against Viktoria Kutuzova (UKR,176) at the Wimbledon qualifying rounds, is set for 11 am today - [Wednesday 3.30 pm India, 6 am New York] .. Come on into our chatroom (link above) .. Vikotoria is one of the most talented young players out there .. Only 16 years old; still 4months to go till she turns 17 ..  She came back from a break down late in the 3rd set today over Maret Ani to win the Q1 with a 7-5 third set .. She will cause Shikha some problems, but I think SU has what it takes to advance.

Also winning today was Sunitha Rao (USA,183) who pulled a comeback on Yulia Beygelzimer (UKR,209), 46 76(4) 61 .. Sunitha had serious trouble holding serve at first, getting broken in 6 of her first 7 service games(!), though she kept breaking YB too .. Then Sunitha steadied up and started holding serve, which meant she was all over YB in the third set .. Sunitha plays the 14th seed Mara Santangelo (ITA,127) next, by about 12.30 pm wednesday ..

At the $25K Incheon challenger in Korea, Rushmi Chakravarthi went down in the first round to the 3rd seed Tiffany Dabek (USA,258), 57 16 yesterday .. Qualifiers Sanaa and Ankita are playing the first round today, I believe ..

At the Gurgaon satellites third leg, the first round was all completed yesterday, with a quite a few Indian cementing their places in the masters leg and assuring themselves of ATP points .. Qualifier Nitin Kirtane who had qualified in for the previous two legs but had gone down in the first match both times, came through big today with a 46 64 64 comeback upset of the 4th seed Stephen Mitchell (RSA) .. Nitin was in danger of missing the masters leg altogether; so this was splendid work .. One has to respect 31 year old Nitin's spirit and love for the game, for going out there and fighting it out like this .. Another one who did well today was Kamala Kannan who upset the 8th seed Salifu Mohammed, a semifinalist in the first leg .. Kamala had gone winless in two rounds and needed to play qualies in this leg, but with this win, he is in good shape to pick up some ATP points .. See the leg-3 page for all the scores so far .. I have also added a page for the unofficial point tally so far - but I have not carefully cross-checked my numbers yet .. Take a look.

June 14 Note-2

Fabulous revenge win by Shikha Uberoi (IND,136) at the Wimbledon qualies!! .. [Q1] (22) Shikha Uberoi (IND,136) d. Natalie Grandin (RSA,186), 63 62 .. Shikha was ahead throughout the match, excpet for dropping serve in the second game of the match .. Here is the match tr anscript -

First set
0-1 ... NG holds.
0-2 ... SU was up 40-15, but loses 4 in a row to drop serve.
1-2 ... SU breaks her right back on the first BP chance!!!
2-2 ... SU holds after 3 deuces (no BPs) ..
3-2 ... SU broke her again, on the first BP at 30-40!!!
4-2 ... SU saves a 30-40 bp and won 3 pts to stay ahead
4-3 ... NG saves a 30-40 bp and holds too ..
5-3 ... SU holds at love .. asy game.
6-3 ... NG saves a 30-40 set pt, but SU takes it on the next one at AD out !!!

Second set --- 63 00
1-0 ... SU holds after one deuce, no bp.
1-1 ... NG also holds after one deuce, no bp.
2-1 ... SU holds easily at love.
2-2 ... NG holds at 40-15.
3-2 ... SU holds easily at love.
4-2 ... NG down 15-40, SU converts the first BP again !!! Yes !!!
5-2 ... After 12 straight points on serve, SU gives a couple, but holds at 40-30.
6-2 ... After 30-0, Shikha won 4 points in a row and finish the heck out of Natalie ..

Shikha's serve (which is one of the best on tour, probably even among the top-10 on tour, on speed) must have been working well, as she seemed to not be troubled much at all on serve, as the match progressed .. The best was that she was pouncing on the break chances all through the match .. 5 of 7 in break chances .. I do not have any other stats for the match, but this was pretty lopsided in Shikha's favor .. She awaits the winner of the match between 16 year old Viktoria Kutuzova (RUS,176) and Maret Ani (EST,176), which is knotted up at 63 36 00 right now.

I am a little sad to see that the Indian press completely neglected the best singles match played by an Indian in 2.5 years since Bopanna played a 5-setter against verkerk at the Davis Cup .. I am talking about Harsh Mankad's  2 hr 45 minutes match where he went toe-to-toe with the world #52 Kenneth Carlsen, who is actually even better than that on grass (A finalist at the Newport ATP, who has gone to the Wimbledon third round three times, etc), and even won more points than Carlsen in the match .. Harsh Mankad's show this year since january - picking up more wins and points in 6 months than any Indian other than LP in over a decade, has gone completely unnoticed and unreported in the Indian press .. Yes, perhaps the newspapers do not want to report a loss like yesterday (though they routinely report Sania's losses and all the scores of Indian women in the Thailand challenger, etc etc) .. OK, at least report the fact that our national #1 just did something that no Indian male other than LP has done in 7 years, which is to qualify into a foreign ATP event through three rounds .. Why is it that the newspapers keep thinking that the name "Harsh Mankad" is never newsworthy? ..  Everybody else' s news is press-worthy, but not something about our national #1? .. Despite his holding that spot for quite a while, not too many in India even knows that Harsh is our best singles player, as our media/press would rather not talk about it .. Strange! .. What is the deal? -- everybody taking this to be some sort of a passing phase or something, as they wait for Karan or Prakash or Rohan or Sunil or somebody else to become the number 1? .. Perhaps people still think he is not going to amount to much because he is only 5 ft 9 and "does not have the tools" (:-)) .. I don't think people have noticed that he wins a lot of points with his "weak serve" and can even hits some aces (what a concept for one "without tools", eh?) - like 7 of them yesterday against the world #52 .. If people think HM is going to go away quietly, they are in for a surprise, because he isn't, any time soon ..

Harsh seems to have only us diehard fanclub guys (and many other quiet well-wishers) as his support system - and he knows it .. He does not care about the lack of media exposure etc, thought it does hurt him financially, I suppose .. Mankad keeps plodding ahead ..  Better watch out, though - he doesn't have much points to defend for the rest of the year, and at the rate that he has been winning matches (basically playing top-150 if not even top-100 tennis consistently), he will be ranked in the top-200 and top-150 later in the year .. It is pathetic that as a country we neglect our best singles player like this .. And, oh, if you are wondering why I am suddenly complaining, it is because he still does not have advertisement deals or big endorsements or anything from India ..  And a lot of people in India, especially in the press/media must take some blame for that situation .. I am not saying that there aren't well-wishers in the media/press - in fact know of some of my press friends who are friends and fans of Harsh's .. But even they have had trouble getting some news published by the editorial desks who seem more interested in milking the cash cows .. Harsh has been playing well enough to somehow survive with hard-earned prize money though .. When our best player goes through such trouble, you can imagine what the rest of the players in India is going through - that is why I am complaining.

Anyhow, let us get back to some news ... Ankita and Sanaa have qualified into the $25K Inchon challenger in Korea .. [Q1] (7)Ankita Bhambri (IND,503) d Hye-Mi Kim (KOR,712) 36 64 63 .. [Q2] d Misumi Kawasaki (JPN,NR) 63 61 .. [Q3] d. Moe Tsubuku (JPN) 62 62 .. In main draw, Ankita runs into a tough qualifier, Su-Wei Hsieh (TPE) ... [Q1] (8) Sanaa Bhambri (IND,509) d. Ju-Hee You (KOR,NR) 63 63 .. [Q2] d Cho-Woin Lee (KOR,NR) walkover .. [Q3] d. Mi-Ran Shin (KOR) 64 61 .. In main draw, Sanaa takes on Junri Namigata (JPN) .. Not much luck in doubles though .. The sisters wentd own in the first round qualifying - [Q1] Jin-Young Kim/ Ye-Ra Lee (KOR) d. Ankita/ Sanaa, 54 41.
The thiurd leg of the Indian satellites is underway in Gurgaon .. Not too many singles matches yesterday, but one noteworthy win was by young Vishnu Vardhan, who continues to show that he has raised his level of play noticeably .. He beat Richard Irwin of Britain .. See the scores at the Gurgaon leg-3 page ..

June 14 Note-1

The women's qualifying rounds are underway for Wimbledon, at Roehampton .. 22nd seeded Shikha Uberoi (IND,136) has just started her first round match against Natalie Grandin (RSA,186) .. Come on down to the chatroom!!! ... This is the same Natalie Grandin who beat Shikha 63 63 at the Birmingham qualies last week .. Hopefully Shik will be ready to do some payback today ..

June 13 Notes

Update 3:  Wow, what a match .. Harsh went toe to toe all through the 3rd set, holding serve while behind 6 times (coming back from 0-30 at 4-5 and serving it  off at love at 5-6 to send it to a tiebreaker etc .. But he was unable to convert one BP each that he had in games 5 and 7 .. In the tiebreaker, one minibreak at 2-3 proved to be the difference .. HM saved two match points one his serve at 3-6 and 4-6 but could not save the 3rd match pt  off Carlsen's serve .. 67(5) 64 67(5) loss in a two hour 40 minutes marathon .. Actually Harsh won 114 points to 112 by Carlsen .. It was incredible to see Harsh's nerves of steel late in the 3rd set .. You can see my point by point score transcript in the forum thread .. 5 aces and 5 DFs by Mankad, 3 and 5 by KC .. 2 of 5 in BPs by KC, 3 of 10 by HM .. 63 percent on first serves by HM, and he won 75% of those points .. 62 percent first serves by KC who won 76% of those .. They both won 33% of the receiving points .. The stats are almost identical between the two today .. Amazing match against a #52 ranked player.  Harsh is certainly playing top-100 tennis these days.

Update 2:  Mankad is in an incredible barn-burner against #52 Kenneth Calsen .. 67(5) 64 00 all even going to the 3rd and the match is an hour and 40 minutes old .. Come to chat!

Update 1:  The Harsh Mankad match starts 45 minutes earlier than expected, as the previous match finished fast .. Starts in 10 minutes at 3.15 pm there (7.45 pm India, 10.15 am NY) .. Come to the chatroom!

At the Nottingham ATP, Harsh Mankad's big first round match against Kenneth Carlsen (DEN,52) is scheduled for about 4 pm  (8.30 pm India, 11 am New York) .. We will have live point-by-point score updates at the chatroom .. Please come in and cheer the Indian #1 to a big upset, folks!

The Wimbledon women's qualies draw will be out later today .. Hoping to see Shikha Uberoi with a nice draw ..

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the weeks ending on June 13 ..

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