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LP/MB/NS/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the weeks ending on June 28, 2004
(Previous week's notes) (Next week's notes) (Daily Notes Index 1997 thru 2004)

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June 28 Note-1

Today was an utter disaster at Wimbledon, as we continue with the worst year on grass courts that India has ever had, without a doubt .. First, last year's runners-up, MadMax went down in the 3rd round at Wimbledon .. [R3] (3) M.Bhupathi/ M.Mirnyi l. (16) Julien Knowle (AUT)/ Nenad Zimonjic (SCG), 46 63 68 .. This was followed by our juniors dropping their matches one by one, with the whole stuff getting over in a hurry in one day, till Neha Uberoi of USA gave us something to cheer for with a win in the evening .. [R1] (12) Karan Rastogi (IND,10) l. G.D. Jones (NZL,50) 46 46 .. [R1] Divij Sharan (IND,32) l. Chu-Huan Yi (TPE,24), 16 63 16 .. [R1] Tushar Liberhan (IND,29) l. Viktor Troicki (SCG,21) 76(5) 67(2) 16 .. [R1] (WC) Neha Uberoi (USA) d. Ana Jerman (SLO,37), 62 64 .. All the losses are against good players, but this is way too depressing .. When they all kept racking up losses the last few weeks, we kept waiting that somehow things would turn around by Wimbledon .. Not really .. I just cannot believe how we have messed up the grass advantage we have had over the years .. Whatever excuses are given for totally canning the domestic grasscourt season (and I myself have always been a big supporter of the idea of our kids needing a lot more clay experience and "modern tennis" coaching), but this is crazy .. It is shameful that Indian kids look this lost on grass .. Our traditional stregths are something we should not give up easily .. It is something like zero wins in 10-15 main draw matches so far in the junior grass circuit for Indians in Europe .. We should immediately take some steps to put some grass events at the junior level .. Not too many; even 2 or 3 a year would do .. But even that is much more than what the kids play in most countries where there are no grass courts; and we still have some pretty big clubs with grass courts ..  Also, there is also perhaps a timely reason to do something .. The skills you learn on grasscourts are probably no longer as useless as they were for the last decade or so .. With the players coming up around the world (and even many coaches who finished playing in the last 5-10 years) having not played much against players with such skills, there is some subtle advantages to be gained from some grass experience .. This is just my uneducated opinion as usual, and I may be wrong, but I feel this way .. In any event, something must be done immediately by AITA with regard to a domestic grass schedule .. Heck we have not even held a grasscourt nationals in a long time .. Hope AITA which has been quite pro-active in recent years would get the ball rolling on this matter.

To add to the misery, MadMax lost unexpectedly .. Mahesh dropped serve the first time itself in the first set, but he came back and played very well in the second set, according to the Wimbledon site's article .. In the 3rd set, Max finally dropped serve late and our guys were oiusted .. Yikes .. Mahesh now loses some 600 odd points in his point total - it would not drop his ranking all that much but he lost a chance to perhaps go to the top and claim a #1 spot sometime this year .. And the lack of a final or title in three grand slams for LP and MB wouldn't help their chances for a top four seeding at Olympics too, I would think.

Harsh Mankad and Aisam Qureshi are the top seeds in doubles at the $25K+H Montauban challenger in France .. They play tomorrow (Tuesday) against a wildcard team Oggie Kolev (AUS) and Jean-Rene Lisnard (FRA) .. HM's singles first round will be on wednesday .. The Cordoba challenger singles draw is nowhere to be found yet - I am trying to see if Prakash went there by any chance in the last minute.

The masters leg of the Indian satellites have started well for the Indians .. Vijay Kannan, P.ravishankar, Ashutosh Singh, Jaco Mathew, Rahul Syed, all won today, picking up 4 extra circuit points and 2 or 3 ATP points each .. A nice draw for Indians, in fact .. The eight seeds with byes will play tomorrow .. Sunil Kumar was originally in the doubles draw with Kamala Kannan but had to pull out (probably due to the injury) replaced by Yu of Hong Kong .. SKS is still there in singles as the 4th seed .. See the satellite masters page and the points page..

June 27 Note-2

Third-seeded Mahesh and Max play the doubles 3rd round on Monday at Wimbledon against the 16th seed Julien Knowle (AUT) and Nenad Zimonjic (SCG) - the first match at 12 noon (4.30 am India) .. Karan Rastogi, Divij Sharan, Tushar Liberhan and Neha Uberoi (USA) are all on the schedule for tomorrow.  Karan plays at 11 am in a first match.

Harsh Mankad, who was the very last entry in the main draw, is drawn to face Viktor Bruthans (SVK,254) in the first round at the $25K+H Montauban challenger, where the main draw strats on Tuesday .. Bruthans is at a career high rank and just won a futures in Ukraine today, after entering the draw through two qualifying matches (as he had not entered the event early enough) .. So he is in very good form ..

Still have not seen the main draw at the $125K+H Cordoba challenger in Spain .. The cut had drastically fallen in the last day to somewhere below Prakash Amritraj, but I am not sure if he told them he was going there .. He was originally not planning to go there, I believe ..

As for the women, Shikha Uberoi (USA) continued her red-hot form, with a second title in two days .. She won the $10K Edmonds (OK, USA) event, I believem but I have not seen all her scores since the second round .. As of a week back, Shikha was 4th out from the main draw at the $50K Los Gatos challenger in Northern California that starts on Tuesday .. I don't know if she has made it, but hopefully USTA would give her a wildcard .. Sunitha Rao (USA) is in the main draw there .. Megha Vakharia is listed for the $10K at Southlake, Texas for this coming week.

Also, Rushmi Chakravarthi is listed among the top-4 entries at the $10K in seoul this coming week ..  Sai Jayalakshmy, Nandini Perumal, Parul Goswami and Geetha manohar are listyed for the $10K at Tlemcen, Algeria.

June 27 Note-1

Shoot, things are just not going with any rhythm for Leander right now .. LP-DR got upset at Wimbledon, but MadMax advanced in the second round .. [R2] (3) M.Bhupathi/ M.Mirnyi d. Ramon Sluiter (NED)/ Martin Verkerk (NED), 75 63 .. [R2] (11) L.Paes/ D.Rikl l. Travis Parrott (USA)/ Vince Spadea (USA), 67(6) 36 ..  I could not follow the match at all (but I believe there was a small group, including Sania Mirza who logged in too, who were following the matches at our chatroom) .. LP loses most of the 450 points he had from the Wimbledon semifinals last year .. This does not help his rank situation .. Lost 375 more from his point total of 1815 and his rank will be down to about #30 now .. LP also has 300 more points to defend (Gstaad title in the week after Wimbledon last year and a QF at the Montreal masters) before the ranks are looked at for OIympics seeding ..  It looks like LP will not be ranked higher that #25 and basically no spoecial argument can be made due to recent results for a seeding over those like Black-Ullyett (ZIM) and Damm-Suk (CZE) .. Barring the Indian Express getting some serious respect from the seeding committee for old deeds, they are pretty much in danger of missing out on a top four seeding, if our guesses are correct .. Not the end of the world or anything, though .. LP and MB are confirmed to play together at TWO events (Montreal and Cincinnati masters) before the Olympics and what looks more important is how quickly they get to old form in two weeks .. Mahesh also has a lot of points to defend for the runner-up finish at Wimbledon, and it is important for him and Mirnyi to go deep at Wimbledon.

Rain returned by late evening and play is suspended at Wimbledon now .. Tara Iyer, probably still affected by the injury that caused her to retire last week at the ITF grasscourt juniors in Philadelphia, does not seem to have had enough to get past the talented kid Evgenia Rodina (RUS,39), losing 16 36 today .. Divij and Tushar were expected to play late evening matchesx but looks like it will be tomorrow now, due to rain.

I believe Harsh managed to catch a flight from Madrid to Toulose this evening and must have got to the Montauban challenger where he made the main draw in the last minute after he was about to sign in for the qualies at Cordoba (Spain) .. Harsh is expected to play doubles at Montauban with Aisam Qureshi .. I believe Parakash also would have easily made the main draw at any of the three clay challengers easily but he only entered at the hardcourt challenger in Cordoba and did not make the cut .. Actually he may have made the cut but not sure if he had planned to go there, as he was 13 out just about two days back .. I don't think Rohan is playing anywhere next week either .. Vishal Punna was just a spot or two out from the main draw at the Canada futures and may have even made it in by the end this weekend .. Stephen Amritraj, who has been doing the commendable work of playing qualies and getting his game back in place after a whole 18 months of iunjury problems, has once again reached the final qualies at a US futures .. He has qualified in a couple of times through 4 round qualies though he has not won a main draw round to get a point .. Glad to see Stephen playing well and getting some matches under the belt.

June 26 Notes

Well, the rain menace does not seem to be ending at Wimbledon .. It was a washout today and so LP, MB, the juniors etc will try to do it tomorrow .. They have now chnaged the traditional off day (the middle sunday) to a playing day now.

Harsh Mankad had reached Corodba (Spain) yesterday, ready to play the qualies for the challenger there, when he found that the cuts at three Euiropean challengers (Mantova-ITA, Montauban-FRA and Zell-GER) were all dropping like rocks .. HM was 35 out 2 days back at those places, but was up to effectively 10th out by yesterday .. Today (Saturday) evening he went down to sign-in at Cordoba, called the other places just to check, and found that he was making the draw at Montauban .. One reason for the last minute drops in the cuts was that Wimbledon rained out and a few players who still have not lost there had to be taken off the challenger lists by Saturday evening .. So he has now taken a train out of Cordoba and is on his way to France .. Ah, the uncertain lives in the company of a suitcase that the circuit players have! .. HM did not mind that the other challengers are on clay .. "Make the singles draw even in Timbuktu and can find a way to get there, will play" seems to be his rule now .. Turns out that some four train changes and an overnight stayover somewhere is needed to get from deep inside Spain to go around the mountains into France .. He has left sunday morning from Cordoba and will get to Montauban by Monday night.

Bad news at Delhi today, as Sunil Kumar was hardly able to do much because of the hip problem in the final .. Lost the first set 0-6 to Sugiyama and he had to call it quits... Hope he heals in the next couple of days and can pick up some wins in the all-important final leg.

One of our 15 year olds made his first trip abroad this week and showed some impressive results this week ... Tejesvi Rao was in the grade-4 juniors in Indonesia this week and made a terrific run, upsetting the 7th seed and 4th seed on the way to the semifinal where he went down to the 2nd seed after a three-set fight .. That is the kind of stuff that makes everyone sit up and take note of a kid .. Great temperament and attitude to be going abroad and doing that in the very first eventg .. We will hope for a lot more from this kid and keep an eye on him! (His scores are all at the forum thread on our juniors)

June 25 Notes

Leander and David Rikl had to work hard for a win today but they came through -- [R1] (11) L.Paes/ D.Rikl d. Daniele Bracciali (ITA)/ Georgio Galimberti (ITA), 75 67(3) 63 .. Tomorrow's schedule show Mahesh and Max playing the doubles second round early in the day against the Dutch pair of Ramon Sluiter and Martin Verkerk, with Lee and David playing Vince Spadea and Travis Parrott of the US in an evening match .. Lots of rain is again in the forecast though - we will see how well it goes.

Also on the schedule tomorrow are the junior matches .. Karan, Divij, Tushar, Tara and Neha (USA) are all in the draw, with Tushar, Divij and Tara playing tomorrow .. [R1] (12) Karan Rastogi vs. G.D. Jones (NZL) who is the same guy who beat KR rather badly last week at Roehampton .. Karan has an extremely tough draw further down too, as he is bracketed with the top seed Gael Monfils and the very talented Brendan Evans in the same quarter of the draw .. [R1] Divij Sharan vs. Chu-Huan Yi (TPE) .. [R1] Tushar Liberhan vs. Viktor Troicki (SCG) .. [R1] Evgeniya Rodina (RUS) vs Tara Iyer .. Tara has hopefully recovered from the injuries .. Last week she played at the US grass courts in Philadelphia but retired in the second match due to injury .. She has been plagued with that for quite a qhile now, but always nice to see her playing - I think she was one of the last entries there; we had thought she was not there as her name was not in the qualies draw .. Also in the draw is the wildcard Neha Uberoi (USA), who is a string contendor for the title itself .. She starts against Ana Jerman (SLO) .. The qualies for the Wimbledon juniors were over the last two days and the news was bad from our kids .. [Q1] (6) Elizabeth Plotkin (USA) d. Sanaa Bhambri, 36 76(1) 63 .. Sanaa is still not back to her best form pre-injury last year, but this was a good match against a good player .. [Q1] Alex Krasnoroutsky (RUS) d. Rupesh Roy, 63 75 .. Rupesh has had a tough time abroad this year but will hopefully get the right coaching and will later get ready for the next couple of years in the juniors .. Navdeep Singh upset the 6th seed Michael Johnson (USA) 26 62 86 but then lost to Takanobu Fuji (JPN) ..

At the $10K at Edmond (OK, USA), Megha Vakharia got surprisingly upset in the second round but Shikha moved on and both together have reached the doubles QF .. [R1] (3) Meghaa Vakharia d. Lauren Imre (USA) 63 63 .. [R2] l. Kaori Onishi (JPN) 16 61 36 .. [R1] (2) Shikha Uberoi (USA) d. Laura Ritchey-Thomas (USA) 63 63 .. [R2] d. Whitney Jones (USA) 63 61 .. In doubles, [R1] (1) Uberoi/Vakharia d. Joyce Bergman and Janet Bergman of USA, 62 62 ..

At the Delhi satellite, Sunil Kumar Sipaeya had a gutsy win in three sets over Aqeel Khan in the semis .. SKS was virtually unable to move late in the match due to a hip problem but he somehow hung in there to finish the match and reach the final against Japan's Sugiyama, who has now gone to the top of the circuit list after his semifinal win over Kamala Kannan .. Sunil is now 4th behind Sugiyama, Vishal Uppal, and Joshua Goodall .. Ajay Ramaswami and Vishal Uppal won the doubles title today. See the satellite 3rd leg page and the circuit points list pages ..

June 24 Note-2

Though there was another afternoon rain delay, MB's match at the Wimbledon got done today and MadMax advanced without sweating much .. [R1] (3) M.Bhupathi/ M.Mirnyi d. Hicham Arazi (MAR)/ Joshua Eagle(AUS), 63 64 .. Leander and Rikl play their first round tomorrow (Friday) at about 1.30 pm on court 6 ..

At the $25K ITF in Incheon, KOR, Rushmi Chakravarthi and Emily Hewson went down in the QF, 36 36 to Su-Wei Hsieh and Chin-Wei Chan of Taiwan ..  It looks like Megha Vakharia won her first round at the $10K ITF in Edmond, Oklahoma, USA, but no scores available (thanks go to Neil for watching the local newspaper, which reported the other seeds losing, so Megs must have won) .. 2nd seed Shikha won easily, 63 63 over Laura Ritchey-Thomas(USA) ..

June 24 Note-1
Mahesh's doubles first round match might get started at Wimbledon today, it seems .. It may be at about 4.30 pm there after Mardy Fish's singles match on the same court that is in the second set now at 2.30 pm ..

There was some good news today from Globosport who announced that Neha Uberoi has been given a wildcard into the junior singles at Wimbledon .. It is on the basis of her great show at the Luxilon Cup invitational earlier this year .. As NU has only played one junior event over the last year (the Orange bowl lkast december, where she reached the final), she does not have much of a ranking in the juniors, and needs a wildcard .. Mahesh Bhupathi was quoted to be showing his happiness at how well Sania, Shikha and Neha are coming along.

At the satellite 3rd leg today, the Pakistani Aqueel Khan somehow pulled out a match in three sets against Vishal Uppal whose winning streak ended at 7 matches from last week .. Vishal is still at the top of the circuit list and can probably use a couple of of extra days of rest before a big push next week at the masters .. Sunil Kumar reached the semifinal beating a fighting Ashutosh Singh in three sets .. 21 year old Ashutosh has been a bit of a surprise in this circuit - and he fully justified the wildcard he got this week .. 22 year old Kamala Kannan, perhaps the most heartening story so far, has come through to the semis beating P.Ravishankar quite easily .. Ajay Ramaswami could not do much against the Japanese 4th seed Sugiyama though ..  As for Sunil Kumar, incredibly, he still has a chance to even tie for the circuit leader spot if he can win two rounds now and Kamala can upset Sugiyama ..  See the satellite 3rd leg page and the circuit points list page .. The top eight seeds for the masters leg have now been determined .. They will all have first round byes and are assured of 5 more circuit points .. The ATP points are beginning to build up for the top few players and the next few matches prove to be cruicial .. Basically big ATP points come through only for those who go over about 20 or 25 circuit points ..

June 23 Notes

OK, back with the updates again, after a big computer crash and all ..

Rain continues to be the story at Wimbledon .. Third seeds Mahesh amd Max Mirnyi are scheduled to play their first round match thursday afternoon but some more rain is expected .. MB-MM play Hicham Arazi and Joshua Eagle .. Not necessarily a gimme match .. One is never sure of what Arazi would do on any given day, knowing his talent, and Eagle is a solid doubles player - but the 3rd seeds should be moving on .. They have reduced the first three rounds of doubles to best of three, due to all the time lost to rain so far - so there is always a bigger danger of upsets .. Leander and Rikl play the Italian qualifiers Daniele Bracciali and Georgio Galimberti, but their match may be on Friday .

Megha Vakharia is the 3rd seed at the $10K in Edmonds, Oklahoma, USA this week .. She plays a qualifier Lauren Imre (USA) in the first round .. Shikha Uberoi (USA), the winner of last week's $10K at Fort Worth (Texas), is the second seed and plays Laura Ritchey-Thomas (USA) in the first round .. Shikha and Megha are seeded top in doubles and they face Joyce Bergman and Janet Bergman of USA .. There has been some serious thundershowers there and things are a bit delayed it seems.

Shikha and Neha Uberoi were selected as the USTA players of the week for last week, for their fine show at Fort Worth, reaching the finals .. Here is a USTA write-up on the sisters .. I must say that I am surprised at how well Shikha has been playing lately .. She struggled for a few years in the circuit and I had nearly given up on her as a true prospect - but not so fast, buster, says SU .. She beat Neha quite convincingly in the final last week .. You might remember Neha beating Shikha earlier this year at the Hyderbad WTA qualies .. I think Neha may be going to the Wimbledon juniors next week .. She can still qualify for that .. I hope Sania will also be there at Wimbledon next week - saw somewhere that she might play too.

Rushmi Chakravarthi is at the $25K ITF event at Incheon. Korea, and had a surprisingly poor outing, losing in the first round to Yoo-Mi Jung (KOR,801), 16 06 .. I hope Rushmi is not injured .. She tends to do poorly at times in events abroad (unlike how she does in India where she is virtually unbeatable these days), but this scoreline is still surprising .. Rushmi and Emily Hewson (AUS) got a walkover the in the first round from the 4th seeds Mayumi Yamomoto and Tomoko Yonemura of Japan .. They play Chin-Wei Chan and Su-Wei Hsieh of Taipei next.

At the 3rd leg of the Indian satellites, things went well for Indians today .. Six of them made the QFs .. The big win was by Sunil Kumar, who upset the 3rd seed Vinod Sridhar .. SKS was in dire straits with two sub-par legs which saw him drop from being the top seed to being unranked this week .. Hope he has got his focus back and will make a big run from now on to the top of the charts - we really need to see him pick up a lot of ATP points and he has no margin for error now .. The British contingent which started with a bang in the first week seems to have totally lost steam .. The top seed Joshua Goodall gave a walkover (ostensibly due to "heat stroke") to Ravishankar Pathanjali, who has done decently in these satellites after a good career in the US college circuit ..Second seed Vishal Uppal who had that wonderful run last week with a title, continues to do well, as he made the QF with a win over a British qualifier, after his first round win over another Briton, Ross Hutchins .. Ajay Ramaswami, who had earlier taken out the 7th seed and the first leg semifinalist, David Brewer (GBR), won today over Rahil Syed to make the QF .. Wildcard Ashutosh Singh, who had upset the first leg finalist and 5th seed Richard Irwin of Britain yesterday, continued the Quit-India movement (:-)) with a win over Luke Campbell .. The other big win today was by youngster Kamala Kannan who took out the 6th seed Srinath .. Kamala's consistent show has been one of the nicer developments this time .. Many of our other youngsters, due to messed up scheduling, missed a great chance to play these satellite .. The unsung Pakistani, Aqeel Khan has been a surprise at these satellite; he has made the QF again and is now in the 5th spot in circuit points .. The scores are at the satellite 3rd leg page .. Alaso check out the circuit points list where Vishal has tied Goodall at the top .. Exactly 24 players have had one win at least in the first three legs and they all qualify for the masters leg, if my calculations are correct.

Forgot to mention that Leander played with Jonathan Erlich at the sHertogenbosch ATP last week .. Reached the semifinal and picked up 75 points with a couple of good wins, which was good considering that he had a new temporary partner .. All these points help LP at this point to keep his rank inside the top-25 .. More importantly, it is nice to know that he continues to be in good form.

I really should comment on the performance of our juniors over the last few weeks which has completely depressed us fans (which became worse this week after hearing of Sunil Yajaman leaving AITA too) .. I will wait for another time, I guess ...

June 22 Notes

Sorry again .. Struggling a bit right now, with my work-horse computer crashing on me yesterday .. Give me a bit of time to set things up again, and I will be back with the regular updates in a day or so .. Jay, June 22, 11.45pm CA.

Quick notes:  I have updated the 3rd leg India satellite scores and the circuit points list (the Masters field seems to be all set, if my calculations are correct). The doubles matches for LP-DR and MB-MM are not on the schedule for wednesday at the Wimbledon .. All our juniors exited in the first round at the Roehamton grade-1 event (the effect of completely killing the domestic grass circuit finally showing -- it's an urgent matter to do something about) .. Shikha Uberoi won the $10K in Fort Worth last week beating sister Neha in the final .. Megha made QF there as well .. Prakash and Harsh have made the entry list for the Nottingham (UK) and the Granby (Canada) challengers following the next week .. One important development to report, sadly -- Sunil Yajaman, the wonderfully passionate junior development officer at AITA had to leave his work due to personal reasons (to be with the family in Bangalore) .. As all the great juniors we have lately brought out would attest, Indian tennis will miss Sunil a lot -- hope we will be lucky to find somebody to fill the big shoes he leaves behind; Please join me in wishing SY the best and thanking him for the wonderful few years he spent nurturing Indian tennis!  

June 20 Note-1

Sorry for still having not restarted the news updates.  Got back from my trip but was busy the last couple of days doing the 2 hour drive to watch India play hockey against the USA team the last two days up at Moorpark, north of LA
(two  7-0 wins, not unexpected) ..  Wimbledon doubles for LP-DR and MB-MM this week .. Prakash had one good win at the Wimbledon qualies but then went down .. Sania and Julie Ditty lost in the Q1 of doubles qualies at Wimb .. Harsh is off for one more week, training in New York .. Vishal Uppal won the second week of India satellites beating Vinod in the final .. More later!

Will have more soon..

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the two weeks ending on June 21 ..

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