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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on July 23, 2001
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July 23 Notes

Niru and Melissa Middleton narrowly missed the main draw at the Tier-II Stanford WTA event, were the top seeds in the three round qualies for one Q spot, and went down in the seconmd round today .. Yikes .. It turned out as a useless trip for Niru to Stanford .. Rushmi fell in the second round and Shruti in the first round of qualies at the Pamplona $25K challenger in Spain .. Sai may have made the main draw there .. Vikrant, Manoj and Rishi fell in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd rounds of the 4-round qualies at the $25K USA F19 futures over the weekend in St.Joseph, Missouri .. Mustafa Ghouse is in the main draw at the futures in France .. No news about Harsh Mankad at the USA F19 - the main draw still awaited .. Awaiting news on Manisha and also on whether Sonal Phadke and Karishma Patel are at the Irish satellites .. Details later - busy day for me.

July 22 Notes

Nirupama seems to be in a bit of a minor funk in her singles form .. In the first round of qualifying at the Bank of West Classic Tier-II WTA event at the Stanford University tennis stadium, #8 Niru l. Amanda Grahame (AUS,284), 36 64 06 .. I was up in the bay area for another function and was glad to be able to watch the match .. Niru played well in patches but seemed to be in trouble constantly in this match, mostly due to unforced errors and what seemed to be a shoulder that seemed to occasionally give her trouble .. She was broken in her first service game and was down 0-3 to start the match, and the first set went with serve after that, though Niru had three break chances at 15-40 and AD out in the 7th game .. Amanda Grahame served really well throughout the match (Niru said later that she was surprised at how well Amanda served throughout the match), and she closed it out in the 9th game .. In the second set, Niru went up ahead with a break to 2-0, only to drope serve in the 3rd game and fall back even .. It seemed like Niru would play two great points but would then look bothered by a neck-shoulder problem, grimacing a bit and flexing her shoulders .. She does have a nagging neck problem - the exact nature of it seems not to have been diagnosed well by anybody she has conculted yet .. She has been told that it is not a shoulder problem (that means no surgery needed), but that some muscle strain in the neck is affecting the shoulders as well .. Anyway, the second set went with serves, with Niru not facing much of problems except for a couple of break attempts in the 7th game .. At the right time in the 10th game, she kicked it up a notch and had Amanda down at 15-40 set points .. Amanda took it to deuce, helped by an overhead smash error from Niru .. A couple of forehand beuaties to the corner chalk got Niru the break and it was even at one set apiece .. The 3rd set was not at all as one-sided as the scoreline would suggest .. Niru got broken in two of her service games after deuces and lost the 5th game at 30-40 .. The same problem - Niru would play a loose-looking point after two good points .. She also had break chances of Amanda in one of the games .. Basically about 4 or 5 points going the other way would have made things different - but that's what happenes when one does not feel 100% physically .. The match was not of the highest quality tennis but there were a lot of points where Niru looked tremendous with her baseline groundies .. The speed and spin variations Niru was putting on her shots often confused Amanda, but she played essentially a mistake-free game, staying within herself and waiting for Niru to fight through her own troubles .. I left with the feeling that Niru still would have won the match though, had she not allowed the worries about her neck and shoulder affect her ability to focus on every point .. She should have tried a bit more in staying on and forcing mistakes out of Amanda, but her own worried body language must have allowed Amanda to play pressure-free ..

She should be in the doubles draw, but she wasn't sure who her partner would be, as of yesterday - perhaps Melissa Middleton .. The doubles sign-in won't be done till later and the draw should be out by tomorrow.

At the $15K USA F19 satellite, Harsh Mankad is not in the qulifying draw .. Manoj, Rishi and Vikrant are the 7th, 11th and 16th seeds in the big qualifying draw .. I don't think Mankad would have made the direct entry and I am pretty sure that he was at least a couple of spots away from the cut, but I had also heard earlier that there was an outside chance for a wildcard into the main draw .. We will wait and see what's up.

More later.

July 20 Notes

I will be away for two days - the next update could be as late as Sunday evening US time, with whatever info I get on the qualies over the weekend.

I just found that Manisha was actually not in Spain, but at Belgium, at the the Tier-IV $150K WTA event at Knwokke-Heist, where she and Leanne Baker made the doubles main draw directly (Thanks go to J.Shull for telling me!),  .. They lost to Ekaterina Kozhokina (RUS) and Christina Wheeler (AUS) in a close match, 26 63 46 .. I think this may have been Manisha's first WTA tour event doubles match (the challengers and satellites are technically events sanctioned by ITF, even though one gets WTA points).  Leanne Baker had actually played the singles qualies and lost in the first round .. Manisha only played doubles this week.

Nirupama and Renata Kolbovic gave a walkover in the doubles QF yesterday at the $50K Mahwah challenger to Jean Okada and Ryoko Takamura .. I hope there is no injuries or anything and this was just because one of them needed to get somewhere for singles qualies over the weekend or something .. Both Niru and Kolbovic are listed in the qualifying entry list for the Tier V event in Casablanca, but players can be listed in multiple events and Niru may be going to the qualies of the Tier-II Bank of West Classic WTA event in Stanford, California .. I will need to find out what's up.

Anyway, we are basically done with this week.  No other action left, as far as I know .. I saw some results from the second round at Valladolid challenger in Spain - it doesn't look like any of the three Indians - Sai, Rushmi and Shruti - who may have been there qualified in.

This was a bad week, but for one singles win each by Niru and Harsh.

July 19 Notes

Not sure if Nirupama has played her doubles QF yet .. I believe the QF match may have been today at the Mahwah challenger.

Harsh Mankad put up a fight against the top seed at the $15K USA F18 satellite at Joplin, Missouri, today, but no cigar .. 46 63 36 loss to #1 Matthew Breen (AUS,341) .. Breen was ranked in the top-250 a few months back .. Actually my records show that he had beaten Fazal at Florida last year for a 61 64 score - so he must be pretty good and I guesss I will excuse Harsh for this loss :-) .. Generally Harsh has shown slow but steady improvement, so I hope he will learn from such matches .. He needs to start beating these guys though, to make the move up to the challenger level .. For now anyway, he needs to pick up at least another 30 to 50 points in futures and satellites before he can start thinking of entry to the challengers .. His point total from playing four futures events stand at 14 now ..  He had a 14-3 record in the Indian satellites in 2000 June, and has now gone 8-4 in the North American events after a one-year break, which is actually a promising record in the lower levels .. Need a lot more though .. It's a tough climb - but only Mankad from India seems to be doing anything worth mentioning in singles now, so we will follow him closely and hope for the best .. Harsh is expecting to somehow make it into the draw next week at St. Joseph, Missouri, where he was about 4 or 5 spots out from the main draw when I heard last .. He may need to play qualies there, but he is safely in for the satellite the week after at Decatur, Illinois.

Spain is really a black hole for challenger and satellite info - still no idea what is going on in Valladolid for Manisha and company.

July 18 Note-2

Harsh had a tough match, as expected, but he came through today in the first round of the $15K USA F18 satellite at Joplin, Missouri .. He beat Nicola Bruno (ITA), 76(7) 76(2) .. Actually he had to come back from 2-5 down in the tiebreaker to win the first set too .. 30 yr old Bruno, a top-200 player 4 years back who is on a comeback trail after a few years of coaching, had looked good in the qualies .. He had for instance beaten the US collegiate #2 and NCAA nationals double crown winner Matias Boeker (ARG) in three sets in the final round of qualies .. So, this goes as a pretty good win for Harsh, and he gets one more ATP point .. He has another tough match up next - against the top seed Mathew Breen (AUS,341) tomorrow .. Breen beat the #10 ranked collegiate player, Bo Hodge, in the first round .. Interestingly, Harsh, ranked #43 at the end of season in college, has done better than the college players ranked ahead of him in the summer pro circuit, and I think he has picked up more points so far than any of the college players who have come out to play pros too.  That's a good sign .. Go Harsh!

July 18 Note-1

e national champion Some bad news from the Frinton-on-Sea $10K satellite in UK this week .. Sonal Phadke was there, in her first foreign pro tournament, and had a terrible time .. She lost to Cristelle Grier (GBR,435), 06 26 .. Sonal and Karishma Patel were in the doubles draw as well and went down to unseeded Jayne White and Nicola Woodhouse of Britain, also by the same score, 06 26 .. Karishma was the 6th seed in the qualies but lost in the first round there to wildcard Sarah Borwell, 36 36 .. Let's hope Sonal will get used to the feorign conditions and do better in the upcoming weeks ..

I saw some results from the first round at the Villadolid challenger in Spain .. The first round continues today and Manisha may be playing only today.  Still no news on what happened to Sai, Rushmi and Shruti in the qualies.

July 17 Note-2

I had once said that I have much more confidence of Niru beating 100-175 players than players in the 175-250 range .. I guess she had a bad day today - Sarah Taylor (GBR,221) d. Niru, 62 63 .. So Niru won't be able to defend the 35 points she had from the Atlanta challenger QF and the Mahwah SF she had in successive weeks last year  .. She will lose 30 points and will fall in the ranking by about 25 spots to near 180 next week .. She also has points from an SF at another $50K challenger (Lexington) falling off within the next 3 weeks too .. So, Niru has some work to do to stay up there right now - but she has nothing to defend till October after that and only smaller points till the end of the year, I think .. So she will be fine.

Niru plays the doubles QF tomorrow at Mahwah, I believe.

Harsh Mankad faces Nicola Bruno of Italy in the first round at the $15K satellite in Joplin tomorrow .. I had just written this morning about this unranked 30 yr old coach from Italy who is making a comeback of sorts, who had upset a couple of seeds including Manoj Mahdevan in the qualies (based on the local newspaper at Joplin that even wrote an article on him today!) .. I was surprised to find today that he is the one Harsh ended up with, in the draw .. Harsh has a tough draw past this match too, as he could face the top seed Matthew Breen (AUS,341) in the next round .. He also managed to squeeze into the doubles draw with Cary Franklin, with whom he had the Canadian satellite title a couple of weeks back .. Cary was bothered by a wrist injury and they went down today - 67(1) 36 to Toshihide Matsui and Michihisa Onoda of Japan.

Awaiting news from Spain still, on Manisha, Sai, Rushmi and Shruti ..

July 17 Note-1

Niru plays Sarah Taylor (GBR,221) today at the $50K Mahwah challenger second round .. No news yet from the $25K Valladolid challenger in Spain where Manisha, Sai, Rushmi and Shruti are ..

Harsh Mankad may be playing today at the $15K USA F18 satellite in Joplin, Missouri .. No news from there yet either .. Here are the scores from the weekend .. Qualifying round 1 -- Nicolas Boeker (USA) d. #9 Rishi Sridhar, 62 67(5) 64 .. Michael Yani (USA) d. #11 Vikrant Chadha, 26 30 (retd.) .. Jeremy Wurtzmann (USA) d. Shriranga Sudhakar, 62 64 .. Manoj Mahadevan had a first round bye and lost to Nicola Bruno (ITA), 67(3) 26 .. 30 yr old Bruno who is actually a coach in Italy and is making a comeback, qualified in after 4 rounds! .. The others who beat Indians went down in the second and 3rd rounds.  Tough qualies .. As for Mankad, he cannot get into the doubles draw this week as his ranking last week was 1027 .. He moved up 279 spots to 748 this week with the points from the Granby challenger last week, and should be fine for futures doubles draws from next week onwards .. However, it looks like won't make the singles main draw next week at the USA F19, as his singles ranking around 750 last week placed him as 6th out from the main draw ..

No news from Srinath and Fazal in a while ..

At the Grade-5 Tunisia ITF juniors, our baby boy Karan Rastogi went down in the semifinal to #187 Phodos Kallias of Cyprus, 06 63 06 .. Karan picked up 15 more points for 45 total in two weeks to move his rank up to #244 this week - again the highest in the world among under-15 players.

July 16 Notes

Nirupama won the first round of singles at the $50K Mahwah challenger, beating Lisa McShea (AUS,178), 60 75 .. She plays Sarah Taylor (GBR,221) tomorrow in the R2 .. More later!

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on July 16 ..

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.