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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Aug 5, 2002
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Aug 5 Notes

LP and MB should be playing the first round at Cincinnati most probably tomorrow;  may be wednesday.

Sonal and Sai advanced in the $10K Nonthburi satellites, but Shruti and Sheetal lost matches I hoped they would win .. Radhika had the misfortune of facing Sai who is again paying pretty well .. #2 Sai Jayalakshmy d. Radhika Tulpule, 62 62 .. #7 Sonal Phadke d. Tomoko Doukei (JPN), 26 75 64 .. Good fight from Sonal .. Young wildcard Thassha Vittayaviroj (THA) beat Sheethal Gautham, 64 63 .. #8 Prariyawan Ratanakrong (THA) d. Shruti Dhawan, 64 67(4) 63 .. Tough work by Shruti there .. Two more first round matches tomorrow for Indians .. Qualifier Megha Vakharia plays wildcard 16 yr old Pichaya Laosirichon, who normally plays in the junior circuit  .. Megha, who will be 17 till later this month, would have qualified for the junior circuit this year, but has not played in the juniors .. Also playing tomorrow is 15 yr old Ankita Bhambri, the youngest in the Indian group there, who faces qualifier Ji-Sun Ha (KOR) ..

Another tough week for Harsh .. At the $10K Latvia futures, he qualified in with two wins after a bye, but went down in the first round of the main draw today .. [Q2] #9 Harsh Mankad d. Olivier Dojean (FRA) 60 60 .. [Q3] d. Romain Radwan (FRA) 64 63 .. [R1] l. Christophe Bosio (MON,670) 26 61 57 .. Again, no ATP points for him (you need at least one main draw win in the futures, for that) .. I have not talked to Harsh in a couple of weeks, and I hope there is nothing bothering him -- a few weeks without getting a good win can sometimes affect a players' confidence and then there is no way but to fight through it .. When I talked to him last, before he left for the Baltic series, he sounded fine and said he was just going to do whatever is needed, doing it the hard way - play the qualies, which he has no choice in, and just get back to where he needs to be .. He is not playing doubles this week and will proceed to the $10K Lithuania futures next week .. Sad to see him not get any "gimme" matches in the draws, but also surprising to see his troubles in winning the tougher matches, considering the form he had in the pro circuit and college for two years .. This is the same guy who had won a Canadian futures last summer (with wins over players like the current #129 Ancic, current #404 Magdincev, and other good top-500 quality players like Handoyo and Montgomery), had given a decent match to Roddick in the Davis Cup last year, and was #1 in college this year with over 10 college top-30 wins with probably most of those opponents of the top-500 quality .. On the other hand, perhaps I am being impatient to see him do well .. He has not lost to any "bad" players, so to say - his five losses in the last five events are against Handoyo (605), T.Blake (324), Vitullo (448), Nurminen (549) and Bosio (670) - all seeded players except for Bosio today, but he was the actually the 8th highest ranked player there too .. Unfortunately, all the losses have come early in the draw and Mankad is left with just two wins and 2 points in those events .. A bit unlucky too, I guess, but he should have upset at least a couple of those guys .. He came close today, and that's it .. But it's all good match practice for him, and hopefully he will be in form for the Indian futures starting week after next.

No news yet on Rohan Bopanna from the USA F24 where the first round may be starting only tomorrow .. He too hasn't had any great wins lately, but he looked fine at the UK challenger qualies last month .. No news from Egypt on Sunil Kumar yet .. Somebody needs to step up and do well, for us to even hope for a decent second singles player at Asiad .. Perhaps LP may be our only singles entry there, at this rate (now that the sports ministry is all gung-ho about only medal prospects being sent anywhere - based on the Commonwealth games experience) ?? .. Then there is Davis Cup coming up too .. Come on guys, step it up!

Aug 4 Note-2

Megha Vakharia upset the 7th seed in the Q2 to make the main draw, while Geeta Manohar and Liza Pereira fell in the Q2 (the latter has a long shot to make it in as the second lucky loser) .. Scores later .. 2nd seed Sai faces Radhika in the main draw, which starts tomorrow .. Sheetal and Megha face wildcards .. Ankita gets a qualifier .. 7th seed Sonal faces a regular entry and Shruti gets the 8th seed .. Details later .. Lots of action to report from Thailand this week.

Aug 4 Note-1

LP-Hill and MB-Mirnyi are in the draw for the Cincinnati masters where that great Indian train won the title last year .. LP gets a draw that looks almost identical to last week's, drawn to potentially face the 5th seeds Damm-Suk in the second round and the top seeds Knowles-Nestor, his recent nemesis, in the QF .. [R1] Michael Hill (AUS)/ Leander Paes vs (s) Ivan Ljubicic (CRO)/ Andrei Pavel (ROM) .. Mahesh also gets a singles-entry pair in the first round - [R1] #3 Mahesh Bhupathy/ Max Mirnyi (BLR) vs (s) Xavier Malisse (BEL)/ Rainer Schuettler (GER) ..

Three Indians reached the second round of the $10K Nonthburi satellite qualies yesterday in Thailand - 5th seed Liza Pereira d. Porntip Mulsap (THA) 60 60, 8th seed Geeta Manohar d. Kotchakorn Sarojjitti (THA) 60 61, and 13th seed 13th Megha Vakharia d. 15th seed Orawan Lamangthing (THA) 62 62 .. They face 9th seed Ji-Sun Ha (KOR), 12th seed Chun-Yan He (CHN) and 7th seed Emily Hewson (AUS) respectively in Q2 today .. Megha has a togher match .. As I said earlier, 6 Indians (Sai, Sonal, Radhika, Sheetal, Ankita and Shruti) are in the main draw list there.

Akshay Vishal Rao (a top junior a couple of years back, who has not been in the news for a while but has started college tennis in New York this year) had a wildcard into the qualies at the Binghamton (NY) challenger - he went down after a fight yesterday against the 3rd seed Satoshi Iwabuchi (JPN,377), 62 06 61 .. Good job by AVR in taking a bagel set from him - but a strange score for that match.

Sunil Kumar is expected at the $10K Egypt F3 this coming week .. Harsh must have started the qualies at the Latvia $10K - no news yet .. Rohan should be among the top 4-5 seeds at the USA F23 $15K this week .. Manoj Mahadevan was in the qualifying entry list for the same event, as he is done with the Jamaica events  - but he is not playing there (he didn't make the main draw this week but is listed in the main draw for NEXT week's USA F24 event, starting on Aug 12th) ..  The three Indian futures start after two weeks, and so Manoj needs a break - I'm not sure if he will play next week either .. Rohan is not listed for the USA F24, so I assume he will be taking a week's break and going to India for three .. By the way, the deadline for the first in the Indian F3-F5 series is Aug 5th (tomorrow), for any player reading this who forgot to send in an entry :-) ..

Aug 3 Notes

2nd seed Rohan Bopanna got upset 46 46 by Philip King (USA) yesterday in the QF at the $15K USA F22 futures - so this week did not see much of singles success for any of our players - Harsh, Rohan, Manoj and Sunil being in action .. Need some good results, guys - come on! .. In the doubles semi at the Egypt F2, Sunil and Dusan Carol went down against the 3rd seeds Tomas Janci of Michal Varsanyi of CZE, 64 36 26 .. So everybody is done for this week.

Nothing much else going on .. We should have some weekend qualifying news by tomorrow, about the Nonthburi satellite, Latvia futures, etc.

In other news, how about the impressive and heartening show by Indians at the Commonwealth Games? .. Up to what, 32 (?) Gold medals and climbing as of now, I believe; in 3rd place on that count behind Australia and England, and ahead of Canada, RSA, etc .. Incredible show by the women's hockey team which won the Gold today - they were staring at an ouster two matches back, with an 0-3 deficit in the second half but furiously coming back to win it on golden goal, then upsetting New Zealand and today winning the whole enchilada against England in yet another golden goal .. I want people to stop talking about Indians being unable to convert corners and penalties, btw :-)) ..  Also, an excellent final round comeback by Qamar for the boxing Gold .. Can we use all this to slowly get rid of the "we are chokers" national complex? - we are really no worse chokers than anybody else - when we are good, we don't choke, just like others who are good .. As for the huge gold-rush in shooting and weightlifting, well, what can we say? -- those who felt that India can never get anything right in sports (or that shooting is just something "easy") should read the two article by S.Kannan in the Hindustan Times today - Guns and glory: Indian shooters show the way and ‘Years of hard work has paid off' - we have done a lot of things right in the last 8 years in going for shooting as a sport to focus on .. Still not doing it the best way (ammunition problems, etc), but the results are beginning to come ..  Can't agree more with Jaspal Rana's dad's comment mentioned in there .. Lest I forget, a big "Ha Ha" on that 1-7 SF loss by Pakistan in men's hockey (to NZL - as in "who??"), as they laid a huge egg after just a couple of things went wrong early - now THAT was a classic case of choking!

Aug 2 Note-2

LP-Hill went down to the top seeds Knowles-Nestor in the QFs today at the Toronto Masters, 36 46 .. Three of LP's last five doubles losses have come against Knowles-Nestor, at the FO semifinals, at the Nottingham QF and here at the Toronto QF, in the company of three different partners - Cibulec, Llodra and Hill respectively .. Knowles-Nestor have been the best team of the year, and it takes a lot to beat them .. I got a bit too busy and missed checking online score updates on how the match went.

At the $50K Saint Gaudens challenger, Manisha and Leanne Baker went down 46 06 to Ludmila Cervanova and Stanislava Hrozenska of CZE .. At the USA F22, 2nd seed Rohan Bopanna beat qualifier Ryan Henry, 26 61 62 yesterday to reach the QF against Phillip King (USA) .. No news on today's QF yet .. At the $10K Jamaica F12, Manoj Mahadevan lost in a tough match against the 4th seed Peter Handoyo (INA,604), 76(5) 57 06 on thursday .. At the Egypt F2, Sunil Kumar and Dusan Karol (CZE) beat Mohammed Al Ghareeb (KUW) and Jalal Chafai (MAR) 62 75 and face the 3rd seeds Tomas Janci and Michal Varsanyi of SVK in the semis tomorrow (Friday) ..

Aug 2 Note-1

LP-Hill play doubles QF against Knowles-Nestor at 7 pm today in Toronto .. We will have a chat session today .. Rohan Bopanna reached the QF of singles yesterday beatng Ryan Henry at USA F22 .. Manoj went down in a three-setter to 4th seed Handoyo .. Sunil is in the doubles SF in Egypt .. Sania lost in the singles QF but is in the doubles final at Egypt G3 .. Details later.

Aug 1 Note-2

Two close matches today at Toronto - one swung our way, on didn't .. Upset win for Paes-Hill over the 5th seeds and upset loss for 3rd seeds Bhupathi-Mirnyi .. [R2] L.Paes/ M.Hill d. #5 M.Damm/ C.Suk, 64 67(3) 64 .. [R2] #3 M.Bhupathi/ M.Mirnyi l. E.Ferreira/ J.tango, 57 57 .. I followed the matches online only occasionally (our fanclub reporter Jai Shankar at Toronto who could not go onsite today sent some online details too) .. The LP-Hill match was very close - so much so that LP-MH had won just two extra points after the first set and were just two points behind after the second set - both teams ending up with 98 of the 196 points each, but with our team advancing! .. Actually this is one of the very few times that I remember with the winning team not winning more points (I don't know how, but that is the stat that seems to have most correlation with winning and losing - one of the interesting things in tennis, though many think it is possible to win with fewer points if one plays the big points well, etc -- may be so, but it doesn't happen much at all) .. LP-MH converted all three of their break points, but MD-CS only got 1 out of 3 converted .. Damm/Suk actually had some slightly better stats in other categories - higher first serve percentage, no double faults, and more points won on first serve, etc .. In the second set, LP-MH held tough at the end saving two break points in the 12th game but they could not get any minibreaks in the tiebreaker .. But they came through in the 3rd set .. Good to see them doing the upset job in only their first tournament together, over a well-established seeded doubles team .. The match took 2 hours and 10 minutes ..

The Mahesh match was also a close one, but EF-JT seemed to have a slight advantage in points all through the match too .. Our team could not convert any of the 4 break chances they had in the first set while the other guys converted the key break in the 11th game to win the set .. In the second set neither side had any break chances till the very end once again when Ferreira-Tarango went ahead to 15-40 in the 11th game and got the break on their first chance ..  MB-Mirnyi shuold be at the Cincinnati masters nect week .. LP-Hill will play the QF tomorrow against the winners of the match between #1 Knowles-Nestorand Novak-Stepanek match later today.

Leanne Baker and Manisha Malhotra have reached the QF of doubles at the $50K Saint Gaudens challenger in France with a comeback 16 64 60 win over the Hungarian pair, Zsofia Gubacsi and Aniko Kapros .. Their next opponents (tomorrow) are the Slovakians, Ludmila Cervanova and Stanislava Hrozenska, who upset the 2nd seeds in the first round ..

Awaiting news on Rohan, Manoj and Sania ..

Aug 1 Note-1

7th seeded Sunil Sipaeya went down 36 46 to unseeded Francesco Lleal (ESP) at the Egypt F2 yesterday, but Sunil and Dusan Karol (CZE) upset the top seeds Michal Navratil and Jaroslav Pospisil of CZE, 36 63 64 in the doubles R1 .. They face Mohammed Al Ghareeb (KUW) and Jalal Chafai (MAR) in the QF today .. No news on others yet today .. LP-Hill are all even at 63 67(3) 00 at Toronto right now .. Next update a few hours later - gotta run.

July 31 Notes

MB-Mirnyi advanced to R2 at the Toronto masters today with a 76(3) 63 win over Younes El-Aynaoui (MAR) and Tommy Robredo (ESP) .. I could not follow the match, and have not got a match report yet - so no details .. They play Ellis Ferreira and Jeff Tarango tomorrow on court 2 (3rd match, about 2.30 pm) .. LP and Michael Hill play the 5th seeds Damm-Suk first, at 11 am on the same court.

Manoj Mahadevan won the first round at the $10K Jamaica F12, with a 61 61 win over qualifier Ben Kronk (USA) .. Tough second round match for Manoj, against the 4th seed Peter Handoyo (INA) .. As I had suspected, Ajay Ramaswamy, who was the 8th seed in the draw did not get there - I need to find out what is troubling Ajay .. Ryan Moore (USA) and Scott Willinsky (JAM) beat Manoj and Erik Dmytruk 46 76(4) 63 in the doubles R1 there .. Harsh Mankad and Robert Gustaffson went down in the doubles R1 at the Estonia futures, 62 46 46 to the 4th seeds Mait Kunnap (EST)/ Tapio Nurminen (FIN) .. Rohan Bopanna will be playing R2 singles against (q) Ryan Henry tomorrow at the Decatur futures in Illinois .. No news from Egypt about how Sunil Kumar is doing.

Sania Mirza reached the QF with an easy 62 61 win in the second round over a lucky loser Ramez Rana (EGY) ..

July 30 Note-2

Earlier today I was complaining about the Indian challengers getting cancelled .. At the right time, here is an article that just came up in The Telegraph (Kolkata) with comments from Dr. Paes about the situation and the lukewarm sponsor interest .. I am not sure whom to blame in this .. After all, we are still able to conduct events like the WDC and Chennai Open worth about 10 times as much sponsorship than a paltry $25K+H challenger .. I find it hard to believe that this is impossible to do .. But it is not fair to put the blame on Paes en Sport, because they at least tried .. It is really a crying shame .. IMHO, these are the kind of things that are really the fallout from the Indian Express split .. What a difference from 1998-99 when we had so many people wanting to conduct challengers; some SEVEN challengers done in 13 months including even $75K challengers - one being put together reportedly in 4 weeks flat in a cricket field in Vadodara! .. That was the year before the cricket world cup too, so that cannot be given as the real reason for the sponsors' reluctance .. We even had a pretty pointless Gold Flake domestic circuit, all in Tamil nadu, just for prize money in early 99 .. The Indian Express having gone to the shed for ever has indeed thrown a lot of cold water on all the enthusiams in tennis in India; it did not matter that they anyway never played doubles together in challengers .. The fans and the sponsors know that tennis IN INDIA is not as interesting when a national team is not creating news internationally .. It's a mater of perceptions .. I repeat that either of them doing the same doubles thing with others is not the same thing at all .. And we have had no top-150 singles results to speak of since LP's great 98 summer .. Sure, there is only so much we can expect from LP and MB in terms of carrying the nation's agenda fully on their shoulders, but I just wish things had gone differently and that they would have been able to continue the momentum from their exploits a bit longer (even another couple more years, till the next generation really got going) .. As it is, the whole Indian Express hooplah has finished unceremoniously as a two or three year wonder, a glorious but fleeting memory in Indian sports annals .. They did help in getting some parents and kids to look at tennis as a viable professional option, but they clearly did not take to logical fruition what they started (even without their own knowledge, to be fair), which was in effect a great push to improve tennis and even the whole professional sports psyche in India .. It's all sad .. We are all left to pick up the pieces from the fallout .. To summarize my feeling - there is no way in hell that the challengers would not have happened, if LP and MB were interested or if they were still in the national limelight like they were when they were together, but neither seems to have singles plans anymore and I think both are probably fed up with having to worry about everything but their own careers anyway, I think .. Not blaming them - but myself just feeling sad about the situation.

May be something will get restarted after Asian Games? .. I doubt it - as it stands, I am not that hopeful of a great show at the Asiad, and I am not even sure that LP-MB will play together there either (call it just a hunch from me) .. We badly need some REAL positive news in tennis; something that is tangible; something right now and right here .. Just positive indications from junior levels is not enough ..  India and Indian sports fans are emotional - we have gone through so much of futility and broken dreams - it takes only little to get us excited but we are also quick in perceiving the momentum dying and it takes very little for us to get disheartened and say, "here we go again; the same old same old.. "

OK, let me come back to my positive self :-)  .. Back to news .. MB-Mirnyi play the first round at Toronto tomorrow evening .. Rohan Bopanna won the first round today at the USA F22 in Decatur, IL, woth a 26 61 62 win over wildcard Brian Wilson .. He next faces either qualifier Ryan henry or wildcard Scott Brown .. Rohan is not playing doubles there .. Manisha and Leanne Baker are in the doubles draw at the $50K Saint Gaudens challenger - they play the Hungarian pair, Zsofia Gubacsi and Aniko Kapros (HUN) .. The qualifier who is drawn to face Manoj at the Jamaica F12 is Ben Kronk (USA) .. Haven't seen Ajay's and Manoj's scores still - they may only be playing tomorrow .. Manoj is playing doubles with Erik Dmytruk - they face Ryan Moore (USA) and Scott Willinsky (JAM) .. Ajay is not in the doubles draw - I am wating to see if he has got to Jamaica, as he hasn't played for a few weeks (hope not injured).

By the way, there was a rather lame show today in Delhi where Boris Becker played, which was well-criticized by the press .. Vijay Amritraj, Kapil Dev, Yuvraj Singh, Aaamir Khan etc were the others for an exhibition doubles match, with some 15 top junior sports kids were to be honored with scholarships, etc .. "The ‘boom boom’ show falls flat" says the Hindustan Times .. Here is the not-too flattering report in the Times of India .. With due apologies to Vijay who took the trouble to be there for the charity event, I have to say my two cents .. My aversion to anything involving Becker is well-stated here, ever since the infamous Stuttgart 97 incident - hey, I am an LP fan first and I haven't liked Becker ever since .. Looks like he showed up and did not care much for what the fans wanted, with his partner Aamir Khan reportedly offering more to see - but what do you expect from the alleged tax-evader anyway? .. Well, I don't let a chance go to slam Becker - so there! :-) ..

July 30 Note-1

LP-Hill and MB-Mirnyi are not in the schedule for today at the Toronto.

Harsh Mankad will have to wait another week to get out of the funk he is in - after qualifying in, he went down today to the 3rd seed Tapio Nurminen (FIN,549) 46 26 at the $10K Estonia futures first round .. When I saw the entry list, I thought there were only about four players there who could trouble Harsh even though he was playing his first pro claycourt event, but Tapio was unfortunately one of the four .. But then again, Harsh has just not been playing at the level he did from last summer till early this year (or even two years back), and he has no other way but to fight his way out of the trouble .. He will have to play qualies next week at the Latvia futures .. Harsh is on a 6 week plan right now, with Latvia, Lithuania and three Indian futures coming up, and I am sure he will break loose one of these days .. He may need wildcards to get into even the Indian futures as he has only picked  up a couple of ATP points in the 4 events he has played after turning pro full-time .. In the doubles R1 at Estonia, Harsh and Robert Gustafsson (SWE) play the 4th seeds Mait Kunnap (EST) and Tapio Nurminen ..

Rohan Bopanna is seeeded 2nd at the $15K USA F22 futures in Decatur, IL .. He plays a wildcard, Brian Wilson (USA) .. Sunil Kumar Sipaeya is seeded 7th at the $10K Egypt F2 futures .. He plays Francesco Lleal (ESP) in the R1 .. In doubles Sunil and Dusan Karol (CZE) face the top seeds, Michal Navratil and Jaroslav Pospisil of CZE) .. No news yet from the Jamaica F12 on Manoj and Ajay.

Rushmi, Sai, etc are off this week .. Rushmi has made the main draw at the Beijing $25K challenger next week .. All other Indians (almost everyone of them except Manisha, it seems) will be at the Nonthaburi $10K satellite in Thailand .. As of the entry list from today, Sai, Sonal, Radhika, Sheetal, Ankita and Shruti are in the main draw as the 3rd, 7th, 10th, 19th, 20th and 21st entries .. The last three squeezed into the draw after a few of the players originally in the lsit made the Beijing challenger main draw .. Liza Pereira, Geeta Manohar and Megha Vakharia are In the qualifying list for Nonthaburi as well.

One of our top two u14 boys, Sumit Gupta, is on a tour in Europe with the ITF team for the u14 events .. He had a couple of very good wins in the last two weeks .. He is on a 5 tournament trip - two in France, and one each in Netherlands, Germany and Belgium .. Sumit is at the Koln u14 tournament in Germany this week, after having completed the Fila Cup (Paris), Windmill Cup (NED) and Des Hauts-De-Seine (FRA) .. He had one win in the first week in Paris, and then a loss in the R32 against the #3 French u14 player Laurent Rochette .. He did have a very good straight sets win against the #17 ranked European u14 player (#1 in Poland) Gregory Panfill, in the consolation draw .. He followed that up last week in France with his best result yet, reaching the final 16 with two wins, the second being a big 46 63 64 upset of the 2nd seed Gustavo Diep (#27 in Europe, #2 in France) before losing to Julian Kurz, the 4th best German player .. Sumit is playing Holden Seguso (USA) this week in the first round ..  I will update later on how he does in the last two weeks .. [source for news: mostly ETA, European Tennis Association]

I had actually forgotten about Sanaa and later Sumit being in Europe till Sunil Yajaman (AITA's junior development officer who passionately follows the kids' exploits) mentioned it somewhere .. How times have changed! - Gone are the days when AITA was totally unaware of where any Indian was, but last week when Sania and Isha were in the final in South Africa, AITA had a press release with the news and score within an hour after the match, before any of the sources abroad knew about it (and it made national press immediately too!) .. They had released some news on Sanaa's results as well .. That is all good - it is very important for the kids to know that their achievements are appreciated - and it also helps them to slowly learn to play with the pressure of knowing that they are being watched as well.

I have criticized AITA on various things in the past, but these days I seem to have fewer and fewer complaints .. OK, I do have a complaint -- DO SOMETHING ABOUT A CHALLENGER OR TWO FOR MEN LATE IN THE YEAR, WILL YOU???? .. Just do it in Delhi if there are no other takers to conduct it -- hey, why not do it at around the same time as the Asia Cup which I hear is again going to be in India this time (or instead of it - the money will probably be better spent that way)? .. It is shameful that we have NO challengers for the whole year, just when there are about 4-5 good players all trying to make a break into the top ranges of ATP - it's crazy.

July 29 Note-3

Lee had no big problems in reaching the second round with his new partner at the Toronto masters today .. Here is the onsite fan report from Jai Shankar -

The doubles team of Leander Paes and Michael Hill defeated wildcards Michal Ciszek (Canada) and Philip Gubenco (Canada) 6-3, 6-4 in the first round of the Tennis Masters Canada 2002 at the York University campus in north Toronto ... The first set was completed by the time I arrived.  And the second  set started with Ciszek & Gubenco serving.  LP/MH broke them right away with the angled returns from Paes setting up deft volleys from Hill ...

Hill seemed extremely comfortable at the net, whether executing angled touch volleys or punching deep aggressive volleys.  This was the first time that I had seen LP play live, and it certainly opened my eyes to the intricacies of the doubles game, and why he has been so successful.  It really is a very different game than the singles game, and being a top notch singles player does not guarantee doubles success.  However, the viewing public does treat the doubles game as the poor cousin.  This was evidenced by the sparse crowd of no more than 200 spectators during this match.  Mind you, the Lleyton Hewitt versus Felix Mantilla match was on at the same time.

Anyway, following the break in the first game of the second set, Hill served and held impressively.  There appeared to be very good chemistry between Paes and Hill.  Then, they again broke Ciszek/Gubenco at 30 to now go up 3-0.  The Hill/Paes combo was in complete control of all aspects of the game – both from the baseline and at the net.  Paes held serve to go up 4-0.

It seemed that match was going to conclude quickly.  However, Ciszek/Gubenco held serve to make it 4-1.  Next, Hill held serve with difficulty to make it 5-1.  Ciszek held serve to make it 5-2.  They then broke Leander (!) to make it 5-3.  In this game, the Paes/Hill combo did caught in mix ups a couple of times, which is to be expected of a new team .. Ciszek/Gubenco then held – it was now 5-4.  Quite a comeback from 4-0. However, Paes/Hill were still up a break, and Hill was serving for the match. And they did so fairly routinely to finish a 6-3, 6-4 victory..

Their next round opponents will be the 5th seeds Damm/ Suk or Hrbaty/ Santoro .. That match is not on schedule for Tuesday, and so LP won't be playing the R16 match till thursday .. MB-Mirnyi should be playing on Wednesday.

Harsh Mankad qualified into the Estonia F1 futures with a 6-0 (retd) win over the 7th seed Ivan Caballero (ESP) in the final qualies today, following his 60 60 win yesterday .. Good to reach the main draw with some nice bagels, but now he runs into a much tougher opponent - the 3rd seed Tapio Nurminen (FIN,549), who was once ranked near top-200 and has been inside top-350 for many years .. The draws continue to not give much of a break to Harsh but he has to create breaks for himself.

Sania Mirza is the top seed at the Grade-3 Smash Tennis ITF junior event in Egypt .. She beat Alias Fakhry (EGY), 63 61 today to reach the R16 .. One more title and some extra points would be useful for Sania who still has some more points falling off in August and then in October .. Isha is not playing in Egypt.

July 29 Note-2

A little addition to my note below about Sanaa Bhambri's results in Europe last month .. I just did some research and found that the 14 year old is now ranked #15 in the under-16 rankings released by the European Tennis Association last week! .. That is a tremendous achievement, to go that high after playing just five events in Europe! .. She is in fact the second youngest player in the ETA u16 top-15 too with many players up to two years older than her .. And only four players have earned more points than her in the European grade-1 events (the highest graded ETA junior events, but it's different from the ITF u18 grade-1) .. All of that from a 5-week tour! - Are you kidding me?? .. It gives some objective idea about what a tremendous show she put on in Europe .. Is she good? - hell, yeah!

July 29 Note-1

Lee is playing the doubles first round today at the $2.9M Toronto masters .. L.Paes/ M.Hill vs (wc) M.Ciszek/ P.Gubenco .. This is the only doubles match today and will be at around 5 or 6 pm this evening.

Here is a Deccan Heraldarticle on the Amritraj cousins, with a complimentary comment from Mahesh in there.

Harsh Mankad has reached the final round of qualifying at the $10K Estonia F1 claycourt futures at Parnu, a nice resort town in the Baltics .. He had a first round bye and then beat Maris Sipkovs (LAT) 60 60 .. 9th seeded Harsh faces the 7th seed Ivan Caballero (ESP) in the final round .. At the Jamaica F12 futures, #8 seed Ajay Ramaswami is drawn against Dustin Brown (JAM) and Manoj Mahadevan is drawn against a qualifier to be determined today.

Sania, Isha, and Tara were in the news for the last couple of weeks, but they are not the only ones who have been doing well lately on the Indian girls' side which now has a very healthy look with about 6-7 excellent prospects in the 14-17 age group (the above three plus Ankita Bhambri, Sanaa Bhambri, Kartiki Bhat, etc) .. Late update on Sanaa Bhambri who toured last month with the ITF junior team for the u16 circuit in Europe during a 6 week tour that ended in early July .. 14 yr old Sanaa won the maximum number of matches among the ITF team that included talented players such as Rui Du from China and Sandy Gumulya from Indonesia .. Sanaa went 12-5 in the matches which is very impressive against u16 competition in Europe (the ETA junior tour is extremely competitive by the way) .. I have been trying to find score details of the matches, but they are tough to find .. As an example, I saw Sanaa reaching the semifinal in her first tournament itself in Italy, as an unseeded player in a 64-draw, upsetting seeds along the way, and only losing to the eventual winner in a three setter .. She reached two semifinals, a QF and three PQFs in 5 tournaments .. Tushar Liberhan, who was with the team on the boys' side did not fare as well, and had a 3-5 record, not going past the second round in any of the singles events .. Big congratualtions go to Sanaa for what seems to be one of the best set of results from an Indian kid traveling with an ITF team in Europe - also remember that she turned 14 only this March and she is paying a u16 series on red clay in Europe which she has never played on before!

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on July 29 ..

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.