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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for week ending on Aug 10, 1998
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Please read the newly-added page, a collection of notes, especially on the important topic of Indian players needing support .. We need responses and help from everybody ..
Aug 10 Note-2
The new rankings show Leander at a career-high #5 in doubles.. Mahesh is at #4, behind Eltingh, Haarhuis and Bjorkman .. This is because the Woodies lost their points from Cincinnati Super 9 last year (the ATP ranks are at a one-week lag with last year's tournament points falling off a week earlier), and LP-MB didn't have many points at Cincinnati. Next week, our guys will lose the points from the New haven title last year and LP could fall to #8 .. The vagaries of the 52-week period ATP strictly follows .. By the way, a correction from what I said earlier on the finalists at Toronto. Bjorkman/Rafter did not make the finals.. It was Damm-Grabb (who went on to beat Ferreira/Leach to take the big title). I had seen that Bjorkman/Rafter had won the first set on Damm-Grabb in the semis and the match got done in two sets .. I assumed they had won .. Didn't look closely enough; Rafter had some wrist pain and they gave the match to Damm-Grabb at one set each. Anyway, the new team rankings still show our guys at #3, with Ferreira/Leach right behind by about 30 pts at #4 .. The full singles ranks are not out yet. LP has not cracked top-100 though. He should be right around where he was last week.
Mahesh and Paul Haarhuis are the #2 seed at the Cincinnati Super 9 this week. The Woodies are the #1 seed (now, that is based on last week's rankings .. :-)). After a first round bye, MB/PH play the winner of Albano/Lapentti vs Broad/Norval .. A much tougher second round match than I would have liked, against either of those teams.
Nirupama moved up by one spot to #159, once again her highest ranking in over a year. If predicting ATP ranks are a bit weird now, the WTA ranks are even weirder as always, with tournaments going in and out at odd times. I had thought the Salt Lake City challenger points were off already. Not really. They are going out only next week. The Lexington challenger points have not gone into the computer yet (though they said in last week's release that it would go in this week). What that means is that Niru's doubles rank is going to fall a bit next week, rather than go up this week as I expected. Her rank is at #206 now, but she loses 30 points from the doubles semifinal at the $75K Salt Lake City challenger last year (with Meilen Tu), replaced by the 23 points she got at Lexington just now. So, it was very timely for her to do well in doubles, to keep her doubles rank inside 220 next week. Does that all make sense.. I hope so :-) .. Niru was expected to try qualifiers at the Boston WTA event this weekend, but missed it as she was playing the doubles final yesterday at Lexington. Since there are no challengers or anything else this week, I assume she is taking a week off. We should see her next at Bronx, and then at the US Open qualifiers. She has her semifinal points to defend at Bronx, so she has to be ready. After Bronx, she has hardly an points to defend till the Australian Open in January.
Saw the results of the USA #2 satellites leg-3 at St.Louis, Missouri .. Vikrant Chadha, for the (n+1)th time (I have lost count now) qualified into the draw, and for the (n+1)th time went up against a seed to crash out in the first round. He lost to the 13th seed Jason Cook (USA) .. Poor Vikrant has had a real tough time in the US futures/satellites the last 2 months, going through almost every USTA futures and satellite legs, but coming up empty without any points. He qualified into the main draws, 7 times out of the 9 weeks he tried, I believe (OK, I do have an approximate count..:-)). Perhaps still bothered by the injuries he has had for quite some time. He has been toughing it out through the grind that has taken him to places like Lafayette, Waco, College Station, Tulsa, Springfield, St.Joseph etc etc .. Not the most exciting places to go play at. But that is life in the "minors", as baseball fans would say.
Aug 10 Note-1
Here is the bottom half of the draw at Binghamton:
5 Jeff Grant (USA) vs WC-Paul Goldstein (USA) \ David Witt (USA) vs Q-Max Mirnyi (BLR) / \ Q-Ronald Agenor (HAI) vs WC-Scott Humphries (USA) \ / \ 3-Diego Nargiso (ITA) vs Frederic Fontang (FRA)/ \ 7 Lleyton Hewitt (AUS) vs Regis Lavergne (FRA) \ / Stefano Pescolido (ITA) vs Q-Bobby Kokavec (CAN) / \ / Cristiano Caratti (ITA) vs WC-Taylor Dent (USA) \ / 2 Leander Paes (IND) vs Peter Luxa (CZE) /
Not at all an easy draw with a ton of potentially troublesome players there (Luxa, caratti, Pescolido, Nargiso, Agenor, Mirnyi, etc, and the talented up-and-comers like Taylor Dent, Bobby Kokavec, etc). Leander has his work cut out for him, to get a second title here (LP was the champion in the inaugural edition of the Binghamton challenger in 1994). Leander is not scheduled to play today. He will play the first round tomorrow (Tuesday).
Nirupama had originally planned to try qualifying at the Boston WTA event this week, but missed the qualies over the weekend as she was playing the doubles semis and final at Lexington. Looks like this will be a rest week for her. Next up will be Bronx, NY, I believe (she was in the semis there last year, with a few great upset wins .. and has points to defend).
More later with news from Cincinnati on Mahesh's doubles and the latest rankings ..
Aug 9 Note-3
Niru and J.Q.Yi could not win the three-set battle at Lexington, Kentucky.. Amanda Grahame and Bryanne Stewart defeated them, 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 .. As far as I know, this is the 4th challenger doubles final of Niru's career and the first time that she lost a doubles final in a challenger .. Well, those 22 points is nothing to feel bad about ! .. Keep it up, Niru!
Just got the results details from the Binghamton challenger qualifiers. My guess was right .. Fazal did have to squeeze into the qualy draw. He was the very last direct entry in the draw !! He beat Myles Wakefield (RSA, ranked just above Fazal at #600) in the first round, 6-4, 6-2, and then upset the 7th seed in the qualifiers, Frederic Niemeier (CAN, #375, perhaps the biggest upset of Fazal's career?), 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-3 .. Well, he then went up against the #1 seed in the qualies, and couldn't do it one more time .. Lost to Max Mirnyi (#259), 6-2, 6-2, as reported earlier. All in all, we just have to be impressed at how far Fazal has come this year. Way to go, but he has ways to go still ! .. Prahlad's first round loss was to Nicolas Todero (ARG, #544) by the score of 6-3, 6-4 .. Prahlad still hasn't hit any stride since he arrived in the US recently .. Anyway, the 4 qualifiers are #1 seed Mirnyi, #2 seed Ronald Agenor (making a comeback!), #3 seed Mose Navarra, and the #6 seed Bobby Kokavec .. #347 is the last qualifier entry.
There has been a Manisha Malhotra sighting .. She is playing the $10K Futures in the UK, at Southsea. Here is the good news. She had reached the semifinals, as of Friday (source: Times, London). No news after that. Will know when ITF brings out the winner/runner-up lists of the futures in a couple of days, if she made it past the semis .. Manisha has just finished her final year of collegiate eligibility at the Univ. of Tennessee, a couple of months back.. Good start to the pro tour for her ! ..
Aug 9 Note-2
Leander Paes plays Peter Luxa (#162, CZE) in the first round at the $50K+H Binghamton challenger .. Luxa has done well lately, reaching the finals of the Istanbul challenger last week and moving 26 spots up in the rankings (he beat Mahesh on the way in the quarterfinals, 7-5, 7-6(11-9), but Mahesh had 4 set points on him .. by the way, the score I reported earlier for this match was wrong .. Mahesh did not have a slow start in this match) .. Luxa lost in the first round at the Segovia (Spain, clay) challenger this week to #124 Chris Wilkinson, 6-3, 6-4, though .. I don't know why he bothered to go there .. hardcourt to clay to hardcourt is normally not a great idea.
The bad news is that Fazal lost in the final round to #259 Max Mirnyi .. That would have needed the upset of his life, for him to qualify over the strong Belarusian. Still a very promising show by Fazal to pull in a couple of upset wins.
Nirupama and Jin Qian Yi will be playing the doubles final at the Lexington challenger at 5 pm today, against the Australians, Amanda Grahame (#265) and Bryanne Stewart (#325) .. That means none of the 4 seeds made it to the finals (Nannie DeVilliers, #60 and Annabel Ellwood, #71, were the top seeds). A win will give Niru and Yi a total of about 32 points (9 more from the final) and push her ranking up to about #175 .. Go Niru !
Aug 9 Note-1
It was the 2nd seeds, Renata Kolbovic (#112) and Katie Schlukebir (#131) who were upset by Nirupama (#208) and Jin Qiang Yi (#296) yesterday in the semifinals at the $25K Lexington challenger. I am not sure whom they beat in the quarterfinals, but I think it was Wynn Prakusya and Wukirash Sawondari of Indonesia .. They have picked up 23 big points so far, including 8 bonus, which should bring up Niru's doubles ranking from 208 to inside 190 .. If they pull off a title match win, it could go much higher ..
Aug 8 Note-2
Oh, bad news (but I have some couple of very good news items too, to report) ..
LP-MB lost today, 6-7(3), 3-6 to the #4 team in the world, Ferreira/Leach .. So, those two guys got some revenge on their final loss at the Rome Super 9 to our guys. Yeah, those darned veterans (this time it is that man Rick Leach) who just won't let our guys get to the top all that fast ! .. In the first set there were back to back breaks twice, with our guys getting broken in game 3 and game 11, but breaking back righaway in games 4 and 12 .. In the tiebreaker, our guys fell behind 1-4, then broke back to get on serve at 3-4, only to drop two minibreaks immediately to go down 3-6 and lose the set. In the second set, which was another close affair, LP/MB had double break points in the second game to go up 2-0, but couldn't get it done .. Then while serving at 3-4, they got broken .. They gave a bit of a fight in the next game but could not get the break to level it and lost the match. This win gives Ferreira/Leach an extra 141 points, but it still leaves them a few points below LP/MB for the #3 spot .. So, I stand corrected from my comment earlier on that. They will get to #3 if they beat Bjorkman/Rafter, who beat Knowles/Nestor to reach the final. Rafter is having some great tournament, reaching both the singles and doubles finals. The people at Hartford have to be delirious everytime they see Rafter/Bjorkman win good points. They have only played very few tournaments together, but are closing in on nicely qualifying at Hartford and getting those extra monies offerred for top singles players qualifying and playing at Hartford..
Now, for the good news ! First, Nirupama is in the doubles final at Lexington !!! .. She and Jin-Qiang Yi won that midnight quarterfinal match last night, 6-2, 4-6, 7-6, and then won the semifinal today, 6-1, 6-2, easily .. Her first doubles final this year. Terrific ! .. The other semi is going on now to determine their opponent tomorrow. Will find out the teams she beat in the QF and SF and report soon..
More good news: Fazal won two rounds of qualifiers at Binghamton today, and is in the final round of qualifiers set for tomorrow ! .. For some bad news, Prahlad Srinath lost in the qualies today .. This is one of the most competitive 50K challengers out there, as are all US challengers, with the main draw closing at ATP #263 .. Fazal may have just squeezed into the qualifier draw and must have had to pull some upsets today to reach the final qualifier round tomorrow. I should thank Scott Strazik, the tournament point-man, for telling me these things while in the middle of his dinner .. Will try to find out the details tomorrow when he has a draw sheet with him. Fazal had two "solid wins" today, according to Scott. Hope Scott's memory is all correct .. By the way, Leander Paes is listed as #2 in the entry list at Binghamton, behind Guilermo Canas, based on the rankings a couple of weeks back.
Aug 8 Note-1
The semifinal match at Toronto for LP-MB is scheduled on the center court as the second match, and should start at around 3.15 pm there (12.15 pm PST, u.s.a; 00.45 past midnight in India) .. Ferreira/Leach can claim the #3 team ranking, if they beat our Dynamic Duo .. For the other semifinal (which may not get done today), Damm-Grabb is already in .. However, #2 Bjorkman/Rafter are still awaiting their quarterfinal opponenets (winners of Ivanisevic/Philippoussis vs. #7 KNowles/Nestor) .. Rafter is in the singles semis against Henman this morning too .. They should get done with the prequarterfinal and the quarterfinal match today, and the other semifinal would probably be tomorrow morning .. More later, also with news from Lexington on Nirupama ..
Aug 7 Note-4
It is 1 am in the morning at Toronto, and our guys just finished a tough quarterfinal win, 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 over the 8th seeds Wayne Black and Sebastien Lareau .. Yeah ! .. This match had some of the patterns of a typical LP/MB match against a good team .. Jump up early, then go through some trouble as the opponents adjust, but outsmart them eventually (I didn't see the match, so this is just guesswork! :-)) .. The first set went rather easy with LP-MB breaking WB/SL in the fifth game, getting over a couple of break chances in game 6, and getting the second break in game 7 .. The second set also started with LP/MB jumping on top early with a 2-0 lead .. Then, as they were cruising nicely, out of nowhere came trouble. They dropped serve in game 6 to knot it up at 3-3 .. They had a couple of break chances in game 7 but couldn't do it. Then they again got the break in the 9th game and were serving for the match, when inexplicably, they dropped serve again to go 5-5 .. Next thing we see, they drop serve yet again, and the set was over 5-7 .. The 3rd set also started with a break in game 1 for LP-MB and they were leading 2-0 quickly .. WB/SL seemed to be playing pretty even by then, and they broke back in game 4 .. Our guys got their chance again in game 7 to go up 4-3 and then they held serve for 5-3 and a final score of 6-4 .. Yeah, it went back and forth, but finally the tougher ones got to go to bed with nicer thoughts, 181 points and $43K to share .. They now play #3 seed (and #4 team in the world) Ferreira/Leach who had an easy 6-2, 6-1 win over #6 Johnson/Montana today evening. The last time LP/MB played them was at the Italian Open Super 9 finals which was a barn-burner 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(5) win for our guys .. It will be another tough match tomorrow (well, today, for lp-mb .. it's already saturday there!).
Nirupama was also playing a tough doubles quarterfinal which was in a tight 3rd set at 12.10 past midnbight at the Lexington challenger, when reports last came in .. Will need to wait till tomorrow for the final result there.
Aug 7 Note-3
They are in the quarterfinals at DuMaurier, Toronto !! .. LP/MB took out Brandon Coupe and David Randall easily, 6-4, 6-0 .. They were up a break early in the first set, and served it out .. In the second set, they finished off a nice bagel too. They get 83 points for the win, including 3 bonus points .. Now they face the 8th seeds Wayne Black (ZIM, #36) and Sebastiene Lareau (CAN, #24) in the quartefinals .. Lareau was quite sad about his loss in the title match last year at DuMaurier (with Alex OBrien) to our guys, and would be looking for revenge .. LP/MB can pick up 18 more bonus points for 181 total with a win over Black/Lareau .. Not sure if they are going to play this match tonight .. It is 9.30 pm there and they haven't started the QF match yet .. They just started the other quarterfinal in the upper half of the draw, #3 Ferreira/Leach vs #6 Johnson/Montana, and we will see if our guys go out to play this late now.
Nirupama's quarterfinal doubles match has just started at 9.30 pm at the Lexington, Challenger .. Nobody is going to bed early today, I guess !
Aug 7 Note-2
Play started play a couple of hours late today at Toronto .. As of 3.15 pm there, it looks as though our dudes will get to start their match by 4.30 pm or so .. Their opponents, Brandon Coupe (USA) is ranked #76 and Dave Randall (USA) is ranked #88 .. Coupe plays with Rosner most often, and Randall plays with Waite .. Those two are playing together for the first time this year, but seem to be doing alright, as they came through the qualifiers and then knocked off a very good Stafford/Ullyet team ranked #15 in the world now, in the first round.
Nirupama's doubles quarterfinal is the last match at the Lexington challenger today, starting at 8.15 pm there.
More news from India (AITA has been pretty active lately, it seems..:-)). Tomorrow's Times of India reports that there was a press conference today where AITA and the Hindujas announced that even though they are done with DHAITA, they are not cutting ties yet. They will look for ways to work together in supporting AITA's decentralized 5-academy junior development plans. Good deal !
Aug 7 Note-1
It looks like Nirupama has not played the doubles quarterfinal at the Lexington challenger yet. Saw the scores of three of the four quarterfinal matches, all played yesterday - the 1st, 2nd and 4th seeded teams have advanced to the semifinals .. Niru and Jing-Quian Yi should be playing today.
By the way, the AITA news release this week mentioned that they are still planning for the $75K women's challenger for the first of December at New Delhi (Nov 30 - Dec 6). Apparently they are awaiting approval from ITF .. This will be the highest prize-money women's event conducted in India for quite sometime (may be ever ?) and I hope nothing goes wrong and it comes on the ITF calendar soon. $75K is the highest-level challenger sanctioned by ITF (the higher prize-money events are sactioned by WTA). Normally, we can expect several (upto even ten or more) top-100 players to enter such a tournament, and it will be nice to see world-class women tennis coming to India. This would be a great opportunity for Uzma, Manisha, Jahnavi, etc to get wildcard entries to a tournament with a lot of ATP point possibilities .. Also, the women's futures circuit (Ahemedabad, Mumbai, Indore, Delhi) of four $5000 events is still on for October 12th through Nov 2nd .. See the Indian domestic calendar ..
In other news, Amitava Dasgupta of The Telegraph (Calcutta) reports that AITA is looking for a foreign trainer to accompany the Indian Davis Cup team .. AITA has been criticized in the past for not having a trainer for the Davis Cup ties, which has often hurt us, especially Leander, who normally come down with some injury or other during those events. They have approached some foreign trainers but the $4000 fees demanded by some for a one or two week work including air-fare back-and-forth is perhaps a bit too much, and AITA is still looking .. The report mentions that it wouldn't be difficult to find someone already in UK for the upcoming Nottingham tie, and that LP may already have someone in mind .. AITA has also decided to send the team doctor, Vece Paes, to UK .. This is also new, as in the past they have asked for his help only for the ties in India. Sounds like things are moving in the right direction ..
Aug 6 Note-3
The whole day was a washout today at Toronto .. The "Indian Express" will have to play potentially two matches tomorrow .. Their second round match is the 3rd one on Court 1 Friday, after 2 singles matches, starting at 10 am; so their doubles match should be at around 2.30 pm (11.30 am PST usa .. 12 midnight, India) .. If they win, they come back after an hour and half and play Black/Lareau in the quarterfinals.
Quite a bit of news from India lately. S.Kannan of the Hindustan Times had an article yesterday about DHAITA, Delhi .. The Hindujas have pulled the plug on funding, and have parted ways with AITA on running the academy .. Basically this came right after the AITA announcement of junior development schemes at the 5 Academies .. Excerpts from the article:
"With effect from October 1, 1998, we will have nothing to do with the new regional programmes which are to come up," said Wg Cdr O D Sharma, President of the Hinduja Sports Foundation, who was closely involved in running the programme .. Launched in 1993 with much fanfare, DHAITA, as the academy was better known, had it highs when run by coach I T.Chandrasekhar of Madras ... But ever since he parted company in April 1996 and the programme was taken over by Balram Singh, the academy's standards slipped ... ''We would like to place on record the services rendered by coach Chandrasekharan. He was a dedicated man and unfortunately DHAITA was unable to get another coach of his calibre," said Wg Cdr Sharma ... "We are proud of what we achieved and glad that players like Prahlad Srinath and Syed Fazaluddin, who were at our academy are now in the Davis Cup squad. We are also happy we could help Vikrant Chaddha, Harsh Mankad and Vijay Kannan," he added ... "But we were not at all in favour of continuing to sponsor the Delhi centre with the present coach in charge. However, with effect from October 1, we will have no say in it," added Wg Cdr OD Sharrna ... The Hindujas spent quite a lot of money on the programme and provided the best of boarding and lodging facilities ... But somewhere along the line, a few things went awry-- not to the liking of the sponsors ... Initially, they did not have any say in the day-to-day running, but once they started questioning, the relationship with AITA soured ... Yet, the Hindujas have been magnanimous enough to fund Vijay Kannan for the US Open, even though they were not obliged to do it ... It is learnt that the regional centre in Delhi will be shifted to Modern School, Barakhamba Road, as it will no longer be a residential programme ... The Hindujas, however, were a bit surprised as to why the Delhi centre wanted to hold back Vijay Kannan ... "If the others like Sheetal Gautam have been sent to their respective states, why should Kannan continue here? He can gain a lot from the Krishnans centre," said O D Sharma ...
Not sure if we should be happy or sad about this .. The fact is that we all knew this was waiting to happen .. Another case of good intentions gone wasted. I repeat my earlier comment that these academies will not work unless there is personal stake and pride involved .. Accountability is the word .. One has a duty to spend somebody else's financial support the best way possible, and to remain accountable to them .. If that is not the case, the support stops, as it should .. Looks like there is a direct attack on Balram Singh, the chief coach, but since I don't know much about him, I cannot comment .. I have not heard many great comments anecdotally and in press reports about the coaching and training there, though .. The Hindujas have reason to be proud of Prahlad, Fazal, Vikrant, Harsh and Vijay mentioned above, but 4 of them left the place without feeling they got what they expected from the place .. That was for no fault of the Hindujas, I am led to believe .. If my info is not outdated, there isn't even a tennis video collection there and it's probably not because it's so expensive as to not fit the budget well-supported by the Hindujas .. While the fundamentals remain the same, tennis has been undergoing a lot of changes over the last decade or two, not the least of which has been in coaching and physical training .. Tennis academies do not help unless there is dynamism in the program with enthusiasm and vision in doing what is needed to help the kids .. Instead, Indian sports development continues to be hampered by those who care more for their ego-boosts than proper results .. OK .. time to stop my general whining .. :-) .. Heck, I can't even toss the ball up for a service properly, and I certainly shouldn't be commenting on coaching !
I hope the kid, Vijay Kannan, won't get caught in all this .. I agree with the comment above - He is from Tamil Nadu and it's tough to see why he is not at Chennai, at the Krishnan Center, practising with Manoj Mahadevan .. Hope people do not forget the horror stories of what happened to the tremendously talented Anirban Barua a few years back in a somewhat similar situation. I don't care what the heck happens to the Delhi Center now, but I do care about what happens to Vijay Kannan, and other talented players, as I am sure most Indian tennis fans do.
Aug 6 Note-2
It's raining in Toronto .. Big rain, actually, and nothing may get done today (it's 4.00 pm now).. The LP/MB doubles match may get postponed. It was the first one scheduled on Court 10, and if the rain stops, they might play .. Meanwhile, the ESPN coverage from Toronto had a time-killer segment with the wild-wacky-crazy Jensen brothers going around the players' lounge. LP was shown playing some pool .. I think we got a glimpse of Mahesh at a video game booth ..
Good and bad news from the $25K Lexington challenger. Nirupama lost her singles match to #188 Irina Selyutina (Kazakhstan), 5-7, 2-6 .. She came back with Jing Qian Yi and won her doubles match later yesterday over Kelly Brown and Massoumeh Emami 6-2, 6-1 .. She could use some doubles points, though.. She hasn't picked up much in a while. She has a good partner here ..
Some Terrific News ! .. AITA is saying that they will try to pair Nirupama and Mahesh at the Asiad mixed doubles to add to our medal tally .. Wow, that would be great to see how Niru plays with either Mahesh or Leander !! .. Excellent ! .. (courtesy: Times of India)
More news: Yesterday's Times of India also had an article on the Indians in the latest ITF junior ranks top-300 list .. Here is the list (with ITF junior points in parentheses) .. Boys: Vijay Kannan (TN) - 64 (210), Manoj Mahadevan (TN) - 97 (155), Sansar-Uz Zaman (Bengal) - 100 (152), Kedar Tembe (Maharashtra) - 155 (95), Ravi Kiran Bhat (Karnataka) - 206 (65), Akshay Vishal Rao (Chandigarh) - 253 (50), Deepesh Rao (Mumbai) - 256 (48), Girls: Uzma Khan (AP) - 67 (215), Sheetal Gautam (Karnataka) - 143 (110), Shruti Dawan (Delhi) - 175 (85), Radhika Tulpule (Maharashtra) - 247 (55), .. Basically, Uzma Khan has improved from the near-90 ranking that I heard of a couple of months back, but Vijay Kannan did not improve his ranking that significantly, after both went on the ITF-sponsored European tour recently .. It's good to see three boys and one girl in the ITF junior world top-100 ..
Aug 6 Note-1
LP-MB play Coupe/Randall at 11 am this morning at Toronto (court 10). That is 8 am PST, USA, and 8.30 pm India .. Come to the chatroom for score updates, etc.
Running a bit busy today. Will update other news, etc, soon.
Aug 5 Note-2
STOP PRESS! .. Since LP-MB are not playing today, ATP has just set up an today !! .. From ATP :
It is time to chat again. Today, Wednesday, Aug 5, we are going to chat with Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes, India's top doubles team. Currently, they are No. 3 on the ATP Tour Doubles Team Rankings. The chat will be starting at 6:00 PM (Toronto), 3:30 AM (India), 11:00 PM (London), 8:00 AM Wednesday (Sydney) and 00:00 (Berlin).
For quicker access you can connect directly by using an IRC client with the following settings: Server: streams.atptour.com , Available channels are #atpcentercourt and #atplounge .. This will enable you to instantly access the chat without the use of a web browser.
So come on in and chat with Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes!
The ATP page is at http://www.atptour.com .. Or, go to the chat page (VIP lounge) directly, where you can find the link .. You have to sign up (it's free) to chat on the ATP web pages. Or you can chat without a web browser if you have IRC chat program on your machine. Come on, let's all go online and flood the ATP site ! .. kidding :-)
Aug 5 Note-1
All but two of the first round matches are completed at the DuMaurier Open Super 9 in Toronto, and all 8 seeds are in the final-16. Leander and Mahesh will be playing Brandon Coupe and Dave Randall, both of US in the second round. BC/DR are qualifiers here, but upset Stafford/Ullyet yesterday. Their match against our "Dynamic Duo" will be tomorrow (Thursday).
Harsh Mankad did make it into the main draw at the $25K+H challenger at Tijuana. Unfortunately, he went up against the 6th seed, Tommy Lenho (#313, Finland) .. He lost 4-6, 4-6, after a pretty competitive match where Harsh's lack of experience in top competition may have hurt him. He felt he was holding his own in both sets, but some aggressive tactics of rushing the net probably were ill-advised and that cost him at crucial points. He and Mark Johnson also made the doubles main draw, but lost yesterday. Harsh comes out with 1 valuable ATP point each in singles and doubles. He must have also got some couple of hundred $$ and got his room expenses paid for, since he made the main draws. More importantly, he got to play 6 matches there against good competition and it always helps. He is now planning to play the four-week USTA/ATP satellite circuit starting mid-September (if his finances allow him). Then he goes to India for the season there. He also has some interest from US colleges, and should be among the top-20 freshmen joining collegiate tennis next year, if he choses to do so. He has not decided on this, but he thinks he can follow Mahesh's example and go to a good program where he can benefit from the coaching and competition. He is 18 now (turning 19 later in the year) and it is not too late to think of that option. He himself feels he needs to go though more of tough-grinds than spend time without any serious match practice or coaching at Bombay. We will keep an eye on what he does.
There are newspaper reports today on Gajendra Singh being appointed by AITA as coach to oversee the junior development programme .. Cool !
Srinath and Fazal are not playing anywhere this week. They are practising at Philadelphia, and should be trying to qualify at the Binghamton challenger this weekend.
Aug 4 Note-3
Nirupama is the 6th seed at the $25K challenger at Lexington, Kentucky, and faces #188 Irina Selyutina in the first round tomorrow. Will report the draw as soon as they fax it to me.
Yesterday's Indian Express reports on AITA's plans to support the 5 selected training academies for developing junior players (in line with their earlier annnouncement on this) .. The Krishnans' Center in Chennai, Bhupathi Sr's Academy at Bangalore, Akhtar Ali's Academy in Calcutta, The MSLTA center run by Nandan Bal, Gaurav Natekar and Asif Ismail, and the DHAITA academy in New Delhi .. At least a couple of those Academies have been doing a good job under individuals' initiative and the support from AITA will certainly help .. My earlier citticism of doling out money to state units do not extend to the support of these academies .. It appears that 5 or 6 kids in the 12-14 age range will be selected at each academy for Rs 1 lakh support (Rs 60K to the acedemy and Rs 40K to the parents for special diet and kitting). Spending 30 lakhs on this seems to be a very good start .. At least some of these academies are run by those with personal pride and stake in producing results, and that gives us hope !
In other recent news that I am catching up on, the Times of India reported that Vijay Kannan, the current national junior #1 is ranked #59 in ITF juniors now and should be playing in the US Open junior draw. He will be sent to the tournament by the Dhaita academy. This is his last year with 18-and-under eligibility, I believe .. After the US Open, he hits the pro circuit, starting with the 2 four-week satellite circuits and the 4 futures in India from October through February. That is the chance for him and the previous #1 Harsh Mankad to make the splash. Vijay is 6 ft tall and is quite talented. Harsh on the other hand is more on the Leander mould, about 5-9 tall, and determined it seems to disprove those who consider him not tough-enough, etc. The Hindu had an article last week on Vijay's European tour this summer, sponsored by International Tennis Federation's junior development program, which over the years has done probably more than anybody else in helping our kids to go abroad and play tough competition. Vijay did better in doubles than singles, but he is, as was Harsh, probably under-ranked in ITF-juniors, due to the fewer number of top-grade junior events they were able to play, to pick up ranking points. Same is the case with 17 yr-old Uzma Khan on the girls' side. The other top talent, 16-yr old Manoj Mahadevan, has been missing for a while. I am told he was concentrating on his highschool finals and has not played much to defend his ITF-junior ranking, ever since he played at the Australian Open in January.
Aug 4 Note-2
Here is the doubles draw at the Canadian Open Super 9, Toronto. (updated Aug 5 with qualifiers)
1-Bhupathi/Paes Bye \ Stafford/Ullyet vs Q-Coupe/Randall / \ Delaitre/Santoro vs WC-Kokavek/Niemeyer \ / \ 8-Black/Lareau vs Macpherson/Macphie / \_ 3-Ferreira/Leach Bye \ / | Haas/Robichaud vs Eagle/Siemerink / \ / | Jensen/Jensen vs Q-Sargsian/VanEmburgh \ / | 5-Johnson/Montana vs WC-Larose/Turek / |_ 6-Damm/Grabb vs Flach/Tebbutt \ | Kratzmann/Kuerten vs Roditi/Tarango / \ | DeJaeger/Koenig vs Stolle/Suk \ / \ | 4-Kafelnikov/Vacek Bye / \_| 7-Knowles/Nestor vs Kitinov/Wibier \ / Adams/Mirnyi vs Ivanisevik/Philippoussis / \ / Black/O'Brien vs Galbraith-Martin \ / 2-Bjorkman/Rafter Bye /
It is not an easy draw. The potential second round opponents, South Africans, Stafford/Ullyett have been playing very well together lately with a title at Legg-Mason two weeks back (they beat Ferreira/Galbraith in the finals there, and though those two have been playing together for the first time in months, they are a very good team who were in the Hartford ATP doubles championship draw last year). Potential QF opponents, Black/Lareau or Delaitre/Santoro (who beat Mahesh/Kafelnikov at the Stuttgart semis 2 weeks back) and the SF opponents Ferreira/Leach, etc are all tough. The second seed Bjorkman/Rafter are the Aust.Open winners who beat our guys in the semis there. The #4 seeds Kafelnikov/Vacek in the bottom half are also tough (they beat our guys in the US Open semis last year). If LP's injury has healed suffieicntly (he had some match practice yesterday and it felt fine), LP/MB are capable of beating all these teams. They should be playing the second round match on wednesday or as late as thursday.
Aug 4 Note-1
Good news from Tijuana, Mexico: Harsh Mankad and Mark Johnson made it into the doubles main draw !! .. Also, Harsh is first in line for a lucky loser entry to the main draw singles, as two other lucky losers entered the draw yesterday after two players were dropped for entering two tournaments in the same week (ATP has some strict rules on that). Apparently a couple of players have still not shown up (one of them may be injured and may not come, possibly).. So, there is a chance that Harsh would end up playing the singles main draw first round also today, along with the doubles first round. Not sure whom he will be playing in those matches.
No news yet about Nirupama at the Lexington challenger .. The doubles draw for LP/MB at Toronto is out. They are the first seed, as the Woodies and Eltingh/Haarhuis are not there, though there were reports both could enter .. Will post that soon.
.. Previous notes at Weekly Notes, ending Aug 3 ..