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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Aug 14, 2000

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Aug 14 Note-1

Mahesh plays the doubles first round at the Indianapolis ATP and Nirupama plays Evie Dominikovic at the Bronx challenger singles qualies second round, later today..

A correction on what I said below .. Mahesh and Knowles are the 8th seeds they are not drawn to face the 4th seeds in the second round .. Rather they will play Galbraith-Siemerink or Ivanisevic-Tillstrom in the second round if they advance .. I read the draw wrongly - sorry.

The Chennai Adidas AITA u14/u18 ranking tournament got done yesterday, and there was one player whose show must be duly noted .. Anant Sitaram of AP, who was in the u16 level and was in the national top-5 early last year made some sort of a return after a year of concentrating on the 12th grade exams etc - and he did that with a bang, qualifying into the 18s tournament and going all the way to the title, beating the top seed Kamala Kannan in a nice comeback three-setter yesterday .. What caught my attention is how he kept pulling those three-set wins .. In yesterday's final, he was down a set and twice down breaks in the second set, but he came back from that .. The boy seems to have the right desire to win -- Give me those kids any day! .. See the Chennai Adidas results .. The u14 title was won by Anshuman Datta of Assam, in some sort of a surprise .. Top seed Liza Pereira of Maharashtra won the girls u18 title and she mentioned how she has gained by getting to play against the many top juniors (Sonal, Radhika, Isha, Megha, Lata etc) from Maharashtra .. The girls u14 was won by Kartiki Bhat from (where else?) Maharashtra .. To be fair though, the girls u14 level had an easier draw, as the Bhambri sisers (Sanaa and Ankita) of Delhi went back to Delhi after playing each other in the Bangalore leg finals the previous week .. Also, 13 yr old Sania Mirza of Hyderabad, arguably the best out there along with Delhi's Sanaa, has been missing in both the Bangalore and Chennai legs .. See the previous week's Bangalore Adidas results also.

There is some serious Indian-American assault going on in the American domestic circuit, as Rajeev Ram of Indiana and Prakash Amritraj of California who were the top two seeds in 16s singles, ended with Gold and Bronze medals in the 16s level of the US national super hardcourts juniors this weekend at kalamazoo Michigan .. These are huge events with 8-round draws where the seeds get first round byes .. So, one needs to be pretty damn good to reach the final stages .. Rajeev won the title, beating 4th seeded Josh Cohen of Florida - and he did not even drop a set or play a tiebreaker in seven rounds there (75 61, 61 60, 64 62, 64 64, 62 61, 63 62 and then a 63 60 final - are you kidding me?) .. 2nd seeded Prakash lost the semifinals to Josh, but won the bronze match against 11th seed Mathew Clover .. Rajeev Ram also defended his u16 doubles title, winning that with Jonathan Stokke of North Carolina (Actually he had won the doubles title last year over Prakash and Stephen Amritraj) .. Prakash/Stephen lost in the doubles QF this time .. Rajeev Ram, who led the USA u16 team to the world junior tennis final-16 a couple of months back and unquestionably the best US player in his level, has been absolutely unstoppable this year .. Though he qualifies for 16s this year (he turned 17 recently), he is also playing the under-18 level where he is ranked in the top-15 already .. Prakash also has been playing some at the 18s level and is getting into the top-50 too .. Rajeev was in the quarterfinals of the under-18 level in the US at the claycourt junior nationals last month in Michigan as well .. Rajeev and Prakash are right at the top of the junior 16s rankings ..  We should take note of these two guys.

I am not sure if there was a bronze medal tie out there at the Commonwealth Millennium Junior Games in Edinburgh for Sunil Kumar and company .. I have not seen any results on that if there was one.

Aug 13 Note-2

Nirupama is keeping it going .. Today in the qualies at the $50K Bronx challenger, N.Vaidyanathan d. Bryanne Stewart (AUS,175), 61 46 63 .. She plays the 7th seed in the qualies, and her doubles partner Evie Dominikovic (AUS,161) in the second round .. It's the usual 3 round affair for qualifying.

The Indianapolis draw shows Mahesh and Knowles playing Marius Bernard and Robie Koenig in the first round - the winner will play the 3rd seeds Novak-Rikl in the second round (the top 4 seeds have byes there) .. They will be playing at around 2 pm on Monday .. The Woodies, who were in the finals at the Cincinnati Masters today against Ferreira-Leach, are the top seeds at Indi.

Aus 13 Note-1

Nirupama is in the qualies at the $50K Bronx (NY) challenger .. She plays Bryanne Stewart (AUS,175) in the first round of qualies .. Entry seems to be much tougher than usual if what I am seeing is indeed the qualifying draw .. The top seed in the qualies is #135 and Niru is not even seeded, with even the qualifying draw closing inside #250 .. Yeek!

I have not seen the doubles draw at Indianapolis for Mahesh and Knowles yet.

Aug 12 Note-2

So my guess that Hesh might try the qualies at the Indianapolis ATP was correct -- except that I had hoped he would win if he played .. Jonathan Stark (USA,468) d. Mahesh Bhupathi (IND,922)  61 76(5) today in the first round of the qualies .. I have no other details .. Goo to see Mahesh getting out there for some singles, though .. Only his second singles match in almost a year, and he seems to have taken a set before getting into a groove, but that was too late I guess.

At the Commonwealth Millennium Youth Games in Edinburgh, the Indian boys lost 1-2 to the top seeds South Africa today in the semifinals, though Sunil Kumar pulled an upset and extended the tie to a a 3rd match .. #93 Sunil Kumar did come up big with an upset of the world #44 Peter Jon-Nondo, the highest ranked player at the games, after Shivang had lost to the RSA #2 player .. India couldn't do much in doubles though .. Scores -- Raven Klaasen (RSA) bt Shivang Mishra (IND) 6-2, 6-3 ..  Sunil Kumar (IND) bt Peter-Jon Nondo (RSA) 7-6(7) 5-7, 7-5 .. Clinton Jacobs & Klaasen (RSA) bt Parantap Chaturvedi & Kumar (IND) 6-1, 6-0 .. Glad to see Sunil pulling off such a tough win .. This is the first top-50 win in his junior career, I believe .. Despite all the hoopla after he won the DSCL nationals last year, I have been looking out for quality wins from him at the international level, and this win is one such .. Good job, Sunil!

Following their upset of 4th seeds India yesterday, Scotland continued their dream run, upsetting the top seeds Australia today .. Elena Baltacha who upset Sonal Phadke in three sets yesterday, upset the top player on the girls's side, #18 Christine Wheeler, 63 64 today .. I guess Indian girls can take some consolation in that .. The finals are between England and Australia on the boys' side and Englad and Scotland on the girls' side.

Aug 12 Note-1

The already thread-bare men's international circuit in India this year has got further depleted now -- the two challengers soriginally slated for later this year (Lucknow and Jaipur) have been moved to next year .. Lucknow will be postponed from Nov 29 to Feb 26 .. Jaipur will move from Dec 6 to Feb 19, so that we will have three weeks of grass challengers, with Calcutta hosting a 3rd week on March 5th [source: PTI] .. Part of the reason is to make it possible for Mahesh and Leander to take part in these challengers .. The sponsors would not be too happy if they are not playing, but the November dates do not work for them, as they will be finishing the doubles events and getting ready for Bangalore ..

The good thing is that Leander definitely will get some help from these events in India early next year, as he has basically said the rest of this year will have to be focused on doubles [he needs to make a living too, you know! :-)] .. He will have all of his singles points falling off by March next year .. Any attempt at yet another final resurrection in singles will have to start with some grass challenger in India for points .. I still think he has one more round left in him for a comeback in singles - I know he won't go quietly before it's all done - that's just my hunch .. His comeback attempt stalled with injuries in March this year after he had a very good 4-month stretch .. I had observed then that I felt that would be his last attempt at a comeback into the top 75 or top-50 .. Since that ended prematurely, I think he will try it once more .. It's the same with Mahesh as well .. It doesn't look like he will have any chance either, to try to do anything in singles till the doubles career stabilizes again by early next year .. For now, both LP and MB are focusing on doubles, Olympics, a few events to get back on track afterwards and then the Bangalore WDC by year-end .. Then the new years starts with Chennai, Australian, etc.

The men's calendar has just disappeared for the second half of this year though .. Already the 4-week circuit for the second half of the year was converted to three weeks of futures and later pushed to next year too .. With the postponement of the challengers as well, this leaves the men with three challengers, three futures and a 4-week satellite done in the first half of the year and no international events at all for the second half .. That is not good .. Is AITA losing steam in their "Spanish Model" internationalization of the tennis circuit? .. I sincerely hope not, as I think they were doing it right and it is too early to lose steam after just a year or two of the experiment .. One needs to do this for a few years till you find two or three players who finally made use of the opportunities and emerged .. On the other hand, looking at how our second string has done in the events earlier this year in India and in some of the futures events abroad recently, I am not sure if they are ready to do much better so soon in the second half of the year in the challenger qualies and and all that (and the college guys like Harsh and Ajay are anyway going to be in the US) .. One can never say when or if we will bring out the next couple of  youngsters to replace LP-MB and Fazal-Sri, but we have to keep at it and hope for the best .. Hopefully the second string players would concentrate on longer-term physical fitness training and practice amongst themselves to improve, till the next year rolls around - they will have a couple of domestic tournaments like the DSCL hardcourt nationals in October and Kolkata Grasscourt nationals in November, and some ranking events at Mumbai, Allahabad and Bhimavaram to play .. The women are of course in great shape, with 5 weeks of $10K events and a $25K challenger coming up from late August to mid October .. Kudos to AITA and the state organizers for balancing things out and giving a big bonanza for the women this year.

Talking of AITA, there was a news item this week confirming that the "other" famous Rajkumar, unkidnapped to the best of our knowledge, Mr. Raj Kumar (RK) Khanna will step down as president after many years, and that central finance minister Yashwant Sinha will take over as the new president .. Here is the Times of India article by V.Srivatsa on this .. RK Khanna's son Anil Khanna will basically be running the show as the secretary and there should be no continuity problems in AITA .. Anil Khanna will replace septuagenarian Ramesh Desai, the current secretary (I don't think Mr.Desai has been as active the last two years as he was before anyway, and Anil Khanna has been quite active already) .. Interestingly, Karnataka Chief Minister SM Krishna, the man whose normally undivided attention to tennis must be distracted these days with having to deal with those who kidnap movie stars, will be inducted in AITA as the senior vice-president .. He is certainly one who loves tennis, as is Yashwant - though I am never a fan of politicians, I would rather have those who are already "up there" in politics with no need for extra power-boost like a CM or the union finance minister, than those itty-bitty politicians who may be more interested in the power-trip .. Again, I don't know the details of these matters and I don't particularly care as long as AITA keeps functioning in a reasonable way as they have been doing .. As I always say, I have been of the opinion that AITA is one of the best sports federations in India - much as we like to complain about things, they rarely do anything to hurt the sport, as done by many other federations! .. On the other hand, if Veerappan gets hint of these things and makes yet another demand that SM Krishna should force AITA to build forest tennis courts for militants' recreation and get ATP to move the World doubles championship to Gopichettippaalayam in Tamil Nadu, then we are in serious trouble :-)

Aug 11 Note-3

At the Millennium Commonwealth Youth Games at Edinburgh today, the Indian juniors made the comeback to stay alive on the boys' side but allowed a comeback upset on the girls's side .. Sunil Kumar beat his Welsh opponent after Shivang Mishra was upset in the first match, and then Sunil joined Parantap for the clinching doubles tie .. That is good job by Sunil, but we really shouldn't have been sweating against Wales! .. On the girls' side against Scotland, Radhika Tulpule put us ahead in the first match, but Sonal Phadke lost the next match and Sonal/Radhika lost the clincher doubles as well .. Here are the scores from today at Edinburgh, Scotland: Boy: India bt Wales 2-1:   Simon Morris (Wal) bt Shivang Mishra (IND) 2-6, 6-3, 6-3; Sunil Kumar (IND) bt Michael Llewellyn (Wal) 6-4, 1-6, 6-3; Parantap Chaturvedi & Kumar (IND) bt Llewellyn & Wright (Wal) 6-4, 6-1 .. Girls: Scotland bt India 2-1:  Radhika Tulpule (IND) bt Mhairi Brown (Scot) 6-4, 7-6(8-6); Elena Baltacha (Scot) bt Sonal Phadke (IND) 6-2, 2-6, 6-2; Brown & Baltacha bt Phadke & Tulpule 6-0, 7-5 .. In other ties, all the seeded teams won their ties 3-0 each, mostly in straight set washouts .. India is the only seeded team to even lose any match today .. But to be fair, Scotland girls with Elena Baltacha is the only unseeded team with any decent players, though the seeded teams have all brought some of their best players.

So, our girls side will finish in the bottom half of the 8 teams, and are in the consolation bracket now with no medal chances .. Sonal's loss in singles today was unfortunate - Elena Baltacha is ranked #139 in ITF juniors to Sonal's #87, and 669 in WTA to Sonal's 604, and so this has to go as an upset .. The Scottish coach talked about how the teamwork from playing together for two extra days helped them in the clinching doubles match - “It’s a fantastic result, they stuck in all and they believed they could win and they managed to pull it off. We’re all on a huge high. The doubles first set was just phenomenal, we just couldn’t miss a thing or put a foot wrong. At 2-0 in the second set the Indians pulled a couple of games back and they thought they were back in the match and we had to tighten up. Elena and Mhairi don’t normally play together but they gelled well today and there is no doubt that the extra two days of practice helped.”[source: Britsports] .. I don't think Radhika and Sonal have played together at all, though they are both from Maharashtra, as Radhika normally played with Radhika Mandke and Sonal played with others .. When I heard India left for Scotland only wednesday, the day before the opening ceremony, it didn't look good - and it looks like the lack of practice may have been a problem here .. Oh well - it often goes like that for us .. On the boys's side also we seem to have had unexpected trouble today .. Sunil and Shivang are ranked #93 and #156, while the Welsh boys have hardly played any ITF junior events to be ranked .. Actually Simon Morris described his upset of Shivang as "the best match of my life" .. That's not good .. Our boys better be ready to do much better tomorrow, as they will be facing South Africa, the top seed, to advance to the final .. Peter Nondo, Raven Klassen and Clinton Jacobs are ranked #44, #58 and #78 in the world .. We can't expect Shivang or Parantap to upset those guys, and our only chance may be for Sunil showing up big tomorrow .. Let us see .. This is a pretty good competition actually, and I am glad India sent teams there!

In other news, we will know soon about whether Niru made the draw for the Bronx challenger or will have to play the qualies over this weekend.  It would be interesting to see if Mahesh would somehow manage to get into the singles qualies or something at Indianapolis for this weekend - I doubt it.

Also, apologies for taking too long to put the results together in a page for the ongoing Adidas junior national ranking event at Chennai, and also for the event at Bangalore last week .. Will do it soon ..

Aug 11 Note-2

India is seeded 4th in both the boys' and girls' draws at the Millennium Commonwealth Youth Games at Edinburg, Scottland .. South Africa, England and Australia are the top three seeds in the boys' draw while Australia, England, and South Africa are the top three in the girls' draw .. I believe the following are the draws - I will confirm soon .. These are today's first day matchups anyway.

BOYS                                GIRLS
--------------------------------    -------------------------------
4 INDIA vs WALES              / \   4 INDIA vs SCOTLAND          / \
3 AUSTRALIA vs SCOTLAND       \ /   3 SOUTH AFRICA vs WALES      \ /
World junior #44 Peter-Jon Nomdo (RSA) who reached the US Open final-16 last year is the top player on the boys' side .. On the girls' side, world #18 junior Christine Wheeler leads the pack, with #24 Melissa Dowse and #68 Jaslyn Hewitt (Lleyton's sister, whom Nirupama had beaten in the qualies at Australian, if you remember) also in the Australian team .. Both Africa has their top-100 players in #50 Chani Scheepers and #93 Karin Coetzee ..

Early news from today (Friday) .. Indian boys are in bad shape against unseeded Wales .. Simon Morris has upset Shivang Mishra, 26 63 63 as India was down 0-1 by lunch time today;  so, Sunil Kumar would have to come through for us .. On the girls' side, India leads 1-0 over Scotland, as Radhika Tulpule beat Mhairi Brown, 64 76(6) in the first match today .. Three matches in each tie including a doubles match .. I believe this is a straight knockout event with eight teams in each draw  [news courtesy: Britsports]

Aug 11 Note-1

Lots of bad news to report today ..

First, Manisha Malhotra retired hurt in her second round match at the $10K Bath satellites in UK yesterday.. She was in the 3rd set against Jane O'Donahue (GBR,751), 36 76(1) 34 whern she retired .. I am not sure what the injury is; perhaps a flaring up of the shoulder problem .. I will try to find out .. In doubles, Manisha and Susi Bensch (GBR) were 4th seeded but gave a first round walkover .. It's unfortuante that Manisha is down again .. This week she was actually defending 5 points from the Harrisonberg (Virginia) from satellites last year as well .. She picked up one point from the first round win .. Seeing that she retired in the middle of a comeback after dropping the first set and that she was not really behind in the 3rd set, makes me suspect that the injury may not be simple .. Shoot .. Anyway, I will bring an update soon.

Sai and Rusmi are at the $10K satellites in Rimini, Italy .. Sai is seeded 7th and was drawn to play a lucky loser Marisol Berengeno (ARG,805) in the first round .. Rushmi was to play the second seed, Maria Elena Camerin (ITA,331) in R1 - that's a tough draw for her .. I have not seen the doubles draw or the singles results yet.

At the $50K Sopot challenger, Sri and Fazal fell in the doubles first round to Oscar Hernandez and German Puentes, 46 26 .. Somehow, Sri and Fazal don't seem to be able to do much in each other's company while they have both had a lot of doubles success with others .. There was on lucky loser spot in the main draw, but Sri did not make the draw as he was second in line for lucky loser spot .. As I had reported below, Sri lost in the final round of qualies and Fazal in the second round of qualies there.

Vikrant Chadha lost in the final round of qualies at the $10K British F6 futures this week .. He was seeded 12th and lost in the final round against the 6th seed, Julien Couly (FRA,993) 24 04 24, after a 41 40 41 win over Ryan Thompson in the second round, and a first round bye .. In the doubles main draw Vikrant is playing with hard-hitting Barry Fulcher (GBR) and they were drawn to face wildcards Nick Greenhouse and Thomas Higgins - no doubles news yet.

Aug 10 Notes

It appears that there is really not much chance for Leander and Mahesh to be seeded at the Olympics .. I had hoped that the ranks before the US Open would be used to determine the seedings, so that the LP-MB ranking would be before their 501 points for the final last year fall off .. Not so .. I checked with the ITF London yesterday, and they said that the seedings at Olympics would be based on the rankings on the monday after the US Open .. That means Leander will basically have 396 points (175 at Orlando, 80 at Bermuda, 75 at Indian Wells, 40 at Chennai, 26 at Shanghai-99) plus whatever he picks up at Long Island and the US Open .. Mahesh will have about 925 points (175 at St.Poelten, 175 at Halle, 150 at Wimbledon, 125 at Toronto, 75 at Hamburg, 75 at French Open, 41 at Stockhom-99, 40 Orlando, 38 at Queens, 26 at Shanghai-99) and whatever he gets from Indi, Long Island and USO ..

So, basically LP will need to pick up some 900 points from two events, and MB needs to pick up some 500 from three events for them to be ranked inside the top-40 and be ranked .. Based on the recent record, though I don't like to say it, I won't expect LP or MB to pick up more than 150 points (i.e., reach PQF) at the US Open if they play with other partners .. Even if they win the Long Island title and then both of them pick up 250 points each at USO (i.e. both in QFs), along with MB picking up some 100 odd next week at Indianapolis next week, they will still be looking at 1425 for MB and 825 for LP - even that optimistic scenario would leave them with #35 and #75 rankings and they will miss being seeded .. If they play the USO together and they pick up at least 400 (that is semifinal or better), they have a decent chance to get seeded .. As it looks like it's tough for them to drop their partners at USO (especially for MB), it looks quite improbable that they will get seeded at Olympics .. Again, one cannot say that they will surely strike good form together immediately when they play at Long Island, and that they will reach semi or better at USO if they played together there - but then again, they have gone into the last three grand slams last year with serious questions on practice together and had won two titles and reached the final in the 3rd, and so the chances are for them to repeat that if they are healthy enough .. I know, I am unrelenting in being on their case about USO :-)

On the other hand, if they play USO and win the title, they will have about 2100+ and 1500+ points, which will rank them inside top-15 and top-30 respectively .. That will be enough to get a seeding inside the top-6, which means avoiding the top two seeds before the semifinals, etc, etc .. That is the most optimistic scenario .. Plus, guess what, winning US Open is enough to bring them inside the top-12 in the "Race to Bangalore" rankings as well - after just two events ...  Anybody has a doubt that our pair is perfectly capable of pulling that off ?? .. So there - time to play the USO together and win it, champs !!

Will be back later today with some news from Bath, Sopot, Italy, etc.

Aug 9 Notes

First, some good news -- AITA just announced that Leander Paes has been given a singles wildcard into the Olympics ! .. So, one by one things are falling into place .. Now he has to figure out how to pull upsets like last time and become India's first multiple medalist at any Olympics!

Manisha Malhotra is at the $10K satellites in Bath, UK this week .. She is the second seed and has won the first round over Jheni Osman of GBR, 76(5) 46 64 .. In the second round, she plays Jane O'Donahue (GBR).

Awaiting news from Sopot, Poland, about how Sri and Fazal are doing in doubles at the challenger.

In other news, the entry list for the $10K India S3 satellites starting at Aug 28th in Jaipur (on grass) shows Manisha as the top entry and Sai Jayalakshmi as the second .. Orawan Wongkamalsai and I-Ting Wang are the #3 and #4 in the list .. Rushmi, Sonal, Archana, Arthi, Shalini Thakur and Karishma Patel are in the main draw, with Radhika Tulpule and Sheetal Gautham at the top of the waiting list (I am sure they will make the entry by the time the draw is made) ..  Suchanan Viratprasert of Thailand, a top Asian junior player for the last couple of years is in the draw too .. For the Delhi satellite week after Jaipur, Leanne Baker of New Zealand joins the entry at the top .. There is another Indian name in the entry list for both weeks .. Kavitha Krishnamurthi of Canada, who is among the top 15 players in both the weeks.

Indian juniors are participating in the Millenium Commonwealth Youth Games starting at Edinburgh, Scottland tomorrow .. 14 countries are taking part, and I am not sure how many have entered in tennis .. Tennis events will be done at the Craiglockhart Tennis Centre at Edinburgh .. I believe it is a 5 day event (Aug 10-15) with 8 events - Athletics, Fencing, Field Hockey, Gymnastics, Squash, Swimming, Tennis and Weightlifting .. I believe Australia and England have sent some of their top juniors to the event .. I also find that Bahamas and Zimbabwe were late withdrawals .. That's all I can find about the Commonwealth Youth games .. I had not heard much about this tournament till I got the announcement of the Indian team for that from AITA today .. It's a good team -- Sunil Kumar, Parantap Chaturvedi, Shivang Mishra, Radhika Tulpule, Sonal Phadke, Megha Vakharia with Prof TD Francis as the manager .. They have left for Scotland today ..  Let us hope it's a useful trip and that some decent players from Australia, England, South Africa, Canada, etc will show up there -- no use playing against the Gibraltars and Pakistans of the world :-)  .. Actually I saw that those like Jaslyn Hewitt of Australia and Andrew Banks of UK (Wimbledon doubles finalist this year) will be playing there .. The Indian team is certainly of good caliber.

Aug 8 Note-2

Things went well for one hour and fell apart for the next 30 minutes for Hesh and Knowles today .. I may have jinxed them by saying the Swede wildcards would be easy prey .. Not so .. (wc) T.Johansson/ M.Norman d. M.Bhupathi/ M.Knowles, 26 64 62 in the first round at the $2.95M Cincinnati masters .. The first set went as I expected for MB-MK, as they closed it out at 6-2, though the Swedes seemed to be fighting and the set took about 35 minutes .. It went with serve till the 7th game of the second set when our pair dropped serve to fall behind 3-4, and suddenly everything changed .. The break happened too late in the set for MB-MK to recover, and it was tied up at 62 46 .. In the 3rd set, MB-MK did not waste much time and went up a break in the second game, converting the first break chance after a deuce to go up 2-0.. The prosperity did not last long, as Knowles and Bhupathi were broken in sucession for three service games, and they were soon behind 2-5 .. The Swedes finished it off in style with a love game - and our pair had lost 10 of the last 13 games, dropping serve four times .. Shoot! .. The match took an hour and 32 minutes.

Can't wait to see Hesh with Lee out there!

Aug 8 Note-1

Sorry for a server software glitch that shut down the site for over two days - and we couldn't correct it, as the system administrator with the root password was on vacation -- she's back and we are back online! .. A lot of stuff to report now.

Mahesh and Mark Knowles find a rather tough draw at the $2.95M Cncinnati Masters .. They have a not-too-difficult first round match, though .. Today they play wildcards Johansson and Norman, at around 2.30pm (11.30 am Los Angeles, 12 midnight India) .. We will be online during the match in our chatroom - come on in ..

Here us the draw for MB/MK:

8 S.Lareau/ D. Nestor   vs W A.Corretja/ A.Costa   \
  M.Bhupathi/ M.Knowles vs W T.Johansson/ M.Norman / \_ SF
  J.Bjorkman/ M.Mirnyi  vs W N.Kiefer/ N.Lapantti  \ /
2 A.O'Brien/ J.Palmer   vs Q N.Godwin/ M.Hill      /
Not the easiest part of the draw, actually .. Lareau/Nestor and Bjorkman/Mirnyi are tough teams (O'Brien-Palmer have been losing to everybody lately, but we shouldn't count them out yet, either :-)) .. 3rd seeds E.Ferreira/ Leach and 6th seeds W.Ferreira/ Kafelnikov are the ther seeds in the bottom half .. Woodies, who skipped the Toronto masters are the top seeds here .. 4th seeds Adams-DeJager and 5th seeds Novak-Rikl are in the upper half, along with 7th seeds Damm-Hrbaty ..

More good news from the LP-MB camps .. Dr.Paes said yesterday about them playing in two weeks at Long Island .. "Instead of playing the singles qualifiers of the U.S. Open, it is better that they concentrated on getting their magic chemistry back on track," he said .. "I have told them that they should pull out of Tashkent which ends on September 17, just a day before the Olympic tennis event begins. The Olympic opening ceremony would have been over by then and if the two make it to the final at the President's Cup, there's no way they can be in Sydney when the tennis event starts. So I have suggested that they should avoid playing Tashkent" [as reported by Telegraph (Calcutta) and India-Today online news today] .. I understand that LP changed his mind about playing qualifiers at US Open, as getting some doubles practice for Olympics was more important .. As it turned out, Mark Knowles (ranked #236) has a good chance to make the qualifying entry and he decided to do that too .. And boom, our boys decided to play Hamlet Cup at Long Island .. As I had guessed last week, they would like to avoid Tashkent now that they will have one tournament under their belt before Sydney - they would rather get to Sydney early, practice, join the Opening ceremony and get into the spirit !! .. Go Indian Express !!.

The reports are that LP may be playing with Siemerink and MB will be with Knowles at the US Open .. Hey, what can we do to get Knowles to play with Siemrink, so that the Indian Express can pick up that USO title ?? :-) .. Damn, what a drag! :-)

Fazaluddin and Srinath were at the qualies for the $50K Sopot challenger - Srinath was the 4th seed and Fazal was unseeded .. Sri beat Aleksander Mierzwinski (POL,1062) 63 62 in Q1, and then unranked Mariusz Fyrstenberg 63 26 76(7) in Q2, but then fell to Eduardo Medica (ARG,584) 26 57 in the final qualies - he was second in wating for a lucky loser spot, but it was doubtful if he would make it in .. Fazal easily beat unranked wildcard Lukasz Kaczmarek (POL) 60 61 in Q1 and lost to 6th seed Fredrik Giers (SWE,401), 16 46 in Q2 .. Fazal/Sri are in the doubles main draw and face Oscar Hernandez and German Puentes in the first round this week.

In other news, Nirupama is off the tour this week .. Manisha may be at the $10K satellites at Bath, UK, this week - I have not seen the draws yet .. Last week at the Alghero challenger in Italy, Rushmi Chakravarti and Anna Floris of Italy lost in the first round of doubles to top seeds Trudy Musgrave and Lorna Woodroffe, 16 36 [see Aug 4 Note-1 for Rushmi's singles results] .. I am not sure if Sai played last week in Europe - I don't think she played.

At the $10K futures in France, Vikrant Chadha and Christophe Bosio reached the semifinal and lost to the second seeds, Luke Bourgeois and Domenic Marafiote, 45(4), 14 14 .. A decent tournament for Vikrant who picked up a singles win and 1 ATP points to go with 4 points in doubles [see Aug 3 Note-1 for previous report] .. Vikrant was the 12th seed at the LTA UK F6 $10K futures in England this weekend, but I have not seen any scores yet.

No news yet on this week's futures in Egypt, where Vijay Kannan, Rohan Bopanna and Rishi Sridhar are playing .. They were at last week's $10K Egypt F3 futures [see Aug 1 note-1 below for qualies news] .. Vijay, who was the only one who made the direct entry, fell in the first round to the same guy who beat him in the previous week as well - 8th seed Rafael de Mesa (USA,664), 36 06 .. Vijay had lost to him 06 26 in the previous week's first round as well .. Yikes .. In doubles, 4th seeds Bopanna and Rishi Sridhar were upset by Tomas Janci and Michal Martinek, the eventual runners-up and previous week's winners ..

I have quite a lot of junior results to talk about .. The Adidas AITA u18/u14 juniors was done in Bangalore last week and the circuit continues this week in Chennai ..  P.Ravikrishna (AP) and Lata Asudani (Mah) won the u18 titles, while Ajay Selvaraj (TN) and Sanaa Bhambri (Del) won the u14 titles .. Rohan Gajjar (Mah), Liza Pereira (Mah), Vijay Sundar Prashant (TN) and Ankita Bhambri (Del) were the runner-up .. Quite a few top junior players skipped the event, unfortunately .. Some of our players like Megha Vakharia and Punna Vishal have been showing up even in some far-away places like Portugal, though Sunil Kumar has been completely missing in action .. Also, I need to mention some results from the highest-ranked Indian-American, Rajeev Ram of Indiana in the US, a 16 yr old who is ranked in the top-15 of the 18s rankings already and has been racking up many domestic titles here .. He had led the USA team by going unbeaten in the North and Central American regionals a few months back, as US made the u16 World Youth Cup final-16 to be played soon this year .. Will report all that later.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Aug 7 ..

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.