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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for week ending on Aug 16, 1999

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Aug 16 Note-1

Here is the singles draw for Leander at the $745K RCA Championships at Indianapolis (it is in the bottom half, with 2nd seed Rafter and 5th seed Philippoussis .. Sampras is the top seed, in the upper half):

 3 Gusatavo Kuerten (BRA)         BYE                    \
   Sjeng Schalken (NED)     vs  Q Noam Okun (ISR)        / \
   Chris Woodruff (USA)     vs    Andrei Pavel (ROM)     \ / \
13 Mariano Zabaleta (ARG)   vs    Magnus Norman (SWE)    /    \ __ SF
12 Albert Costa (ESP)       vs    Leander Paes (IND)     \    /
   Sebastien Grosjean (FRA) vs WC Richey Reneberg (USA)  / \ /
   Jiri Novak (CZE)         vs  Q Harel Levy (ISR)       \ /
 6 Marcelo Rios (CHI)             BYE                    /
I am quite uncertain about what form Leander is in, for now, in singles .. Let us hope for him to surprise us here!  .. Leander is scheduled to play his match against Albert Costa today (MOnday) on court 3, at about 4.30 pm (1.30 pm EST, usa .. 2 am Tuesday India) .. No doubles for either MB or LP today.

Aug 15 Note-4

Happy Independence Day to all Indians!

Hmm .. The doubles draw at Indianapolis just came out and there is something interesting .. Leander is top seeded with Olivier Delaitre (FRA,5), and have a first round bye  .. Mahesh is playing with Andrei Pavel (AUT,152), and is drawn to play qualifiers in the first round, followed by LP-Delaitre in R2 !! .. What are the odds for that kind of a draw, huh ?? .. These two can't get away from each other, you know! ..  If you are wondering what happened, it seems to be a timing thing.  After the singles match yesterday, it appears that Hesh was considering withdrawing from doubles too, due to an initial medical advice .. Leander then signed in with Delaitre .. Mahesh later decided to play, probably to get a bit of match practice anyway this week, rather than to be away from doubles for over two weeks .. He then signed in with Pavel to play with, as LP was already signed in with OD .. There doesn't seem to be anything more to it, based on my chat with LP just now .. I haven't been able to talk to Hesh yet .. What really surprised me was that the draw ended up the way it did .. It will be odd to see them facing each other in doubles, as I would expect MB-AP to reach R2 .. The last time they played with other partners in the same tournament was at the end of 1997, when they played a challenger in India, swapping partners with the Kirtane cousins (I have to check if they faced each other though - I don't think they did).

Nirupama won her first round at the Bronx challenger qualies today, upsetting Irina Selyutina (KAZ,186), 62 76(4) .. She plays the top seed Julia Abe (GER, 141) in the second round tomorrow at about 2.30 or 3 pm .. Good news about Fazal too .. Fazal has won two rounds of qualies at the Bronx men's challenger .. According to Niru, he beat Jim Thomas (USA,416) today in straight sets ! .. Not sure who he played yesterday in the first round .. I think that means he is playing the final (qualifier) round tomorrow too .. Any of you New Yorkers want to get down to Bronx to watch them tomorrow ? - The address of the place is:  Crotona Park Tennis Club, 1701 Crotona Avenue, Bronx, NY 10460 (Tel: +1 718 786 7110) - at least that is what I can find.  Call before you go to make sure it is right !

Aug 15 Note-3

It would have been considered a miracle, had Srinath won the match today against Arnaud DiPasquale ranked #51, but it didn't happen in the final round qualies at Indianapolis .. 322nd ranked Srinath went down 3-6, 2-6 .. I am sure Srinath has gained from playing a talented top player, though.  Jared Palmer of USA, Noam Okun and Harel Levy of Israel,  Nicolas Escude and Arnaud DiPasquale of France, Grant Stafford of RSA, and Max Mirnyi of Belarus are the seven who qualified in.

Aug 15 Note-2

Some very good junior news to report -- Sonal Phadke has come out of nowhere to create some news and join Radhika Tulpule for a nice run to the top rung of the junior ITF world rankings .. Sonal was in the final of the Grade-3 Zimbabwe ITF junior tournament (on synth. hardcourts) at Harare last week, which was followed by her title in the previous week at the Grade-4 tourney (on clay) at Blantyre, Malawi .. She lost to Anat Elazari of Israel in the final last Sunday, 26 76(2) 75, but had beaten the same girl (now ranked #88 in the world) the week before in the final at Blantyre, Malawi, 60 75 .. Remember that she had reached the finals of two ITF events in India (last December and this February) losing those matches to Sheetal Gautam .. The grade-3 event gave her a good amount of points too, and that helped her crack the singles top-100 in the world at #98 !! .. She has right now moved ahead of Radhika Tulpule, who is at #109 in singles (Sheetal is still the highest ranked, at #89, but this is the last year for her in the juniors - Sonal and Radhika, who both turned 17 in the last few months, have one more year in the juniors) .. Big congrats go to Sonal, who also deserves some help from AITA through ITF grand slam scholarship, etc, based on her results .. Sonal has been doing well, but had not had noteworthy break through results before, like the ones in Africa now .. Anyway, girls have certainly had much better results lately than our boys in the world junior circuit .. Except for the title by 16 yr old Sunil Kumar in February in India, nobody has done anything that noteworthy (Sunil has strangely not played any other ITF tournament other than that -- I had read a while back that he would be in the ITF junior squad to tour Europe, but ITF rank list does not reflect anything on that - it lists just one tournament for him) .. At the beginning of the year, when last year's 18 yr old guys left the list, we had a few boys in the top-150 and 200, such as Kedar Tembe, AV Rao, Karan Doctor, etc, but all have had their ranks go down during the year .. 17 yr old AV Rao at #144 and 18 yr old Tembe at #189 are the highest ranked ones .. Manoj Mahadevan left the juniors and has been playing senior events the whole year ..  Am I worried about our juniors, and the cupboard for the next few years ? -- Heck, yeah! .. And I am not the only one - read this article by SK John in the Indian Express on Friday ..  Hopefully somebody will emerge from Chennai under the Krishnans' watch, Sunil Kumar will get some good coaching and support,  Harsh will improve at Minnesota, Vijay Kannan will get over his slump, etc, etc .. It's nervous time, right now.

Aug 15 Note-1

I tried to contact Mahesh to see how he was doing this morning, but Hesh had stepped out from his room .. Anyway, here is an update from Mose Navarra of Italy, who was in the room ! .. Hesh was actually serving for the match at 5-4 in the second set against Srinath, but was feeling a bit of pain .. Srinath broke him and went ahead 6-5 .. Mahesh then felt that he should not aggrevate anything by pushing which he would have had to, to hold serve and then go through a tiebreaker .. The good news is that he is alright, and basically needs a bit more time to bring himself back to shape.  I hope he will be fine in doubles this week, and for possible US Open qualies starting in 10 days which is when he will play singles again .. Srinath seems to have played a very good match - hopefully he will have a good outing against DiPasquale (FRA,51) later today at Indianapolis.

Nirupama is at the $50K Bronx challenger qualies (actually she made it in as the last one!) and is drawn against Irina Selyutina of Kazakhstan (#186), a player that Niru has beaten once and lost to once .. She plays after about 2 pm this afternoon, if any of you New Yorkers want to go out there and cheer her .. I am not sure if Fazal is there, for the men's challenger, which is also at Bronx.

At the Cincinnati Super 9, the Woodies are finally having a nice tournament - it has been a while since they have looked good, and the legends are now in the final against Bjorkman/B.Black today .. If you haven't heard, the singles semis there had a rare case of all the 4 top seeds - Sampras beat Agassi (once again!) yesterday to reach the final today against the defending champ Rafter, who beat Kafelnikov yesterday.

Aug 14 Note-3

Mahesh retired from the match against Srinath today with the score at 76(4), 56 .. Srinath now faces the top seed in the qualies, Arnaud Di Pasquale (FRA,51), probably the highest ranked player he has ever played at an ATP tournament, in the final round of qualies tomorrow .. Will find out how Hesh is feeling, soon.

Aug 14 Note-2

Mahesh and Srinath are about to play each other, at about 2.45 pm at Indianapolis in the first round of qualies.

Leander is in the draw and plays Albert Costa of Spain (#22), who is hot right now after winning the Gstaad and Kitzbuhel titles on clay .. Costa is playing on hardcourts for the first time since March, but this will still be a very tough match  .. They are drawn in the same quarter of the draw with 3rd seed Kuerten and 6th seed Rios, in the lower half .. I will post the draw later, once the qualifiers are all determined.

A news item from Egypt .. The Kirtane cousins, Sandeep and Nitin, lost in the semifinals of doubles in the 3rd week of the futures (source: Indian Express) .. They were in the final two weeks back, and were upset in the first round last week ..  Six more points for them for a total of 18 points from Egypt so far - not bad .. That will take them both inside the top-300 in doubles.

Aug 14 Note-1

Srinath is at the $745K RCA Champiionship qualies at  Indianapolis along with Mahesh, and has a draw just like he had at the Montreal Super 9 .. Right next to the top seed, and facing an Indian in the first round today - who else, but his good friend Hesh!

 1 Arnaud Di Pasaquale (FRA,51) vs  Aleksander Kitinov (MAC,911) \__main draw
14 Mahesh Bhupathi (IND,294)    vs  Srinath Prahlad (IND,322)    /
This is the draw from last night. I will  see if there were any last minute main draw withdrawals that put DiPasquale in the main draw .. That would be nice .. More news soon.

Aug 13 Notes

Mahesh has gone to Indianapolis, and will try to get into the singles qualifiers starting tomorrow .. I am not sure if he is in good enough shape to do much yet - let's hope the injury doesn't hamper him too much there .. Apparently it has healed enough for him not to be too worried about reaggravating it, though.

In the doubles quarterfinal at the $50K Binghamton challenger, Fazal (#360) and Ofer Sela (ISR,262) played a very close match with the top seeds with a combined ranking about 400 above theirs, but lost .. Geoff Grant (USA,101) and Adam Peterson (USA,135) beat Fazal and Sela, 7-5, 7-6(4) ..

Aug 12 Note-2

I suspect that our pair is not physically healthy still, based on what I saw following the match ball-by-ball online today .. They were probably not all that rusty, except for some serve percentage problems at first, and they did have a nice start winning the first set with breaks in games 7 and 9 .. Then things started falling apart, with a quick drop of serve in game 1 of the second set .. The key stat is this - our pair and the opponents had won exactly 40 points each at the beginning of the second set .. from that point onwards, the Indian Express won 25 points and the other guys won 51 .. Looks like a physical problem right there, as our pair does not get pushed around like that by *anybody*, even though I know AF-DM are capable of some great doubles and probably did play well enough to win .. In fact the only times that I remember when LP-MB allowed comeback wins after winning the first set were in the two matches at Hartford last year, when they fell apart in the same manner, due to Leander carrying a bad injury .. Hopefully Mahesh is alright .. Anyway, the score was, A.Florent - D.MacPherson d. L.Paes - M.Bhupathi, 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 .. AF-DM were broken in games 7 and 9 of the first set .. LP-MB were broken in games 1 and 9 of the second set and games 4 and 6 of the 3rd set .. The match took an hour and 27 minutes to complete.

Aug 12 Note-1

Leander and Mahesh will be playing for the first time in 39 days today - the second round match against Andrew Florent (AUS, 33) and David MacPherson (USA,56) at the Cincinnati Super 9 is scheduled for about 2 pm (plus or minus half hour) .. That is 11 am PST, u.s.a, and 11.30 pm India .. Come to the chatroom for ball-by-ball ..

Florent and MacPherson are two players whom Leander and Mahesh have played a lot .. Starting 1997, LP-MB beat Florent in the company of Joshua Eagle three times before they beat LP-MB this year at Dubai (when LP was just coming off an injury) .. As for MacPherson, LP-MB beat him in the company of Trevor "El Tank" Kronemann two times in 97, including once at Hartford where Korenamnn/MacPherson, the #12 team then, entered as an alternate team with Knowles/Nestor withdrawing due to injury .. MacPherson has had various partners ever since Kronemann retired .. LP has had two grand slam losses against him in mixed doubles, but otherwise David has generally not been successful against our guys .. LP-MB have not played the MacPherson-Florent combination, but LP and Siemerink beat them at sHertogenbosch two months back .. If LP-MB are rusty due to the 38 day break, they could run into trouble against these two experienced doubles players.

Fazal and Ofer sela have reached the Quarterfinal at the $50K Frito Lay challenger at Binghamton, New York .. They beat the qualifiers, Kyrill Ivanov-Smolenski and Irakli Labadze, 75 46 76(2) .. They face the top seeds Grant-Peterson in the QF today (Thursday) at 5.15 pm .. Fazal gets 13 points for the win, which should raise his ranking from #360 to about #335.  Good show.

Aug 11 Note-2

Leander-Mahesh will be in action tomorrow (Thursday) in Cincinnati against Florent-MacPherson.  I will post the time later, so that you will know when to come to the chatroom to follow the match.

Hey, we have folks all over the place giving us onsite match reports now! -- Here is the report from the Kansas City futures, by Mahender Bongu:  .. Just came back after watching the match between Harsh Mankad and Doug Root. Well, the news is not so good. Harsh lost the match 1-6, 6-7 (5-7). The good part of the match was to see Harsh fighting all the way in the second set .... Here are some of the details of the match ...... First set : Doug started serving. After having held for 1-0, he broke Harsh in the very first game. Doug held his serve again to go up 3-0. Harsh made it 1-3 and that was the only time he held his serve in the first set as Doug broke serve again in sixth game to go up 5-1 and held serve to take the first set 6-1 ..... Second set : I saw a totally different Harsh .. More determined, more attacking (The key factor) and running down every ball.  The games went with serve till 5-5 and that was the time Harsh made some errors to go down 5-6. Just when I thought the match might have slipped out, there was some intuition, especially the way Harsh was playing in the second set that he might break back. And I was right, as I cheered Harsh on (I think he needed some support just like Doug got), he played some good points to break right back. I knew it was going to be a third set, the way Harsh was playing. I was wrong this time as the tie-break slipped out of the hands of Harsh. What was disheartening was - Doug did not play great tennis to win the tie-break but Harsh lost the punch in his attack, for a player who was so attacking he started choking (I guess being down a set put pressure on Harsh). He gave back balls which were to be winners right back to Doug who did no mistakes with volleys.  Forget the tiebreaker, forget the loss, it was heartening to see Harsh do good when he was down(Even in tie-break he was down 3-0 and played well to draw again at 5-5 before losing 5-7) .. Thanks a lot Mahender, for the report .. Harsh has never been lacking in fight, but he once told me that he needs to get over the tentativeness he has at times - that may have cost him the tiebreaker (but then again, he won a good tiebreaker yesterday by the same 7-5 score) .. At least he knows now, that he can pretty well hang with a top-20 collegiate player .. Harsh will get to play a lot of good matches in the Big-10 college conference in his career at Minesota - he will certainly improve.

Mahender continues, If he can play the same way right from the beginning it would be altogether different ..... After the end of the match I did talk to Harsh for about an hour and during our conversation, one of the coaches (who was watching Harsh play) stopped by and told him that he played a great game but needs to be attacking all through. To be honest I did not find much difference in the game but off court Doug had someone to sit with him and analyze his mistakes as his physical trainer gave him a massage but Harsh was all alone. It was at this stage I felt that apart from being talented you have to have the right encouragement from your organizations (I hope AITA assigns at least one coach who travels to some tournaments if not somebody listening there.....I hope they are) ..  That's a timely comment! .. Actually, AITA seems to have heard some of the constant cries we have all been making about coaching help during travel .. In a press conference today, AITA announced that they will be sending a select group of junior players, with an appointed coach, to foreign and other tournaments .. Here, Here, I say, if they follow through.  They have lately shown a tendency, unusual in Indian sports associations, to follow through at least on some promises ! :-) .. I hope this appointed coach idea will be done for the domestic circuits as well ..

That was along with several announcements from AITA today, the important one being that the state units will get extra votes in AITA depending on the prize money of tournaments they hold ($5K or more gets you 1 extra vote, $15K or more gets you 2, and $25K or more gtes you 3) .. Nothing like power and ego boost to state organizations to get them to act - sounds like a good idea (except for one comment I saw that it could cause problems if the tournaments are actually sanctioned by AITA itself!) ..  There will be 20 weeks of men's international events and 12 weeks of women's international events next year .. They still seem to think that $5K events is what should be there on the women's side, till the standards improve to where more Indian women can compete with foreign players - partly true, but I still think at least 2 or 3 weeks of $10K satellites and a  couple of $25K challengers should be provided for some international exposure, as the $5K events normally get only 1 or 2 foreign players at best (this is actually even intentional, according to some annecdotal 3rd party evidence I have of AITA folks' comments .. Even the fact that some circuits are held in the dead heat of summer may be intentional - they really want Indians to get maximum advantage .. OK, fine!) ..  Another important issue that some in the press have asked for, was more events for the u-18 players to ease the trouble of junior to-senior transition - this year is particularly bad with very few u-18 events, though there are many more u-16 and u-14 events .. They say up to 10 states may try to organize Rs. 75K national u-18 events .. I was surprised to find that every one of the issues raised by the press and some right here, seem to have been addressed by AITA today .. Another one being the promise for a couple more junior ITF events over the 3 they do now, next year (how about a grade-2 or grade-3 event, please?) .. Even the recent good run by Radhika Tulpule has been commented on - AITA says she will get $1000 from ITF developmental fund .. I must say I am impressed .. I may be a bit naive in being optimistic, but what the heck, let's give AITA some kudos - we are all after them all the time anyway, and they are certainly not the worst sports federation in India ..  AITA's executive committeee member, Anil Khanna made all the announcements in the absence of the president and the secretary, according to press reports (incidentally, Anil Khanna seems to be the one in the picture whenever all the new and progressive-sounding plans are put forth - I have been hearing good things from various quarters, both from the press friends and the players, about him - no, I don't know him at all, if you are getting ideas .. :-)) ..

Also mentioned today was that the Davis Cup captain for next year is still not decided - Anil Khanna was reportedly wording things very carefully about this .. Coach Mukherjea is not out, but AITA thanked the great job by Jaideep Mukherjea in the last six years and by Naresh Kumar before that, but captains and coaches are appointed year to year, etc, etc.

Aug 11 Note-1

Fazaluddin, now ranked 360 in doubles, is in the doubles draw at the $50K Frito Lay challenger in Binghamton, New York .. He is playing with Ofer Sela (ISR,262) and they are drawn against qualifiers Kirill Ivanov-Smolenski (RUS,434) and Irakli Labadze (GEO,436) .. No results yet from there .. If they win the first round, they will be facing the top seeds next  - Geoff Grant (103) and Adam Peterson (135), both from USA ..

Not much else to report .. Here is a nice article that Mr. S.Ramaswamy alerted me to .. It's by Ray Bowers in the "Between the Lines" magazine section of tennis server online, and gives some nice info and analysis about the top doubles teams this year: "Elites of Pro Doubles".  Check it out!

Will report later about how Harsh did today at the Kansas City futures.

Aug 10 Note-2

At Cincinnati, Paes/Bhupathi will be playing Andrew Florent and David MacPherson in the second round .. I don't see the match in tomorrow's schedule, so it will be on Thursday .. Florent-MacPherson beat Carlos Moya and Marat Safin easily, 6-1, 6-2 today.

Harsh Mankad picked up his first win in the US satellites today, over Dustin Mauck (USA,1306), 6-3, 7-6(5) in the first round at the Kansas City futures .. Not bad at all, it being against a top-100 college player at the end of the 98-99 season (#2 in doubles rankings, that too) .. It will help Harsh to pick up a win or two, especially against good college players, to build some confidence as he starts on his college career next month .. He goes up against a higher-ranked player, Doug Root (of Duke University ranked #26 in the final rankings of 98-99) - so that will be an even tougher match ! .. This being a 64-draw event, one needs two wins to even get an ATP point .. In doubles, Harsh is playing with Tom Chicoine, team-mate at Univ of Minnesota (ranked 27th in college singles) - they have the R1 doubles also tomorrow.   Srinath was originally in the list at Kansas City, but he may have been at the Binghamton challenger qualies, where I believe he lost in the first or second round (still have not seen full qualy results from there).

There was a well-researched article by Arun Janardhan in the Indian Express, about how our junior players seem to be not getting enough experience in doubles, and how it has hurt our chances in World Youth Cup and Junior Tennis .. Check out the article - it's interesting reading and makes a lot of good points ..  Certainly a lot can be done in doubles, but I don't think it should be at the expense of focusing and developing the singles skills .. Team rankings can be used, with an end-of year domestic doubles tournament with some reasonable assured prize money in the same line as Hartford in the ATP tour.  Some incentive for regular partners and for playing doubles with seriousness, could be useful .. The primary problem in terms of large number of entries in junior competitions and the lack of sufficient number of courts to conduct full-draw doubles events along with singles, sounds tough to handle. Lots of quotes from a lot of interviews are in the article ..

Aug 10 Note-1

At the $2.4M Cincinnati Super 9, the second round opponents for Leander-Mahesh will be determined today - the winners of the match between Florent-MacPherson and wildcards, Moya-Safin .. The R2 match may be tommorow, or even as late as Thursday.

At the $10K Futures in Kansas City, Missouri, Harsh Mankad is drawn against Dustin Mauck (USA,1306) .. He is the 82nd ranked college player in the US (plays for Sothern Methodist Univ) .. Dustin and his partner Keith Pollack form the second ranked doubles team in college .. As I always say, it's never easy against these top college players in the US, and their ATP rankings don't matter much.

As for Manisha, she may not be playing anywhere this week, as the USTA satellite series is over, and there are no women's challengers this week.

A correction from yesterday - Nirupama was actually 5 out from the qualifier draw for the 50K Bronx challenger, not the main draw .. It's getting almost ridiculous in the WTA tour these days, with even players ranked inside the top-200 or 250 unable to get into even the qualifying round .. I keep seeing all the "activists" screaming about equal prize money at Wimbledon, etc, etc, ad nauseum.  Like that is the problem out there .. I don't understand why women shouldn't get equal prize money, but that's all besides the point .. WTA and women's player-activists should spend much more of their energy in providing some help for the players who hardly make much on the tour to survive - which means doing something about the paucity of tournaments out there.  If women's tour has become quite popular (it certainly has), why is it that the number of challenger tournaments seem to only be reducing ?  There is perhaps only half the number of challengers out there for women than for men.  The women's tour (and ITF events) offers much less total prize money a year than the men's tour (are the fans that mush less interested in women's tennis ? -- I don't think so) .. Equal prize money at Wimbledon would basically offer 10% or so more to the top 100 players - as though they are the ones who really need money! .. Spend some effort asking for (or organizing) more tour events for those struggling to make a living, will you all ?  (sorry .. this is yet another of my pet-peeves .. I will stop now .. Thank you for listening :-))

Anyway, as of today Nirupama is only 1 out from the qualifying draw at Bronx starting on Saturday, but will almost certainly make it in the end.  I had some nice chat with Niru when I caught up with her at Manhattan Beach over the last couple of days (she left for NY today) .. She talked about a lot of things.  She said she was very happy to see Manisha do well in the US satellites .. Niru felt that her title at the Virginia satellites is a big accomplishment, considering the competition here .. She was also happy to hear of Sai doing well in the European satellites - she tries to keep in touch with other Indian players through email occasionally .. About our junior Indian players, one thing she specifically mentioned  was the tendancy to assume they have become very good after a couple of good results and then avoid playing enough domestic events and the ITF junior events .. There is no substitute for match experience and the junior players should play as many events as they can, without making presumptions on how good they are ..  But she felt that a lot of talented youngsters are out there now (we talked about Uzma, Radhika, Sheetal, Shruti, etc - and also a few foreign-Indians like Kavitha Krishnamurthy) .. Niru said she is physically and mentally feeling quite well these days - she said she should however be a bit more regular in doing yoga, something she learned late last year during a 4-week break in tennessee, from a Yoga master who was visiting from India .. She had some very good results in Australia following that, and felt yoga is something that has helped her a bit in keeping the mind focused during matches .. She plans to be in the US circuit for a couple of months .. Following the Bronx challenger, she is in the qualifying rounds entry for US Open, which will be followed by challengers in upstate New York (at Saugerties?), Seattle and Santa Clara .. She may go to the 3 challenger series in Australia later.

Watch out for an announcement - Nirupama will let me know when she can come in for a chat with all of us, in the chatroom at this site, probably later this week.

One funny story from Niru -- when she was in India late last year and was having some flu and asthma, she went to a good old doctor who did not know anything about who she was - while examining her, he asked "so you are in the US .. what do you do there ?" - Niru said she played tennis .. The old doctor forgot that later during the visit and asked her again, "so what did you say you were doing abroad ?", and Niru repeated that she played tennis .. The doctor goes - "yes amma, I heard you said you played tennis, but what do you really do ?" .. She was at a loss! .. Next day the doctor told her that his children knew about her and told him how tennis could be a woman's profession .. He never looked convinced that a young woman from Coimbatore could/should be doing that, though!

Aug 9 Note-3

It was not just Manisha who was doing well lately .. I just saw the new rankings and found that our national #3, Sai Jayalakshmi has also picked up 2.5 points (from 2 weeks back - so I assume she was at the Pamplona satellite in Spain) .. That brings her up to #436 from #448 .. Also, a note on Manisha's ranking. She is at #285 this week, but will lose the 6.75 points from the Southsea (UK) final last year, replaced by the 5 points from the Virginia satellite title .. That would actually drop her a few spots to around 395 next week .. I had forgotten that those points were about to fall off the computer. Anyway, it was a good time for Manisha to win the title as that ensured that she will be inside the top-400 next week too .. As for Sai's results from Europe, I have not had much success tracing those down .. The last set of results I saw was from the Netherlands satellites she was at, 2 months back .. If only ITF would make these results databases available .. :-(

The biggest jump this week, actually is in doubles - by Jahnavi Parekhwho has come up from 674 to 503 with 10 big points somewhere ! .. I have been noticing that she was picking up some few points in singles occasionally, but could not find out where exactly she has been playing .. Anyway, she must have picked up a title or something in doubles somewhere that needs to be investigated .. :-) .. In doubles, though Manisha had 2 points from the semifinal at Baltimore two weeks back, she still fell to #5 now in India at #640, behind Niru at #232, Sai at #447, Jahnavi at #503 and Rushmi at #541 .. Let's hope these ladies will continue their nice work .. Jahnavi, is now at the Baylor University in Texas - you may remember me mentioning her hot start in collegese a few months back.

Aug 9 Note-2

Bjorkman/Rafter won the doubles title at the Montreal Super 9, and consolidated their #2 team ranking, becoming the second team to go over 2000 points this year .. They have effectively qualified into the Hartford draw, though Rafter may not play there, because of Hannover singles championship being in the following week - I hope they play Hartford this year; teams like that add color to Hartford, and would give Paes-Bhupathi the kind of challenge that brings out the best in them) .. And how about Johansson the not-so-well-known Swede, who won the singles title at Montreal, beating the likes of Courier, Agassi and Kafelnikov ??

Here is the doubles draw at the $2.4M Great American Insurance Cinicnnati Super 9 (upper half):

1 M.Bhupathi/ L.Paes             BYE                    \
  A.Florent/ D.Macpherson  vs WC C.Moya/ M.Safin        / \
  D.Johnson/ C.Suk         vs    N.Broad/ A.Olhovskiy   \ / \
8 D.Adams/ J-L.DeJager     vs    W.Arthurs/ A.Kratzmann /    \ __ Final
4 W.Black/ S.Stolle              BYE                    \    /
  S.Lareau/ A.O'Brien      vs    P.Norval/ K.Ullyett    / \ /
  R.Reneberg/ J.Stark      vs    J.Bjorkman/ B.Black    \ /
5 E.Ferreira/ R.Leach      vs    C.Haggard/ P.Nyborg    /
Looks like the Indian Express will have to get back in sync quickly, after the 5 weeks break .. Potential second round match against Florent-MacPherson will be tough .. A potential QF against Adams/deJager or Arthurs/Kratzmann - nice grudge matchup thatr would be .. The 2nd seeds (bottom half) are Knowles/Nestor .. 7th seed Kafelnikov/Vacek, 3rd seed Delaitre/Santoro and 6th seeds Woodies are in the bottom half.

A newsbit on Amod Wakalkar who has been playing the satellites in Mexico .. This is the 3rd week of the satellites, at Mazatlan, Mexico .. Amod had a good win in the qualifying first round, defeating local wild card Ramon Borboa 60 60 ..  But then he lost in the second round to the #7 seed, Ashley Ford (AUS,807),  06 16 .. In the first leg qualies at Zacatecas, he lost to Brandon Kramer, 76(7) 61 63 in the first round, and in the second leg qualies last weekend at Los Mochis, he lost to Dann Battistone, 64 46 76 [Thanks Steve Gocha, for info!] .. Not a great North American trip for Amod so far.

Results have been tough to get from ITF lately (personnel moves, broken fax machines, etc, etc) .. Still don't have info from the Egypt men's futures (I saw the finals' scores this week, and the Kirtanes werenot in the finals - they had lost in the final the previous week).

Aug 9 Note-1

Great news -- Manisha Malhotra won the title at the $10K satellite at Harrisonburg, Virginia, yesterday .. She beat Michelle Dasso (USA), 63 64  ..  This is her first satellite title, and it is quite impressive for anybody to win a satellite in the US, with some of the most intense competition around  - big congrats go to Manisha .. She bagged 5 points for the title, which brings her points total to about 41, and her ranking should be inside 360 in a couple of weeks .. The title gave her $1600 .. What I found interesting is that she beat 3 or 4 college players all ranked inside the top-15 or 20 in the US .. When Manisha herself was ranked just around or inside the top-20 last year in the US, I don't remember her being able to consistently beat top players in straight sets like this - certainly not this many in a row .. That indicates that she has clearly improved in her game and confidence within the last few months.

I met Nirupama at the Acura classic in Manhattan Beach, California yesterday - will write some comments soon.  She and her doubles partner (Larissa Shaerer of Paraguay) signed in for the doubles qualies, but as they expected they were a few spots out when that closed.   Not a bad weekend for her to pick up some good dollars .. There are no challengers this week I believe, and so she did not miss out on anything by coming down to LA and playing a qualifying round .. She goes back to New York, and will be playing the Bronx challenger next week, for which she is 3-4 spots out from the main draw.  She might make it by the time it closes, or she may have to play qualies.

I saw the final round qualifier results at the Binghamton challenger in New York, and Srinath was not there.  I am not sure if he went there with Fazal, but anyway he either lost in the earlier rounds of qualies, or did not go there ..

The doubles draw is out, at the Cincinnati Super 9 .. LP-MB are the top seeds .. Will post it soon.

.. Previous notes are at Weekly Notes, ending Aug 9 ..