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LP/MB/NS/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Aug 18, 2003
(Previous week's notes) (Next week's notes) (Daily Notes Index 1997 thru 2003)

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Aug 18 Note-1

One more title to report from last week - the FIFTH professional title by Indians last week! .. Mustafa and Claude N'Goran won it at Lagos -- had to wait for ITF's weekly magazine to come out to find this score! .. [F] (1) M.Ghouse/ C.N'Goran (CIV) vs (2) Willem-Petrus Meyer/ Wesley Whitehouse (RSA), 76(6) 62 .. Mustafa gets 24 points as this futures offers the maximum points possible at the futures level.

So, it turned out to be a title-rich week for Indians .. We had two girls in $10K singles finals and both won titles (Sonal and Isha) .. We had three men's teams in finals .. Kamala Kannan and Manoj Mahadevan won the $6.25K China satellite masters, Mustafa-N'Goran won the $10K+H in Lagos and Mankad-Uppal went down in a close 3-setter in the $10K in Kenosha .. On the women's side, we had Megha-Khoo winning the Lagos $10K doubles title .. That is 5 titles in 6 finals by Indians .. Not bad, eh?

When I saw last, Rohan Bopanna is about 10 spots out from the cut for the US Open qualifying that starts tomorrow .. The original cut was at #266 but has come down to #296 by today .. Hopefully it will move down a bit more for RB to squeeze in tomorrow (his #321 ranking from Jul 28th is used for the entry) .. Prakash is quite a bit out from the cut as his earlier rank below #350 is used for it .. USTA has given a qualifying wildcar to Rajeev Ram.

Quite a busload of top women (Sai, Rushmi, Isha, etc) are all at the $10K claycourt ITF satellite in Colombo this week ..

The Junior Claycourt Nationals start in Chennai today .. Adidas is the title sponsor for this, and this is the next nationals after the hardcourts back in May in Hyderabad .. I will try to keep a page for scores, if they become available as usual .. u14 and u18 level girls' and boys' draws at this event .. Most top players are there, except the very top juniors who are in North America with the grand slam AITA junior team (and also a couple of others like Kartiki Bhat who is on the ITF junior swing abroad and 16 yr old Ankita Bhambri who has moved on to thre pro level) .. Rupesh Roy in the u18 section, along with Sumit Gupta and M.Jeevan; R.Madura and Vandana Murali in the girls 18 and V.Pujashree in girls u14 are known players to be watched .. Boys u14 has all the top ranked players, but I don't have a good read on who is beginning to emerge from that pack - will keep an eye on young Yuki Bhambri .. By the way Pujashree has qualified into the u18 draw .. Adidas will pay for a foreign circuit airticket for the u18 boys and girls singles winners .. Also some othe rincentives like a week of coaching at tha Gurgaon National Tennis Academy for all semifinalists paid for by Adidas etc ...  We will see who all emerge and make stringer statements this week.

Aug 17 Note-3

At the $380K Long Island ATP, The Indian Express are the top seeds .. (1) Mahesh Bhupathi/ Leander Paes (IND) vs Gustavo Kuerten/ Flavio Saretta (BRA) .. Man, it looks nice to see those two names together in an ATP draw after some 16 long months! .. More later.

The score for Isha's win over Jin-Hee Kim (KOR,241) for the Nakhorn Ratchasima $10K satellite was 64 26 63 .. Excerpts from the article in The Nation (Bangkok) -- Competing in ideal conditions at the Suranaree University of Technology tennis venue, the 18-year-old out-rallied, outwitted and outlasted the world No 242 in one hour and 45 minutes in a nail-biting baseline duel which proved a treat for the crowd .. "I was focussed and determined to win this week," Lakhani said after the match. "I am happy to win my first title but I don't want to enjoy it too much, because I have to play in another tournament in Colombo next week." ... "I was an underdog and had nothing to lose," the Bombay-based lefthander said. "I just go out there and think positive, telling myself that I can do it." .. Lakhani picked up $1,600 for winning the tournament, while Kim had to be content with the $1,000 prize for the runner-up .. The Indian was very solid out of the gate, losing just a few points on her serves, while the top seed appeared sluggish from the heat. Pounding aggressive groundstrokes, Lakhani managed to break Kim's serve early in the first game. It was the only service break in the set, but proved enough to hand Lakhani an early 1-0 advantage after she missed with a backhand long for set point but gave Kim too much to handle on the following point .... In the second set, both players broke each other's serve several times. At 3-2 in Kim's favour, Lakhani appeared to lose her concentration, committing a flurry of unforced errors to hand the next three games to her opponent. Though she recovered to save four set points, the Indian finally ran out of miracles with a wide backhand that sent the match to a decisive third set .... After a 10-minute break, Lakhani went out 2-0 ahead early, but Kim fought back to level the set at two games apiece. Then the unseeded upset artist turned up the heat, hammering fierce groundstrokes with pinpoint precision just inside the legal area, breaking Kim's serve twice and vaulting out in front 5-2 .... Serving for the match, Lakhani lost a bit of her control, allowing Kim to gain a set as the Indian lost her serve on unforced errors ... Now leading 5-3, she stormed through the deciding game, earning match point on an errant forehand return from Kim and following it with the winner on a forehand of her own down the line .... Next week's tournament in Colombo is on a clay surface, and Lakhani, who hopes to break the top 400 this year, said she hopes the transition from hardcourt play to clay will not be too difficult .... "I like clay so I hope everything will be ok for me,'' she said .. That is a nice article, with all kinds of good stuff on Isha's game.  Great show .. The win gives her 10 total points (including 4 bonus points) which is enough to raise her rank to about #530 or so with 21.5 total points .. Isha is looking really good .. Actually I think she has pulled off more top-350 wins than any other Indian this year (4 of them, including 2 in the top-250), though she has had a few losses to Sania and Ankita in matches among them over the last year or so ..

In the doubles final today at the $10K USA F24 in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Harsh Mankad and Vishal Uppal went down 64 36 67(5) .. Interestingly, my wife and kinds who are own vacation up there in Wisconsin saw the match (I can't take a vacation now) .. One break and a couple of missed chances in the second set made the match even .. The 3rd set went without breaks and got done in the tiebreaker when the other guys got a lucky netchord at set point ..  Harsh takes a break next week and should be playing at the Netherlands $15K the week after ..  Not exactly sure if he will be playing the weeks after that before Davis Cup.

Aug 17 Note-2

How about that? .. Another top-250 win for Isha Lakhani .. And she won the title today in Thailand, beating Jin-Hee Kim (KOR,241) .. Frankly I really had no doubt Isha would win this one .. You know, you get that feeling about some of the players when they are on a roll - and there is no doubt that Isha has the winners' attitude .. The news comes from our friend Jiro in Thailand about her win - he had not heard the score yet .. I will update as soon as I hear .. This is afantastic title, for the quality of player she beat .. Go ISHA!!!!!

Aug 17 Note-1

It is wonderful to have Indian women reaching the finals of satellites abroad - we had Isha in Thailand and Sonal in Nigeria doing that this week .. Awaiting today's final score from Thailand, but we had good news yesterday afrom the $10K in Lagos, Nigeria .. The forgotten talent in Indian tennis, Sonal Phadke, made her own statement that she is still around .. Sonal was our top junior player in 2000, when she played the Australian Open juniors (and won a round too, if I my memory is correct) .. Sonal had some good results in 2001 in the pro circuit, reaching four of the eight satellite leg finals and placing herself at nearly the top of upcoming talent .. She had also reached the QF and SF in satellites in Manila as a 19 yr old .. Things looked good into early 2002 when she won a round at the $25K challenger in Delhi in March, as a wildcard .. Something happened that, that saw her stop making news and we started wondering what was up .. To be fair, she was still playing a lot of close matches and the losses were mostly to good players, but she seemed unable to get over the hump all of last year and so far this year too ..  That she did not reach a single final even in the $5K satellite legs in India says how much she had fallen during this time ..  A couple of three-set losses in satellite semis to Sheetal Goutham comes to mind, one where Sonal was nearly winning in two sets and ended up losing .. One saw her literally breaking down in tears, if I remember correctly .. The complaint was never about her talent or technique; the newspapers seemed to comment about how "frail" she was physically .. Perhaps such concerns have been taken care of now .. Anyway, she had a very nice run this week .. Here are the scores - [R1] (4) Sonal Phadke (IND,723) BYE .. [R2] d. Abiodun Oyegoke (NGR,NR) 61 60 .. [QF] d. Clara Udofa (NGR,NR)  63 46 75 .. [SF] d. (1) Chin-Bee Khoo (MAS,368), 76(9) 26 63 .. [F] d. (3) Michelle Snyman (RSA,643), 64 62 .. The win against Clara (a higher ranked player earlier who is returning to competitive play now, and had upset a seed in the second round) was actually quite impressive, as Sonal had to fight back from a 3-5 final set deficit .. Here is an article from Nigeria on this match .. The upsets of Chin-Bee and Snyman followed .. Chin-Bee, by the way, had beaten Sonal 64 63 in the $10K at Hyderabad last sepetember .. No doubt that Sonal has shown some improvement this week .. And we are all glad to see her do that! .. Sonal picked up 7 points for the title including a bonus point for beating one top-500 player .. Her point total will go up to 17.25, enough to raise her ranking from #723 up by about 150 spots.

In other scores from Nigeria, 2nd seed Megha Vakharia was upset in the SF by 3rd seed Michell Snyman, 62 64 .. A bit disappointed at that loss, as Megs was in good form, with a final 2 weeks back in the US;  Megha was also the defending champ from last year there, and had beaten Michelle in the final .. Probably had a bad day after  good streak of wins .. However, Megha Vakharia won the doubles title with Chin-Bee Khoo, making it some sort of an Indian sweep out there .. [R1] (1) M.Vakharia/ C.B.Khoo BYE .. [QF] d. Eva Fernandez-Brugues (ESP)/ Anna Miller (AUT) 76(4) 63 .. [SF] d. Rebecca Dandeniya (GBR)/ Michelle Snyman (RSA) 64 63 .. [F] (1) M.Vakharia/ C.B.Khoo d. Anca Anastasiu (RSA)/ Jennifer Debodt (BEL), 61 62 .. Here is a Nigerian article on Megs.

Harsh Mankad and Vishal Uppal play the doubles final at the Kenosha (WI) $10K futures today.

Aug 16 Note-2

A rather unexpected loss for Mad Max today .. [SF] #1 M.Bhupathi/ M.Mirnyi l. #7 Wayne Arthurs/ Paul Hanley (AUS), 57 76(5) 36 at the Cincinnati Masters .. No breaks till the 12th game in the first set .. Our pair was in serious trouble at 3-3 in the second facing triple break points, but held serve after 4 BPs and 5 deuces .. That helped extend the match to the 3rd set, as MB-MM won a tiebreaker .. I could not follow the 3rd set but one break by WA-PH did the job it seems.

Great news from Lagos, as Sonal Phadke won the $10K title there!!! .. Terrific to see Sonal playing like we thought she would be able to, during her junior years a couple of years back .. In other news, Kartiki and Vandana had both reached the semifinals at the grade-4 Syria ITF on Friday .. Will give all the scores soon - Gotta run now ..

Aug 16 Note-1

If anybody thought our #2 junior was losing steam or had gone missing, do not worry .. Isha Lakhani is really making a statement this week that people should not forget our "other" top junior player (Sania of course is always in the news) .. Another big upset for her today in the $10K Thai satellite, which, by the way, is one of the more competitive satellites we have seen recently, in terms of the number of quality top-350 players taking part - and Isha has been facing all of them .. [SF] Isha Lakhani d. (3) Chua-Jung Chuang (TPE,341), 64 62 .. That is the 3rd seed that she has upset in her fantastic run there at Nakhon Ratchasima .. The win gives her one more bonus point for 6 total and takes her total to 17.5, enough to raise her #692 ranking to about #570 .. In the final tomorrow, she plays the top seeded Jin-Hee Kim (KOR,241) .. Isha, who turned 18 only about 4 months back but had decided not to play juniors this year and turn pro, is showing that she ready for prime time .. Of course, the year started for her with a tremendous upset in the Hyderabad WTA qualies when she beat Maria Vento-Kabchi (who has now gone up to #85 in WTA, though ranked in the top-150 then), which is the win (probably ever) by any Indian junior .. That win was followed by Isha not even getting wildcards into a couple of Indian $10K satellites - I guess that shows how much help she has been getting from everyone .. She then beat Archana, Sheetal, Liza etc in the Indians satellites satellites .. She went down to Sonal once, before beating her next week in the Indian satellite masters and falling to Ankita in the final (in May-June) .. This girl's "fire in the belly" was never in doubt, though .. After a couple of months of break for training, she is back out there and making the right kind of statement this week after a quick exits last week, probably due to rust .. A final in a satellite is not that big a deal it would seem, but this is one of the best runs by an Indian in a satellite, because of the kind of opposition she has faced.  Here is a recap again of her scores:

[R1] Isha Lakhani d. (8) Ryoko Takemura (JPN,522), 61 75
[R2] Isha Lakhani d. (Q) Septi Mende (INA,NR), 36 62 62
[QF] Isha Lakhani d. (2) Napaporn Tongsalee (THA,308) 26 63 64
[SF] Isha Lakhani d. (3) Chua-Jung Chuang (TPE,341), 64 62
[F] Isha Lakhani vs (1) Jin-Hee Kim (KOR,241)

Go Isha! .. More coming soon.

Aug 15 Notes

Shubha Swaatantrya Dinam!

MB-MM have become a team that is almost impossible to beat these days, it seems .. Another semifinal for them .. Today at the Cincinnati masters, [QF] #1 M.Bhupathi/ M.Mirnyi d. Martin Damm/ Cyrin Suk (CZE), 76(4) 64 .. Damm and Suk stayed with them through the match, though it was rather clear that the Mad Max were pretty much in control .. No breaks in the first set .. Actually there was only one break point, one which our pair couldn't convert .. In the tiebreaker they went up 4-2 and cruised .. In the second set, MB-MM were up a break in the first game of the second set and kept the lead till the end .. 5 aces and 1 double faults for MB-MM .. They led in points 81 to 67 for the match .. 1 of 7 in break chances for our pair (they wasted some 4 chances for an extra break in the 7th game, but it didn't matter.

Quite a few good results to report .. Three of our girls reached semifinals on thursday .. Sonal and Megha at the $10K Lagos satellite and Isha with a big upset, at the Nakhon Ratchsima $10K .. The Mahadevan-Kannan pair had won the finals at the China masters on wednesday in doubles .. Mankad, Uppal and Mustafa are all in doubles finals as well.

Isha Lakhani has been playing to potential this week, it seems .. In Thailand, after her upset of the 8th seed as reporter earlier, she beat qualifier Septi Mende (INA) 36 62 62 and then had the big upset of the the second seed, Napaporn Tongsalee (THA) 26 63 64 today to reach the semifinal .. Go Isha!!!

Singles cores from Lagos so far:  [R1] (8) Liza Pereira d. Debora Gbadamosi (NGR) 60 60 .. [R2] l. Ana Abramovic (CRO) 36 62 16 .. [R1] (2) Megha Vakhariabye .. [R2] d. Tereza Svikova (CZE) 60 60 .. [QF] d. Rebecca Dandeniya (GBR), 62 61 .. [R1] (4) Sonal Phadke BYE .. [R2] d. Abiodun Oyegoke (NGR) 61 60 .. [QF] (4) Sonal Phadke IND d. Clara Udofa NGR 63 46 75 ..

At the $10K USA F24 in Kenosha, the 2nd seeds Mankad and Uppal beat qualifiers Nick Goldberg/ David Kowalski (USA) 64 75 yesterday and then Clancy Shields/ Luke Shields (USA) 64 62 today, to reach the final where they will play 4ths eeded Adam Kennedy and Domenic Marafiote (AUS).

Mustafa Ghouse and Claude N'Goran of Ivory Coast are in the doubles finals at the $15K+H Nigeria F2 futures in Lagos .. [R1] (1) Mustafa Ghouse/Claude N'Goran (CIV) d. (WC) Adam Thompson (NZL)/ Adrian Venturi (AUS) 64 64 .. [QF] d. Benjamin Cassaigne/ Alexandre Renard (FRA) 64 64 .. [SF] d. (3) Josef Nesticky (CZE)/ Martin Slanar (AUT) 63 46 76(4) .. They now play the second seeds Willem-Petrus Meyer and Wesley Whitehouse (RSA) .. Also reaching the semifinal were Jaco Mathew and Zibusiso Ncube (ZIM) .. They beat Adenumi Adeniji/ Lawal Shehu (NGR) 67(4) 64 64 and got a walkover from the 3rd seeds to the semi, where they lost to Cassaigne/Renard in a tough fight, 63 46 57 .. Earlier in singles, Jaco fell to (6)Martin Slanar (AUT) 36 26 after a win over Ncube that was reported earlier.

At the $10K Tunisia F1, Ajay Ramaswami (IND) beat Kevin Waldner (AUT) 63 60 to reach the QF and then fell to David Luque (ESP), 46 06 ..In the doubles QF, Vincent Baudat (MTQ) and Ajay lost to the top seeds, Thomas Oger and Nicolas Tourte of France, 67(4) 67(5) ..

The final at the China satellit masters a couple of days back, saw Kamala Kannan and Manoj Mahadevan beat Ti Chen (TPE)/ Hiroki Kondo (JPN) 63 64 .. They topped the doubles circuit points with 34 ATP pts each.

Aug 14 Notes

Mahesh and Max reached the QF at Cincinnati with a 63 36 61 win over Kafelnikov and Kuerten today .. Couldn't follow the match online and I have no details .. Megha Vakharia had reached the QF at the Lagos satellite yesterday (along with Sonal Phadke), and Isha Lakhani reached the QF at Thailand .. Gotta run .. More later.

Aug 13 Note-2

Every now and then there are days when we have to just suck it up and move on, even when you feel sick in the stomach .. Leander and David lost a match that a team would normally not lose in a 100 attempts with the kinds of stats they had .. Lost just 7 points total on their serve in the first 10 service games, did not face a break till the very final point, won 25 points off the other guys serve and they still lost the match, unable to convert 7 break points they had including a set point, in three separate games .. Ah, this hurts .. At Cincinnati, [R2] #5 L.Paes/ D.Rikl l. G.Etlis/ M.Rodriguez, 67(3) 46 .. There was no drama at all in the first set till the 12th game when LP-DR stepped it up from when GE-MR served 40-15, winning three points and earning their first break point which could have finished the set .. No luck there but it was only the beginning .. In the tiebreaker, after losing just four points on their serve till then, both LP and DR lost one mini each and they were down 0-4 .. The set was soon gone .. In game-1 of the second set they had 4 break chances in a row from 15-40 and all went wasted .. Again at 3-3 they had two more break chances and no use there either .. In the 10th game, it all went awry from 30-15 onwards as they lost three points in a row .. Match over .. In one of the extremely rare events in tennis, the winning team had fewer points than the losing team - 69 to 70 ..  What is even more painful is that LP-DR seemed to be serving really well with a first serve percentage staying right at about 85% throughout the match .. I am sure Czech Inde Mail must be wopndering how the heck they lost today! ..

But it has been a day like that .. At the USA F24 $10K in Kenosha, Wisconsin today, the top seed Harsh Mankad lost a similar match 67(5) 36 to qualifier Antonio Ruiz-Rosales (MEX) .. I talked to Harsh later and he was feeling terrible about the loss, in a match where he thought he had played his game well, but with everything seemingly going wrong just at the worst times .. One second serve goes one inch too wide instead of being an ace, and he lost the tiebreaker .. Couldn't convert some break chances and then there he gets broken once in the second set .. Match over .. Yikes .. All of a sudden we have HM and RB both in some sort of funk in singles .. It is about 5 weeks to go for the big Davis Cup and one of these two needs to get things back together.

Earlier today, at the Bronx $50K challenger in New York, Sunitha Rao who had upset Akiko Morigami by a 62 63 score last year at the qualies (thanks Neil for reminding us of that!), had the tables turned on her as the top seed, ranked 72, easily beat her 61 63 today .. That is that for that too ..

In the Tunisia $10K futures QF, the top seeded French pair, Thomas Oger and Nicolas Tourte beat Ajay Ramaswami and Vincent Baudat (MTQ), 76(4) 76(5) ..

So, this has been a certifiably wretched day .. Isha Lakhani, MB-MM, HM-VU etc play tomorrow.

For some good news, Sonal Phadke has reached the singles QF at the Nigeria $10K satellite according to a newspaper mention of it in Nigeria .. Liza Pereira lost in the PQF .. I have seen three of the QF matchups; hopefully Megha went there and is in that QF .. Will await detailed scores.

Aug 13 Note-1

Leander Paes and David Rikl are scheduled to play their second round match today at the Cincinnati Masters, against Gaston Etlis and Martin Rodriguez of Argentina .. The match is scheduled for about 5 pm there ..  MB-MM will be playing tomorrow against Kafelnikov-Kuerten.

At the China satellite masters SF, top seeds Kamala Kannan and Manoj Mahadevan had yet another comeback dubles win, this time over Yu Wang and Xin-Yuan Yu of China, 16 64 63, to get to the final .. With the other three seeded teams ousted already, these two are guarateed to top the circuit tally in doubles and pick up somewhere around 35 ATP points each .. If only they could somehow pick up one or two more wins and get some singles points as well - they both missed the singles masters leg as I reported earlier.

Still no news from the women's satellite in Nigeria -- we may have to wait for "aceman" Alain Vincent to update the scores at his women's tennis site - the Nigerian newspapers are giving a complete skip to the women's event and are only talking about the men's event at Lagos this week.

Aug 12 Note-3

Results from today -- the best was a very good upset win by young Isha Lakhani over the 8th seed Ryoko Takemura (JPN,512) at the $10K Nakhorn Ratchsima satellite in Thailand .. Isha won 61 75 .. Harsh Mankad and Vishal Uppal won the doubles R1 at the $10K Kenosha futures, 36 61 64 over wildcards James Cerretani/ Sean Kenney (USA), but Vishal lost in the singles R1, 62 26 26 to wildcard Jamie Gresh (USA) .. Mustafa Ghouse went down to the 7th seeded Genius Chidzikwe (ZIM,641), 76(5) 16 26 in Lagos .. Also there, Jaco Mathew and Zibusiso Ncube (ZIM) beat Adenumi Adeniji and Lawal Shehu of Nigeria, 67(4) 64 64 .. Ajay Ramaswami and Vincent Baudat/Ajay Ramaswami (MTQ) advanced in the R1 in Tunisia over the local wildcards Chakib Jemai/ Adel Lahdhiri, 62 64 .. Sunitha, Harsh and Jaco play singles R1 tomorrow and Ajay may be playing the R2.

Aug 12 Note-2

Some good news -- I just talked to ATP and the three challengers in Karnataka are now in the calendar that they are releasing soon (may have released yesterday but it's not at their website yet) .. So, we are on for $25K+H challengers conducted by KSLTA in Tumkur (Sep 29), Dharwad (Oct 6) and Belgaum (Oct 13) .. Good work by KSLTA and AITA in taking care of this .. It is quite impressive for one state's association to put on three challengers .. Outside of California, Florida and New York in the US, I wonder if any state association conducts three challengers anywhere in the world .. The entries close for the Tumkur challenger in about four weeks time .. For a change, we should be having at least three players make the main draw (Rohan, Harsh and Prakash) directly, with three wildcards to play with .. Would be nice to see seven or more Indians in challenger main draws!

Aug 12 Note-1

There is news today that Jaideep Mukherjea is getting an achievement award from ITF for his record in Davis Cup! .. Congratulations! .. I will post more details later as I find them.

The players I know so far to be in various draws this week are, Harsh and Vishal at the USA F24, Mustafa and Jaco at the Lagos Nigeria F3, Ajay Ramaswami at the Tunisia F1, Manoj and Kamala at the China satellite masters, and Isha Lakhani at the Nakhon Ratchasima $10K in Thailand .. Based on the entry list, Megha Vakharia, Sonal Phadke and Liza pereira are expected at the Lagos $10K as well .. Sunitha Rao is at the $50K Bronx challenger in New York.

Tough draw for Sunitha at Bronx .. Drawn to play the top seed Akiko Morigami (JPN,72) there..

At the $10K Tunisia F1, Ajay Ramaswamy has had a good start  .. Seeded 4th, he beat Martin Bartonek (CZE) 63 64 .. Next up, either Yoann Villar (BEL) or (q) Kevin Waldner (AUT) in R2 .. In doubles, Ajay and Vincent Baudat (Martinique) play wildcards Chakib Jemai and Adel Lahdhiri of Tunisia.

At the China satellites, Kamala Kannan and Manoj Mahadevan lead the doubles points list and are seeded first in the Masters leg .. They started well, beating Hao Shi and Yi-Ning Wang of China 64 63 in the QF .. The SF opponents TBD ..

Harsh is the top seed at the $10K futures at Kenosha (Wisconsin) and faces a qualifier Antonio Ruiz-Rosales (MEX) first .. Vishal got a special exempt entry, as he was in the QF in last week's USA futures when the qualies sign-in started on thursday at Kenosha .. Vishal plays a wildcard Jamie Gresh (USA) .. In doubles, Harsh and Vishal are 2nd seeds, playing a wildcard team, James Cerretani/ Sean Kenney (USA) ..

There are a points-rich $15K+H men's futures (24 points for the winner!) and a women's $10K in Lagos, Nigeria, this week .. In the F3, Mustafa Ghouse has a tough match against the Zimbabwe Davis Cupper, 7th  seeded Genius Chidzekwe (ZIM) .. Jaco Mathew, who was at the Serbian futures the last few weeks playing qualies rather unsuccessfully, is in the main draw at Lagos, playing his doubles partner Zibusiso Ncube (ZIM) first .. In doubles, Mustafa and Claude N'Goran (CIV) are top seeded and play the wildcards Adam Thompson (NZL)/ Adrian Venturi (AUS) .. Jaco and Zibusiso Ncube (ZIM) play Adenumi Adeniji and Lawal Shehu of Nigeria .. Awaiting info on the women's tournament at Lagos.

Update from last week's Syria Grade-4 ITF juniors .. Kartiki Bhat finished runner-up in both singles and doubles .. 2nd seeded Magy Aziz of Egypt is the one who got past Kartiki there in both draws .. Magy is a talented payer though .. Asha Nandakumar upset the top seed in the first round on the way to the semi where she lost to Kartiki. Good work by K.Pooja in doubles, reaching the doubles final with Kartiki and the singles QF .. Three Indians reached QF in girls' draw and two in boys'. The younger Raju (Kaushik) had a nice upset of a seed in the PQF of the 64-draw .. M.Jeevan finally picked up some points for a QF as well. Kaushik and Jeevan fell to the top two seeds in the QFs .. All in all, a pretty decent show in Syria .. I believe they will all be there for another tournament in Syria this week .. I have posted all the scores/results in the forum page thread on juniors .. By the way, forgot to mension earlier that Navdeep Singh and Chris Letcher won another doubles title last week in Cairo (the scores from there are also at the same forum thread).

Aug 11 Notes

LP and MB have first round byes at Cincinnati and won't be playing till wednesday at least .. Harsh Mankad may be the top or second seed at the Kenosha futures and won't play till at least tomorrow .. Isha Lakhani is at the Thai $10K .. Rohan is not in the doubles draw at Bronx, and may be going early to Long Island ATP for qualies in the weekend .. I will report on other players and junior stuff soon.

Meanwhile, there has been some interesting development in the CharMinar city over the last few days .. The news had come out over the weekend about some really huge plans for serious upgrading of the sports infrastraucture, of the kind not seen in India, and from what I can see, perhaps not seen even in Asia (other than in connection with Olympics/Asiad/Football-WorldCup) .. IMG and Chandrababu Naidu have finalized some big plans and some details are beginning to come out .. Here are two articles - IMG, state ink pact to develop sports infrastructure (Business Standard, Aug 11) .. IMG to build sports academies in Hyderabad (Hindustan Times, Aug 10) .. Looks like "IMG Bharat", as it will be called, will be a humongous complex of sports academies of the type IMG has down in Florida, and perhaps bigger .. As far as I know, the 190 acre Florida center which includes the Bollitieris and Evert academies for tennis along with a bunch of other sports centers, is their largest academy .. In fact, other than the Ledbetter Golf academies around the world, IMG does not have big academies outside of Florida .. This sounds like their first big venture abroad for such a huge multi-purpose academy .. We are talking 400 odd acres from Hyderabad Central University to be used for this, and about IMG investing Rs 700 crores !! .. That is $120 million .. Well if somebody made a mistake and that should really be one zero less, it would still be a huge sum ..  SEVENTY TWO tennis courts being planned (are you kidding me?) .. Many things included in it, like 80% profit going to IMG, and IMG helping in a bid for OIympics, etc .. The political ramifications of such a huge project remains to be seen ..

If this works, it will again prove that if the "leaders" in India would get off their behinds and get down to work, there are people who will believe in India's potential/stability and invest on it .. Individual zeal is the catalysts/sparks for this kind of things .. On a rather related topic about that, there has been some news from Bangalore about land being given to build public tennis courts, thanks possibly to the Chief minister's interest in tennis .. The enthusiasm from from KSLTA has been noticeable for a while; Mr. Sunder Raju being prominently mentioned .. Here is an article - More elbow room for tennis (The Hindu metro section, Jul 31) .. By the way, Sunder Raju mentions as of 10 days back, that the Karnataka challengers were still on .. They have not hit the ATP calendar yet, though we are 7 weeks away .. Hopefully KSLTA will still come through ..  Back to the topic of folks thinking big in sports, the politicians, especially up North in India should take note of what some of the folks are trying to do in Hyderabad, Bangalore, etc .. You better get off your butts, or risk being totally left behind by the Naidus down south! .. As it stands, Delhi is losing ground so fast (over just about a year it seems) in sports prominence to Hyderabad .. The way it is looking, the next Olympics, as and when it comes to India (say 2020 or 2024?) will be in Hyderabad .. Mark my words!

On another, again related, topic -- here is another Hyderabad item - Andhra to send Sania for training to Florida .. The state will pay to send Sania to the US .. Seems like IMG is again involved (if so, Bollitieri's may be the place) .. I have not seen enough details on whether everybody is agreeable and if things are cast in stone yet.

Of course political opposition is never far behind whenever somebody tries to do something .. Two articles on the Bangalore matter -- Row over Mayor's 'bias' in granting funds (The Hindu) and BJP flays move to transfer 11 BMP grounds to KSLTA (Deccan Herald) .. I am fine with opposition to these things .. That is part of the checks and balances we need .. But I am not with those who have 1970s ideas and ideologies .. The world is going forward; we better start living in the global place and make use of the real advantages you have as a big country with incredible hidden strengths that our politicians never seem to have confidence in.

Read the above articles and feel free to "mouth off" again, in our forum! .. Our Sports-India forum is turning into the best place for Indian sports on the net!

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Aug 11 ..

I am getting some inquiries from US college coaches who are interested in Indian junior players .. I would like to be able to contact Indian players (some of the coaches are inquiring about specific names) .. If any of the junior players are reading this, please contact me .. Or if any of the other readers know the contact emails/address for any junior player, let me know .. I would like to have a mailing list where I can post general announcements and inquiries from the coaches too .. Please email me - R.Jayakrishnan.