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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Aug 19, 2002
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No idea how often I would be updating (if at all) during the next three weeks (till Sep 7th) -- it will depend on internet access in India (not a problem actually; just my figuring out ways to use it is the problem :-)) ..

Aug 19 Notes

3rd time in the final was still not successful for MB-Mirnyi who put up a great fight before going dowb to quite possibly the best team out there - and the only one active from even before the Indian Express .. They went down to Knowles-Nestor, 67(2) 76(5) 46 last evening at the $800K Indi final .. Oh well ..

Dr Vece Paes confirmed yesterday, according to The Hindu, that LP will be playing Asiad .. Good news .. No further details.

I have updated the calendar and also updated the AITA rank list after some 8 months - all linked from the tournament/ranking/calendar page.

Delhi futures starts monday with Rohan top seed and Mustafa second .. Harsh, Sunil, Ajay and the whole gumbal is there .. Should be fun! -- Not sure if I will have a scores page.  May be later on in the week if at all .. Check out http://www.stevegtennis.com, the mother of all sites  for scores (also The Hindu newspaper, normally the most reliable in terms of complete scores.

Aug 18 Note-2

MB-Mirnyi play the doubles final today at the $800K Indianapolis ATP at about 3 or 3.30 pm, after the singles final .. They go against the top seeds Knowles-Nestor .. MB-Mirnyi do have a win over them in the semis at Queens, and this should be a very good match.

As for this coming week, Leander Paes  is seeded 3rd with Thomas Cibulec (CZE), as the the FO semifinalists pair team up again for the first time after the FO at the $480K Hamlet Cup in Long Island, NY .. Good to see Lee back out there .. They face Gambill and Graydon Oliver in the first round .. Mahesh Bhupathi is in the doubles draw with Mike Bryan too, seeded first .. I guess Bob Bryan will be at the USO qualies next week and Mirnyi will be taking his usual week off to prepare for grand slam singles .. MB-Bryan face Younes El-Aynaoui (MAR) and Adrian Voinea (ROM).

I guess LP and MB had another chance to team up to at least get a bit of rust off if they are planning to play together at Asiad or Davis Cup (I am doubtful of the former, but the latter they have said before they would do) .. They have lost that chance too .. But I have given up on all that long back .. I am in the "let us just cheer/follow these two anyway - they are like all other professional tennis players making a living from it after all", mode .. We have come to this slowly over time, and so there isn't much of an emotional response anymore on this from me - and I suspect from a lot of other fans too .. Quite a few of us are rather numb to it all and have given up on getting any excitement of the "express" kind any more (though I still get emails from some really hurt diehards who have not adjusted to this - and blame one side or the other for it) ..  Frankly, I wanted LP to anyway play the Hamlet ATP with somebody he could be teaming up with at USO (I hope he would play with Cibulec or Michael Hill there), as MB is set with Mirnyi for the rest of the year .. So this is fine ..

MB-Mirnyi is now ranked #9 in the team race after picking up 350 points last week to bring their total to 1495 points together, just 5 points behind the #8 team .. They are well on the way to a spot in the year-end WDC this year, if ATP is going to hold that anywhere .. LP is ranked #25 with MB and #26 with Cibulec.  He will need some 1500 odd points from now on to make it to any WDC this year (not impossible, but quite tough) .. Now that Bangalore is not in the running for WDC this year, I am not sure who will conduct it, and ATP is least bit borthered .. I guess all the doubles players should just make as much money as they can before ATP kills doubles once and for all.

At the Hamlet Cup qualies first round Prakash Amritraj went down 26 26 to Magnus Norman (SWE,124), who was back-toback singles champion there in 99 and 00 .. Norman also beat the 7th seed Davydenko 63 63 yesterday to make the main draw (I couldn't believe that they would make the guy play qualies rather than give him a wildcard! - it was not that long ago that he was winning titles there for crying out loud .. Count me in as one of Norman's fans for going there and paying the qualies - this is a guy who has a had two career/life threatening injuries, the hip injury and 5 hour surgery recently and some serious heart-valve problem earlier too; and he is still out there doing it) ..

Aug 18 Note-1

It was past 11 pm when they got done with another three-set comeback, but Hesh-Max have reached another final, their second consecutive one - [SF] #3 M.Bhupathi/ M.Mirnyi d. B.MacPhie/ N.Zimonjic, 36 75 63 ..  In the final today, they face the top seeds Knowles-Nestor ..

No news yet on how Prakash did in the first round of the qualies at the $455K Hamlet Cup ATP at Commack, Long Island, New York.

Aug 17 Note-3

MB-Mirnyi doubles SF is at about 9 pm tonight .. Prakash Amritraj (USA) is at the qualies for the Hamlet Cup in Long Island .. he plays Magnus Norman (SWE,124) today and will run into the 7th seed Nikolay Davydenko (RUS,90), who has a Q1 bye, if he can upset make a miraculous upset of Norman somehow .. As the Atlanta ATP, originally set for this week, got cancelled there is only one tournament this week . So the Hamlet Cup has an unusually tough entry list.

Aug 17 Note-2

Great news from Prostejov, CZE, as the Indian girls and boys both showed the right spirit and won their final ties at the world junior u14 finals - both finishing at the 7th spot in the field of 16 .. Boys: 8th seed India d. 3rd seed Russia, 2-1 .. Mathivanan Jeevan (Nedunchezhien) d. Alexander Prozorov, 62 63 .. Rupesh Roy l. Pavel Tchekhov, 46 36 .. M.Jeevan/R.Roy l. A.Prozoro/P.Tchekhov 46 26 .. We again win the clincher doubles tie, and once again M.Jeevan does his job just when needed .. Final placements  are, USA, ESP, ARG, CAN, FRA, MAR, IND, RUS, AUS, BEL, CZE, BRA, COL, BLR, KOR, CHN .. Girls: unseeded India d. 8th seed Argentina, 2-1 .. Tara Iyer d. Florencia Molinero, 63 75 .. Sanaa Bhambri l. Betina Jozami, 16 16 .. T.Iyer/ S.Nagaraj d. Lepore/F.Molinero, 63 46 64 .. I am sure something was off with Sanaa today, seeing her scoreline (hope she is fine), but look how Sandhya came through with Tara to get the job done .. This was terrific team work by both teams, with kids answering the call whenever needed .. We have to like that kind of spirit.  The final placements are, NED, POL, CZE, USA, RUS, CHN, IND, ARG, ESP, FRA, EGY, COL, CAN, INA, BRA, NZL.

Only four countries placed both their teams in the final eight - USA, RUS, ARG and IND .. With the girls and boys beating Russia and Argentina respectively for the 7th spot, now there are only TWO countries in the world final seven of boys and girls .. USA and India! .. I know it is a silly/obscure stat, but what the heck - it sounds good! :-) .. Anyway, this is the highest finish on both sides of the draw for India in these competitions which started in 1991.

So the boys finished with wins over #8, #10, #13 (with wins over #9 AUS (twice) and #16 CHN in the regionals) and losses to #1 and #7 .. The girls team had wins over #8, #9, #15 and losses to #1 and #5 (with wins over #14 and #16 and loss to #6 CHN in the regionals) .. Going 3-2 in the world finals and going ahead of their seeding by both teams shows that this was a successful trip .. More than the finish out there, what was impressive was that the players were ready throughout the week and were only going down to the few very strong players there .. Both teams did all this while being pretty much assured of losing one tie right off the bat, being pooled on both sides with the top seeds (and eventual winners who were clearly the odds-on-favorite much before it all started) .. Coaches Hemant Bendre (boys) and Kawaljeet Singh (girls) deserve all the praise for a job well done .. Credit should also go to AITA for the good planning this time .. I know the stories of the past when our junior players had to return from a European tour and had to catch a flight right back to Europe and get there the night before for the junior finals - due to things falling through cracks in Delhi on travel planning .. Not this time, as Sumit stayed back in Europe and with the teams reaching early enough to prepare and be readu on the first day itself, etc and was properly rested for some key doubles matches .. Probably the most important thing AITA did was that they did not mess around with the coaches and sent the same coaches as in the Asian regionals to Europe as well .. The coaches got plenty of time to know the teams and get the kids ready.

The u18 claycourt nationals got done at Chennai today with Isha and Somdev retaining their titles .. I was surprised at the tough match that young Kartiki gave to isha .. She had isha on the ropes and made her comeback with a tiebreakers for 46 76 46 win ..

Aug 17 Note-1

The RCA championship website first said that MB-Mirnyi lost last evening .. I decided to wait a little to confirm, and sure enough they updated the site later .. No, MB-MM are alive and have reached the SF, as they seem to very consistently do these days - though it took some hard fight to day for them to advance .. [QF] #3 M.Bhupathi/ M.Mirnyi d. J.Morrison (USA)/ G.Weiner (USA), 46 76(3) 64 .. They play #7 Brian MacPhie (USA)/ Nenad Zimonjic (YUG) today in the semis, at about 9 pm .. BM-NZ upset the 2nd seeds Bjorkman-Woodbridge yesterday.

Our u14 team had a rest day yesterday at Prostejov, as only the lower-8 placement ties were on the Friday schedule .. The upper 8 placement ties are today.

Aug 16 Note-2

Isha and Kartiki reached the 18-and-under claycourt nationals finals today at Chennai .. 17 yr old Isha is the defending champion and it was clear that it would take some sort of a miracle from someone to get past her - and I thought the only girl in the draw who even had an outside chance to give Isha any trouble was 15 yr old Kartiki .. And they meet now .. On the boys's side, Somdev was really the one to beat (he too is the defending champ - perhaps I should have mentioned him as the one very talented boy there, when I said the boys' side lacked a bit of luster this time with the 17-18 yr olds not being among the best group we have had in recent years -- actually Somdev has really not had enough of a chance to show his talent this year in the junior ITF events) .. Aditya Madkekar of Maharashra who has played very well to reach the final this time against Somdev is somewhat of a surprise.

There wasn't much point in the world junior #32 Isha playing this event, other than in staying match-fit, but it helps other players to play against her .. There was some good news this week, as ITF grandslam development committee agreed to provide some small funds ($750) for Isha to travel abroad to 4-5 events including the US Open juniors for which she is a direct entry (as I said earlier, she had missed both the FO and Wimbledon where she would have been a direct entry) .. Also getting similar support for foreign travel is Karan Rastogi, who does not qualify for USO juniors but will be trying to bring his ranking up to make it to the grand slam type junior events over the next two years.

Aug 16 Note-1

3rd seeds MB-Mirnyi play the Indi QF today against the American pair, Jeff Morrison and Glenn Weiner today, at about 4 pm .. Those two upse the 8th seeds in the R2 ..

At the USA F24, the top seed Ignacio Hirigoyen (ARG,393) beat Manoj Mahadevan, 62 62 in the second round ..

Here are the original entries for the India F3 $10K futures starting next Monday (with entry-time rankings) --  1 Rohan Bopanna (#488), 2 Mustafa Ghouse (535), 3 Nitin Kirtane (633), and 4 Vijay Kannan (703) are the top four entries .. Ajay Ramaswamy, Eliran Dooyev (ISR), Jon Hedman (SWE), Vinod Sridhar, Attapol Rattiwattanapong (THA), Rishi Sridhar, Ciarran Moore, Sonchat Ratiwatana, Kamala Kannan, Shivang Mishra, Dekel Valtzer (ISR), Stephen Nugent (IRL), Roy Sichel (ISR), Rohan Gajjar, Vishal Punna, Assaf Drori are the 20 direct entrants .. Harsh Mankad may be a wildcard entry as his ranking is too low .. Surprised not to see Sunil Kumar and Manoj Mahadevan in there, but good to see Rohan playing it (the points can't hurt!) .. Sunil Kumar is in the entry list for the second futures F4 (at Gulbarga), however .. Manoj may be staying in the US and playing the futures here, now that he has spent money to travel to North America .. Quite week in foreign participation again, but this time around that does not matter because Rohan, Harsh, Ajay (and possibly Sunil) add some pretty good quality competition from the Indian side, and things aren't going to be easy for anybody.

I have added all the Thursday scores from Chennai at the u18 National Junior Claycourts page .. Isha, Kartiki, Somdev, etc are in the semis .. Chatwinder Singh, the #2 boys seed bowed out to Aditya Madkekar (MAH) in a bit of a surprise ..

Aug 15 Note-2
 

The kids couldn't do a whole lot against the big big veterans out there .. MB-Mirnyi won the R2 match 62 63 just now at Indi .. Still a great job by Prakash and Stephen with a first round win and 25 ATP entry points, showing again that they are pretty much for real.

Aug 15 Note-1

Happy Independence Day! ..

The Amritrajs are playing Mahesh-Mirnyi right now in a prime time night match on center court at the $800K Indi ATP ..

The Indian girls and boys both lost their ties for 5-8 placement today at the Prostejov u14 world finals (the upper-8 ties would be tough, as we expected), and will both play for the 7th-8th spots next .. Unseeded Indian Girls lost 1-3 to the 6th seeds Russia (Tara Iyer l. Ekaterina Makarova 06 06 .. Sanaa Bhambri d. Evguenia Rodina, 63 63 .. Bhambri/ Iyer l. E.Kosminskaia / Makarova, 26 46) .. The boys lost to Morocco, 0-3 (Ayoub Benamar d. Mathivanan Jeevan, 61 62 .. Reda El Amrani d. Rupesh Roy, 64 62 .. M.Benehamou/ El Amrani d. S.Gupta/ M.Jeevan 46 64 61) .. So, not a good day, but Sanaa continues to impress with her ability to go and beat some of these players in the #1 vs #1 matchups! .. Tomorrow, the Indian boys play Russia to try for the 7th spot and improve on their seeding of #8 in the tournament .. The same with the girls (who play Argentina next), except that they have gone past the expectations already, being unseeded .. Either way, top-8 is the best finish in the world in a junior world final that I remember (the u16 boys team from a few years back ended up #9, which is the best I remember).

6th seed Sonal Phadke lost in the QF to unseeded but talented/tough Lauren Cheung (AUS) 16 46 at the $10K Nakhon Ratchasima satellite in Thailand today .. Liza Pereira and  Yoo-Mi Jung (KOR) lost 06 36 to the tough 3rd seeded Indonesian pair, Wukirasih Sawondari and Liza Andriyani .. That ends it for Indians this week in Thailand ..

Aug 14 Note-5

Haven't seen when the Amritrajs will play MB-Mirnyi today ..

Since little details can bug the curious academician in me, I went looking for the ITF rulebook on the format for the final - it says, "On completion of the round robin groups, the four group winners shall contest the main draw semi-finals and the final. The winner of group 1 shall be placed at the top of the draw in position 1. The winner of group 4 shall be placed at the bottom of the draw in position 4. The winner of group 2 shall be placed in position 2. The winner of group 3 shall be placed in position 3. The four group runners-up shall contest consolation semi-finals and the final in the same manner and so on." .. That seems to say that our boys and girls are going to be in a two-round knockout tournament to decide positions 5 thru 8 .. So, not correct to say that we are in the quarterfinal .. But it is correct to say that we are in the world top-8! .. Looks like the girls will play Russia next and the guys would play Morocco next, to finish in the top-6 ..  [That explains the line saying "5 ties each" in ITF's fact sheet - though it does not explain their schedule page with 6 days scheduled and a placeholder for a "quarterfinal" .. OK, I give up :-)] .. Now, I can just wait for a couple of days to see what happens; just that I go crazy with this kind of trivialities sometimes ..

AITA's press release said yesterday this -- "With this loss (to nederlands), India is now tied with Spain for the 2nd slot from Group 1 to qualify for the Knock out stage. In the next tie, if India beats Brazil and Spain loses to Netherlands, Indian girls will make it to the knockout stage along with Netherlands." .. That may not be technically correct if the above rule is followed, because everybody does qualify for a knockout stage, though only for 1-4, 5-8, 9-12, 13-16 positioning.

Aug 14 Note-4

Well, it seems that the Indian boys and girls are indeed in the quarterfinal stage of the world u14 finals (ITF shows QF, SF, F in their schedule for knockout, and they do not talk about the knockout stage in the fact sheet for the tournament, though for some strange reason they also said there would be only 5 ties for each team, rather than the six one would expect for complete placement from 1 through 16 - so I am a bit confused) .. I have not seen ITF's final word on this, and have only seen the scores for today posted by the Brazilian tennis association (neither of their two teams made it :-(), as all the rest of the world including ITF London was asleep by the time the scoresheets came out from CZE .. As far as I can figure out, here are the top two teams from each group - Girls: Group [1] NED, IND [2] CZE, RUS [3] USA, CHN [4] POL, ARG .. Boys: [1] USA, IND [2] ARG, MAR [3] RUS, CAN [4] ESP, FRA ..

It is certainly commendable to reach the final-8 in the world in a competition that started with over 80 countries each on the boys and girls side .. Only four countries have placed both their boys and girls teams in the final eight - USA, Russia, Argentina and India! .. It is even more impressive that India basically had the worst draw possible on both sides, placed with the #1 ranked teams in the world on paper, and having to win both their other two ties to advance .. And our kids did the job! .. Good work by Hemant Bendre (boys' coach) and Kawaljeet Singh (girls' coach)  -- do not underestimate their ability to keep the kids confident .. Both teams were ready on the first day itself to win their close initial ties which turned out to be the clinchers .. But the work isn't done -- even tougher teams come up now in the QFs!

Manoj Mahadevan did a comeback job today at the USA F24 over qualifier Jeremy Wurtzman (USA) 26 64 61 to reach the second round, but he now has a tough one in the R2 against Ignacio Hirigoyen (ARG), the top seed .. In doubles, the #2 seeds Hirigoyen and Kepler Orellana (VEN) beat Manoj and Nick Monroe (USA) 62 76(4) ..

I have added whatever results I could find for today, at the Chennai junior claycourt u18 nationals page .. No surprises .. Isha, Kartiki, Somdev Varman, etc moved on .. G.Arjun from Karnataka has been looking good.

Aug 14 Note-3

Hey, the cousins ain't no flies in the pan! .. They won their doubles match again today - [R1] (wc) P.Amritraj/ S.Amritraj d. (s) Stefan Koubek (AUT)/ Rainer Schuettler (GER), 64 64 !! .. And they run into the 3rd seeds Mahesh Bhupathi and Max Mirnyi in the second round tomorrow .. The boys are really cooking! .. I have no details on the match yet.

Indian boys beat Belgium 2-0 and lost to top seeds USA 0-3, but finished second in the pool with a 2-1 record, just like the Indian girls who beat Brazil 3-0 today to finish second in their pool with 2-1 behind the top seeds Netherlands .. Scores: Boys: 2-0 vs. BEL (Jeevan d. Michiel Antheunis, 63 63; Rupesh Roy d. Frederic De Fays, 76(4) 63; doubles not played) .. 0-3 vs #1 USA (M.Jeevan l. Dylan Arnould, 26 36; Rupesh Roy l. Marcus Fugate, 46 46; S.Gupta/ R.Roy l. D.Arnold/ J.Boym, 16 36) .. Girls: 3-0 vs BRA (Tara Iyer d. Paula Madruga, 64 61; Sanaa Bhambri d. Teliana Pereira, 46 63 62; Bhambri/ Iyer d. Pereira/ L.Vieira, 76(4) 64) .. So basically the 2-1 wins over the 3rd place teams are what pushed our boys and girls teams to the second spots in their pools, as the toppers were both #1 seeds, not easy to beat .. The clincher doubles win by the boys team against Columbia, and by the girls team in upsetting 7th seed Spain, both on the first day, proved to be the difference .. M.Jeevan's great work in pinch-hitting for Sumit at the #2 spot and going 2-1 in singles, was terrific (especially the win on the first day), not to mention the 8-6 3rd set win by Sumit and Rupesh on the first day .. I am trying to figure out who plays whom next (actually, I am not even sure I have the format correct; hopefully two teams advance to QF from each group, though we can't put it past ITF to go for some messed up scheme like only one team each going to the SFs - I am looking for confirmation, or all I said is pointless about finishing second in the pools to be important!)

Aug 14 Note-2

A few ties did get completed at the Prostejov world u14 finals yesterday before the big rain touched down on the easterm end of CZE which is where Prostejov is (Prague is to the left end, I think) .. The ITF says the ties which were played itself were in gusty windy conditions - and that never helps Indian players .. Only the girls' tie got done, and the boys' tie for us was postponed to today .. Anyway, I didn't think we had much of a chance aganst the top seeds in the field, Netherlands led by Michaela Krajicek, wind or not .. We went down 0-3 yesterday to them -- Bibiane Schoofs d. Tara Iyer, 64 61 .. Michaela Krajicek d. Sanaa Bhambri, 61 63 .. Krajicek/ Schoofs d. Bhambri/ Iyer, 62 64 .. This is why I was close to tears (:-)) seeing the draw that was slapped on us, and also why Monday's big win over Spain was important .. Spain defetaed Brazil 3-0 yesterday .. ESP were to face NED today, and we were to play BRA .. Brazil had lost 6 matches in straight sets to NED and ESP .. If we beat BRA and ESP loses to NED (quite probable) we are through to the next round .. If we win and ESP upsets NED, it would be a three-way tie between NED, ESP and us for two spots and we look to the matches won, sets won, etc .. If we and ESP both lose today, it would still be a three-way tie between us, ESP and BRA, but for one spot .. Awaiting news from today - and it may take some time.

The boys were to play Belgium first and then USA .. The extra day of rest may have been useful, because Sumit Gupta is apparently down with some allergic reaction and is a bit weak after the last few weeks of play in Europe with the ITF Asian team (I was hoping that he could somehow skip out of the last week to take rest, actually) .. That is why our #3 Jeevan played in the first tie, but he did a super job winning his match too .. Anyway, today is the crucial day.

The news from the Thailand satellite is really pathetic this week, as only ONE Indian has reached the second round among some 9 who were there (7 in the main draw) .. Sheetal, Shruti, etc all fell today and Radhika who got an Indian in the draw is the only one to move on .. Not even doubles has been good for us, as the only Indian in the second round is one who is playing with a foreigner, and got to upset only Indians .. I know I am being unusually harsh here, but really, come on girls - you gotta do better than this! :-) .. Yikes, that is the worst show ever that I remember by Indians .. #6 Sonal Phadke d. (q) Liza Pereira, 63 62 .. Chattida Thimjapo (THA) d. (q) Shruti Dhawan, 64 63 .. #8 Chin-Bee Khoo (MAS) d. Sheethal Goutham, 61 63 .. OK, technically Shruti and Sheetal would have had to pull off upsets against their opponents but the scorelines suggest that they were really not even in the matches .. That is two weeks of bad results .. But then again Chin-Bee was a top-20 college player till recently and all that (though she has not set the pro circuit on fire yet) .. Chattida has been trouble for Indians for a while too .. Now, for doubles - Yoo-Mi Yung (KOR)/ Liza Periera d. Sheethal/ Shruti, 64 62 .. Chun-Yan He/ Cheng-Jie Le (CHN) d. #2 seeds Sai/ Radhika, 64 63 .. Apparently all foreign players (not Indians) are complaining about the surface at Ratchaseema or some such out of the way place in Thailand where this is being played - the Thai satellites rarely go too far from Bangkok, Nonthburi and Pattay City .. Perhaps that affected our players too.

Aug 14 Note-1

Prakash and Stephen did not get to play last night due to the rain delays .. They are scheduled to play an evening match today .. So MB's doubles second round against the winners will be on Thursday .. I believe Manoj Mahadevan has not played his first round singles yet - he should be in action at the USA F24 today.

Aug 13 Note-3

Rajeev Ram lost 36 36 to Nicolas Massu (CHI,66) today at the the $800K Indianapolis RCA championships ATP .. Rain has delayed everything by 2-3 hours; not sure when Stephan and Prakash would play.

I believe there was hardly much play today (Tuesday) at the Prostejov world junior tennis u14 finals due to rain .. It also seems that rain is forecast for tomorrow as well; so it messes up all the plans.

I have only seen the girls' results reported by news sources from the National Claycourt Juniors in Chennai - I have updated our page .. The normally reliable (only for sports! :-)) The Hindu has not been covering the event, though they are based in Chennai .. Will look around to get hold of the results.

Aug 13 Note-2

I found this morning that some of the links in my bookmark file did not work .. I was looking for Rajeev Ram's score from Indianapolis at some of the news outlets .. Then it hit me that it has been a long time since I actually looked for score updates from ATP event singles matches, reported by wire agencies (they don't report doubles and I end up making phone calls to find out in some cases, but singles score updates do come in at a half hour delay) .. Anyway, it all left me depressed too .. It has now been a long time, over a couple of years, since Leander really played any serious singles on the tour (except for that one-time-only spurt at Wimbledon last year) .. Even if he wasn't winning all the time, it was always fun to follow Lee, as there was always the feeling that no player was beyond his reach on a good day - Oh well, those were the days! .. Well, it was good to see another Indian name in a main draw outside of Chennai in a long time, though through a wildcard, but Rajeev is not doing that well today - 36 03 down to Nicolas Massu when the rain delay started a while back.

Not a great day for our women at the Thailand satellite .. Liza Andriyani (INA) upset the  4th seed Sai Jayalakshmy 60 75, but Sai getting upset is nothing surprising these days, her form being totally up and down .. To add to the woes, Maki Arai (JPN) upset the 5th seed Radhika Tulpule (IND) 63 64 .. Lauren Cheung (AUS) beat qualifier Geeta Manohar 63 60 also, as no Indians won today .. Sonal plays Liza tomorrow .. Shruti and Sheetal will also be in action tomorrow ..

Awaiting news from Prostejov on today's matches .. Nothing yet, as the news sources are all clogged with news on the massive (100 year) flood going on in Prague and other parts of CZE.

Aug 13 Note-1

Rajeev Ram plays the first round at the Indianapolis ATP as a wildcard against Nicolas Massu of Chile today at 11 am .. Massu has been doing well this year, but has been a bit banged up - nothing serious but he took last week off not to aggrevate a knee injury from the Toronto masters .. Later in the day, the Amritraj cousins come up for doubles first round also .. Actually, I thought Prakash probably deserved a singles wildcard more than Rajeev right now, but then it is Rajeev's home field and it would be unfair for Kash to get the USO wildcard AND the Indi wildcard for his u18 nationals show .. He probably would prefer a little less workload this week too, I guess, after the heavy work last week at Kalamazoo .. I will report today's scores as soon as I find out.

Manoj Mahadevan is at the USA F24 this week - drawn to face a qualifier, Jeremy Wurtzman (USA) .. In doubles, Manoj and Nick Monroe (USA) play the 2nd seeds Ignacio Hirigoyen (ARG) and Kepler Orellana (VEN) ..

Well, it turns out that 8th seeded boys u14 team struggled a bit in the 2-1 win against Colombia yesterday, despite Jeevan Nedunchezhien (or M. Jeevan, or Mathivannan Jeevan, as ITF calls him .. whatever IS his real name I wonder! :-)) coming through in superb fashion to start things off .. Here are the boys' scores, according to the quick news release that AITA has sent out - #2 Mathivanan Jeevan d. #2 Thomas Estrada (COL) 61 64 .. #1  Rupesh Roy l. Francisco Franco 63 16 57 .. Doubles: S.Gupta/ R.Roy d. F.Franco/ T.Estrada, 76(10) 57 86 .. Wow, that was a nail-biter doubles match -- and the Indians came through in style in the end! .. Not sure why Sumit did not play singles .. He may have wanted some rest after 5 weeks of the European tour with the ITF team (hope he is not banged up or anything)? .. The girls 2-1 win scores were as reported below, a good match but a loss from Tara, a straight sets win from Sanaa and a clincher doubles win by Tara-Sanaa over E.Compostizo / C.Suarez .. Not losing a set in the two wins would help the girls in the tiebreaker standings if it becomes necessary; the pool is tough and things like three-way ties are possible there, with Spain hungry for a win.

The u18 claycourt nationals got underway in Chennai .. Except the u14 players in Czech Rep., and Sania and Ankita, pretty much all the top kids are all there .. Isha is the top seed in the girls' draw, with Kartiki the second seed .. The boys' draw does not have the luster of the last few years, as this has been a down year for the 17-18 year olds, none of them making a big splash in ITFs etc .. The player that I am kinda looking at is J.Vishnuvardhan, who qualified into the main draw .. See the Chennai juniors page for all the score I have been able to collect so far.

Aug 12 Note-3

Yeah! .. I told you ITF underestimated India's u14 girls team -- they pulled off the only upset of the day on the girls' side at the Prostejov u14 finals' roundrobin, taking out the 7th seed Spain .. Here is the news from ITF - "The only shock result of the day in the girls’ event was when seventh seed Spain were beaten by India 2-1 despite taking the first rubber 76(3) 64. India were able to regain their composure after the first rubber, stepping up a gear to win the second singles rubber 75 62 and the doubles rubber in straight sets 63 62. Spain will be hoping that they can put behind them a disappointing first day in order to prepare for their tie against Brazil tomorrow" .. "Shock"?? .. Wouldn't have been if you guys did your homework (:-)) .. Looks like Tara Iyer lost 67(3) 46 to Carla Suarez, before Sanaa Bhambri beat Mayte Gabarrus 75 62, going by the nominated teams (I believe #2 vs #2 is the first rubber) .. Not sure who played doubles for us, as the full scores of the day have not been posted yet at the ITF site .. On the boys' side, unseeded Australia upset the 5th seeded Belarus, an indication that the Asia-Ocenia region was not as bad as ITF thought, perhaps partly because India won the championship over AUS (:-)) .. No mention of the Indian boys' tie .. As I think the Indian boys were seeded, I guess they won over Colombia today .. Anyway, too early to brag or celebrate anything .. The girls have much work to do, going up against top seed Netherlands soon .. Boys will be up against USA soon; USA won .. Indonesian girls lost 0-3, and the 5th seeded Chinese girls won .. Here is the ITF page for today's news.

Aug 12 Note-2

Here is the article from the official website of the US junior hardcourt nationals at Kalamazoo (quoted without permission)

Prakash Amritraj, the number two seed, arrived in Kalamazoo with high expectations. Having been named NCAA tournament Most Valuable Player in the team competition this spring as a freshman at University of Southern California, he had proven with his three match clinching wins there that he could handle the pressure cooker that is Kalamazoo in August. A tough draw didn’t seem to phase him, and when his opponent in Sunday’s final, Douglas Stewart of Malibu CA, took out number one seed Brian Baker in the semifinals, it looked as if the path to his first National singles championship had been cleared of its major obstacle. But Stewart, who will be playing college tennis at the University of Virginia next month, had other ideas. Refusing to be intimidated by the circumstances or his opponent’s resume, Stewart traded breaks and holds with Armitraj until five all in the first set. He then broke and held his serve in a tense deuce game to take the first set, 7-5 ... Down a set, but realizing that he had ample time to recover in the best of five set match, early in the second set Armitraj ordered two bananas and two Pepsi Colas that were passed from father Vijay to a ballrunner for delivery. He also adjusted to his waning energy level by toning down his emotional celebrations on big points. After both players held serve three times, Amritraj held at love in game seven. Stewart needed a strong service game to keep Amritraj under pressure, but a crisp volley winner at 30 all gave the second seed a break point, and his intimidating presence at the net forced Stewart into a passing shot error for the game. Serving for the set at 5-3, Amritraj jumped out to a 40-15 lead and when Stewart slammed a ball in anger after a forehand return, he was given a point penalty for ball abuse. It was the second straight day that Amritraj had won a set on an opponent’s point penalty, as he had won the first set tiebreaker against Robert Yim in the semifinals in the same fashion ... With the match now even, service holds were exchanged until game seven when Stewart was broken. Amritraj was unable to capitalize on the break, as he immediately lost his next service game to even the set score at four all. Stewart twice double faulted to give Amritraj break points in the next game, losing the game on the second one, when Amritraj ripped a forehand that Stewart managed to reach but could not quite keep inside the baseline. Serving for the third set at 30 all, Amritraj forced Stewart into a return error on a crafty second serve, then hit a forehand winner on the next point to win the set 6-4 ... In the fourth set, Amritraj took the early lead at 2-0, but Stewart remained tenacious, retrieving ball after ball and returning them with similar depth and pace. But he needed to limit the damage to the one early break, which despite a valiant effort in game seven, he was unable to do. Though Stewart saved three break points to level the game at deuce, Amritraj hit a volley winner for the advantage and then came up with a lethal backhand crosscourt winner for the second break of the set. That gave him some breathing room when serving for the match, a luxury he didn’t need, as he held at love to win the set 6-2, and take the 2002 National Junior Championship title. Because he is 19 in October, Amritraj is ineligible to compete in the US Junior Open. Instead, with the wild card he has earned here, he will compete on one of tennis’ grandest stages-- the main draw of the US Open. With this opportunity to challenge the world’s best, he takes an even larger step into the global tennis spotlight.
That is a really good write-up on the match .. Timely bananas from Vijay to get him back in the game :-) .. Check out the above website for the articles on his earlier matchups, and also the draws on Prakash-Stephen reaching the final four of doubles and Rajeev Ram winning the doubles, etc.

Here is the article in the Kalamazoo Gazette about the win .. There is a wonderful line from Prakash in there - "He's hitting the ball harder, deeper, which counters my game, which is coming in. Running me sideline to sideline, in the heat, was really cutting me short of energy,which I need to serve and volley ... At that point, I told myself, 'If you're gonna go down, go down like a man. Go down at the net.'" .. Hey I want to frame that line .. The machines that kill the fun in the ATP tour these days should learn from the kid, and show the guts to go to the net and go after somebody rather than pound the ball till kingdom come and wait for the other to make a mistake or hit the corner chalk sometime and go whoop-dee-doo .. On the other hand, the ability to trade the stuff from behind and go for his natural serve and volley using his mind is what has really made Prakash break through like this in the last few months, I think.  Watch out! ..  By the way, does anybody remember my first news item on Prakash, in 1999? - a Bangkok Post news report that took note of only one kid in that day's play in a Thailand ITF junior event, and uncharacteristically it was about somebody who lost!  - 15 yr old Prakash basically parked himself at the net and went down volleying - as that's basically what he knew he was good at! ..

Here is another article from the Kalamazoo newspaper with a tidbit on Prakash's new coach at USC having to take a red-eye flight to see him play the final!

Here is the article in the Los Angeles Times about Prakash .. He confirmed a rumor that has been going around, that he may not stick around in college for too long .. He says he may be playing pros this fall .. The NCAA does allow one sememster off from college to play pro events, and he can safely return to college too .. Anyway, the college season does not heat up till January and so Kash does not stand to lose much by testing the waters .. Hey, Vijay -- pull out some cash and run a couple of challengers in India - let the kid play there :-) .. Better still, let's also change that (USA) next to his name.

Aug 12 Note-1

There is some serious hoopla and newspaper articles going on in the US about Prakash Amritraj's huge national junior title yesterday .. As I have said recently, this kid does seem to have a "nose" for the big stage - a champion's quality .. To make it into US Open main draw as an 18 year old is amazing .. Call me a believer - I was so-so in my comments on Prakash throughout his junior ITF career, though always hoping for him to break through, as those who read between the lines would have figured out .. He never really had a break through event in the juniors but the guy is something else altogether now - basically ever since upsetting Mankad then ranked #2 in college tennis 6 months back .. Go Kash! .. I will have more on Prakash later - first some more news.

The world u14 world final-16 kicked off today at Prostejov, Czech Republic .. The draw was done Sunday night and this is early info that just came out .. I have not seen the schedule of matches, full seedings etc .. India's bad luck with the draws continues even in the Junior events, I guess - both our teams got clubbed with the top seeded teams in the field .. On the girls' side, with Sanaa and Tara in the team (both top 200 in ITF world 18s rankings, Sanaa even ranked #14 in the European rankings in the 16!) India had a legitimate claim to be one of the top 5-6 seeds, but the world final-16 seedings rarely go outside of Europe and US, and I don't think anybody noticed our team change with Tara coming into the team and having come on strongly recently .. I think China got seeded but not India on the girls's side .. I don't know what criterion they use for these things .. Anyway, the Indian girls got clubbed with some of the really tough teams out there .. Nederlands, Spain and Brazil in pool-1..  Nederlands has Europe's #1 u14 player, Michaela Krajicek and are the top seeds in the field of 16 .. And Spain is the #4 team in Europe behind NED, CZE and POL who are seeded #1, 2, 4 here .. Not that any other draw would have been all that better, but I was looking for a pool with somebody like an Egypt, Indonesia, or NZL in it - even the USA u13 team is not that strong and I am not sure they deserved to be seeded in the top four .. China basically has a free pass into the next round, with US, as they are in a pool with Egypt and NZL .. These are all just my impressions on the strength of these teams .. But that is how it goes .. Oh well, Sanaa and Tara have the work cut out for them .. On the boys' side, I think India as the Asian champions got seeded in 4 thru 8, but we got clubbed with the top seeds - USA .. Belgium and Colombia are the other two in our pool .. I thought our boys really had a chance to be seede in the top four on paper itself, the way they rammed through as the Asian qualifiers without even dropping a match and only two sets if I remember correctly, summarily beating those like Australia (twice) .. But I am willing to reassess a bit (:-)) based on the no-so-outstanding tour that our #2 player Sumit had in Europe the last 5 weeks .. I believe the boys were to take on the USA today .. We should hear about today's scores soon.

Top seed Ankita lost in the final qualies at the Thailand $10K satellite, somewhat surprisingly, to Diana Julianto (who, though ranked in the top-100 of juniors, has not been too efficient in beating quality players) .. Shruti, Liza and Geeta advanced to the main draw .. Here are the qualifying score details for Indians -
#1 Ankita Bhambri - [Q1] Bye .. [Q2] l. Diana Julianto 46 61 67(0)
#2 Shruti Dhawan - [Q1] d. Kamontree Siriluethaiwattana (THA) 61 64 .. [Q2] d. Punjaporn Ditthim (THA) 64 63
#5 Liza Pereira - [Q1] d. Sunthree Arphanukul (THA) 46 75 63 .. [Q2] d. #9 Wilawan Choptang (THA) 61 75
#8 Geeta Manohar - [Q1] d. Prim Buaklee (THA) 26 63 63 .. [Q2] d. Rani Setiawati (INA) 36 62 63
#13 Megha Vakharia - [Q1] l. Rani Setiawati (INA), 36 16 ..
Geeta seems to have really played with some purpose out there .. Liza's win over a pretty good Choptang is notable too .. Megha's loss (actually the score line too) is very surprising - hope she is not injured .. Ankita still has a chance as the first lucky loser in waiting ..

In the Thai satellite main draw, here are the matchups 4th seed Sai has a not-so-easy match against Liza Andriyani (INA) .. 5th seed Radhika Tulpule gets Maki Arai (JPN) .. 6th seed Sonal plays Liza Pereira .. Unseeded Sheetal goes against 8th seed Chin-Bee Khoo (MAS) .. Shruti faces Chattida Thimjapo (THA) .. Geeta plays Lauren Cheung (AUS) .. Main draw starts tomorrow.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Aug 12 ..

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.