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LP/MB/NS/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Aug 25, 2003
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Aug 25 Note-1

Here is the news release from the MD Anderson Cancer Center after this afternoon's press conference -

ORLANDO, FL --- Leander Paes, 1996 Atlanta Olympic Bronze Medallist and 2003 Wimbledon Mixed Doubles Champion with us here today, remains in stable condition, continuing to be monitored, following his admission to M. D. Anderson Cancer Center Orlando on Tuesday, August 19, 2003. Prior to admission to M. D. Anderson - Orlando, Leander checked himself into the emergency room of a local hospital near his home, on Sunday, August 17, after suffering from severe headaches for three days.

On Sunday, August 24, Leander was diagnosed with neurosysticercosis, a parasitic infection causing a brain abscess. The series of tests, performed at M. D. Anderson - Orlando, leading to the diagnosis include: two MRIs; a CT scan; three biopsies to remove muscle tissue from his right playing arm and multiple blood tests. Blood samples were also sent to and reviewed by a team of physicians in Bombay, India, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

To treat neurosysticercosis, Leander is taking albendazole (an anti-parasitic medication) to shrink the abscess. He is also taking steroids to reduce possible inflammation and resultant swelling caused by the abscess. Due to a previous medical condition, Leander is also taking an anti-seizure medication. The anti-seizure medication is to prevent the onset of seizures, a possible side effect from taking the other medications. Leander is taking each of the three medications, three times per day. The medications cause weakness, drowsiness and dizziness. Leander also will be monitored for other possible side effects.

Leander is expected to remain hospitalized, receiving medication for 8 to 20 days. After being discharged from MDACCO, outpatient observation is expected to last for approximately two weeks. Depending on his bodyís ability to recover, Leander hopes to return to playing tennis in three to four months.

So, it looks like at least three months for his to be back on court - I hope he can at least play the year-end world doubles championships .. But first thing is to get cured of the cyst problems and get fully healthy.

Here is a picture of LP with Dr. Charles Browne and Dr. Vece Paes (courtesy: MD Anderson Cancer Center, Orlando).

Dr.Charles Brown, Dr.Vece Paes, Leander Paes at 8/25/03 Orlando press conference (courtesy: MDA Cancer center)

Other tennis news soon .. The US Open doubles draw is out for MB-MM,  Harsh won the doubles first round at the Netherlands F5, Rohan has advanced in the Indonesia F1 .. Tara and Arunprakash qualified into the grade-1 Canadian Open juniors and have won the first rounds .. Sania, Sanaa and Divij lost in the main draw first round, but Tara, Arun, Karan, and Somdev reached second round.

Aug 24 Note-2

Here is the Statement from the Paes Family, as published at the MDACC hospital website Sunday evening:

"We report that Leander Paes is suffering from neurocysticercosis. We are relieved that this is not a cancerous tumor. The blood tests from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and a repeat MRI along with other tests, confirmed the diagnosis. The treatment protocol is now being decided by the specialists and will include a combination of antiparacitic medication Albendazle, steroids and anti-seizure medication.

Leander is deeply touched by the overwhelming support he continues to receive from around the globe. From the honorable president of India, to the millions of fans offering puja [which brough tears to his eyes], to the nuns at Mother Teresa's home offering prayers to his family and friends, and to members of the sporting, business and medical fraternities.

There will be a news conference tomorrow at 3 p.m., Monday, August 25, at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center Orlando -- 1400 S. Orange Ave., Orlando, Fla. -- where Leander has expressed his desire to communicate with his fans.  The details regarding the disease and his treatment will be provided by the medical specialists at this time as well".

That is the latest .. The worst fears did not materialize and everyone's prayers worked! ..

I still have not given a roundup of everything last week, especially the National claycourt juniors .. I will restart with all tennis updates from tommorrow (just a bit too busy right now) ..

Aug 24 Note-1

According to news agency reports early Sunday, Leander's publicity agent in India (who must have heard something late saturday in the US) says that the diagnosis for LP is a parasytic cyst in his brain .. That means the CDC test results probably became available saturday .. No doctors' word from Orlando yet, but I suppose we can heave a sigh of relief .. That is a completely treatable problem with just medication .. If so, the only thing now would be to see how many weeks it would be before he can return to court .. Phew!

Aug 23 Note-2

I finally couldn't help it and decided to give Dr.Paes a call, as I had heard that he said on arrival at Orlando last night that they might know something more today and I hadn't seen anything in the news wires yet .. Actually nothing much new .. He said they are not thinking it is a tumor right now .. Some tests were being done at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta on the exact nature of the cyst/abscess (BTW there is some distinction there and all kinds of possibilities exist - check out the excellent treatises by our resident fanclub doctor Bhushan Sharma in our forum thread!) .. They were expecting some results from Atlanta by yesterday but it is delayed due to some security reasons (huh??) and should be available during this weekend or early next week .. They expect to have a conference on monday to discuss everything and will have a press release then .. Otherwise, Leander is in excellent shape and everything looks fine .. So, we can relax for now - again, no news is good news!

Aug 23 Note-1

Top seed Chin-Bee Khoo (MAS) beat Megha Vakharia in rthe $10K final in Nigeria .. Megha had beaten Sonal and Liza had lost to Khoo in the semis .. Top seed Napaporn Tongsalee beat Isha Lakhani and Nadine Hassinger (GER) beat Archana in the semifinal at the $10K Colmbo today .. Isha's 8-match win streak ends, but another good week by her, with an upset of 4th seed Sai along the way .. Sunil Kumar went down in the semi of the $10K in Tunisia (most scores are in our forum)

Martina Navratilova said yesterday that she will not enter mixed doubles at the US Open, as her partner is special and she can't think of playing with somebody else now .. Get well fast Lee - the lady wants you for AO next year.

Aug 22 Note-2

I just heard that Dr. Vece Paes did indeed (finally) reach Orlando and was on the way to the hospital at about 11.45 pm Friday there .. Dr.Paes being one of the more accessible people to the press, I am sure the Indian press will get through to him and will have some on the latest news soon, though I don't think anything much is going on .. I will update if I hear anything ..

Aug 22 Note-1

Sorry for a delayed update .. Actually no news from Orlando, and no news is good news, I suppose .. What we know is that they have gone in for a second set of MRIs, which means they are not thinking of biopsy and all that now .. Actually, Vece Paes who spoke to Times of India just before finally catching a flight to the US after a day or two of delay, said, "I believe they are going to repeat the MRI scan. If there is an improvement in the lesion, they will go for conservative treatment. If there is no improvement, they will have to think of a biopsy." .. That is the latest medical info we have, as the hospital did not send out any updates today .. What we can understand is that once LP showed very quick response to medications and the headaches and vision problems went away, they decided to confirm that the abscess has shrunk in repeat MRI scans .. If so, it is quite clealy an infection-related problem .. It appears that they might then look for more specific tests, prossibly early next week to exactly pinpoint the type of infection and finish the thing off .. Right now Lee seems to be in fine shape, even playing some pickup basketball and all, according to Vece .. He also said to another newspaper, that "good news is that all tests are negative, but the bad news is that we need something positive to start treatment" .. Hopefully the first positive results will be sometime next week, indicating something quite small to deal with .. That is where it is.

Mahesh, who has been in touch with Leander from Sunday night, flew down there and spend time with Lee yesterday .. Leander's girlfriend Mahima Chaudhury also has been with him, as has been his constant companion and trainer Sanjay Singh ..  Lee has many friends in Orlando who have been cheering him up too .. It's only the constant phone calls that has bugged him - actually I think they had turned things off and had routed all calls elsewhere .. Hey, don't blame me - I didn't even try to get through to Lee, figuring that there is nothing that we can do, except to hope for the best .. So far the news has been better than expected; the prayers by a billion odd people would not go wasted you know.

I will update scores soon .. Quick news - Sunil Kumar seems to be finally in form again!!! .. He was in the semi at Tunisia when I saw last .. Rain in Colombo postponed all matches .. Tara and Arunprakash both went down in QFs at the New Jersey grade-3 .. No update yet on the ladies semis today at Lagos.

Aug 21 Note-2

Some more (possibly) good news! -- The update from Orlando this morning -- "Leander Paes is listed in stable condition at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center Orlando. Still awaiting results of numerous tests, his doctors are treating him with antibiotics for a possible brain abscess .. While not yet proven in Leanderís situtation, one rather common infection in India causing such a brain lesion is cysticercus granuloma, caused by the larval form of a tapeworm. He is no longer experiencing headaches and his vision is normal ... Leander remains in excellent spirits and is physically active .. Dr. Clarence H. Brown, President/CEO, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center Orlando..

They seem to be getting closer to identifying what is up.  "Cysticercus" is exactly what doctors in our fanclub and from India had suggested (in fact I got a copy of an email from a Dr Karamchand Sharma from the Safdarjang Hospital, Delhi, that a press friend was trying to transmit to Orlando which had suggested this) .. I guess MDACC dcotors in Orlando have been thinking along the same lines too .. But keep your fingers crossed and we will await further confirmation.

Aug 21 Note-1

I have not heard any updates from Orlando today, but we are basically waiting for the test results and so possibly there is no update .. I have got several emails from doctors in our fanclub (Thank you, Drs Bharat Bhushan, Sanjeevi Carani, Neil Kothari), and all of them feel positive about yesterday's news release from the hospital that said they are inclined to believe it to be an abscess, and also from the fact that Leander has been responding to medication already (meaning an infection-related problem is more probable) .. Some doctors from India have also been trying to send their input through various channels to Orlando on what they feel about it, as it turns out that some of these types of problems are found a bit more in India and other tropical countries than in the US - mostly caused by infectious agents (of which the doctors have so far told me about at least 3 or 4 possible types) .. Dr.Paes also has mentioned this to the press, appearing to almost rule out the chance for a tumor .. Abscess/cyst appear to be much more probable and based on the size of it, if that is what the tests confirm, a few weeks of medications would solve it .. Some doctors from India say that some of these seen in India go away without even much treatment, actually - but it would take a few weeks .. We of course remain anxious and worried till the tests come back, but I thought I would write what a layman like me can figure out .. We all would like to believe there will be no bad news.  Praying for you Lee!

OK, some tennis news update finally .. First, AITA announced yesterday that Prakash Amritraj has been included in the team for Davis Cup 4 weeks from now, as a 5th member, but as there is really no chance at all for Lee to be there, MB, RB, HM and PA form the team .. Harsh Mankad left for Netherlands today and will play the $15K futures there next week on clay .. Not sure where exactly Rohan will be next wek .. Isha Lakhani continues the big run, and has reached the SF at the Colombo $10K today with an upset of the 3rd seed Sai Jayalakshmy! .. 2nd seed Rushmi had gone down in the second round, and 4th seed Archana Venkatraman has reached the semi as well ..  Good news from Nigeria again, as THREE Indian ladies are in the semis in the Lagos $10K .. Sonal Phadke vs Megha Vakharia and Lisa Periera vs Chin Bee Khoo in the semis Friday there .. Mustafa Ghouse was in the QF against the top seed today in the $15K+H also at Lagos (no scores yet) and Jaco Mathew went down in the second round .. At the Tunisia $10K, Sunil Kumar had reached the QF, but 5th seed Ajay Ramaswami was upset in the R1 .. They both are in the doubles QF as well .. Good news from the ITF grade-3 US International Hardcourts in New Jersey - (3) Tara Iyer and (8) R.Arunprakash have reached the QF there yesterday .. Sunith Rao (USA) was upset in the first round of the US Open qualies, but Rajeev Ram (USA) pulled an easy 60 63 of a top-250 player; he plays the Q2 today.

At the ongoing AITA junior u14/u18 National claycourts in Chennai, here are the SF lineups after today's matches: u18B Rupesh Roy vs M.Jeevan, VM Ranjeet vs Saurabh Kohli, u18G: R.Madura vs Sandhya Nagraj and Meghana Paritala vs Poonam Reddy .. u14B:  Krishna Karsolia vs Navneetha Kannan and Tariq Jacob vs GP Prajnesh .. u14G: Parija Maloo vs GK Swetha and Varsha Dutta vs Shivika Burman .. 2nd seed Poojashree was upset today in the u14 by Shivika, in a bit of a surprise .. Krishna Karsolia had a nice win over Yuki Bhambri in u14 boys PQF and then he upset the top seed Kinshuk Sharma today ..

I will reports all the score details later today but some of it are posted on our forum, now that we are slowly coming out of the Orlando shock, hopeing the worst to be over.  I will also make a tournament page for the junior national claycourts in our results archives.

Aug 20 Note-2

Here is the info they emailed me from the hospital .. Same as the press release the Indian newspapers have probably got into the Thursday editions .. "Leander Paes' condition is stable. He is physically strong and currently able to exercise and perform yoga. His appetite is excellent. He will remain in the hospital until the cause for his headaches and the findings of a lesion on his brain are explained. At the current time, we are considering the possibilities of either a brain abscess or a brain tumor. We are inclined to believe it is a small abscess caused by an infectious agent yet to be identified. Test results are pending and should be available in the next 24-48 hours. If it is an infection, he will be treated with antimicrobials and he should be able to resume his professional career in a matter of weeks. If this proves to be a tumor, the treatment will be entirely different and an estimate for full recovery cannot be stated at this time. Leander is in excellent spirits." --- Clarence H. Brown, III, MD, Medical Oncologist, President/CEO, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center Orlando ..

So, I suppose that is much better news than we thought yesterday, but it is all up in the air till test results finally come in .. Our doctor friends in the fanclub say that abscesses are relatively easy to distinguish from malignant tumors in CT and MRI scans, but you cannot rule out tumors yet because abscesses are not normally this small; when it is as small as in Leander's case, one needs to ensure that there is some sort of an infectious agent that caused the small abscess (fluid collection) .. That opinion matches with the above release from the hospital .. So we will wait, and pray that everything will be fine in the end ..  We have sent flowers from the fanclub and told Lee that it is just another break point that we know he will save!

Michelle Lynch, the very helpful spokesperson from the the hospital says, "I've received numerous calls about Leander and can see how special he is to everyone" .. Of course .. There are only very few people as special as Leander from India! ..

By the way, it is indeed comforting that he is at the MD Anderson Cancer Center .. The Orlando center is the only out-of-state affiliate center in the US for the world-famous University of Texas M.D.Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, which is often rated as the best pace for cancer treatment in the US (their other affiliate is in Madrid, Spain, I believe) .. Hopefully there is only a scare and no such treatment will be needed for Leander.

Mahesh Bhupathi has been in touch with Lee .. Actually he knew sunday evening after he got to Long Island that there was serious concerns down in Orlando when he talked to Lee .. They didn't want to talk about it for a couple of days, till the hospital released the news item Tuesday evening and the Associated Press picked it up.

Aug 20 Note-1

I am skipping all other tennis news for now .. No definitive news on Leander right now, as the test results are still awaited .. It is a 3 mm lesion, and the doctors are thinking/hoping that it is possibly just an abscess rather than a tumor, and possibly something that can be treated with just medicines .. An abscess is more like a collection of fluid matter, from what I know .. Let us await more news .. LP is fine physically right now, and even doing some workout and yoga and all that, as reported by Chidanand Rajghata, Times of India's correspondent here in the US, who talked to the lead doctor .. His constant companion, friend and trainer, Sanjay Singh, has been with LP throughout this.

I have not directly talked to Lee yet .. Mahesh says Lee is getting too many phone calls and they are not happy there with all the phone calls ..  Folks, we will know news as soon as anything comes out .. If any of you reading this is trying to call Lee, please don't! ..  You can get "Get Well" cards delivered to "M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Guest Services, 1400 S. Orange, Orlando, Florida 32806" and they will take it up to Lee.

Aug 19 Note-2

I am rather numb, but I have to report this AP news item .. Lee needs all our prayers right now .. "Doubles star Paes hospitalized with brain lesion" -- ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Leander Paes, one of the world's best doubles tennis players, is being treated for a brain lesion and will miss the upcoming U.S. Open .... Paes, 30, suffered severe headaches late last week. He checked himself into an emergency room near his Orlando home Sunday, and a scan showed a lesion in the left occipital region of the brain .... He was transferred to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Orlando on Tuesday, hospital spokeswoman Michelle Lynch said .... Tests are being conducted to determine the lesion's cause, with the results expected within a few days. A brain tumor has not been ruled out, Lynch said .... He is alert and speaking, Lynch added."

It is 1 am in Florida and too late for me try to find any more info .. We can only pray that it is not as bad as it sounds.  Why should this happen to Lee, of all people?

Here is some more (from the Anderson Cancer center website) -- "After an initial brain CT scan and MRI, Leander was told that he has a lesion in the left occipital region of the brain. This morning doctors transferred him to M. D. Anderson Cancer Center Orlando where an expert medical team has been assembled. At this time, multiple tests are being conducted to determine the specific cause of this lesion. The results are expected within a few days, during which time Leander will remain hospitalized. A brain tumor has not been ruled out .... Leander and his family are trying to cope with this sudden setback and family members are en route to the United States. Leanderís father, Dr. Vece Paes, prays that the tumor is not cancerous and states that all the good wishes and prayers by his fans are appreciated".

Aug 19 Note-1

About a dozen Indian ladies are at the $10K ITF satellite in Colombo .. A couple of wins and a couple of losses yesterday - [R1] Iciri Rai d. Thiyumi Abeysinghe (SRI) 60 63 .. [R1] Lata Assudani d. Yamini Thukkaiandi 63 63 .. Marutha Devi got a walkover from Nandini Perumal into the R2 .. [R1] Aleta Sungkono (INA) d. Pallavi Sharma 63 60 .. [R1] Nudnida Luangnam (THA) d. Kamini Murugaboopathy 62 64 .. Three seeded Indians have R1 byes .. (2) Rushmi, (3) Sai and (4) Archana .. Two other Indian seeds play today - [R1] (6) Isha Lakhani (IND) vs Thavindra Ekanayake (SRI) .. [R1] (7) Samrita Sekar vs Rati Kumar ..

At the Tunisia $10K, here are the scores for Sunil Kumar .. [Q1] (1) Sunil Kumar Sipaeya d. Hichem Yacoubi TUN 62 62 .. [Q2] d. (WC)Fares Zaier TUN 64 63 .. After qualifying in, he became the second seed .. [R1] (2) Sunil Kumar Sipaeya d. Alexander Satschko (GER,936) 63 64 .. He plays Christian Groh (GER,1023) next .. Fifth seeded Ajay Ramaswami went down in the R1 though - 46 63 67(5) in a close match to Bart De Gier (NED,1001) .. In doubles, Ajay and Sunil are in the QF after a 62 76(5) over De Gier and Groh.

Not much news from Lagos on this week's satellite/futures .. All I know is that Megha Vakharia beat Anuli Okafor (NGR) in the R1 yesterday.  No scores yet.

Terrific start today at the US Open qualies for wildcard Rajeev Ram (USA) .. He upset the Andres Dellatorre (ARG,219), 60 63 .. I expected him to beat the clay monster from Argentina but this seems to have been a real shellacking! .. Hmm ...

Aug 18 Note-3

OK, called the Press desk and the Players desk at Long Island .. They both told me that Leander is down with a flu and is in bed in Orlando, and that is why LP-MB had to withdraw .. So, that is that, for all that .. Damn, so we will have to wait for another few months for them to play a tournament .. Get well fast, Lee!

Aug 18 Note-2

Hold everything -- The Indian Express are NOT playing at the Long Island event .. I just noticed an updated draw at their website and the top seeds have now been replaced by the alternate team .. It is a bit too late (about 11 at night) for me to call and find out -- so it may be tomorrow before we find out what happened .. Drama is never too far from these two, as we know! .. Ah, I am just sooo sad now.

Sunil Kumar was not in the entry at Tunisia but played qualies, made the draw and has won a round .. Niru is not in the USO qualies draw, and RB missed the cut by a few spots .. That and everything else later .. First, we need to find out what is up with LP and MB ..

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.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Aug 18 ..

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.