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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for week ending on Aug 31, 1998

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Please read the newly-added page, a collection of notes, especially on the important topic of Indian players needing support .. We need responses and help from everybody ..

Aug 31 Notes

We had an onsite fanclub member, Susan Thomas, at the US Open today, but she had nothing much to report, as our dudes weren't playing .. She reports, "..Well after waiting on line for 2 and a half hours in the morning i finally got a ground pass. Supposedly the folks who were first on line got there at 4 in the morning!!!!! .. it was a beautiful day at flushing meadows .. I think i did manage to get a fleeting glimpse of Anand Amritraj but i could be wrong. Most of the time i was at the practise courts checking whether LP/MB would come out to practice ... but didnt see them. I saw Agassi, Rios, Rafter, Sampras, and Richard Krajicek, LP's probable second round opponent .. hoping that lee would play him in the second round ... I really apologise that everytime i go to the open i really dont have much in way of news for u guys. I hope whoever goes next will be the bearer of good news or some news about our duo. The last i heard from the two was that they are praying very hard. Lee was at St.Patricks' yesterday .. Okay tennis lovers that's all i have for today .. friday or saturday - I will try and go on one of those days" .. Thanks, Susan .. Hope we will get reports Friday/Saturday from you .. we will see which other fanclub members will be there tomorrow ! .. As for Leander, nice inside info on his church trip .. let us hope it will be his opponents who don't a have a prayer !

In US Open action, there were some results I found interesting today: Bob Bryan beat Ondruska winning the last three sets .. That is good news for US tennis fans. The Bryan twins, Bob and Mike Bryan have just been going through the satellite circuits and have been tearing it up in doubles, winning some amazing number of titles in a row (they were the NCAA collegiate doubles champions too, but left college early after a couple of years of success). Bob had a wildcard to the main draw, and it is nice to see that the kid can pull something in singles too. Anyway, since Indian tennis fans are the most keen observers of the doubles scene, I thought I would mention it. Watch out for the Bryan twins .. Other interesting results are, Taylor Dent, the 18 year old American (son of old Aussie pro Phil Dent) advanced over Alex Radulescu, who retired when it was tied at 1 set each. The only other Asian in the men's draw, the qualifier Yong-Il Yoon of Korea lost in straight sets to Jonathan Stark.. The other one closest to an Asian, Sargis Sargsian of Armenia, lost to Bohdan Ulihrach .. It's all up to Leander to keep the Asian challenge going. On the women's side, Yoshida, Miyagi, Tanasugarn and S-T Wang from Asia have all lost, and Sugiyama, Saeki, Sawamatsu, and S-H Park have won ..

Aug 30 Notes

The schedule for Monday at the US Open is done, and Leander's match is not in it. That means he will be playing Alex O'Brien on Tuesday ..

More bad news, actually the worst possible news from Japan - India finished dead-last among the 16 teams at the NTT World Junior Tennis Competition at Nagoya for 14-and-under boys. India lost 1-2 to Brazil .. P Vishal beat Rafael Soares 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the opening singles, and Eduardo Pereira beat Parantap Chaturvedi 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 to equalise. In the doubles, Chaturvedi and Vishal lost the match 5-7, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 [source: Times of India] .. In the four ties, India lost 0-3 to Uruguay to fall to the bottom 8, lost 1-2 to Mexico to fall to the bottom 4, lost 0-3 to Japan to fall to the last 2 and then 1-2 to Brazil to finish last .. Hope the kids are consoled by those around .. After all, they at least made it to the final-16, which another 50-60 countries couldn't do.

Aug 29 Notes

The men's draw is out for US Open. The Indian Express is seeded 4th and is in the bottom half of the draw with #2 seeds Woodies. The upper half of the draw has #1 seed Eltingh/Haarhuis and #3 seed Bjorkman/Rafter. Here is the draw till semifinals.

 5-Ellis Ferreira RSA/ Rick Leach USA       vs Luis Lobo AR/ Javier Sanchez ESP          \
   Tom Kempers NED/ Menno Oosting NED       vs Tomas Carbonell ESP/ Francisco Roig ESP   / \
   Brent Haygarth RSA/ Kent Kinnear USA     vs Daniel Orsanic ARG/ Jan Siemerink NED     \ / \
12-Wayne Black ZIM/ Sebastien Lareau CAN    vs Byron Black ZIM/ Alex O'Brien USA         /    \
13-Jiri Novak CZE/ David Rikl CZE           vs Pablo Albano ARG/ Nicolas Lapentti ECU    \    /
   Stephan Noteboom NED/ Fernon Wibier NED  vs Q-Lan Bale RSA/ Danny Sapsford GBR        / \ /
   Karsten Braasch GER/ Marcos Ondruska RSA vs Libor Pimek BEL/ Byron Talbot RSA         \ /
 4-Mahesh Bhupathi IND/ Leander Paes IND    vs Fernando Meligeni BRA/ Mariano Puerta ARG /

It is the usual grand slam draw. Can't say it is too tough or too easy. The first couple of rounds are reasonably easy for our dudes, but I would have liked not to see either of those teams, Novak/Rikl (who are red-hot for the time being) and Albano/Lapentti (who are always tough) in the 3rd round. Then the QF match against possibly Ferreira/Leach or Black/Lareau would be tough too .. By the way, is that a ironic or what, to see W.Black and Lareau facing B.Black and O'Brien in the first round ? .. Why not swap players and go to the old Lareau O'Brien team and the brothers' Zimbabwe Davis Cup doubles team ? ..

The women's doubles draw is out too. Nirupama is not playing doubles. I believe she would have made it into the qualifier draw for doubles with a good partner, but she wasn't in the qualifiers. She has probably decided to focus on practice for a few weeks.

It appears that Leander will be playing his first round singles match on Monday itself. We will know the exact time once the schedule for Monday comes out online, sometime late evening of Sunday. We expect one of the fan club members to be at the match and send us some onsite match report ..

Aug 28 Notes

It continues to get worse for the Indian 14-and-under team at the NTT world junior tennis in Nagoya, Japan. India lost to Japan 0-3 in the tie to get placed in the 13-14 spots in the 16 team draw .. P Vishal lost the opening singles to Taichi Wada 3-6, 1-6 .. Then, Anand Kumar lost to Go Soeda 2-6, 0-6. In the doubles, Vishal and Parantap Chaturvedi lost to Soeda and Sho Yonezawa 4-6, 4-6 [source: India Daily online] .. Now they play the last tie, which is to avoid being placed dead last among the 16 .. That will be against Brazil .. Really, how poorly our team has played in Japan is very surprising .. They have only won a couple of sets in the 9 matches played in three ties so far, and the sets they have lost have mostly been of the 1-6 or 2-6 variety. Utterly outplayed so far. Though I joked about it earlier, now I wonder if our kids really are having any illnesses or anything. They couldn't be playing this poorly otherwise.

No other news for a while.

Aug 27 Note-3

Well, Leander and Mahesh got out of the non-ATP Huggybears invitational doubles in a hurry, it seems. Today, Leander and Anand Amritraj lost their second round match to Mike White and Andre Olhovskiy, 5-7, 4-6 .. Mahesh and Vijay Amritraj who had lost their first round match yesterday lost their consolation round match today, to Liviu Mancas and David MacPherson, 7-6, 6-7, 4-6 .. No more matches there for them, and I assume they will both be going to US Open and getting down to some practice on the courts, which I am told have been made a bit slower than last year.

A late note on Sai Jayalakshmi. She was in Europe (Germany?) a couple of weeks back, playing doubles with Bettina Auer of Austria at a Futures. They reached a quarterfinal, I believe. Anyway, Sai picked up a couple of WTA doubles points and moved up in the doubles ranking from 649 to 604 ..

By the way, Ed Toombs just alerted me to the online site for the TennisWeek magazine, where you can find the Andrew Rueb article I mentioned below, on his experiences in India in January during the three futures. You can find it at http://www.tennisweek.com/index2.html .. He had a lot of complaints about how the court surfaces were all weird, and not at all what they were claimed to be (finding grass at Chandigarh and then a sandy clay-like surface at Indore even though both were advertised as hardcourts by ITF). Funny comments on the guy who was stringing the racquets for everybody using an old machine right outside the courts in a metal hut where he lived .. There is also a picture of Andrew standing by his favorite transport mode, the autorickshaw (which is not at the online site), etc. Despite his complaints, he ends the article with some comments on how much people were all into tennis and how much love he felt ! - he will be going back to India again .. Rueb and his pal Todd Meringoff (both coached by Arun Jetli of US, who has Punjab ancestry) were in the finals of the Indore futures, which Andrew won. Andrew beat Prahlad Srinath at Delhi, and then lost to Prahlad in the Chandigarh semis. He studied at Harvard, and the dude does write well .. Take a look at the article.

Aug 27 Note-3

They did complete the matches yesterday at the Huggybears. LP/Anand won their match 5-7, 7-6, 7-6 over D.Smith/J.Pugh .. MB/Vijay lost to L.Andreotti/Wayne Black, 6-7, 6-4, 1-6, though .. Today LP/Anand play M.White/A.Olhovskiy in the winners' draw (final 16 including both Ex-Pro and Pro-Am teams), and MB/Vijay play L.Mancas/D.McPherson in the consolation draw of 16 teams.. Not a big deal, but I thought I would report the news anyway! ..

Aug 27 Note-2

More bad news from Japan - Indian 14-and-under boys lost 1-2 to Mexico today at the ITF World-gourp Junior Tennis final-16 .. I believe the loss will now put them in the 13th thru 16th spot now. Parantap Chaturvedi lost 6-1, 3-6, 4-6 to Hector Dela Paz and then P.Vishal lost to Carlos De La Pena, 1-6, 1-6 .. India won the dead rubber doubles match afterwards for their first win in 5 matches there. [Source: The Hindu] .. Have our boys been eating sushi and getting sick ? ..

Aug 27 Note-1

Talked to a friend of Nirupama's who had chatted with Niru yesterday after her first round qualifier loss to Ludmila Richterova at the US Open (6-1, 0-6, 2-6). It appears that Richterova started serving very strongly with aces all over the place in the second set after Nirupama won the first set and Niru could not adjust quickly enough. Nirupama is not injured or anything and had chosen to practice last week (I had wondered about that earlier, as she did not play at the Bronx challenger last week even though she was in New York). She plans to go back to doing a few more weeks of training, as she feels she has been continuously playing one tournament after another for a few months now, and has not had time to work on a few parts of her game she knows she has to focus on. She is at a point where she really feels the need for a solid coach to work with her. She has not had any coaching after a brief period during the Australian Open when David O'Meara was with her. Coaches cost money and she still does not have funds to handle that (the IMG player management group which signed her on has yet to find sponsorship for her though they would hopefully come up with some next year). David O'Meara is currently coaching Jocelyn Robihaud, the top junior from Canada, whose coaching is sponsored by TennisCanada, the canadian tennis association. Niru remains as one of the very few top-200 players who barely have any sponsorship support or funds for any coaching. She is a fighter, and we shouldn't expect her to give up - but for what she is made of, I would have given up by now, as Indian women face tremendous pressures in continuing on with a career in tennis. It is critical that something happens for her to take on a coach who can observe her in matchplay and identify areas to work on. The benefits from such coaching should not be underestimated. One only has to look at what happened to Leander after he started being coached by "Nailbags" Carmichael last year, after almost four years in the top 125-175 range (exactly where Niru has been for a couple of years now). Taking that next step requires coaching, which requires money. Niru remains as the only Indian woman in the top-200 that India has had, and it continues to be a crying shame that nobody can do anything to help this 21 year old to get a coach.

News from Japan: India lost badly (0-3) to Uruguay in the first round of the World Group junior tennis (14 and under) competition in Nagoya (Japan) on Wednesday. National under 14 and 16 champion Parantap Chaturvedi lost to Marcle Felder 2-6, 2-6, and P Vishal lost 1-6, 1-6 to Martin Vilalrrubi. Then P Vishal and A R Anand lost to Martin Vilalrubbi and Perera 1-6, 1-6 [source: Deccan Chronicle] .. There are 16 teams who made it to the world group competition (India advanced in the Asia-Oceania zonals in Jakarta a few months back).. It is on a knock-out basis, and India continue to play three more rounds to decide the 9th to 16th placings .. The way India lost the matches on wednesday must be tough for the kids to take. They shouldn't feel that bad, as it was commendable for them to have made it to the world final-16. Hope they still manage to find a spot at the bottom of the top-10 when it is all done.

In other news, the National games at Manipur has been postponed, ending all kind of confusion and speculation on what will happen to the tennis events there, because the hardcourt nationals (Sriram Open, the most prestigious nationals for now) was scheduled for the same week (Oct 5-11). The players wanted to go to Sriram instead of representing their states at Manipur. AITAeven tried to work out a way to hold the national games' tennis events at Delhi just before the Sriram Open. Anyway, mother nature has caused major delays with continuous rain at Manipur. The artificial turf has still not been layed and now as the grounds are waterlogged they have had to postpone the whole thing (indefinitely.. but that is nothing new with National games!). That means it is all clear for Sriram Open at Delhi, as AITA had originally scheduled.

If any of you subscribe to TennisWeek (a US publication), there is a very interesting article in the latest issue, written by Andrew Reub of US who toured India for the futures at the beginning of the year .. A must-read to see some of the interesting ways things happen in India from the viewpoint of a foreigner ! .. will give some excerpts here sometime.

Aug 26 Note-2

Leander and Mahesh are at the Huggybears invitational doubles that started today .. This is an event sponsored from 1985 onwards by a multimillionaire, Ted Forstmann (of Forstmann and Little Co .. also the CEO of Gulfstream Air, a Fortune 500 company - He is also a very well known Philanthropist, who and Sam Walton of Wal-Mart once came up with $100 million each for an innercity school program charity ! - He also supports the Nelson mandela children's fund and Andrea Jaeger's sick kids charity - He likes Pro-am and charity events, and was a golf partner with Vijay Singh at the Pebble Beach pro-am golf earlier this year - I learned a bunch of stuff about him as I was looking for info on Huggybears). The Huggybears event raises a lot for charity and normally gets attendance from most top doubles players during the week before US Open every year. It is a big backyard social event at Ted Forstmann's place at Southampton (Long Island), NewYork.

This year the player roster at Huggybears includes current Pros such as Galbraith, Florent, Pimek, Talbot, Connell, E.Ferreira, Eagle, Tillstrom, Kulti, Pat Cash, Reneberg, Broad, Norval, Fromberg, Olhovskiy, Kratzmann, Leach, Grabb, Sandon Stolle, Byron Black, Wayne Black, Johnson, Montana, Suk, MacPherson, de Jager, Paes, and Bhupathi .. Among the old stalwarts are, Ken Rosewall, Anand Amritraj, Vijay Amritraj, John Fitzgerald, Wally Masur, Bill Scanlon, Spencer Segura, Jim Pugh, Fred Stolle etc .. The event includes 16 teams in the "Pro-Am" section (each team with one pro and one amateur, normally a millionaire :-)), and 16 teams in the "Ex-Pro" section (each team with a current pr and an ex pro). LP/Anand and MB/Vijay are in the Ex-Pro section. Five days of knockout matches. The tournament also has the tennis handicapping scheme called "bisques" which are certain number of points allowed to be used by the teams whenever they want to add to the points they earn by playing. Anyway, Mahesh and Vijay started their match today against Louis Andreotti & Wayne Black, but don't seem to have completed the match (rain ?) .. Leander and Anand were supposed to play David Smith & Jim Pugh, but have not played yet.

Aug 26 Note-1

The US Open draw came out this morning. LP is in the 3rd quarter, in the bottom half .. Here it is:

 5-Richard Krajicek NED   [  5] vs Arnaud Clement FRA     [ 92] \
   Leander Paes IND       [ 73] vs Alex O'Brien USA       [121] / \
   Hendrik Dreekmann GER  [ 93] vs Richard Fromberg AUS   [ 30] \ / \
   Thomas Johansson SWE   [ 33] vs Fernando Meligeni BRA  [ 48] /    \_ to QF
   Francisco Clavet ESP   [ 28] vs Andrei Pavel ROM       [ 75] \    /
   Nicolas Kiefer GER     [ 25] vs Lionel Roux FRA        [125] / \ /
   Jordi Burillo ESP      [112] vs Tommy Haas GER         [ 41] \ /
11-Yevgeny Kafelnikov RUS [ 11] vs D. Van Scheppingen NED [108] /

The other 2 seeds in this quarter are #13 Henman and #4 Korda .. O'Brien has not had a good year .. He was ranked in the top 30 in early 97 (he had won the New Haven title in 96 August, which started a nice year for him), but fell during 97. He started 1998 at just inside top-100, but has been outside that for most of the year. He has not even reached an ATP semifinal in almost 2 years now. He occasionally beats top-100 players, but loses more often than not. Alex did well recently at Toronto though, beating Kuerten and Delgado before losing to Krajicek. He then lost a close 3-setter to Corretja at Cincinnati forst round, and beat Max Mirnyi at New Haven before losing badly to Kuerten. O'Brien has been up and down for a long time. Hope LP makes sure that he will have a down day next week. LP and O'Brien have never played against each other in singles. They have met many times in doubles, with LP weinning most of the time. It was Alex who called LP's game winner shot at the Hartford semis against Lareau/O'Brien, the "Egyptian Magician" shot .. As for Krajicek, LP has faced him once before, at Dubai in 1997, where LP reinjured himself (the week after the Davis Cup at Czech Rep, where LP got injured) and lost the match to Krajicek, 7-5, 4-6, 2-6 .. That started a 3 week layoff, and then a 1-8 main-draw losing streak for LP .. All in all, it is not the worst possible draw for Leander, and he could go far if he is up for it next week. LP has 71 poionts to defend for 2 rounds of wins last year. If he does not defend the points, he could drop back to just outside 90 in ranking, which is not helpful for making into the tough 56-draws for Stuttgart and Paris indoor Super 9s for which the entries close soon after the US Open.

More later with some details on the HuggyBear non-ATP doubles event where LP and MB are this week.

Aug 25 Note-2

The news is not good from US Open - Nirupama lost a weird match to Ludmila Richterova, 6-1, 0-6, 2-6 .. Not sure what went wrong in the second set after such a fine start by Niru .. She was trying a late comeback, down a break at 2-4 with Ludmila serving, and had her at deuce. Ludmila held to go up 5-2 and then broke Niru at love to advance. Well, that's that for that ! .. Two years in a row to the same girl.

Will know in a couple of days if Niru will be in the doubles draw (main or qualies) .. Otherwise, not much WTA or ATP tennis for any Indian this week.

Aug 25 Note-1

The qualifier draw for Nirupama at the US Open is:

 6-Adriana Serra-Zanetti (ITA,113) vs. Petra Gaspar (HUN,215)        \
   Nirupama Vaidyanathan (IND,166) vs. Ludmila Richterova (CZE,176)  / \
   Amanda Grahame (AUS,187)        vs. Geraldine Aizenberg (ARG,288) \ /
19-Ginger Nielsen (USA,129)        vs. Petra Rampre (SLO,194)        /

Certainly a much tougher draw than I would have liked to see. It would certainly have been nice to get a lower-ranked opponent in the first round. Moreover, it is the same Ludmila Richterova who beat Nirupama in the second round of the US Open qualifiers last year. That is the only previous meeting between these two and Ludmila beat Niru 6-3, 7-5, though the match was a pretty close one. Strange coincidence. I don't believe Niru has played the potential second and third round opponents, Serra-Zanetti and Nielsen, in the past.  I have no schedule information yet. The qualies start today, but I believe the first round is over two days, and we will have to wait and see when Niru plays .. Go Niru ! .. Make it even on Sharmila -- oops -- Urmila --oops -- Ludmila .. whatever !

Aug 24 Note-2

Leander is at #73 according to the latest ATP rankings. Mahesh moved up a few spots to #352 ( New Haven was a championship series event where you can keep the points from even a round of win in the qualifiers - so Mahesh got 4 points at New Haven). Nirupama is down a few spots to #166 this week from #158, as she lost some points from the Bronx challenger last year. All the other Indian rankings remain basically the same. Gaurav Natekar has lost a few points and that places Harsh Mankad with 5 points as the Indian #5 behind LP, MB, Srinath and Fazal.

In other news, Indian Express has the PTI report today that Vijay Kannan, Manoj Mahadevan, Sanzaruz Zaman and Uzma Khan are all in the direct entry for at the US Open juniors. The press release from the Tamil Nadu Tennis Association says that Manoj and Vijay will form a doubles team. That would be wonderful to see these two playing together (and hopefully doing well) at the USO .. The report is not clear on whether all four are in th singles draw or if some are only four doubles. The latest ITF rankings we heard of had Vijay and Uzma at around 60, but Zaman and Manoj near 100 .. The first two would almost certainly make the singles draws, but I didn't expect the other two to make it .. We will wait till the draws come out the weekend after next, to see if the latter two have entries only for the qualies or something. Manoj had a much higher ranking last year but has fallen a bit this year as he played much fewer tournaments.

I believe the US Open qualifiers are starting tomorrow (Tuesday). Will try to find some info on the women's draw and on whom Nirupama will be playing .. News on qualifier draws and results are normally the toughest to find, though.

.. Previous notes at Weekly Notes, ending Aug 24 ..