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LP/MB/NS/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Sep 15, 2003
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Sep 15 Notes

At the USA F26 $10K in Costa Mesa, Somdev K. DevVarman had a terrible time finding a doubles partner, as nobody really knows him (welcome to the pro circuit, young man!) .. Finally signed in for qualies with somebody and lost today 63 36 46 in a match where he held serve every time but his partner won all of about 5 points with his shots .. Oh well .. I had  a good time hosting Somdev here - and he spent his time well, practising with a lot of good players .. I am sure he has a much better idea of what to expect in future trips abroad on the pro circuit .. I was impressed with Somdev's play in the qualifying Q2 match Saturday in which he almost upset the second seed Scott Lipsky (USA), a top-50 college player at Stanford recently, who has won his other three matches in easy straight sets to qualify in .. Somdev is extremely quick and has great legs to reach everything thrown at him .. He clearly frustrated the heck out of Lipsky in the 46 62 36 loss (at one point SL screamed loudly, "I want to hit one clean winner for a change, damnit", as SKD was reaching everything) .. "Buji", as SKD is called in India by all his tennis friends and everybody else, has solid ground strokes on both flanks and is very comfortable both at the baseline and near the net .. He is nearly 6 feet tall and has the right frame to put on a bit more strength and power .. The accuracy in his shots was also impressive .. Was a bit troubled by an abdomen strain which affected his serve, but he still served with very good accuracy .. A running forheand and a volley mistake in the 3rd set when he held the upperhand (SKD unnecessarily becoming a little negative on himself for the mistakes) caused one drop serve once in the 6th game .. He quickly regained composure and fought hard, saving a match point in the 8th game as well, before going down .. I am quite positive about Somdev's potential, as he moves into the pro circuit full time from now on - he is a determined/focused type with the hunger to excel and the willingness to work hard.

The u16 world final-16 are starting tomorrow at Essen, Germany .. Three days of Round robin with 4  groups of 4 teams each.  The gorp leaders and 4 others reach the QFs on day 4 .. Here are the details - Boys Junior Davis Cup: India in Round Robin Group 1, with Yugoslavia (1), France (7), and Colombia (YUG, USA, GER, CZE, INA, VEN, FRA, ITA are the 8 seeds) .. Schedule: Tuesday: IND vs YUG (1), Wednesday: IND vs FRA (7), Thursday: IND vs COL .. Team: Rupesh Roy, Sumit Gupta, Jeevan Nedunchezhien .. Coach: Nandan Bal .. Girls Junior Fed Cup: India Group 2: Poland (3), South Africa, India, Japan (6) .. (NED, VAN, POL, USA, ISR, JPN, ESP, BRA are the 8 seeds) .. Schedule: Tuesday: IND vs JPN (6), Wednesday: IND vs POL (3), Thursday: IND vs RSA .. Team: Tara Iyer, Kartiki Bhat, Sandhya Nagraj .. Coach: Sunil Yajaman .. All the best to our teams!! ..

The grade-4 ITF "Adidas" junior tournament has started at Girgaon at the NTA courts today .. I am yet to see any scores reported by anybody on this .. I will await AITA to bring something up soon.

By the way, there were some good results the junior ITF circuit the last few weeks from Ashmita Easwarmurthy, who only turned 14 a couple of months back .. First, she won the grade-5 at Amman, Jordan, 3 weeks back .. Last week she reached the final of the grade-5 in Sri Lanka as well .. Only three Indians went to SL for this, which surprised me a bit .. Here are the results for E.Ashmita .. Amman ITF Grade5, 19-25 Aug, Hardcourts -- [R1] Bye .. [R2] Salma Sukkar (JOR)  60 61 .. [QF] d. Wing Yau Venise Chan (HKG)  63 60 .. [SF] d. Maha Berti (EGY)  62 64 .. [F] d. Amina El Sahn (EGY)  75 62 .. Colombo ITF Grade-5 08-14 Sep, Claycourts -- [R1] Bye .. [QF] d. Sophia Mulsap (THA)  75 64 .. [SF] d. Mahesha Seneviratne (SRI)  75 64 .. [F] l. Penporn Chantawannop (THA)  26 26 .. [correction later by ITF -- Ashmita won 62 62 in the final!] ..Good job by the young girl!

Sep 14 Notes

Sorry for being out for two days and not updating.. We had a late Onam functions here in Los Angeles for the malayali community and I was just way too busy ..

Anyway, great news today, as Harsh Mankad and Jason Marshall won the doubles title at the $25K+H Donetsk challenger! .. Here are the scores of all their matches at Donetsk:
[R1] (3)  H.Mankad/ Jason Marshall (USA) d. Sergei Krotiouk/ Mikhail Ledovskikh (RUS), 62 62
[QF] (3)  H.Mankad/ Jason Marshall (USA) d. Teimuraz Gabashvili/ Pavel Ivanov (RUS), 63 62
[SF] (3)  H.Mankad/ Jason Marshall (USA) d. Artem Sitak/ Dmitri Sitak (RUS), 64 61
[F] (3)  H.Mankad/ Jason Marshall (USA) d. Sergey Stakhovsky (UKR)/ Andrei Stoliarov (RUS), 62 64
In the final today, according to the info I have, they started fast and were up with a break at 1-1 early in the first set .. Easily wrapped that up with one more break later .. In the second, they again went up at 1-1 and kept the lead till the end .. Jason was down 0-30 on serve in the final game, but wriggled out with an ace and then Harsh cleaning up at the net ..The title is Harsh's first challenger doubles title .. The final last week was his first too .. The win gives them 50 points and takes HM's point total to 232, with 92 coming in two weeks .. Actually, with RB's point total (which is at 232 thius week) dropping by a few next week, Harsh will go past him in doubles to the Indian #3 spot.

Karan Rastogi became the first Indian boy since Leander to reach the final of a grade-1 event .. He went down in a tough 36 75 57 match to the top seed yesterday .. Fantastic run that will move him up inside the top-30 (actually the 3rd youngest player in the top-30!) ..More later on that, and also about Somdev's first couple of matches in the pro circuit abroad (went down in a 3 setter in the Q2 at the USA F26, but I was impressed by his tennis) .. Also, Suchanan finished off her two week swing in India with a straight sets win on Megha at the Bangalore satellites yesterday .. later.

Sep 12 Notes

Finally the entry list for the Tumkur challenger (Sep 30th) is out today .. I am not sure what caused ATP to delay the release of entry lists for that week's challengers by some three days more than normal .. Anyway, a pretty strong list with the initial cut for 22 players at #334 in this week's rankings.  With eight players in the top-250 it is quite a tough field .. With the world junior #1 Marcos Baghdatis, and the those like Teimuraz Gabashvili who is among the players with some of the better recent challenger results, it is also a talented field, headed by #138 Stafano Galvani of Italy .. See the list posted at our new Tumkur challenger page .. There are two spots reserved for special exemptswill almost surely not have any takers, and so the cut is really two spots further down .. Rohan and Prakash made the main draw directly, and Harsh looks quite probable to also make it in after the usual set of some 4-5 withdrawals (HM is effectively three out from the main draw now) ..  Due to a somewhat unusual last minute rush of entries, the cut ended up at least 50 ranks above what I expected.

At the $10K women's satellite in Bangalore today, #497 Megha Vakharia, the latest Indian entry in the top-500, pulled off a big upset of the 2nd seed Chin-Bee Khoo (MAS,343), 62 46 76(5), to reach the final .. Gritty win from the teenager against the experienced Khoo .. Rushmi could not do much against the top seed Suchanan .. Rushmi/Sai won the double title over Megs and Suchanan .. See the Bangalore satellite page for scores.

At the $10K Spain F22 in Madrid, Mustafa Ghouse lost to Esteban Carril (ESP), 46 46 in the second round but reached the doubles SF with Oliver Freelove (GBR) beating wildcards Daniel Iniesta (ESP) and Mariano Pettigrosso (ARG), 63 62 .. Next for the 3rd seeds are the top seeds Esteban Carril and Santiago Ventura of Spain.

In the evening doubles matches at the grade-1 juniors in Kentucky, Erik Chvojka (CAN) and Arunprakash Rajagopalan brought to an end the fine winning streak of Divij Sharan and GD Jones (NZL), the 3rd seeds, with a 64 63 upset win .. Arunprakash has had quite an impressive set of results in both singles and doubles ever since he got back to the junior tour after not playing it for some 18 months .. I still don't know why he was not out there earlier, as he was our national #1 in u16 a couple of years back and could have played a lot more good competitive matches and made some news by now .. I guess he might even have got some strange advice from somewhere that the junior tour is not useful (I know there are still those kinds of myths propagated in India by some folks).

Sep 11 Note-2

Another upset win for Karan Rastogi today, as he reached his 3rd grade-1 semifinals at the Kentucky juniors.  He upset the 2nd seed GD Jones (NZL,30), 57 64 63 .. Terrific stuff .. He has picked up enough points to move near top-35 in the world singles ranking.  That is remarkable for somebody who turns 17 only in another couple of months ..  Clearly the best junior record from anybody since Leander .. Go Karan! .. The doubles matches haven't been completed there yet, today.

Just received the news release from ITF London that Anil Khanna, secretary of AITA has been elected to the ITF Board of Directors .. It says, "The Annual General Meeting of the International Tennis Federation, held in Rio de Janeiro today, 11 September 2003, elected Francesco Ricci Bitti (ITA) for a second four-year term as President of the ITF.  Ricci Bitti was not opposed for re-election ..... Elected to the ITF Board of Directors for a two year term were: Geoff Pollard (AUS), Nelson Nastas (BRA), Alan G. Schwartz (USA), Juan Margets (ESP), Ian King (GBR), Christian Bimes (FRA), Georg von Waldenfels (GER), Mervin A. Heller Jr.(USA), Christine Ungricht (SUI), Jan Carlzon (SWE), Anil Kumar Khanna (IND), Paul Chingoka (ZIM) .... Nastas, Schwartz, Ungricht and Khanna are new members of the ITF Board of Directors.  Juan Margets was also re-elected ITF Executive Vice President while David Jude (GBR) was re-elected as Honorary Treasurer of the ITF". ... Well, my question is if Anil Khanna can now do something about the draws we keep getting for world group playoffs, which all looks rigged against us .. Need one damn home tie for a change :-) .. Congratulations to Mr.Khanna for getting elected .. Always good for Indian tennis to have a voice in ITF, ATP, etc.

Sep 11 Note-1

At the $25K+H Donetsk challenger, Harsh Mankad and Jason Marshall (USA) reached the semifinal of doubles  yesterday with an easy 62 63 win over the Russian pair, Teimuraz Gabashvili and Pavel Ivanov .. That gives him 22 more doubles points, enough to cross the doubles century mark to 204 points .. Their SF opponents are t be determined today.

At the Peachtree City $25K challenger in the USA, Sania Mirza and Varvara Lepchenko (UZB) lost 36 36 to the 4th seeds, Maria Fernanda Alves (BRA) and Julie Ditty (USA) in the first round yesterday .. There were three lucky losers in the singles main draw and Sania ended up as the next one in, but not making the draw ..

I still have not seen the entry lists for the Sep 29th challengers from ATP; Normally the lists are out by the Tuesday, a day after the entries close.

At the Bangalore satellites, #495 Isha Lakhani who could not get past the top seed #293 Suchanan Viratprasert of Thailand last week, gave it another good shot today, but again came up short in a three-setter .. #450 Rushmi beat 16 yr old Punam Reddy after a bit of initial trouble, and runs into Suchanan in the semis next .. #497 Megha Vakharia ended Samrita Sekhar's run and will face the second seed #343 Chin-Bee Khoo of Malaysia, who beat 6th seeded Sai Jayalakshmy ..

At the $10K ESP F22 in Madrid, Mustafa Ghouse (IND,772) upset Xavier Audouy (FRA,693) 61 64 to reach the second round .. He plays Esteban Carril (ESP, 651) in the second round .. In doubles, (3) Oliver Freelove (GBR)/ M.Ghouse d. Ishay Hadash/ Dekel Valtzer (ISR), 62 76(5) .. Up next are the wildcards, Daniel Iniesta (ESP)/ Mariano Pettigrosso (ARG) .. See the Bangalore satellite page for scores.

Yet another top-50 win for 16 year old Karan Rastogi, who has reached the QF of the ITF Junior grade-1 Kentucky International Derby .. Yesterday, the 9th seed summarily dimissed the 7th seed Mehdi Ziadi of Morocco, ranked #39, for a 63 60 score .. Up next for him is the second seed G. D. Jones of New Zealand, ranked #30 .. Both Indians in doubles advanced yesterday, as well .. Third seeded Divij Sharan and GD Jones continued their unexepcted winning run from the Canadian grade-1 where they won the title .. They have reached the SF with a 63 62 win over Juan-Pablo Amado and Gerardo Azcurra of Argentina .. They face Erik Chvojka (CAN) and Arunprakash Rajagopalan who beat Robert Cameron and Michael Johnson of USA, 75 63, in the QF .. So, we are assured of an Indian being in the doubles final there ..

Sep 10 Notes

Sania Mirza made the main draw of doubles at the $25K Peachtree challenger near Atlanta, in the US .. Sania, ranked 362 in doubles is playing with Varvara Lepchenko (UZB,271) .. Varvara is a 17 year old who has basically been playing pro tour this whole year .. They play the 4th seeds, Maria Fernanda Alves (BRA) and Julie Ditty (USA) in the first round .. Sania is right now the second lucky loser waiting to make the singles draw - not sure if there will be any more no-shows though (there were two already, by the time the draw was made Monday).

At the Bangalore $10K satellites, Rushmi came through against Ankita in 3 sets to make the QF.  Isha took out Shruti.  Samrita continued in her fine form with another upset - over the 7th seed Sonal .. Megs and Sai advanced .. 16 year old qualifier Punam Reddy has been creating some minor waves .. Following her upset of 8th seeded Archana, she beat M.Kamini today to make the QF .. The top two seeds Suchanan and Khoo continue to roll, and the top four seeded doubles teams are in the SFs as well .. See the Bangalore satellite page for scores.

AITA announed the squads for the u16 Junior Fed Cup and Junior Davis Cup teams for Essen, Germany, where the world final-16 will be played in two weeks .. Rupesh Roy, Sumit Gupta, M.Jeevan in the boys team coached by Nandan Bal .. Tara Iyer, Kartiki Bhat and Sandhya Nagaraj in the girls team coached by Sunil Yajaman .. Unfortunate that Sanaa's left elbow injury keeps her out for at least another month .. On the boys' side, we will surely miss the very talented Sanam K. Singh, who has been down with a stomach infection (he seems to be one who is very prone to injury/illness) ..

Mustafa Ghouse is at the $10K Spain F22 in Madrid ..  722nd ranked Mustafa plays Xavier Audouy (FRA,693) in the R1 .. In doubles, 3rd seeded Mustafa and Oliver Freelove (GBR) play Ishay Hadash and Dekel Valtzer of Israel .. Saurav Sukul was in the qualies - after upsetting the 11th seed Andre Santos (BRA) 63 64, he lost in the Q2 to Antonio Madronero (ESP) 36 64 06 .. In the doubles qualies Q1, Christopher Koderisch and Sebastian Schluter (GER) beat Andre Santos and Saurav Sukul, 64 62

Also abroad is 757th ranked Liza Pereira, playing the $10K satellites in Algeria .. At Tlemcen, ALG, this week, she beat Shaymaa Seif (EGY) 63 60 and then lost to Eva Valkova (CZE), 62 36 57 .. Last week at Ben Aknoun, ALG, she had a first round bye and then beat Melanie Wolkersberger (AUT), 63 61 before falling in the QF to 929th ranked Barbara Pcza of Hungary, 26 46.

Sep 9 Note-2

A mixed day today, with respect to results .. Harsh Mankad went down in yet another three-setter at the $25K+H challenger, where #270 Bachelot got his first win in three attempts against Harsh .. 63 46 36 loss for HM .. Harsh and Jason Marshall won their doubles R1, 62 62 over Sergei Krotiouk and Mikhail Ledovskikh (RUS).

Sania went down over the weekend in the second round of the qualies at the $25K+H Peachtree challenger -- [Q1] #14 S.Mirza (IND, 420) d. Anzela Zguna (LAT, 452) 75 63 .. [Q2] #1 Marta Domachowska (POL, 282) d. #14 S.Mirza, 63 64 .. That was a tough draw for SM .. Marta is a really talented junior player who is already up in the top-300 of WTA.

Somdev Dev Varman did play his first pro match abroad, though he would have wished he hadn't signed in with somebody whose tennis he had no idea about .. He and Rahul Sankhla went down 26 16 to the tough 3rd seeds Scott Lipsky and David Martin (who finished as the #2 ranked college team this year, playing for Stanford) .. Let me not get into the gory details of this match .. I will just say that Somdev did play very good doubles and that there was only so much he could do by himself .. Anyway, he was up at the tournament for 4 days hitting with different players and all that, though he missed the qualies .. He will be in the qualies for the USA F26 $10K at Costa Mesa starting this friday.

Kentucky grade-1 juniors scores -- [R2] Tara Iyer l. (15) Agnes Szatmari 36 46 .. Tara and Sanaa had both beaten Agnes earlier, but this time the Romanian got her revenge on Tara .. [R2] (12) Divij Sharan l. Andrei Radulescu (CAN), 61 36 36 .. Tough loss for Divij .. [R2] (16) Arunprakash Rajagopalan d. Nathan Sachs (USA), 76(2) 75 .. And Karan rolled - [R2] (9) Karan Rastogi d. William Mertz (USA), 63 62 .. In doubles Arunprakash and Erik Chvojka d. Fabrice Martin/ Sebastian A Salas Diaz Del Castillo, 64 64 in the R1 and then pulled the big 76(7) 76(7) second round upset over the top seeds Miles Kasiri (GBR) and Karan Rastogi, who had an R1 bye .. 3rd seeds G.D.Jones (NZL) and Divij Sharan beat Tim J Smyczek/ Maciek Sykut, 61 76(5) to reach the QF too .. They also had an R1 bye.

ATP has not released the final entry list for the Tumkur challenger yet. We will know soon.

Sep 9 Note-1

No news at all about Sania Mirza, who must have played qualies at the $25K Peechtree City challenger near Atlanta in the USA .. Harsh is on for singles and doubles R1 at the Donetsk challenger in Ukraine today.

Quite a few more good players had entered in the last couple of hours before close of entry yesterday for the upcoming Tumkur challenger.  Both the winner and runner-up at the US Open juniors, Joe Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) and Marcos Baghdatis (CYP), ranked #3 and #1 in the juniors and 373 abnd 242 in the ATP already, had entered in what promises to be a very talented and strong field for the Karnataka challenger .. Also entering in the last minute were those like Michal Mertinak (SVK, 194) and a couple more top-300 players like Bogdanovic and Bohli .. Surprisingly strong rush on the last day for entries, I suppose .. Rohan had also entered .. The cut may even be as high as 325 or so, with both Harsh and possibly even Prakash missing the initial cut, though there will surely be withdrawals later .. I will post it in the tournament pages, as soon as the entry list becomes available today ..  By the way, the second and 3rd weeks of the challenger circuit looks even tougher, with a few more top Asians like Danai Udomchoke and Goichi Motomura entering, because the Bangkok and Japan ATP events are done before that.

At the "Indian Oil Servo" $10K ITF satellite in Bangalore, young qualifier Punam Reddy pulled off a big upset over experienced 8th seed Archana Venkatraman .. Unlucky Sheetal Goutham once again ran into 6th seed Sai for the second week in a row, and once again fell in three sets .. Otherwise no surprises with Isha, Ankita, Shruti, Samrita Sonal, Megha etc all advancing .. 3rd seed Rushmi was reportedly still not fully recovered from the injury in UK a few months back - she was upset in the first round last week and again struggled a bit in three sets today .. See the Bangalore satellite page for scores.

Somdev Dev Varman had a bit of trouble finding a doubles partner to play with at the USA F25 at Claremont, California, but made it in the end with Rahul Sankhla .. This is just a couple of weeks of exposure for him to the pro circuit abroad .. He is playing the pro tour abroad for the first time, and so there is really no expectations .. Good that AITA chose to send him for this - too often our juniors have struggled without support to get going in the senior level.

The rest of our juniors - Tara, Karan, Divij, ArunPrakash - are at the grade-1 ITF juniors in Kentucky .. The boys were all seeded with R1 byes .. Tara reached the R2 yesterday .. [R1] Tara Iyer d. Stephanie Wetmore 63 36 64  .. [R2] Tara Iyer vs (15) Agnes Szatmari (15) .. [R2] (9) Karan Rastogi vs William Mertz (USA) .. [R2] (12) Divij Sharan vs Andrei Radulescu (CAN) .. [R2] (16) Arunprakash Rajagopalan vs Nathan Sachs (USA) .. In doubles Miles Kasiri (GBR) and Karan are top seeded - they play the winners of the match between Erik Chvojka/ Arunprakash Rajagopalan vs Fabrice Martin/ Sebastian A Salas Diaz Del Casti .. Divij is sticking with the unexpectedly successful partnership from the Canadian Open 2 weeks back where they won the title - seeded 3rd this week with G.D Jones .. After a bye, they play Tim J Smyczek and Maciek Sykut in the R2 today.

AITA announced the team for the Asian championships at Tashkent week after next .. Rohan, Harsh and Sunil in the mens side,  and Sania, Megha, Isha and Ankita on the women's side .. The singles winner gets a wildcard to the Australian Open main draw .. RB made the final in a big run that then surprised everybody last year.

There is also a junior ITF event in Sri Lanka this week.  Some of our young ones may be there.

Sep 8 Notes

The updated entry list with new rankings, as of this morning in the US, for the Tumkur challenger in three weeks -- Stefano Galvani (ITA,138), Rik DeVoest (RSA,174), Yeu Tzuoo Wang (TPE,228), Michal Tabara (CZE,237), Marcelo Craca (GER,238), Oliver Marach (AUT,254), Luis Vosloo (RSA,256), Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER,266), Frank Moser (GER,294), Leonardo Azzaro (ITA,315), Ota Fukarek (CZE,321), Prakash Amritraj (IND,323), Thomas Blake (USA,329), Teimuraz Gabashvili (RUS,332), Philipp Petzschner (GER,341), Harsh Mankad (IND, 351), Dmitri Vlasov (RUS,355), Zbynek Mlynarik (AUT,371), Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA,373), Frederico Luzzi (ITA,378) .. Those are the top-400 players as of now .. Except for Craca and Vosloo who may make other challengers, everybody else would stay in the list .. We can expect a few more entries today, before it closes at 5 pm Florida time .. 22 will make the cut, which should be somewhere around 360 or 375 ..

Good news from Uzbekistan again .. 16 yr old Tushar Liberhan won back-to-back ITF grade-4 junior titles there .. Following on his double crown in the previous week, he won the singles title and finished runner-up in doubles last week .. Here are the scores: [R1] d. Nodir Vakhadjanov (UZB,NR) 62 64 .. [R2] d. Andrey Boldarev (UZB,993) 63 62 .. [QF] d. Rumil Galiev (UZB,NR) 60 61 .. [SF] d. Sergei Kwak (UZB,822) 63 63 .. [F] d. (2) Eduard Khan (UZB,321) 36 63 60 .. Doubles: [R1] Yuriy Akatov (KAZ)/ Tushar Liberhan (IND) d. Akmal Kayumov (UZB)/ Evgeniy Nigmatyanov (UZB), 61 62.. [QF] d. Sergey Churin (UZB)/ Alexander Lidzar (KGZ), 61 46 64 .. [SF] d. Alexei Milner (ISR)/ Djamolhon Umarov (UZB), retd .. [F] l. Arsen Asanov (UZB)/ Vladislav Shegai (UZB), 36 67(5) .. The title gives Tushar 40 more ITF world ranking points .. His points total goes up to 175 and his ranking should be inside the top-150 this week .. Good to see the kid keeping his focus throughout two weeks.

Awaiting the draw for the Bangalore women's satellite, etc ..  Harsh Mankad will be playing only tomorrow at the Donetsk challenger.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Sep 8 ..

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.