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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Sep 17, 2001
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Sep 17 Notes

Not much happening as LP, MB, Niru, Fazal, and everybody else are basically taking this week off .. Karishma Patel was at the $25K Glasgow challenger qualies in UK and won a round over Katie Miles (UK), 64 60, before losing in Q2 to the 6th seed Caroline Raba (GER) 36 16.

Though the postponed Davis Cup dates were announced on Thursday evening in the US to be Oct 12-14, there was an interesting news report in Saturday's Telegraph (Calcutta) talking about some confusion about the dates .. That surprises me, as ITF London had a press release which said that Oct 12-14 were the date, on Friday afternoon in London .. Perhaps the newspaper filed the article before that .. The article said, "AITA secretary Anil Khanna, who is in Cancun to attend the ITF annual general meeting, will get back to his American counterparts after consulting the Indian players about their choice" ... The article said this - According to Leander, the most suitable dates would be November 9-11 .. “The Afro-Asian Games (November 3-11) are off, so that would be a perfect date,” said the Indian No. 1 from Mumbai ... Something seems odd about all this - as I know that Mahesh was also unsure, as of late Thursday evening in the US what the new dates would be .. I was surprised to find the dates announced as final by USTA and ITF by thursday night and Friday .. Oct 12-14 are the worst date they could have picked from the players' standpoint .. US players like Roddick are required to play the Stuttgart Masters within 2 days after the Davis Cup too - and that will be tough for him as well .. Did somebody mess up, or did the USTA jump the guns and announce the dates even before the Indian players could give their input? --- I will try to find out, but I think the dates are final.

The Telegraph article also said that ATP had announced on thursday (this missed my attention in the middle of the terrorist events) that the World Doubles Championship had just been postponed by a week to Nov 14-18 but that the tournament director Bhupathi might probably like original dates itself, if possible - now that the A-A games are postponed .. This is the first time in a while that I have heard anything about the WDC -- for a while I was fearing that some sponsorship problem might be leading to cancellation of the event or something .. Good to see that things are still on track .. AITA took some ridicule when they said somewhat confidently that they will try to get ATP to change the WDC dates - when Afro-Asian games came into the picture, with dates clashing with WDC .. There were worries that ATP wouldn't change the calendar which is supposedly "set so far in advance" (that is all boloney .. we all give these "international" organizations way too much credit sometimes!) .. I guess if we are the only ones who can conduct the event, we are the kings and what we say goes -- it's time India started dealing with things with that kind of self-assurance .. So I give AITA, Bhupathi Sr, etc credit for standing up and asking for a date-change, standing by the national decision to hold the A-A-Games .. But I am sure Bhupathi Sr lost some sleep over the whole issue, though .. Will find out soon how things are shaping up for the WDC.

The ITF grade-4 junior event has started in Chennai .. A few foreign kids did arrive .. Top seed Amanjot Singh was unable to leave from the US and reach for this though .. No big surprises today and most seeds advanced - see the Chennai juniors page.

Sep 15 Note-2

Rushmi is always a tough nut to crack in finals and she proved it once again today, beating Shruti Dhawan in three sets to win the Delhi satellite title .. Rushmi and Sai won the doubles title over Shruti and Radhika Tulpule as well .. See the Delhi satellite page.

Niru's name was in the qualifying original list when the entries closed for the $180K Bell challenge WTA at Qubec City, Canada, starting on Monday .. I have not seen the qualifying draw from today - so no idea if she went there.

Great news from the Grade-1 ITF junior International in Kentucky, USA .. Big doubles title today for Sunil Kumar in the company of Raian Luchici of Romania .. They were unseeded there, but had a first round bye .. On the way they beat Johann-Georg Fankhauser and Stefan Wiespeiner of Austria, 62 61, in the second round .. Then they had a big 76(6) 06 63 upset of the second seeds Ytai Abouzgir (USA) and Lamine Ouahab (ALG), two very talented players ranked #9 and #12 in singles .. In the semis they beat Derrick Bauer and Chris Kwon of USA, 76(4) 63 .. The title win was over Brian Baker and Matthew Emery (USA), 62 61 .. That is a great run .. A grade-1 title is the equivalent of a masters series win in ATP - or a runner-up finish in a grand slam junior draw .. They picked up 150 points for the title, which will raise Sunil's ranking total up by 120 to 385 and take his ranking from #53 this week to about world #22 in doubles next week .. That is a pretty high junior ranking .. Sunil has certainly not given us reason to be too disappointed, with a pretty good final year of juniors, though he was playing the higher graded junior events only for a year .. Considering the background he came from and all the confusion he was put through early last year with pulls from all directions, being thrust into pro events before he was ready, etc, he has held up pretty well - Paes en Sport has done a very nice job in managing him over the last year too .. I still think he needs to develop a bit more consistency and focus in going out and playing like hell day after day - and in showing up ready to play every event like that is the last event he is ever going to play, regardless of how big the stage is .. I also hope that he would not go the way of a lot of talented players in the past who got the attention distracted by non-tennis matters once they were more on their own .. Go Sunil! .. I don't know if he will be playing any more junior events .. It would be nice to see him play the three $10K pro futures events in India from mid-October (unless he is joining a US college for this fall - I have not heard a final word on that yet).

By the way, there are two grade-4 events starting in India over the next two weeks - at Chennai and Mumbai .. All the top players, except Sunil and Sania will be playing .. Apparently Sania will only be playing doubles .. She has nothing to gain by playing singles as even the 40 point from a title will not give her anything more than her 6th best tournament point total .. I was surprised to see Vinod Sewa, at the fag end of his junior career, still in the entry list .. One of the players who has stayed away from junior events was isha lakhani .. I hope she plays these events .. She has the game and winner's attitude, as she has shown in the pro satellite events .. She is one who should be playing junior grand slams over the next two years that she is eligible for ITF junior events .. One hadly gets a chance to play top-quality foreign players in the Indian satellite circuit like you do in the junior grand slams and grade-1 events - most of the top-25 players in the women's junior list seem to reach top-400 of WTA in no time and have that kind of quality, generally .. Those like Isha and Ankita will hopefully be playing ITF events in India to pick up points and be ranked high enough by next march when the Indian junior team is sent to the far eastern events .. On the boys' side, Amanjot and Rohan Gajjar are the ones to watch, along wirth 14 yr old Karan Rastogi.

Sep 15 Note-1

Forgot to say add this note yeserday - ITF, London, officially announced early yesterday that the Davis Cup is postponed to Oct 12-14 at the same arena in Winston-Salem.

Sep 14 Notes

The Davis Cup has been postponed, as expected .. I am a bit surprised with the makeup date anounced .. October 12-14th .. I will try to confirm that this is a final date .. Actually Mahesh had emailed me late night on thursday here that it was postponed but that he was not sure about when it would be replayed .. The news agency reports from India during friday there, quoting Administrative Officer Philip Montes of AITA says that the date is October 12-14, to be approved by ITF .. That is an odd date, falling on the weekend before the Stuttgart Masters, and at the end of the Vienna ATP week .. LP and MB were supposed to play at Vienna, followed by Stuttgart from Monday .. I guess they will have to skip both the events - as LP can almost never pay anything for a few days after the Davis Cup .. I assume date availability at the Joel Lawrence Coliseum was one problem, and moving it to December would not be acceptable to players as it takes away from the year-end break they wiat for after a long ATP calendar .. I am personally totally crushed right now, as I will have no choice but to miss the Davis Cup, having to be outside the country at that time for an academic conference that I cannot skip .. But, considering what was done to United States this week - I can't complain .. Let us play on whatever reasonable date USA proposes - that is the least we can do to show India's understanding ..

Interestingly I have hardly seen any press release or Agency news from here in the US itself, about the Davis Cup .. ESPN etc have been quite silent about it too .. Associated Press and other news agencies in the US has so far been quoting only AITA and Indian sources on all these matters - that is understandable too.  People are still in a bit of shock out here.

At the Delhi satellite today, Shruti Dhawan and Rushmi Chakravarti beat Radhika Tulpule and Sania Mirza respectively in the semis .. I had written a couple of days back that Radhika was getting close to that #3 spot in India - I guess Shruti is saying "not so fast, my friend", putting an end to Radhika's 13-match domestic win streak .. Talent-wise, Shruti is always considered to be right at the top among the 19 year olds - but she has just not played enough events (she seems to often skip the 4-week satellite circuits in India) and has been relatively inconsistent in her results .. I feel that missing her final year of juniors due to some injuries and the year before that to academics (?) did not help her development either .. She has always been very tough to beat on the DLTA courts however, and a large number of her big points, including from the wins at the $25K challenger last year, have come on those courts .. Let's hope that she will continue to do the work .. As for Sania, once again, it's quite a good job when you can win a tiebreaker and scare somebody like Rushmi at her age .. Sania has now reached PQF, QF and SF in her first three pro events .. Further development for the 14 year old will depend a lot on physical training, coaching abroad etc - it may not been enough to just keep playing so many events, though she has so far shown steady improvement from playing a lot, though .. As for Rushmi, it's good to see her do well again after quite a few early exits in events abroad throughout summer ..  See the Delhi satellite page.

Sep 13 Note-2

As of 5 pm this evening at the USTA office in White Plains, New York, they tell me that there is no official announcement on the Davis Cup yet - but that a press release on it will be coming either later today or probably tomorrow ..  Friday's The Hindu had reported that the AITA secretary Anil Khanna had talked to Leander paes (now in Mumbai) from Cancun and that LP told him that there is really no way he can get to US by Saturday to get any practice .. It doesn't look like USTA really wants to play this next week and India is not going to insist on it either .. I just don't see how they can proceed with Davis Cup next week .. No idea when they can play it again .. The schedule is all in pretty good confusion - now the Afro-Asian Games have been postponed ..  I guess that means the World Doubles Championship in November *can* happen .. But I have not heard anything about any sponsors being identified yet, so I won't be surprised if that does not happen this year either .. Probably the date for Davis Cup that is acceptable for US may be the week in early December when the Davis Cup final will be going on .. We will see.

Amanjot and Sunil Kumar have reached the doubles QFs in the grade-1 Kentucky junior event, with other partners .. Amanjot lost 36 36 to the 2nd seed Ytai Abougzir (USA) in the singles PQF.

Sep 13 Note-1

It took me an extra day to decide to write something - sports justs did not seem too important after all the carnage that was brought upon a great city two days back .. But life does and must go on .. It looks like Davis Cup may get postponed .. There has been no news in the US on this, but the Times of India had reported that USTA had contacted AITA - I believe wednesday evening - asking for a postponement .. AITA culd not decide, as the secretary Anil Khanna who they said was the one to make the final decision, was in Cancun, Mexico, attending a conference of the tennis federations .. Agency news in the last few hours indicate that Anil Khanna will meet with USTA officials tomorrow (Friday) at Cancun and make the decision .. I really do not see a decision being taken to play the Davis Cup right now - and I also don't see AITA insisting on playing .. Anyway, I had talked to both Harsh Mankad and Syed Fazaluddin last night - neither had heard from anybody yet any final word .. Harsh said that he was in touch with Ramesh Krishnan Tuesday evening in the US (Ramesh had got to Washington DC already), and he had not heard anything yet either .. Leander seems to be in India actually, and wire news says that LP welcomes the games being postponed, if so .. I could not get hold of Mahesh wednesday night in the US, but will try to contact him early this morning and see if he has heard anything .. So, as of now, I am expecting the Davis Cup to be postponed .. I will announce whatever I hear as soon as I hear it ..

The players were supposed to be at North Carolina by Saturday to practice, but it does not look like commerical planes will be flying till Friday, if at all and travel will be a mess in the US for a few more days definitely .. If LP needs to get to the US by the weekend from outside the country, that will not be easy either.

Fazal lost both his singles and double match yesterday .. 6-7 6-7 to James Sekulov (AUS), who is coming back from some of an injury or something and had played only sparingly, as his rank fall from top-125 last year to about 450 now .. Tough player, but Fazal seems to have hung in there .. Fazal said that he needs a bit more time to get used to volleying well with the new racket he has .. I too had noticed that volleying, which is one the stregths for him, was less that perfect in his qualifying win on Sunday .. Fazal and Cedric Kauffman also lost the double first round 36 46 .. More importantly, Fazal was also concerned about unnecessary hassles due to his name during traveling - but the Americans are reasonable people and I don't expect him to run into any trouble .. At this point, he will just practice out here with some good players at the challenger - what is next is all pretty uncertain as of now.

At Delhi today, young Sania Mirza reached her first pro semifinal, with an easy win over Geeta Manohar (#811) yesterday and a 64 75 win over talented Isha Lakhani today .. Radhika Tulpule, who I said earlier may be getting close to the #3 spot in India, once again beat a top player .. #1 seed sai Jayalakshmi in three close sets .. Radhika now runs into Shruti Dhawan, often considered the most talented among the upper teeenage girls, who will be a tough foe - especially on those DLTA hardcourts where she has always done well .. Rushmi and Sania are in the other semis .. See the Delhi satellite page.

Jyotsna Vasisht was at the Tier-4 Waikolova WTA event in Hawaai - she was in the main draw with Annica Cooper and went down 06 36 to the second seeded Slevenian pair, Tina Krizan and Katarnia Srebotnik .. She was in the singles qualies, beat a wildcard Elke Escreet (USA) 60 60 before falling to the 8th seed in the qualies, Tracy Alameda-Singian in a good fight, 63 06 46 [Thanks Danny for  alerting me to her playing there] .. Manisha and Shelly Stephen (NZL) went down in the doubles R1 at the $75K Bordeaux challenger, 26 36 to the Radriantefy sisters, Daly and Natacha (of Madagaskar) .. That means Manisha is in playing shape, after retiring in her singles match in the qualies.

Vikrant Chadha lost in the first round of the Mexico F8 $10K futures, to Ricardo Chile of Cuba, 62 16 36 .. He had qualified in and lost in the first round last week in the Mexico F7 to the second seed and eventual runner-up Miguel Gallardo (MEX), 63 46 16 .. In doubles, Vikrant and Eric Nunez (USA) had given a walkover in the first round last week .. He is not playing doubles this week.

Sunil Kumar lost the first round of singles at the Kentucky grade-1 event .. He was upset by unseeded Horia Vlad Tecau (ROM,147), 46 57 in the round of 32 .. I don't understand how Sunil can continue to get upset at all these events, after the kind of show he put up at grand slams against much higher ranked players .. Oh well - he needs more time to learn to play every game as the last one he ever plays - that's the only way to play this game, you know .. Amanjot pulled off a good upset over the 15th seed Teimouraz Gabachvili (RUS,71), 75 75 to reach the round of 16 .. That may be the first top-75 win for #99 ranked Amanjot - who had not had a decent win to speak of, in many months.

Sep 11 Note-2

What a terrible day .. Tennis is less important with the kind of tragedy that struck USA today .. So no countdown-to-DC kind of excitement today from me .. Mahesh was in New York, but not in Manhattan, and is fine .. Fazal's match postponed along with all pay at Tarzana, may be to tomorrow  .. Amanjot won and Tara lost yesterday at Lexington .. That's it ..  Later .. May the NY and Washington victims' souls rest in peace.

Sep 11 Note-1

In deference toFirst of all, sorry that it took me longer than it should have, to fix the forum page ..  It is up and running - so keep your thoughts coming ..

Fazal plays James Sekulov (AUS) at the $50K Tarzana challenger first round today .. Sekulov was ranked up inside the top-125 just about over a year back though he has fallen a bit recently .. This is a tough match for Fazal .. I will try to make the 70 mile drive up to Tarzana if I can rearrange my work schedule - hopefully.

Manisha Malhotra was in the qualies at the $75K Bordeaux challenger in France .. She retired at 26 01 against the second seed Evelyn Fauth .. I hope it is not a bad injury or anything .. will find out soon .. She is in the doubles draw there .. Not with her usual partner Leanne Baker, but another good player from New Zealand - Shelly Stephen .. They play the Radriantefy sisters - Dally and Natacha ..

Not sure where Nirupama is .. This would have been a good week to play with easy challengers (5 of them) along with two tour events .. She is not at the challengers in Atlanta, Bordeaux, and Seoul .. I have not seen the draws from the Italian challenger and the Bulgarian challenger .. I have always found Niru to play the tougher weeks and the tougher challengers, skipping the easier weeks - I don't know why! :-)

Radhika Mandke was beaten by Sania Mirza today at the Delhi $10K satellite first round, 76(0) 60 .. Radhika is no sliced cheese, and had even won a satellite leg (at Bangalore on hardcourt in March), though she did not run into too many top Indian players out there - she had also finished #2 in satellite points with a QF and an R2 in two other legs too, and is about 5 or 6 years older than the 14 yr old Sania .. Once again, the young girl is looking as good as advertized .. Sania now runs into the 7th seed Geeta Manohar .. Geeta better watch out - She was the one that Sania took out 60 61 in her very first pro satellite match, this April at the Chandigarh $10K .. Sania had fallen in the R2 in that event and had reached the QF in her second event next week at Pune with an upset of the 6th seed Jyotsna Vasisht (she lost to Sai in straight sets in the QF there) .. Now that she has the requisite minimum three pro events, Sania will debut in the WTA rankings with 3.5 points .. In other matches, Karishma Patel, my pick for the "improved player" from the summer, upset the experienced 8th seed Arti Venkatraman, 61 62 .. The bad news was the 6th seed Sheetal going down to the qualifier Rebecca Dandeniya, a 17 yr old junior player from GBR .. Three set loss, but Sheetal should have avoided the upset .. Ipok Senoglu (TUR), last week's finalist, unfortunately is listed as a medical withdrawal after her first round win yesterday - Radhika Tulpule has already got a walkover to the QF .. See the Delhi satellite page.

Sep 10 Notes

At the Delhi $10K satellites, there were no surprises today, and all the seeds moved on as expected .. See the Delhi satellite page .. Top seed Sai Jayalakshmi finally showed some good form with a 60 60 win, though not over a highly-ranked player .. 2nd seed Rushmi, 3rd seed Shruti, etc, moved on .. I am interesting in seeing how Sania Mirza does against Radhika Mandke on Tuesday .. Radhika Tulpule plays on Tuesday as well .. All the construction work there for the Afro-Asian games seems to be causing the players a lot of distraction.

Sunil Kumar, Amanjot Singh and Tara Iyer are at the grade-1 ITF Kentucky International Junior Tennis Derby .. Sunil is the 13th seed and has a first round bye into the round of 32 there .. Amanjot Singh plays Ferrick Bauer of USA in the first round .. Tara Iyer is in the girls draw and faces Alexandria Liles of USA in the first round.

By the way, if you didn't notice, Gilles Muller (LUX) who beat Sunil Kumar in the 3rd round at the US Open juniors, went on to win the title there beating Yeu-Tzuoo Wang of Taiwan in straight sets in the final, in the process moving up to the world #1 ranking from #2 .. It is also interesting to see that he dropped only one set in the whole tournament - and that was to, who else, Sunil .. Sunil had won the first set 7-5, and had held service 10 times in a row before Muller hung on to break him late in the second set of a 57 64 62 comeback in which Sunil went toe-to-toe with him even in the 3rd set where he was broken twice .. I wish Sunil would show that kind of game and focus in all his matches .. He is getting ready to finish off his junior career soon [Thanks, Piyush Desai, for alerting me to mention the fact that Muller had not even dropped a set against anybody else at the USO] ..

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Sep 10 ..

I am getting some enquiries 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 enquiring 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 enquiries from the coaches too .. Please email me - R.Jayakrishnan.