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Indian-Tennis: Daily News for the 3 weeks ending on Sep 19, 2005
(Previous week's notes) (Next week's notes) (Daily Notes Index 1997 thru 2005)

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Sep 19 Note-2

Just got a note from a press friend who was at the press conference that the newspaper article had blown the Leander's quote on Harsh needing a lesson in patriotism, out of proportion .. I hope so too .. Man, Leander, would you please be careful about these things? .. You are the captain and this type of stuff should not happen .. Some of us here are quite sensitive to these things after everything that has happened .. OK, I will withdraw my earlier tirade ... That is, we will bite our lips and eat our crow for a the umpteenth time! :) .. Hopefully nobody will tell Harsh (I know he does not read this site when he is focused on any event he is playing) .. It is important that the team spirit is kept up .. I will not talk about any of these unpleasant matters till the tie is over .. Go India!

Sep 19 Note-1

OK, I am back from my travels and ready to do the normal updates again ..

We are all set to go at Kolkata with the big Sunfeast Open WTA .. The main draw starts today .. The good news is that two Indians qualified into the main draw .. The impressive win was by Rushmi who upset the 3rd seed in the qualies, Chin-Wei Chan (TPE,235) by a 63 75 score .. That is one of the best wins of Rushmi's career .. Our ladies always seem to come through with their best in the qualies at the Indian WTA events - which is great to see .. Ankita and Isha played a dandy of a three-setter with Ankita winning in the end to make the main draw .. Sanaa could not do a whole lot against the 4th seed, #258 Chia-Jung Chuang though ... With Sunitha Rao (USA) making the main draw in the last minute without qualies, and Neha Uberoi (for the first time listed under IND in the WTA draw this week!!) receiving a wildcard, we have SIX Indians in the main draw, 5 of them listed under IND .. That is better than any of us could have expected .. See how far we have come! .. The main draw is ouit .. Sania plays qualifier Junri Namigata, Shikha plays Ryoko Fuda,  Ankita plays Kaia Kanepi, Neha plays Sunitha .. See our Kolkata WTA page for all the scores and draws ..

Here is a news report today with some comments from Leander, basically saying good things about his players, but at the same time dropping a line for the press to use as the headline - Harsh has few lessons to learn (New Indian Express) .. LP said, "Harsh has a huge lesson to learn this week on being a patriot" .. This comes right when HM is on a flight to India, supposedly after he changed his mind and trusted Leander when they talked over the phone .. I suspect he had no idea that LP would turn around and say something like this .. Come on Lee, how long are you going to keep this up? -- This is not how a captain should speak about one of his players .. Yeah right, the grand son of Vinoo Mankad, and the son of Ashok and Nirupama Mankad needs a lecture from Leander on playing for the country! .. Disgusting.  I will leave it at that .. I will spare writing much more here - my views are all in this forum thread, for those of you who have the patience to read a series of posts from me, in utter anguish in having to finally turn around and speak that harshly against my old hero Leander (but this was due to several issues brewing over a long time) .. But do read what I have written carefully, and not with any biases that I have some dog in this hunt - I don't .. This Harsh issue is the one that finally caused me to break my silence that is all .. I am not married to Harsh - and I have pointed out in that thread the past cases when I wrote criticizing Harsh's inclusion in the team ahead of Rohan in Australia, etc, too .. I also repeat that I don't even necessarily think that HM will do better than Kash and Rohan, as a player - but that is all besides the point; the issue is how a player is treated .. Anyway, two days back I thought we would all consider this issue laid to rest, but then Leander comes out with that gem today - what choice do we have when the captain is hell-bent on killing team spirit and doing character assassination of one of his players like this? .. Today it is Harsh, in the past it was another player he called out on patriotism (I will not mention who), and in the future it will be somebody else .. And I suppose we will continue to not talk about Leander "the patriot" not going to Italy in 1998 due to injury and then coming to Chennai the next day to play? .. Spare us the patriotism talk, Lee .. And don't make me write more on this - there are many out there who may not want to talk, but I will .. As far as I am concerned, LP need to behave like a real captain, or step down! .. Period.  There is a limit to how far one should take this type of games .. Looks awfully like Harsh has been "set up" .. I can only hope that Lee just mis-spoke carelessly and this was not planned .. Unbelievable to see that 4 days before a davis cup tie. [I just got word from a press friend that this quote was blown out of proportion and Lee had said in the context of many other things - OK, then I will ease up on going after Lee once again]

Back to tennis - two rounds of qualies are done at the first leg of the 4-week $25+K ITF satellites starting at Gurgaon .. The first three legs at Gurgaon and the masters leg at Delhi .. Peter Clarke of Irelqand is the top seed, with Sunil Kumar second seed .. Karan, Vijay, Mustafa, Vishals etc are all there .. W will also keep an eye on some youngsters like Vivek Shokeen, Vishnu Vardhan, Sumieet Prakash etc also .. See the draws and the qualies results in the Gurgaon leg-1 page ..

Sep 17 Notes

Wow, almost 10 days have gone by since I put in an update .. Here is one as I get ready to catch a flight back to the US and look forward to updating the news from Sunday 18th onwards ..

A whole lot happened in the news about Harsh Mankad being the 5th member of Davis Cup team (due to trouble in having a useful enough internet line to upload documents here from from my laptop, I mostly voiced my opinions only in the forum, which is easier to get to from any internet connection) .. Anyway, quite stridently and in a much more pointedly accusing way than I normally do -- basically accused Leander for letting this all happen, as I felt HM could easily been kept as the 4th member with the option of Leander to replace him after seeing all three of our triumvirate - HM, LP, RB - in practice .. It just looked as an unnecessary way to tell our #1 ranked player (now basically at his career-high ranking level at #240) that his work on the pro tour ws all immaterial - and I kow that this is about the third Davis Cup instance that Harsh has had to face doubts on his abilities .. Many took it as an insult to Mankad .. In fact I spent a whole morning in Salzurg, Austria, typing up an update here from an internet cafe, before my laptop froze and I lost all the typed stuff I was trying to upload here .. In retrospect, it was a good thing :) .. Mankad had originally said that he was just not going to go to Delhi, basically due to a lack of trust on everybody - as he continue to be taken as not capable of doing the job - but the latest news I saw was that HM has indeed decided to go to Delhi .. Captain Leander and Harsh had talked this week .. Leander said he had not asked for HM to be moved down form the team of four nominated to ITF .. Though I still find it puzzling how/why all this mess started, I am willing to take Leander's line on face value .. Anyway, I believe AITA, Mr. Anil Khanna, all got involved in smoothing things over - as did some of the selectors wo emailed Harsh, etc ..

Probably nobody expected the kind of reaction from a large number of us fans, and also from some in the press .. Anyway, if Harsh has decided to go to Delhi, then I assume things are back on track and we can get on with the business ..

Anyway, to make things clear - if anybody misunderstood me - the issue was simply ot whether HM would play .. Taking him out of the nominated team, which really has only a "reputation" value .. RB and PA could indeed show better form this week and it is of course the captain's previlege to change the team till just before the draw and put in a different payer in the team .. It has to be based on whom Sweden brings, the stule of play, etc .. Both Kash and Rohan have done very well lately .. The only issue was why any payer would be taken out when he has not had any injury or shown a lack of form or anything .. I also complained about a continued propaganda by many - deliberate or otherwise - that Harsh cannot play on grass .. That is all bogus arguments ..Hence the criticisms ..  But playing form next week has to be determined by the captain, and all I was asking for was for the atmosphere to be clean enough where every player feels he has a fair chance to be evaluated.  For the time being, it apperas that the air has been cleared a bit.  

And I am happy that I did not write more of vitriolic stuff and venom here directed at Leander, as I did in the forum, because I felt that a bit of lack of sensitivity LP has shown at times has caused unnecessary problems in Indian tennis .. Lee can sometimes be like that and I happen to be one who has personally known it, and have heard from quite a few people (some who are extreme LP-haters, to whom I have had to write many long long emails standing by Leander, explaining what my own analysis of LP's complex psyche was, etc) .. I was really getting tired of all that, and the episodes kept on piling up where the way Leander handles things were not helping how tennis can move on in India .. As a player it is fine, but as the Davis Cup captain and as somebody that all upcoming Indian players look up to, Lee needs to know that how he deals with things have much more impact that even he relalizes .. That finally is what caused an outburst from me in the forum (which is read only by the diehard fans, some players and many in the press -- so I consider it still among us "family" :)) .. But again, in tyhis specific case, I am willing to go along with Leander that he has nothing to do with it - but then also I would have a complaint that the buck stops with him and that unpleasant situations did not arise in Davis Cup .. Anyway, Lee did the right thing in contacting Harsh and talking to him nicely about all of this .. If HM is feeling enough of trust in the system to get back to Delhi to be with the team, then Lee and everybody else are doing something right in keeping the morale going properly in Indian tennis.  I hope all is well .. So, I will stop being on Leander's case .. I even said i the forum, in total exasperation and anguish, that I was no longer a "Leander fan" (if you can believe that -- after following his every move and reporting it for 9 long years since we started the fan club solely due to our love/admiration/adulation for LP) .. I would like to go back to being a fan .. Let us all move on .. Go Leander, Go INDIA!!!

In other news, since I have not posted for 10 days -- by now all of you know that Hesh won the mixed doubls title last week with Hantuchova at the US Open, his 5th MxD grand solam title with 5 different partners, and his 9th GS title, to go with 4 in doubles .. Great work .. Sania went down in the first round at the Tier-III in Bali, Indonesia in singles and doubles this week .. Mankad went down in the first round at the F13 $15K+H in France, and looked quite tired (and possibly distracted too) .. He will withdraw from next week's FRA F14 he had entered for .. Somdev Dev Dev Varman had a very nice run in a US futures, going 6-1 including qualies (upsetting the 6th seed there), and then having two main draw upsets also before falling in the QF to Horia Tecau (ROM,360) in three sets .. Somdev is really ready for the pros and I hope he would make pans to leave college after at most one more year ..

The big $170K Tier-III "Sunfeast Open" WTA is starting in Kolkata .. Neha Uberoi got a wildcard, with Shikha and Sunitha Rao (USA) also in the main draw along with Sania .. The qualies draw has come out -- as it was a 16 draw, many player did not take the risk to come and so there is aan excellent chance for those like Isha, Ankita, Sanaa, etc also to make the main draw!!! .. I will start a page for the event Sunday - the next week promises to be a lot of fun !!!

Sep 7 Notes

Yes, I will be writing soon a few things about the team selection for Davis Cup (LP, MB, PA, RB) and some things that have left me having to re-evaluate my opinions a lot (in case you have not read the forum Davis Cup thread and what I have written there -- but I need a bit more time to gather my thoughts properly to write here!) .. But first, let us look at the results and news.

It was announced yesterday that the world #1 doubles player, Virginia Ruano-Pascual (ARG) will be coming to the Sunfeast Open, Kolkata.  Niiiice .. She will partner Sania Mirza in doubles ... Even niiicer! ..

At the $25K+H challenger in Donetsk, Ukraine, Harsh Mankad moved to the PQF today .. [R1] Harsh Mankad (IND,262) d. Ivo Klec (GER,337), 64 76(7) .. Klec was near #275 a couple of months back - so this was a nice win for HM, who almost never seems to lose the first round at challengers these days .. He runs into the 8th seed Yuri Schukin (RUS,241) in the second round on thursday .. Schukin is top-150 payer from a couple of years back though I think HM can hopefully upset him .. Harsh and Mustafa, unseeded, play the first round of doubles tomorrow against Volodymyr Nikolenko (UKR) and Alan Wright (GBR) ..

At the US Open, Mahesh and Hantuchova had their second consecutive upset of a seeded pair today, to reach the MxD semi .. They beat the 5th seeds Ai Sugiyama (JPN) and Kevin Ullyett (RSA), 75 62 and now face the 6th seeds Corina Morariu and Mike Bryan of USA tomorrow in the semifinal.

Not much luck for the Indian juniors except qualifier Rupesh Roy at the US Open. Tough draws for Jeevan and Vivek, though both played quite competitively there. Here are all the scores.
[R1] David Navarrete (VEN,22) d. Vivek Shokeen (IND,28) 63 57 62
[R1] (16) Jesse Levine (USA,18) d. Jeevan Neduncherhiyan (IND,37) 64 64
[R1] (Q) Rupesh Roy (IND,103) d. Nathaniel Schnugg (USA,133) 63 64
[R2] (Q) Rupesh Roy (IND,103) vs Matt Bruch (USA,62)  
Kellen Damico (USA)/ Tim Smyczek (USA) d. Rupesh Roy/ David Simon (AUT) 63 60
Michael McClune (USA)/ Sam Querrey USA d. Jeevan Neduncherhiyan/ Vivek Shokeen 62 76(6)

It has been a great start for Indians at the $100K Asian Championships at Tashkent.   It has the same prize money table as a $50K challenger for men and women .. 6 of the 7 Indians who played in the first round advanced.  As a maximum of only two per country can be nominated to the main draw, others had to qualify in .. Three (Vijay, Isha, Sanaa) jhad qualified in and one was a lucky loser (Karan lost a Q2 match for some strange reason! -- he has won the R1 though) .. Nice work in the first round by everyody .. The only bad news was Sunil Kumar being a no-show due to a cancelled flight from Delhi .. Scores:

[Q1] Vijay Kannan d. Dilshod Sadmukhamedov (UZB), 61 61
[Q2] Vijay Kannan d. Sergey Kwak (UZB), 61 64
[Q1] Karan Rastogi d. Vladislav Shegay (UZB), 63 60
[Q2] Marsel Khamdamov (UZB) d. Karan Rastogi 63 64
[R1] (6) Rohan Bopanna (IND,309) d. Tae Wie Liu (TPE,564), 63 64
[R1] (Q) Vijay Kannan (IND,513) d. Hiu Tung Yu (HKG,919), 76(7) 62
[R1] (LL) Karan Rastogi (IND,542) d. Murad Inoyatov (UZB,634), 63 62
[R1] Rohan Bopanna/ Alexey Kedriouk d. Xiao Peng Lai (HKG)/ Hiu Tung Yu (HKG), 62 62
[R1] Vijay Kannan/ Karan Rastogi d. Minh Quan Do (VIE)/ Quang Huy Ngo (VIE), 63 76(4)
[Q1] Sanaa Bhambri d. Nigora Sirojiddinova (UZB), 61 62
[Q2] Sanaa Bhambri d. Elina Arutyunova (UZB), 60 63
[Q1] Isha Lakhani d. Sariya Khayrova (UZB), 62 61
[Q2] Isha Lakhani d. Diana Narzykulova (UZB), 64 62
[R1] (Q) Isha Lakhani (IND,539) l. Iroda Tulyaganova (UZB,371), 26 36
[R1] Rushmi Chakravarthi (IND,384) d. Kim Loi Tran (VIE), 61 61
[R1] Ankita Bhambri (IND,459)  d. Tatyana Ignatchenko (KAZ,NR), 61 61
[R1] (Q) Sanaa Bhambri (IND,435)  d. Mai Huynh Hyunh (VIE), 61 60
[R1] Ankita Bhambri/ Sanaa Bhambri d. Vlada Ekshibarova (KAZ)/ Nigora Sirojiddinova (KAZ), 61 64
[R1] Isha Lakhani/ Rushmi Chakravarthi d. Ivanna Israilova (UZB)/ Akgul Amanmuradova (UZB), 16 61 64

I should mention a really nice run at a $10K in Spain last week, with three successive upsets, by 17 year old Sandhya Nagraj who has been playing quite well lately .. 1172nd ranked Sandhya qualified in with three wins including an upset of the 2nd seed Anna Gil-Mares (ESP,935), 63 63 .. Then in the main draw, Sandhya upset Veronica Rizik-Utrtega (ESP,936) 36 60 64, and then pulled a big upset of the 8th seed Estrella Cabeza-Candella (ESP,538) 61 63 before falling in the QF to the tough third seed and eventual champion, Kidline Chevalier (FRA,411) 26 36 .. Sandhya cold not pull enough upsets this week to qualify in over the weekend at the $25K challenger in Madrid .. She is expected at the $10K in Lleida, Spain, next week.  Not too far from Barcelona where I am now, but I leave tomorrow (damn!) or I could have gone and watched her play next week.

Sep 6 Notes

I have some serious issues to discuss about the Davis Cup team etc, but let me first do a roundup of the USOpen so far ..

I hope all of you saw at least some of the Sania matches at US Open .. That was a beuatiful run, for her to reach the final-16 in her very first US Open .. I caught one set of her Sharapova match here in Barcelona at a bar before they closed for the night .. As you could see during her serves, she was still bothered by the stomach muscle strain - but to have still picked up three wins was really nice .. She picked up 134 more points including 44 bonus points, and that is enough to move her up near #35 in ranking .. She also picked up some cushion points, as she has a bunch of challenger points falling off for thenext few weeks.

As for others, probably the most impressive result was from Neha Ubeori who pulled off an upset doubles win, despite being a lowly wildcard team with Ahsha Rolle (USA) .. LP-NZ were upset in the first round and MB-MD in the third round .. LP-Martina lost in the MxD quarterfinals .. The only one remaining, going into the second Tuesday is Mahesh in the MxD third round.

Sania Mirza
[S R1] Sania Mirza (IND,42) d. Mashona Washington (USA,65), 76(6) 67(6) 64
[S R2] Sania Mirza (IND,42) d. Maria Elena Camerin (ITA,81), 64 16 64
[S R3] Sania Mirza (IND,42) d. Marion Bartoli (FRA,43), 76(4) 64
[S PQF] Sania Mirza (IND,42) l. (2) Maria Sharapova (RUS,2), 26 16
[D R1] S.Mirza/ Bryanne Stewart l. (11) Emilie Loit/ Nicole Pratt, 26 46
Mahesh Bhupathi
[D R1] (7) M.Bhupathi/ M.Damm d. G.Monfils/ C.Saulnier, 61 63
[D R2] (7) M.Bhupathi/ M.Damm d. M.Ancic/ I.Ljubicic, 76(3) 36 76(6)
[D R3] (7) M.Bhupathi/ M.Damm l. S.Aspelin/ T.Perry, 46 76(4) 36
[MxD R1] M.Bhupathi/ D.Hantuchova d. T.Sun/ S.Aspelin, 46 63 76(9)
[MxD R2] M.Bhupathi/ D.Hantuchova d. (4) L.Raymond/ J.Bjorkman, 62 76(3)
[MxD QF] M.Bhupathi/ D.Hantuchova vs (5) A.Sugiyama/ K.Ullyett
Leander Paes
[D R1] (5) L.Paes/ N.Zimonjic l. A.Delic/ J.Morrison, 67(6) 67(2)
[MxD R1] (7) L.Paes/ M.Navratilova d. T.Golovin/ F.Santoro, 63 62
[MxD R2] (7) L.Paes/ M.Navratilova d. V.Ruano-Pascual/ S.Huss, 64 61
[MxD QF] (7) L.Paes/ M.Navratilova l. K.Srebotnik/ N.Zimonjic, 67(2) 75 67(9)

I will round up the boys scores later .. Rupesh qualified in (good show!) and has also won a round at the USO against a top-130 US wildcard .. Jeevan could not could upset the 16th seed and Vivek plays today.

The Asian championships have started in UZB and the large Indian contingent (inlcluding some qualifiers and lucky losers) have started quite well today in the main draw.  Later with a roundup of that too.

Traveling from Tuesday 30th morning till Sep 18th, in Europe. but I will try to put in my notes and round-ups as often as internet connections will allow me

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the weeks ending on Aug 29 ..

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 playera, let me know .. Please email me - R.Jayakrishnan