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LP/MB/NS/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the weeks ending on Sep 22, 2003
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Sep 22 Notes

Not much going on this week, except for the Asian Championships at Tashkent, and Prakash at the Thailand Open .. There was only bad news today, as Sunil Kumar got upset 63 61  in the first round by wild card Murad Inoyatov (UZB,1004) - the official press release from the Asian Tennis Federation says, "Inoyatov took his chances well and covered much of the court to outpace much of his opponent’s groundstrokes to win.  Sipaeya was let down by his serves and lacked consistency.  His second set, in particular, was riddled with several unforced errors" .. I wonder if Sunil could have used an extra day of practice there .. He played one of the few matches there today, as many players were only getting there, and some first round matches will only be done on wednesday .. Tomorrow, Isha, Megha and Ankita play their R1 matches .. Rohan and Harsh should be playing their R1 matches only on wednesday, I think .. The draws are all posted in the Asian Championship thread under "Tournaments" in our forum.  The Asian Tennis Federation continues to be prompt in posting the results at their website like last year, and in forwarding the news releases to all of us!

Prakash also will be playing the first round at Bangkok only on wednesday, I believe.

At the Spain F24 $10K futures, 6th seed Mustafa Ghouse beat 15th seed Theodoros Angelinos (GRE) 63 61 in the Q3 to make the main draw .. Tough match for him next in the R1, against the second seed Marc Fornell (ESP).

The second week of ITF grade-4 juniors is underway in Mumbai, conducted by Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Assocation at the GA Ranade courts .. I have not seen the draw and all the results yet, but there were some upsets according to The Hindu -- 13 year old Parija Maloo (who is the #1 u14 player in the AITA ranking) beating the 7th seed Asha Nandakumar 26 64 61 was some sort of a surprise to me .. S.Preethi beat 4th seed K.Pooja and Sandri Gangotri upset the 5th seed Nidhi Shah .. I will start a page soon for this tournament.

Sep 21 Notes

The reverse singles did not turn out to be anything all that interesting .. [4] Harsh Mankad l. Sjeng Schalken, 36 16 .. [5] Prakash Amritraj l. Raemon Sluiter, 16 36 .. You can find the nice match reports from Florian in the forum page thread on this Davis Cup tie .. According to him, both of them showed some fight in the match, but were basically in losing battles ..

There was news yesterday from Dr.Paes that Leander might even be out on court by the end of October, based on the latest MRI results which showed that the brain lesion has shrunk to less than 50% .. LP will be on the way to India this week and will be under the watch of a good doctor in Mumbai who has been closely associated with his treatment so far .. That is good news, that LP plans to play in some 4-5 weeks if all goes well .. It looks more and more probable that he will be at the ATP doubles championships in Houston in two months time.

OK, on to next week .. And yet another Vijay Amritraj wildcard magic .. Prakash Amritraj has got one wildcard at the $380K Bangkok ATP starting monday! .. To the main draw .. [R1] P.Amritraj vs Nicolas Thomann (FRA,109) .. The luck of the draw also stays with prakash .. Go Kash, make use of the opportunity!

The big tournament this week for Asians is the $100K ATF Asian Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan .. Basically it has prize money and hospitality equivalent to a $50K+H challenger each on the men's and women's sides, but with a huge incentive for some top Asian players to show up -- the winners on the men's and women's singles draws get wildcards to the main draw of the next Australian Open .. That means $7200 for the title, plus some twice that much to get from playing at the AO .. A lot of the top Asian players who are not at the Bangkok Open (Danai and Prakash) are there .. Here are the seeds -- Men: Yen-Hsun Lu (205), Yeu-Tzuoo Wang (211), Vadim Kutsenko (229), Rohan Bopanna (344), Harsh Mankad (369), Alexey Kedriouk (424), Aisam Al Haq Qureshi (486), Febi Widhiyanto (507) .. Women: Wynn Prakusya (172), Napaporn Tongsalee (293), Chia-Jung Chuang (316), Chin Bee Khoo (329), Maika Ozaki (330), Akgul Amanmuradov (357), Chen-Wei Chan (411), Jin-Young Choi (464) .. Not sure why the Japanese men have given this a skip; perhaps because they need to be in Tokyo by the weekend to play the qualies for the Tokyo Open that follows.  Sania withdrew from the event, and so we have three each from India in the draws .. RB, HM and Sunil Kumar on the men's side, and Isha, Megha and Ankita on the women's side .. I believe RB and HM will return from Zwolle to Delhi first and will immediately leave for Uzbekistan .. Hopefully they can get a wednesday start or something .. The matchups: (4) Rohan Bopanna vs Denis Salimsakov (UZB) .. (5) Harsh Mankad vs Seung Hoon OH (KOR) .. Sunil Kumar Sipaeya vs Murad Inoyatov (UZB) .. Isha Lakhani vs Wilawan Choptang (THA) .. Megha Vakharia vs Po Kuen Lam (HKG) .. Ankita Bhambri vs Ivanna Isroilova (UZB)

The grade-4 ITF "Adidas" junior international at Gurgaon was won yesterday by Tushar Liberhan and Ankita Bhambri, beating Vishnu Vardhan and R.Madura respectively .. Impressive 63 63 win by Tushar, who has been on a great winning streak, this being the 3rd grade-4 event he has played in the last 4 weeks (the previous two in Uzbekistan) .. He has only dropped one set in the 15 match win streak that has got him three titles .. As for Ankita, it was just a foregone conclusion thjat she would win the turnament -- I am sure she played it only to keep a few more points in her kitty and be ready to play juniors if she decides to do that next year; I think she would do just that, and use up her last year of elgibility to pay the junior grnad slams etc, mixing in senior events with some bigger junior events.

In the final placement ties at the u16 Junior Fed/Davis Cup at Essen, Germany, the Indian boys finished #15 and the girls finished #16 .. 2-1 win for the boys today and 1-2 loss for the girls in a heartbreaker, where we seemed to have the upperhand most of the way before losing out in the end .. Simon from the fanclub was there today and sent the scores -- 15-16 playoff IND d. MEX 2-1 ..#2 Jeevan Nedunchezian l. Johnny Hamui 36 06 .. #1 Rupesh Roy l. Miguel Angel Reyes Varela 61 61 .. Sumit Prakash Gupta/ R.Roy d. M.A.R.Varela/ Alberto Rojas, 64 63 .. 15-16 playoff IND l. BRA (8) 1-2 .. #2 Sandhya Nagaraj d. Bruna Paes 61 61 .. #1 Tara Iyer l. Teliana Pereira 75 46 46 .. K.Bhat/ T.Iyer l. T.Pereira/ B.Paes, 64 57 57 .. Ooh, poor Tara, who was pushed to #1 spot in Sanaa's absence seems to have had a nightmare of a tournament, seemingly playing her heart out but coming out on the wrong end of the scoreline in three 3-set singles matches and two 3-set doubles matchs in the 5 ties ..

Sep 20 Note-2

Looks like the reverse singles will be played by Mankad and Amritraj respectively .. We will again meet and cheer them in our SportsIndia chatroom (at 12 noon NED, 6 am NY, 11 am London, 3.30 pm India) .. Come on in, and we will discuss the great future that lies ahead for us in Davis Cup .. That has been the best outcome so far -- that we learnt a lot more about the abilities of Mr. Bofors .. Give him another year, and I am going to go out on a limb and predict that we WILL make the qualifying playoff again next year, and will win it (hopefully in India -- heck, after all these years of tough away ties, there is nothing but home ties left for us - even the evil draw godess will have no choice soon) .. Can you imagine the Davis Cup campaign in the world group in 2005?  -- Rohan will be way up there by then .. His oncourt steely nerves is beyond question now, as is his serve .. Apparently his backhand has also improved a great deal .. His volleys can reportedly still improve, but from all accounts, he has made great strides in his ability to become a better player than just a serve and volleyer this year - without that he would have never troubled somebody like Verkerk .. LP and MB will still be there for at least another 3 years if not more, for at least doubles ..  Let us see how many teams can beat us, winning 3 of 4 in singles .. Don't forget that Prakash and Harsh also can only be expected to play better and better .. Good times are in store for us, and we have to be proud of our team for surviving the bad years and bad draws for 4 years and staying in the top-15 ranks in Davis Cup every year - all thanks to LP's heroics and MB's able assistance .. The youngsters seem to be geeting ready to give LP and MB some nice rewards in the near future .. Buckle your seat belts folks; the good ride is about to start!

As for the doubles match today, see the article in the Deccan Herald by Ravi Chakravarthi ..

In other news, Mustafa and Federico Torresi (ITA) went down in the final of doubles at the $15K Spain F23, to the top seeds Miguel Angel Lopez-Jaen/Santiago Ventura (ESP), 57 76(4) 26 .. Mustafa played the Q1 for the F24, and beat Sebastian Schluter (GER), 63 21 ret .. He plays Javier Encina (ESP) in the Q2 .. I still have not got news on the finals at the grade-4 ITF in Gurgaon today .. The u16 girls and boys play their final placement tie tomorrow at the Junior Fed/Davis Cup in Essen Germany, after an off day today ..

Sep 20 Note-1

Ooh, another close one that seemed to turn on a few points .. [3] M.Bhupathi/ R.Bopanna l. J.vanLottum/ M.Verkerk, 64 57 57 46 .. Very close match, as the 121 pts to 117 points margin between the winning and losing sides would show (it was dead even at 111-111 late in the 4th set) .. India got a break in the 7th game of the first set and dropped serve in the final games of the next three sets after playing every other games even .. No other breaks in the whole match .. Again bug Kudos go to RB who came out after that marathon yesterday to come back and do so well .. Congrats to Verkerk for winning two matches on Rohan, after 7 hours 30 minutes of seeing each other in the last 28 hours .. I gotta run .. More later.

Sep 19 Note-4

The doubles match at the Davis Cup will be at 2 pm in Zwolle on Saturday (5.30 pm India .. 8 am New York) .. Come to our chatroom -- we had quite a few dignitaries in the room today, and we can have a good time!

In other news today, Mustafa Ghouse has reached the final of the $15K F23 futures in Mostoles, Spain -- [SF] (2) M.Ghouse/ Federico Torresi (ITA) d. (4) Alessandro Da Col/Giuseppe Menga (ITA) 46 76(0) 64 .. The final will be against the top seeds Miguel Angel Lopez-Jaen/Santiago Ventura (ESP).

At the ITF grade-4 "Adidas" juniors in Gurgaon, Tushar Liberhan continued his nice run with a win over Australian boy, Stfan Sorani who had upset a couple of seeds earlier, to reach the final, against J. Vishnu Vardhan .. On the girls' side, it is pretty much a foregone conclusion who would win this -- Ankita Bhambri .. Madura Ranganathan, the top seed, who turned 15 only this week, is quite talented though, and can hopefully give her a good match .. Madura and Vandana won the girls' doubles title and Vishnu and Wrik Ganguly won the boys' doubles title today .. See the Gurgaon juniors page.

The going has been extremely tough for our u16 teams so far at the Junior u16 Fed & Davis Cup final-16 in Essen, Germany .. Both teams have gone winless in 4 ties each (first three in round robin, and today's tie to determine the 13th-16th positions) .. So both the boys team and the girls teams will fight tomorrow to avoid finishing last in their fields ... Junior Davis Cup: Tuesday: IND l. YUG (1) 1-2 ..#2 Jeevan Nedunchezian d. Bojan Bozovic, 64 60 .. #1 Rupesh Roy l. Novak Djokovic, 46 26 .. Sumit Prakash Gupta/ R.Roy l. N.Djokovic/ Slavko Bjelica, 06 26 .. Wednesday: IND l. FRA (7) 0-3 .. #2 Jeevan l. Mathieu Dehanie 36 16 .. #1 Rupesh l. Jeremy Chardy 36 46 .. Gupta/ Roy l. J.Chardy/ Jeremy Drean 76(4) 06 16.. Thursday: IND l. COL 1-2 .. #2 Jeevan l. Francisco Franco 75 46 36 .. #1 Rupesh d. Santiago Giraldo 16 61 75 .. Gupta/ Roy l. S.Giraldo/ F.Franco 64 36 36 .. India finished 4th in the group .. Friday: 13-16 playoff IND l. ECU 0-3 .. #2 Jeevan l. #1 Andres Arango 16 36 .. #1 Rupesh l. #1 David Gonzalez 63 26 46 .. Gupta/ Nedunchezian l. A.Arango/ Jose Zunino 57 46 .. Saturday 15-16 playoff IND vs MEX ... Junior Fed Cup: Tuesday: IND l. JPN (6) 0-3 .. #2 Kartiki Bhat l. Megumi Fukui 46 57 .. #1 Tara Iyer l. Mari Tanaka 57 61 36 .. K.Bhat/ T.Iyer l. Mika Kawamura/ M.Tanaka 36 26 .. Wednesday: IND l. POL (3) 0-3 .. #2 Sandhya Nagaraj l. Marta Lesniak 26 36 .. #1 Tara l. Magdalena Kiszczynska 26 26 .. Bhat/ Iyer l. Anna Korzeniak/ M.Lesniak 36 63 26 .. Thursday: IND l. RSA 0-3 ..#2 Kartiki l. Ghizela Schutte 36 46 .. #1 Tara l. Kate McDade 46 75 8-10 .. Bhat/ Iyer l. G.Schutte/ Sylvanie Spangenberg, 46 16 .. India finished 4th in the group .. Friday: 13-16 playoff: IND l. TPE 0-3
.. #2 Sandhya l. I-Hsuan Hwang  36 62 26 .. #1 #1 Tara Iyer l. Wen-Hsin Hsu 16 46 .. K.Bhat/ T.Iyer l. W-H.Hsu/ Yu-Ting Lin 36 36 .. Saturday 15-16 playoff IND vs BRA (8) .. Though I didn't expect either team to do all that well, in the absence of two key players, Sanaa Bhambri and Sanam Singh, I did not expect it to turn into this kind of a nightmare for our kids! .. The toughest tie must have been the boys' 3rd tie against unseeded Columbia in which they played three three-set matches and lost two of them .. Tara's loss yesterday looks to be a heartbreaker too .. The bottom line is that the boys are 2-10 in their matches and the girls are 0-12 in theirs .. Ouch.

Sep 19 Note-3

Here is the article on Bopanna's classic today against Verkerk, as at the Davis Cup official site .. Great read (especially the last paragraph and quote from Verkerk - can't believe they put that up!-- Funny) .. Excerpt -- "Maybe I wanted to win too badly in front of my home crowd, because I love to play for my country and hadn't won a singles match before. But to be fair, this guy's really good. While I didn't play badly, he was playing like a top-100 player, going for his shots all the time. So all credit to him," Verkerk said afterwards .. Yeah, Rohan made a bunch of people sit up and take notice that we still have some tennis players with us! ..

Here is the article by Nirmal Sekar in The Hindu, who says that a bad call by the linesman went against him in the 4th set tiebreaker, or he would have had a match point right there .. "The better player lost unfortunately,'' said a veteran Dutch tennis writer, according to Nirmal -- so even they saw that home field advantage played a part in this .. Oh well .. Bopanna looked so much the better player on the court for much of the distance as he hit the lines time and again after over four hours on the court, says Nirmal .. it was a remarkably courageous performance from Bopanna in only the second five set match of his career. He sustained an exceptional level of brilliance over four and half hours, something that not even the most optimistic of Indian tennis fans might have expected from a pro whose bread and butter tennis is played out in the obscure realms of Futures and Challenger tournaments -- well, that is not true; I have been calling this as a very possible upset for weeks in the forum, Nirmal! .. The only difference is that I expected Verkerk not to play as well as he seems to have .. Still Bopanna almost pulled the rug out from under him.

Sep 19 Note-2

Nothing much to talk about in the second match, as Schalken did not give an inch to the debutant Prakash .. [2] #1 Sjeng Schalken d. #2 Prakash Amritraj, 63 61 61 .. He seemed to basically break Prakash at will in this match that took only about an hour and 25 minutes .. PA won 45 points to 86 by Schalken, and that pretty much says that the match was lopsided [compare that to the 197-221 margin in Bopanna's first match and you will see what a monumental match it was] .. Anyway, it was too much to expect Prakash, with no Davis Cup experience to have done any better .. Hope he will chalk it up as the usual first match that most players have in Davis Cup .. Nothing to be ashamed of - he had one of the worst matchups anybody can get on a debut, going up against a top-10 player on his homecourt .. Keep you head high and come back for a big show on the 3rd day, Kash!

Sep 19 Note-1

Oh what a match -- If you ever thought Rohan Bopanna was any less than a top-notch tennis player, change your view right now .. He just played the match of his life, and one of the monumental matches ever by any Indian for that matter, though it ended up as a loss .. [1] Rohan Bopanna l. Martin Verkerk, 7-5 3-6 7-5 6-7 (7-9) 10-12 in a match that too 4 hours and 40 minutes to finish .. He saved one set point in the second set and then 2 set points in the 4th set tiebreaker to push Verkerk to the limit ..  He also showed steely nerves in coming back from 0-30 down about 4 or 5 times in this match, mostly late in the sets when Verkerk was trying hard to break him .. Actually he never dropped serve under pressure and was broken only a couple of times in the whole match for that matter .. Made the right adjustments to get back in the game after starting with 2 aces and 6 double faults .. He then went 13 aces and just 4 DFs .. Pretty much a great match by him - he held serve 5 times under pressure in the 5th set, at 5-6, 6-7, 7-8, 8-9 and 9-10, before falling on the 6th attempt, I believe .. That itself should show what he is made of .. Great job, Bofors .. You are no longer a boy, you became a man today! .. And congrats to Verkerk.

TheDavis Cup site went offline at the beginning of the 5th set and we were basically getting score only from the SMS messages from Mahesh from courtside .. As I have to run for Prakash's match, here is the unedited version of my match report for the 4 sets I have details on.

Set 1:  It went with serves till 5-5 .. RB only had a couple of points off
MV serve till the 10th game when he faced a set point on his serve
thanks to two double faults .. He held tough and came through ..
He went after MV after he had 40-30 game points and took him to three
break points, Verkerk double faulting at the final AD out to hand
RB the break .. He made no mistakes in the next game to get on top 7-5

Set 2:  RB faced two break points and fell on the second in game 2 .. Faced
two more in the 4th game but made it deuce with the help of an ace.
He faced another AD out BP in the 6th game and again held ..  It went
without any drama after that.  75 36.  A very low winning percentage
of 35% on his 17 second serve was really what caused RB to drop this
set.

Set 3: No drama at all till 5-6 in the 3rd set .. RB had not taken a single
point in the first 5 service games there from MV .. After starting
0/21 in return points, he won 3 in a row and it was 15-40 .. MV
dropped serve at 30-40

Set 4: RB dropped serve twice in games 1 and 5 .. Basically
he was winning nothing on his second serve (0 of 8 in that category to start
the set) just like in the second set .. Verkerk must have been pumped up by
the crowd and would have been going for everything on RB's returnable
serves.  RB did break MV in the second game though .. Then he stepped
it up in the 8th game and had MV down 0-40 helped by a double fault ..
After ace #23 from MV, RB did the job to even it at 4-4 .. he was down
0-30 in the next game, and had to save an AD out break point with his
11th ace, but RB held to go up 5-4 .. Again he was down 0-30 in the
11th game but came back and served two aces in a row to hold serve.
In the tiebreak RB started and dropped a mini to 0-1 ..
Then 1-1, 1-2, 2-2, 3-2, 3-3, 3-4, 4-4, 5-4, 5-5, 5-6, 6-6 (RB saved set pt
on serve), 6-7 (mini given up by RB) .. 7-7 (got that back at set pt) ..
7-8 (gave up one pt on serve), 7-9 over ..

I will edit and condense it later .. Prakash's match is starting.

Sep 18 Note-2

We are a few hours away from the first tie at the Davis Cup .. Time to crank it up, folks .. Come on into the SportsIndia chatroom where we will be meeting throughout the tie .. There will be point by point score updates, courtesy the Davis Cup site .. The first tie starts at 12 noon (3.30 pm India, 6 am New York)

It's been 10 years since Frejus, and it's time for another one .. If 20 yrs old Leander could do it then, why not 19 yr old Prakash now?  If 22 year old Mahesh could shock the Dutch in India in 1996 with two wins, why not 23 year old ace Bofors Bopanna now? .. Go India!!!

By the way, DoorDarshan decided not to telecast this Davis Cup tie .. Raymedia (of UK?) who hold the right to India's Davis Cup telecats were given the reason of lack of finances or some such bovine excrement .. When will some of these idiots at Doordarshan get their door darshan; I mean, when will somebody show them the door? .. Pitiful lowlifes .. Go India, make DD regret it for missing the greatest upset in Davis Cup history, even bigger than Frejus 93!!

At the $10K GBR F9 futures in Sunderland, Vishal Punna's nice run ended in the QF against the 6th seed Oliver Freelove (GBR,668), 46 46 .. At the $15K F23 in Spain, Mustafa Ghouse reached the doubles SF .. Seeded 2nd, he and Federico Torresi (ITA) beat David Marrero/ Cesar Ferrer (ESP) 76(3) 76(2) and then Pablo Santos-Gonzalez/ David Villanueva-Perez ESP) 76(5) 76(2) in the QF .. Next up are the 4th seeded Italians, Alessandro Da Col and Giuseppe Menga.

I have not seen the scores from today's junior Fed/Davis Cup world finals .. I saw that our Indian boys went down to Columbia in three three-setters 1-2 and that's all I know so far.

Sep 18 Note-1

The Davis Cup Draw has come out at Zwolle, Netherlands .. Day 1: [1] #1 Rohan Bopanna vs #2 Martin Verkerk, [2] #2 Prakash Amritraj vs #1 Sjeng Schalken .. Day 2:  [3] Mahesh Bhupathi/ Rohan Bopanna vs Martin Verkerk/ John Van Lottum, Day 3: [4] #1 Rohan Bopanna vs #1 Sjeng Schalken, [5] #2 Prakash Amritraj vs #2 Martin Verkerk .. The 3rd day players may be changed later .. Go India !!!! .. More later on that.

Florian from Germany (of the "my passport is german, but my heart is Indian" fame) is out there coordinating a small cheering squad for our team .. Florian has been feeding us news too, driving back and forth between Essen, where our junior fed/devis cup teams are, and Zwolle, which is some 90 minutes drive away .. Thanks a lot, man!

Sep 17 Notes

Punna Vishal is having a pretty good run at the $10K F9 in Britain .. [R1] Vishal Punna d. (q) Saar Steele (ISR) 75 64 .. [R2] d. (4) David Sherwood (GBR) 26 76(2) 75 .. That is a pretty big upset for Vishal ..  That brings up [QF] Vishal Punna (IND) vs (6) Oliver Freelove (GBR) ..

At the Delhi junior grade-4 ITF, there were no surprises today .. See the Gurgaon juniors page .. Devinder Singh Bhusari, once considered a serious national prospect, who sort of disappeared for whatever reasons (injuries?), qualified in, and has reached the QF upsetting the 8th seed .. He runs into the top seed Tushar Liberhan next.

There was a change of score from ITF this week, on the grade-5 junior final in Sri Lanka last week .. Ashmita Easwaramurthy actually won that event, making it two grade-5 titles for her in 3 weeks .. It was a mistake in the referee's communication to ITF that caused the problem .. Ashmitha got the full 30 points and has now come up inside the top-300 .. Cingratulation to Ashmita! -- she turned 14 only very recently.

Not a great day at the u16 Junior Davis/Fed Cup world final-16 in Essen, as our boys and girls teams fell to seeded teams again and are out of the running for the pper knockout stage barring strange miracles .. Boys:  IND vs FRA (7), 0-3 .. #2 Jeevan Nedunchezian l. Mathieu Dehanie 36 16 .. #1 Rupesh Roy l. Jeremy Chardy 36 46 .. Sumit Prakash Gupta/ R.Roy l. J.Chardy/ Jeremy Drean 76(4) 06 16 .. Girls: IND vs POL (3), 0-3 .. #2 Sandhya Nagaraj l. Marta Lesniak 26 36 .. #1 Tara Iyer l. Magdalena Kiszczynska 26 26 .. Kartiki Bhat/ T.Iyer l. Anna Korzeniak/ M.Lesniak, 36 63 26 .. Though the teams have both lost the ties so far, it was not unexpected, based on the seedings ..  Both Indian teams get unseeded teams tomorrow from their pools.

Sep 16 Note-2

At the u16 Junior Davis/Fed Cup world final-16 in Essen, our boys had a splendid start, as Jeevan Nedunchezian stunned the top seeded Yugoslavia with a win at the #2 spot .. Howeverm Rupesh had to tackle the #1 ranked u16 player in the world and we could not do much more .. On the girls's side, both Kartiki and Tara played very good matches but could not pull any upsets off the 6th seeded Japan .. Boys: IND l. YUG (1) 1-2 .. #2 Jeevan Nedunchezian d. Bojan Bozovic, 64 60 .. #1 Rupesh Roy l. Novak Djokovic, 46 26 .. Sumit Prakash Gupta/ R.Roy l. N.Djokovic/ Slavko Bjelica, 06 26 .. Girls: IND l. JPN (6) 0-3 .. #2 Kartiki Bhat l. Megumi Fukui 46 57 .. #1 Tara Iyer l. Mari Tanaka 57 61 36 .. K.Bhat/ T.Iyer l. Mika Kawamura/ M.Tanaka 36 26 ..

The Dharwad challenger (Oct 7th) initial entry list came out today and it has an even tougher draw than for the Tumkur challenger, due to a lot of Asian players joining .. I have posted the list at the Dharwad challenger page .. PA, RB and HM are all in the qualifying list .. The cut will drop a few spots for sure, but RB and HM might need wildcards in the end .. There was some change in the Tumkur list this week .. I will be updating the lists when I see changes ..

The first round has been completed at the grade-4 claycourt ITF juniors in Gurgaon, near Delhi .. Basically there are hardly any foreign players in either draw, which is a bit disappointing .. Ankita Bhambri is playing on the girls' side, and I don't know how anybody else can stop her from winning the title .. Ankita, who never got going on the junior circuit, rather moving up to satellites and having some serious success, may have decided to do juniors seriously for some time?? .. I have never been able to figure out the strange patterns in her career - all I know is that she has generally managed not to fall through the cracks, and has been doing fine through all of that! .. On the boys' side, J.Vishnu Vardhan upset the second seed Navdeep Singh .. See the Gurgaon juniors page.

Sep 16 Note-1

It is finally Davis Cup time, baybee!!!!! ..  I don't want to hear all the naysayers who say we stand no chance .. Times of India had an article titled, "Davis Cup drubbing awaits us" -- which drove me up the wall .. It had some comments from the Davis Cup chief selector who was pessimistic about the chances (I don't think he said we will get drubbed; that seemed to be from the newspaper) .. It is fine to be realistic, but it doesn't help the players' morale for everyone to talk like that .. I will only accept the team members and captain saying we will lose, as that is always a smart ploy to get the opposition to underestimate us -- actually Hesh was already saying we that we stand no chance; that is perfectly fine, because he has his team members with him to tell something different to! ..

I doubt anyone who has looked at Verkerk's 2-7 record in surfaces away from clay with losses to players ranked as low as #299 in the last few months would say we have no chance in this .. Time to make the Dutch pay for taking us way too lightly with their surface selection; We could well have been burnt toast on a clay surface, but indoor hardcourts is a totally different story .. I'm not saying that Verkerk will lay eggs against us or anything, and with due respect to the French Open runner-up, upsetting him is clearly not an impossibility .. Schalken is in great form though, having won the Brazil Open just this week - any win on him would require all the stars to align in some incredibly miraculous way for us .. Also a big worry is that Verkerk-Sluiter is not sliced cheese in doubles, but we have the advantage of having nothing to lose.

By the way, the singles rankings flip flopped this week again, with Rohan losing 12 points from last year's futures title and dropping to #344 behind Prakash who is at #324 and ahead of Harsh who is at #369 .. I am not fully sure, but they may be using last week's rankings to seed the players in the draw tomorrow at Zwolle, in which case RB is the #1 player .. In any event, RK has the choice of keeping RB as the #1 player and getting Harsh as the #2 player if he decides to rest Prakash on the first day, because that may give some strategic advantages .. In my humble (but strong) opinion, none of the three should play all three matches, because they have no experience at it .. Playing three best-of-5 matches in Davis Cup is not at all an easy thing, though Leander has routinely done for over a decade (but there are not too many Lees out there!) .. Another issue is that Prakash and Harsh are both AD court players and would need to switch to play with Hesh in doubles, which confuses things a bit ; Only RB is a deuce court player .. Let us wait and see what RK does.  The team has all assembled and have been practising up there.

Speaking of doubles, Harsh Mankad moved up to the #209 and is now the #3 in India behind MB (#8) and LP (#10), and ahead of Rohan (#220) and Prakash (#324) .. That is a jump of over 1000 spots in a year for him and about 350 spots in just 4 months or so .. Great job, HM ..

Sunitha Rao (USA) plays today at the $50K Columbus challenger first round ..

At the Spain F23 $10 futures yesterday, Mustafa Ghouse qualified into the main draw .. [Q1] (5) Mustafa Ghouse d. Carlos Gomez-Ferre (ESP) 16 76(1) 76(3) .. [Q2] d. Antonio Madronero (ESP) 62 62 .. [Q3] d. (12) Pablo Santos-Gonzalez (ESP) .. The main draw R1 is against (8) Helder Lopes (POR) .. In doubles, second seeded Mistafa and Federico Torresi (ITA) are playing David Marrero and Cesar Ferrer-Victor of Spain ..

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!

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Sep 15 ..

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.