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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Sep 23, 2002
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Aug 23 Notes

MH-LP and MB-MJ were not in the schedule at the $400K Hong Kong ATP .. Both would have asked for tuesday or wednesday starts.

At the $75K Albuquerque (New Mexico, US) challenger qualies first round, Manisha Malhotra played a good match against the 2nd seed Frencesca Lubiani (ITA,220), but went down 46 63 26 .. Doubles draw is awaited.

The second of the two Indian grade-4 junior ITF events started in Mumbai today .. One more talented player is in the field this week, Karan Rastogi who was not in the original entry list but must have entered as a wildcard .. Good to see him play - he needs all the points he can get, and losing chances to play Indian events is not good (I believe he was away in the US two weeks back and probably couldn't come in for the Delhi event last week) .. Karan, Aditya Madkekar, Sanaa Bhambri, Kartiki Bhat etc won today and Madura Ranganathan upset seeded Lata Assudani .. Young qualifier Sandhya Nagaraj went down to a Thai player [source: PTI] .. I will start a page as soon as I get all the results.

Aug 22 Note-5

Manoj Mahadevan (#786) won one round and picked up an ATP point at the Jamaica F14 last week .. He beat the talented youngster Ytai Abougzir (USA) 76(8) 63, a top-5 junior player last year, before losing to the second seeded Julien Cassaigne (FRA,515), 75 63 .. The news was late on this because all the matches were delayed to the weekend with heavy storm and rain .. They have one semifinal and the final to be done on Monday - and that is after cancelling the whole doubles draw! (source: Steve Gocha)

Aug 22 Note-4

We could guess that it would be Woodbridge or Jonas Bjorkman (Todd's normal partner) that Hesh would be playing with at Hong Kong, once the Woody said he knew about Hesh going to HKG .. Well, MB-Bjorkman are the top seeds at the $400K Hong Kong Open, with Leander Paes and Michael Hill in the draw as the 3rd seeds .. Both teams are in the upper half of the draw and could meet in the semis .. MB-JB meet Wayne Arthurs and Andrew Kratzmann of Australia .. MH-LP meet Nathan Healey and Jordan Kerr of Australia ..

Interesting news item in the Telegraph (Kolkata) - "Hyderabad to host WTA meet" -- The city will make its presence felt in international tennis circles as it readies to host a Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) tournament next year .... The tournament comes to the city after the WTA officials tossed between Bangalore and Hyderabad before finally allotting the tourney, carrying prize money of $ 150,000, to the city, Andhra Pradesh Tennis Association secretary Raja Narsimha Rao said Sunday. The city will also host men’s and women’s ITF tournaments scheduled for next year.

I am surprised that none of the other newspapers had this news, including the Deccan Chronicle of Hyderabad and Deccan Herald of Bangalore, the other city interested in the event, that I thought had a better chance to get it .. I am not sure if I missed an earlier news release on this, though .. This will be a Tier-IV WTA event, and it's high time we did one in India .. Also not sure if Mahesh's sports management company, Globosport, is the one bringing this event .. What we heard earlier was that they were trying to bring it to Bangalore.

In other news, I just fund out that Harsh Mankad that he did not get a wildcard or anything and will have to miss the first week of the Australian satellites .. All he can do is to play the second and 3rd weeks of the satellites and hope to have enough point for the masters .. Apparently Davis Cup is a valid reason to miss the first week's qualies and he could get ATP points if he does well for three weeks ..

Prakash Amritraj and Rajeev Ram of USA went down 67(0) 36 to James Shortall (NZL) and Oscar Johansson (SWE) in the final of doubles today at the $15K USAF24b futures at Costa Mesa, California .. I saw the match - both the kids played very well, especially Prakash who had some scorching returns from the AD court .. Rajeev is very solid with a powerful serve and forehand, though he seemed to be a bit erratic at times with his backhand service returns today .. The crowd of 50 odd people seemed to have no idea that these were two American kids (and among the two best 18 yer olds) playing; the support seemed to be more for the experienced swedish-kiwi pair, who played solid and tactful tennis .. The Indian-americans were clearly ahead for all of the first set, hardly losing much on their serve and having 4 of 5 break points in the 8th and 10th games .. But then they got as many as three or four terribly bad line calls late in the set at crucial break chances, and then again to start the tiebreaker .. The guys did not complain much but they did seem to clearly get shaken by the incredibly poor officating that kept going against them .. Before they knew they had lost all three service points and had lost the tiebreaker .. They were down a break at 0-3 before they started playing well again, but it was too late .. Still a good week by this scratch team playing together for the first time, to upset the 1st and 3rd seed to reach the final ..

Aug 22 Note-3

Sania Mirza is on a roll, and why not, in front of her home fans in Hyderabad? .. She became the youngest Indian to win a $10K satellite today with an easy 61 62 win over Akgul Amanmuradova of Uzbekistan .. See the Hyderabad satellite page for all the scores .. The Uzbek was a bit troubled by some food problems and general tiredness, having played so many matches including the qualies, but there was really no doubt that Sania would win this in any event, once she got past Rushmi in the QFs .. To think that this girl is still 15 (for another couple more months) and that she can only continue to improve, is tremendous .. Congratulations, Sania! .. She got 6 WTA points including one bonus for beating top-500 Rushmi .. That will raise her ranking by about 375 spots to near top 750 ..  Now she gets a week break before going to Asiad where she will get to play mixed doubles with, who else, Leander Paes! -- I am sure the young girl is looking forward to that ..

Manisha Malhotra and leanne Baker went down in the second round this week at the $75K Columbus challenger against Teryn Ashley and Ashley Harkleroad, 26 26 after winning the first round over Adriana Barna (GER) and Svetlana Krivencheva (BUL) 60 64 .. I believe Manisha will proceed to the Albuquerque challenger this coming week.

It is always tough to find newspaper details on dead rubber Davis Cup reverse singles .. Only Doug Robertson of The Advertiser wrote anything about it that I could find - excerpts: Arthurs, ranked 53 in singles, was victorious in two singles matches but he was also the only Aussie to drop a set (two) for the tie. He faced the unenviable task of playing a dead rubber against a youngster who was hungry to beat an established player ..... "He had nothing to lose out there and he showed that by the way he played," Arthurs said. "To his full credit he kept on coming at me and he never eased up. I thought he was going to crack at some stage in the third set and he never did ..... "It's always difficult when you've won the tie already and you have to come out and play that match. It's always a sort of a no-win situation when you're ranked so far ahead of the other guy (but) it takes my record to 5-2 – that looks much better." .... India gave veteran performer Leander Paes a break to debut Bopanna, 22, but it was not a shining introduction for the 192cm right-hander. He hardly had an opportunity to settle down against the aggressive Draper, who pulled off his maiden Davis Cup win with a confident 6-3, 7-5 victory in just 59 minutes. Draper lost two singles matches in the first-round away tie to Argentina in February.

Some good comments from Wayne Arthurs about Harsh .. HM may be staying in Australia for 4 weeks, as he is not in the Asiad team .. I am not sure about the status of his entry for the satellites though, as the entries closed two weeks back with his earlier ranking in the 1200s .. There was one newspaper report that said he was proceeding to the Queensland satellites, so I assume they probably gave him some sort of a wildcard or something .. I hope so, because he must have missed the qualies already, and one needs to play all four legs in a satellite .. We will see.

Aug 22 Note-2

There are all kinds of posts in our forum on many issues like Rohan not getting to play on the first day, about MB's shoulder, about Ramesh Krishnan's decisions, etc etc .. I wanted to comment only after the tie was over .. Krishna Bhupathi had (understandably) shown his displeasure to the press at RB continuing to not get a chance .. Then there was all the stuff about two camps in the Indian side, with Hewitt talking about that and with Woodbridge adding more in yesterday's postgame comments about him knowing of MB planning to play doubles next week at the Hong Kong ATP etc .. I thought I would leave my comments only after the tie was over .. The first thing was for India to do their best .. In many ways I do feel that our players did try their best -- LP, Harsh, Rohan and Vishal .. I congratulate them.

Seeing Harsh Mankad's form, which seems so much different from how he was playing till the Chennai futures three weeks back, it does appear that RK probably saw something and went with that .. I would find it tough to believe that there could be anything more to it, and that RK would try to keep the youngster (RB) away from playing .. If I had a complaint, that was in Lebanon earlier this year when there was no need for LP playing the reverse singles instead of Rohan (I heard some rumors on this matter; but that is in the past, so let's leave it) .. Even in New Zealand, I can find a reason for RB missing out - only the last tie was a dead rubber and there was some logic in making sure that Harsh would get a bit of his confidence back with a win (which he did get, over a decent James Shortall) after perhaps his worst match in Davis Cup, against Nielsen .. I can also see how Rohan's coach, CGK Bhupathi would be quite upset seeing him not being picked for the first day, as RB was warming the bench for too long .. So, some of the complaints are because of what started earlier, or whatever was not done earlier .. Anyway, I'm extremely glad that Bopanna got to play his first DC match .. Let's hope it the first of many matches from him.

On the other hand, I now think that perhaps getting LP to play Arthurs rather than Hewitt on the first day and trying to somehow start with some sort of an upset was probably one reason (Even LP would feel it nearly impossible against Hewitt)  .. As we know, had RB played, he would have faced Arthurs and LP would have played Hewitt on the first day .. In addition, Harsh must have looked to be in good form in practice too .. By the way, I saw some comments from Hewitt about how well Harsh played, in some Australian newspapers; same with Nirmal Sekar's report in The Hindu .. After seeing the score of his reverse singles match, I am convinced he is playing very well .. I guess I would give RK the benefit of doubt in this .. RK rarely says much to explain these things; I would have liked to hear him make some comments to smooth the hurt feelings - but again his first priority is his team and the tie at hand, not about explaining anything to us .. We might hopefully hear from him later on what factors played into his decisions..

Now, on to Mahesh's shoulder business .. I again feel it was extremely inappropriate for Woodbridge to talk about this .. He says he knows MB is playing at the Hong Kong ATP .. I am apalled at somebody like Woodbridge saying this .. He should know better .. Playing Davis Cup and playing at a tour event are two entirely different things .. I haven't been in touch with MB to know how troublesome his shoulder is, but I did hear that he was taking pain-killer shots at US Open .. Were he to play, he would have had to get to Adelaide by at least Tuesday and have a couple of days of practice (he has not played with Lee in many months - and I doubt Lee and Hesh want to play hewitt-woodbridge or arthurs-woodbridge without practice; there is some pride involved in that team when it comes to Davis Cup) .. To play Hong Kong next week, all MB needs to do is to get there this coming tuesday and put in a little practice with whoever he is playing with (I wonder who - Bjorkman? -- how the heck did woodbridge know otherwise? :-)) .. Those like blab-mouth Todd should know this about Davis Cup - that it takes one extra week over the tour event that follows .. An extra week of rest for the shoulder is definitely worth it, for some reasons I give below ..

And Mahesh's explanation on wanting to play Asiad is VERY valid too .. He surely remembers what workload was there at Asiad the last time and how he could not go past the bronze medal level due to a hurting arm .. It is important for LP, MB and others to do well at Asiad to not lose momentum for tennis in India .. There is a lot of money and publicity IN INDIA about Asiad .. Indian tennis players going there and laying eggs cannot help our tennis people's ability to get domestic sponsorship for the game .. Then there is some serious money that Indian government has announced for big medals (even LP who rarely needs anything like that to get fired up for the tricolor said it is definitely an added incentive) .. To jeopardize all that for a DC tie that really we had no chance of winning?  .. Why is anybody even saying this? .. Had we been playing Venezuela or Belgium or somebody, it was worth going for it - but not against this Australian team where the chances of LP pulling off TWO upsets was very very very low with one of the opponents being the world #1 .. Are the complaining folks thinking?

OK, now another matter .. Has anybody looked at how many matches MB has played since Toronto?  .. 2 at Toronto, 5 at Cincinnati (final), 4 at Indianapolis (final), 4 at Long Island (title), 6+2 at US Open (title) .. That is 21 matches in some 33 days, and SIX continuous weeks without rest .. That is a whole lot for HIS shoulder .. He could have had one week off in India, one after Davis Cup and then go to Asiad with a shoulder that never got enough rest (BIG difference between a one week break and two week continuous - those like Todd should know this) .. And then go to Asiad without having played much .. Or, take a two weeks break and play 2-3 matches in Hong Kong and go to Asiad .. Much better plan, in my mind .. It would be different if this tie was not against Australia and we really did have some small chance for a win.

By the way, I don't know if any of your remembers me vehemently justifying a similar situation in 1998 when LP could not play the Italy tie .. LP played the tuesday after the tie at the Chennai Open and everybody was on his case saying "LP suddenly doesn't care for India" (how could ANYBODY ever say THAT about Leander -- I have no idea!) .. Leander said he had to start practising at least 5-6 days before the Davis Cup tie to play it and he said he didn't need that for Chennai .. The MB situation is very similar .. It was a well thought-out decision for him to skip DC if you ask me.

By the way, it was nice to see Ramesh Krishnan coming to MB's help, saying it was unfair for people to comment on his shoulder without knowing .. He certainly did not appreciate the Aussies kicking this up ..  I am also glad that LP has stayed away from commenting on all this - people would have certainly twisted anything he said ..

MB said to news people who talked to him this week that the Aussies have no clue what they are talking about .. If there was such a big problem and it was because he did not want to play with LP that he skipped the tie, why would they be planning to play for India at Asiad just 2 weeks after??, he asked .. Exactly .. Case closed, let's move on.

Also, some in the forum seemed to be really downcast, that tennis is going the way all other sports go in India, with big dissentions and all that .. Come on, don't despair, people .. There are certainly "camps" in Indian tennis (as is there in other countries too, and that's natural), with the associated misunderstandings, egos, lack of sensitivity to other camps' feelings, etc, etc - but I doubt people have started stooping to the level of jeopardizing India's interests yet .. If I see blatant and unjustifiable cases of that, you can bet that I will be the first one to scream .. I am not screaming .. I am giving the benefit of doubt to decent people and again I am moving on ..

Some even suggested in the forum that a foreign "coach" is what we need to avoid partialty .. Well, that's not possible, and that is the beauty of Davis Cup .. There is nothing like a foreign coach making decisions in Davis Cup .. It is the captain who makes the deicisons, not the coach and the captain cannot be from another country! ... Ramesh is the non-playing captain .. We right now don't have a "coach", and RK does that job also for now .. So, sorry, no luck for those of you who want a foreign coach to "set us right" ! .. We do need some good coaches, foreign too, lord knows - but that is to coach a lot of our youngsters some modern tennis, self-belief, and work ethic .. Not to run our Davis Cup team, thank you ..

Relax people, the sky ain't coming down! .. That is just my humble opinion .. Having said that, I hope this is all behind us and we won't be hearing words and actions from whatever "camps" in Indian tennis to cause problems for India -- that will make all I said above meaningless .. So there .. All my comments on this -- now let me go to sleep :-)

Forgot to mention earlier that Somdev dev Varman win the ITF Grade-4 title at Delhi beating Tushar Liberhan .. Somdev is a BAT product and is with a good coach there in Chennai - Ilyas Hussain .. This is his second title - he had won the grade-4 in Kolkata in February this year .. His rank should be going up from the current #161 by about 25 spots .. See the Delhi juniors page.

Aug 22 Note-1

Well, glad to see that the two youngsters (well, both 22 yr olds but I will still call them youngsters) did not go down without a fight in the reverse singles .. First Rohan made an impression, I am sure, with his big serves against #147 Scott Draper, and then Harsh Mankad fought till the very end against #53 Wayne Arthurs, in what appears to be one of the best matches of his career, though it came in a dead rubber .. Not easy to break Arthurs and win a set! --- [Match-5] Harsh Mankad l. Wayne Arthurs, 46 63 57 as the Aussies completed the rout with a 5-0 score ..

Harsh's match started decently, till he got broken in the 5th game and fell to 2-3 .. It went with serve for the rest of the set, though Harsh faced a few break points (7 of them in this set) and held tough .. The set took 35 minutes .. In the second set, Harsh converted the only break chance he got in the entire match, at 30-40 in the 4th game to go up 3-1 .. He faced a couple more break attempts by WA and held on again to win the set 6-3 .. Taking away the four aces from Arthurs, when the ball was playable (:-)) HM won 27 points to 18 by WA in the second set, which is something commendable against a top-50 quality player! .. So once again, for the 5th time in this tie, India had a good second set, which took 31 minutes .. Harsh actually continued the good show in the 3rd set as well .. Going all the way to the very end and getting broken only in the 11th game to fall 5-6 .. If I am not mistaken, Harsh came up with a second serve ace in that 11th game, probably on the first break attempt too .. But once he converted the break, Arthurs then finished off the next game without any further fuss to take the 3rd set in 34 minutes .. Here are some stats -- Match time = 1 hour 40 minutes .. 76 points by Harsh, 92 by Arthurs .. 1 of 1 in breaks pts by HM, 2 of 11 by WA .. 2 aces by Harsh, 15 by Arthurs (which was basically the difference; as seen from the total points, whenever the ball was in play, Harsh won pretty much half the points) .. HM had three straight-return winners on Arthurs' serve, one each in each set; that is always one of the most impressive shots to see in tennis, and it shows that he was returning very well too .. 4 double faults by each player .. Only two other unforced errors by Harsh, while there were 9 UEs in addition to the DFs by Arthurs .. 21 net approaches by Mankad and 27 by Wayne ..

All in all, I am glad that both guys played about as well as they could today .. Rohan is going to be a force if it all falls into place for him .. He needs to get more experience in patience and in building up points against top competition .. He also needs to cut down on errors, but that is where experience helps .. The rest of the tools for success are all there, both serve and ground strokes, from all reports ..

As for Mankad, I would say that I never imagined that he could do so much against Wayne Arthurs .. This is only the second instance that any Indian other than LP or MB has taken a set off a top-100 player since the Frejus miracle and the subsequent retirement of Ramesh Krishnan over 9 years back  [Srinath took a set off #48 Gaudenzi in Italy in 1998] .. And this applies to all ATP and Davis Cup matches .. Good job, Harsh! .. Now go get back to doing your thing in the Australian satellite .. Last year, the decent showing against Roddick boosted Harsh's confidence quite a bit and it showed in the college season that followed .. I hope he gets going from here on out .. He needs to add some 10 mph to his serve in the near future to make some serious moves - he only needs to ask LP how he improved his own top serve speed from about 100 to 105 in 1994 to about a top speed of 115 by 97 and 121 mph by last year .. It is possible, but Harsh needs to put focussed effort on it.  He needs to be able to have confidence on some shots when in trouble of getting broken .. Don't listen to the nay-sayers who say it is too old to improve because one is 22 .. Also ignore those who say 5 ft 9 is too short .. Just look at 5 ft 8 inch Arnaud Clement who shocked Roddick in style yesterday for France, if you still have doubts ..  Many Indians are way too negative on what can be done .. Just believe and just do it!

Aug 21 Note-2

Rohan played a pretty good game, and we had yet another good second set, bt still no cigar .. [Match-4] Rohan Bopanna l. Scott Draper, 36 57 .. Here is how the match went .. 3 aces and a double fault in game 4, one of the aces at 15-40 break point, but he held serve after two deuces! .. Good spunk there by the guy .. With two unforced errors, he was down 30-40 in the 6th game .. This time Draper converted the chance .. Rohan steadied up a bit in his nextservice game, only trying an ace at a safe point (40-15), to pull up to 5-3 .. Draper avoided any further trouble, serving off the set at 6-3 .. It took 26 minutes .. It went with serve in the second set, Bopanna saving one break point in the 5th game where he had an ace and a double fault .. He saved another couple of break points in the 9th game as well .. Finally in the 11th game, RB fell behind 15-40 .. after saving one break point with a winner, Rohan dropped serve .. It was soon over .. I gotta run; I will add some more stats and details a bit later .. Mankad-Arthurs coming up next.

Some stats -- The match took eactly one hour .. 54 points won by RB, 70 by SD .. 8 aces by Rohan, 6 by Draper .. 5 Double faults by RB, 1 by SD .. 25 net approaches by RB, 16 by SD .. 11 unforced errors by RB, 13 by SD .. 2 of eight break chances converted by Draper, 0 of 0 by RB .. Rohan showed good fight on break points, and that is always nice to see.

Aug 21 Note-1

How about that? .. Sania Mirza reached the final at the Hyderabad satellite with her 3rd upset of a seed, this time the 5th seeded Chin-Bee Khoo of Malaysia, 46 61 61 .. Sai went down 46 67(5) to Agkul Amanmuradova today in the other semi though .. I assume there was no play on friday .. Awaiting the doubles scores from today.

Aug 20 Note-2

Well, the story has so far been Indians putting their best work for some periods to make things look somewhat competitive, and basically this has been in the second set of the three matches they played .. But our best efforts have not really yielded a whole lot in the end .. Same story in doubles -- [Match-3] L.Paes/ V.Uppal l. L.Hewitt/ T.Woodbridge, 36 67(5) 16 ..  In the first set, one break on us in two break chances was enough for the Aussies to cruise to taking the set .. India tightened things up and matched them shot-for-shot in the second set, not facing any break points in the whole set, but not forcing one either .. The set was so close that both sides had won eactly 32 points each, going into the tiebreaker .. I guess this was when india looked the best .. We were up a minibreak at 3-1, then lost 4 points to fall behind by a minibreak at 3-5, evened it with another minibreak to 5-5 but then lost the next two .. At this point in the match the Aussies had won 70 points to 60 by India and that seemed to be quite a decent outing by Paes and Uppal .. The Indians quickly went to work and had two break points in the first game of the 3rd set at 15-40, helped by two unforced errors by the opponents .. Hewitt and Woodbridge must have decided that enough was enough at that point .. They held there, and actually went on a burst with 9 points out of the next 10, and suddenly India was down 0-3 .. It was pretty much over from then on quickly .. The first set took 30 minutes, the second 44 and the 3rd took 21 .. For the whole match, the Aussies had 98 points and India had 75 .. 3 aces by them, one by us .. 13 unf.errors by them, 9 by us .. Not a very close fight, except for the middle set ..  Dead rubber reverse singles to come tomorrow (same times as on Friday), and India will remain in the top tier from the Asia-Oceania region for next year - which is all rather well-expected by everybody.

I still have not seen any newspaper online reports on what happened in the semis at the Hyderabad satellites, and I have not received any email news from anybody either, strangely .. Perhaps it rained or something? .. I am curious to see how Sania and Sai did.

Also, no news on the quarterfinal doubles for Manisha and Leanne at the Columbus challenger which was either today or yesterday .. And I *still* don't know how Manoj is doing in the Jamaica F14.

Top seed Somdev dev Varman has reached the final of the ITF grade-4 juniors at Delhi .. he will be up against the 3rd seed Tushar Liberhan, who upset the 2nd seed Chatwinder Singh .. Tushar is of the same age as Karan Rastogi (turning 16 in a couple of months) .. Very nice show by him! .. On the girls side, no Indians reached semi of singles or doubles, unfortunately - as a couple of talented-looking Chinese and Thai girls showed up ..  See the Delhi juniors page.

Prakash Amritraj and Rajeev Ram have reached the final of the doubles at the Costa Mesa (california) challenger .. They have been really playing well there and upset the 3rdf seed today, following on their upset of the top seeds earlier .. [R1] d. #1 Zack Fleishman (USA)/ Andrew Nisker (CAN) 62 75 .. [QF] d. Gabriel Montilla (PUR)/ Radim Zitko (CZE) 64 64 .. [SF] d. #3 Willem-Petrus Meyer (RSA)/ Nenad Toroman (RSA) 63 63 today .. They face Oskar Johansson (SWE) and James Shortall (NZL) in the final tomorrow .. I hope to find some time to go down and check out how the boys do in the final.

Aug 20 Note-1

Oh boy .. It's matches like these that makes one go, why Leander, why, are you not playing some good singles on the tour at least occasionally ?? .. He was up against one of the hardest servers in the game, known to play tons of tiebreakers because he is among the toughest to get a break against .. That Leander put some fear of God into him (OK, he no grandmother cracks here :-)), was good .. A similar match like the one LP played against Roddick last year in the tioe against the US .. It looked at times that LP might even pull off an upset, but that was all not to be .. [Match-2] #1 Leander Paes vs #2 Wayne Arthurs, 46 63 36 46 .. The break sequence was, [set-1] LP broken in games 3, WA in game 4, LP in game 5 .. [set-2] WA broken in game 6 .. [set-3] LP broken in game 8 .. [set-4] LP broken in game 1, WA in game 4, LP in game 9 ..

LP seemed to make mistakes (perhaps out of some lingering rustiness) in the first set where he got broken in successive games early; a couple of double faults and a couple of unforced errors there .. He had 8 UEs in that set, but he did convert the one chance against Arthurs to temporarily even it in game 4 .. In the second set, LP seemed to be playing a different game altogether, and it was a completely spotless show, with no doubles faults and not even one unforced error from him .. He wasted four break chances in games 2 and 4 but did the job to go up 4-2 and then win the set .. The way he played the first few games of the 3rd set must have made people worry in the Australian camp, as he was holdings erve easily and had a break chance on Arthurs .. WA held on and waited for LP to make some mistakes somehwre, which he did in the 8th game when suddenly he started making a couple of unforced errors, with some moves up to the net .. That was the chance for Arthurs to go ahead which he did in the 8th game before serving the set off .. LP was again immediately down at the beginning of the fourth set, but just when we thought things may be getting over quickly, he came back again with a break of Arthurs in the 4th game .. At 4-4, Arthurs was up to the task and forced a break point on LP's serve, converting an AD out point to go ahead .. Arthurs then did not give LP any chance, slamming down his 23rd ace to start the final game and finishing it off fast, rather abruptly when it looked like LP might prolong it .. LP had 5 aces .. Excluding the aces, WA had 36 winners to LP's 34 .. LP won 114 points and WA won 129 .. That shows how closely the match was played whenever the aces weren't flying and what the real difference was .. But then that is Arthurs game, the bang-down aces .. Both made nearly 60 trips to the net, which shows that this must have been a match with quite a bit of interesting stuff .. It took 2 hours 20 minutes.

OK, so the Aussies have walked the walk so far after talking the talk (though everybody knew it would be a walk in the park) .. Props to them for doing the job with no let-up, despite some spirited work by India as well .. As for me, I am glad more about the fact that my hero Leander can still play some damn good singles .. Heck, I just added one more medal at Asiad to my count - if LP plays like this, he may bring home another singles medal - may be even a gold .. Let us look at the positive from this.

Doubles starts at 11 pm tomorrow, half hour after today's start time .. Frankly, I would much rather see the team changed to LP and Bopanna rather than LP and Uppal .. It's quite important to get Rohan out on court for a change at Davis Cup - this is rather cruel to make him warm the bench for ever!

Aug 19 Note-5

It is some fun for Harsh - being asked to play one top player after another in Davis Cup, and waiting for the inevitable, though he does hang in there for some stretches in all these matches .. [Match-1] Harsh Mankad l. Lleyton Hewitt, 16 67(2) 16 .. The match seemed to have three distinct stretches, and two went really badly for Harsh, just like the score shows .. But during the middle stretch when he matched Hewitt, basically shot for shot, for about 15 games, he did show why it was not such an unjustifiable decision to play him .. Though I myself would have at first preferred to see Rohan, just on the basis of his rankings, his having beaten Harsh recently and his being never given a chance, I could also see some possible logic in it if RK's thinking was that Harsh might have had a better chance matchup-wise, for a decent fight against Hewitt .. This is because of HM being quite a mobile allcourt player whom LH could not eat up like he sometimes eats up serve-and-volleyers whom the Aussie has grown up facing (just an opinion; I am not sure if that was RK's logic) .. Not that any of our youngsters have a chance of beating Lleyton now - rather giving him a decent fight at least for sometime and making him play at least an hour and half was what we could have hoped for in any event .. Harsh did do that.

set-1: Though Harsh started with a break of Hewitt the first time he served, the first set was over quickly in 26 minutes, as Harsh got broken every time he served too .. Actually, it appeared that Harsh was never safe in any of his service games, dropping serve even from 40-15 in a couple of games .. He did win a lot of points though, both in his serve and on Hewitt's serve .. But Lleyton always had an answer for everything, I am sure .. Set-2: Totally different tennis here, as Lleyton could not break Harsh, and only had even one break chance, which Harsh saved too .. Harsh held serve for the first time in game 2 of the second set .. He followed that up with surprisingly easy holds the next three times to stay even to 4-4, actually serving them off at love in games 6 and 8 .. Then he took Lleyton to a deuce in the 9th game but LH held on .. The 10th game was a classic, as harsh, who had only gone up to the net 3 times in the first 13 games, went up on every ball. Lleyton was up 0-15 and 15-30 and had a set point at AD out too, but Harsh kept going up and he held serve for 5-5 .. IN the tiebreaker, Harsh won only one of his four serves and one on LH's 5 serves .. It was still a tremendous fight from Harsh in that set which took 49 minutes to finish .. set-3: Now we were back to normal again, as Harsh seemed to stop going up to the net like he did in the second set, which actually seemed suuucessful half the time and kept him even with Lleyton .. In addition Harsh's serve seemed to desert him a bit by the middle of the set too .. In the 3rd game, HM was down 15-40 and was broken at 30-40 .. Thas the first break in 8 service games in a row, which itself was something unexpected against Hewitt .. But now the end was near, though .. HM served two double faults in that game which were his firt of the match, as he was serving quite accurately till then .. After Lleyton served a love game, Harsh dropped serve again, with another DF .. Lleyton seemed to be playing at a higher level here, as he had 12 winners in the first 6 games to just 2 from Harsh. Harsh was taken to deuce in the final game and was broken, as he lost 6 games in a row to finish the match .. The set took 24 minutes, and the match took 1 hour 40 minutes .. 61 points by Harsh and 91 by Hewitt .. Hewitt won 41 points from harsh's 85 serves and Harsh won 17 off LH's 67 serves - and that was the difference .. In the second set, Harsh won 28 points to 30 by Hewitt, which shows how closely he played that set .. Harsh dropped serve 4 times to start the match, held serve 7 times in a row and again dropped served three in a row to end it - those basically show the three distinct phases of the match .. That second set was good when it lasted though - not easy for anybody to take the world #1 to a tiebreaker, especially for one who is ranked 800+ points below!

The next match starts in a few minutes .. I am sure LP is charged up!

Aug 19 Note-4

I have been admonished by "BigRed" and "Krish" in our forum that I shouldn't stoop to name-calling and saying stuff like "convict nation" .. OK, point well taken, and I should refrain from that .. Was only in jest, anyway (I meant to say "nation of conviction"; just mistyped :-)) .. But seriously, I do a bit of such stuff sometimes to get some spirit going, that's all - like I said in the forum, it feels like everybody thinks India is at a slaughter-house or a funeral or something .. I have liked every Australian I have ever met, and I didn't mean to take a serious swipe at the country .. Then again, as they are playing us, I say, "Australia still su**s!" .. I mean, really, what kind of a country is it where nursery rhymes about the homeless become national songs, and where the toilet (or is it dunny?) bowl drains counter-clockwise ? :-)

Three hours to go for the start at 6.30 am Indian time .. Come to the chatroom for point-by-point scores updates (hopefully ITF will come through)! .. I may do some occasional score updates at the LP Page also.

Sep 19 Note-3

I was waiting for somebody official to comment on Lleyton Hewitt's inappropriate statement about the Indian camp, before I started on the guy .. Mahesh did speak out - and here is the report by Akshay Sawai that just came up in the Times of India.. MUMBAI: Mahesh Bhupathi swatted away Lleyton Hewitt's charge that he had avoided the India-Australia Davis Cup tie due to a feud with team members, and not because of an injured shoulder ... "Hewitt has this weird reputation of starting such talk every time Davis Cup comes around," Bhupathi said to Times News Network on Thursday. "He had a problem with (Yevgeny) Kafelnikov when they played Russia and with (Alex) Corretja when they played Spain. He has no idea about my shoulder and he has no idea about what's going on between me and Leander (Paes). It's not that we haven't played since our split. We played against New Zealand and we will be playing again soon at the Asian Games. So if Hewitt thinks I am not there because of the problem in the camp it's baseless."

In other words, SHUT YOUR MOUTH, LLEYTON!  .. Somehow, many sportsmen from the convict nation seem to be adept at making inapprorpiate statements about other sportmen and teams that they have no business talking about .. Or perhaps they think this sort of off-court sledging is going to give them some extra advantage, which I wonder why they think they need .. Just because he is #1, it doesn't mean he can go mouthing off .. By the way this crap started much earlier, as he has been saying for a while about wanting to play a charity footy match on the 3rd day, and also about finishing the doubles match early on Saturday so he could watch some footy match .. Man, the arrogance of these Aussies!  - One would think they would learn some humility after being on the verge of elimination from the world group, but I guess not! .. And all of my comments stand regardless of how India does in the tie .. I do hope that the Indian team takes Lleyton's comments the right way .. That is, as a extremely classless!

The first match starts in about 6 hours, as I type.

Sep 19 Note-2

Here is a picture of the Indian team at the draw thursday at Adelaide ..

Indian team at the Adelaide Davis Cup Draw, Sep 19, 2002

That is RK, Vishal Uppal, LP, Harsh Mankad and Rohan Bopanna, the official team.

The The Davis Cup matches start at 10.30 am Friday, at Adelaide .. That is 6.30 am India, 9 pm (Thursday) New York .. We will have point-by-point score updates, courtesy ITF .. So, come on in to the chatroom and let's have fun!

Here are some preview articles from the Friday newspapers down under - Hewitt out to do a Mankad, says Linda Pearce in The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald .. Hewitt to lead assault, says by Margie McDonald in The Australian .. It seems that only Harsh remembered the junior match against Hewiit, which surprised everybody, as Hewitt is one who is known to have a detailed memory of almost every match he ever played (and supposedly also a lot of important matches and stats for a lot of other players as well!) .. Anyway, everybody is wrong including Harsh about where that earlier match was .. No, not at Surbitron, and not in 96 .. It was in 1997 (June 18th to be precise) when Hewitt beat Harsh 63 63 (trust me, I know! :-)) .. And it was at East Mosely, London, ITF grade-2 .. Here are more articles - Arthurs serves notice, by Doung Robertson in The Advertiser  .. Ane here is one on Leander Paes, The Indiana Jones of the court, written by Rohit Brijnath for The Age .. By the way, the www.DavisCup.Org site has an audio interview with Wayne Arthurs, where he says he was unaware of India beating Australia down there 87 .. Just like my smack below, I think it's time for LP to remind him of this too! :-) ..

The big news from the Hyderabad satellite today is that Sania Mirza upset top seed Rushmi Chakravarti 63 61 to reach the semifinal .. Hmmm .. Rushmi is a bit banged up with her shoulder and also is a bit tired and sick .. That probably added to the scoreline, but at the level Sania seems to be playing there, she probably could beat Rushmi anyway .. The 15 yr old is really cooking! .. Awaiting other results, as the PTI report only talked about the Sania match .. What is it with the news people, that they forget about other matches whenever Sania does something? .. This is not the first time I have seen that .. Come on, report on others too, folks!

Sep 19 Note-1

Here is the preview from Tennis Australia (exceprts) -- Harsh task for Indian Davis Cupper, By Kim Trengove - ADELAIDE, September 19 - In age, they are only two years apart but Australian Lleyton Hewitt and India's Harsh Mankad have taken vastly different tennis paths since first competing in a junior match at Wimbleon in 1996. Mankad, 23 in November, is ranked 831 in the world and has pocketed $2,822 in prizemoney this year, $US10,000 in his career. This year he is 3-1 in singles wins on the men's Tour, all claimed in Asia/Oceania Davis Cup zonal competition .. Hewitt, 21, is ranked No.1 in the world and has earned over $US2 million this season. His 2002 singles win-loss stands at 50-11, one of his wins being the Wimbledon men's singles trophy. Tomorrow, they will face each other for a second time in their careers in the opening match of the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group Qualifying Round at Memorial Drive, Adelaide .. Mankad, who with Vishal Uppal, was called to the Indian Davis Cup team after the withdrawals of Mahesh Bhupathi and Sunil Kumar Sipaeya, was the first name pulled by Referee Mike Morrissey at the official draw today .. "He's a tough player, but I will play my best," said Mankad, whose ranking moved 417 places last week after reaching the finals of a Futures tournament in India (which he lost to teammate Rohan Bopanna). "I will just try and play my game…I play an all-court game. The surface (Rebound Ace) is something that I'm used to. I've played a lot on fast, hard courts." ... Indian campaigner Leander Paes knows it will be a stiff task for his country to balance the scales, particularly without the services of injured 2002 US Open doubles champion, Mahesh Bhupathi. But he is a passionate Davis Cup competitor and is set to put everything on the line. "The odds are definitely in the Australians' favour, playing at home, having the No.1 singles player in the world. Having Todd Woodbridge as one of the formidable doubles players over the years," he admitted. "As far as we go it is our responsibility to put out best foot forward for the country. " ..

Mankad is not the type who gets overly excited, tight or overawed because of whom he is playing .. Go dude, you have nothing to lose! .. I am surprised that somebody remembered that these two have played once before .. That was 5 years back at the East Mosley LTA grade-2 juniors on grass in UK -- Hewitt won 63 63 then, according to my records .. As for LP, hey, what can we say about the one with the best Davis Cup record among all active players (60-27) with just one loss to anybody ranked below him in 11 years? - those two stats pretty much says all one needs to know about how well he has done in Davis Cup .. I am not going to put it beyond LP to pull off an upset on Arthurs .. Boom-boom-tiebreaker Arthurs plays boring tennis and I think LP will make him remember his grand mother, like a former PM said :-) .. Yeah, there is my smack! .. GO INDIA ..

According to this article, Bhupathi and Sipaeya are the two withdrawals from the original nominations .. That means the current team is LP, Mankad, Uppal, Bopanna - all eligible to play in the second and 3rd days if RK wants to make any change later..

Interesting that Mike Morrissey is the ITF referee for this tie .. If I remember correctly, he was the ITF official in charge of the draw in London for the Davis Cup WG playoff ties on which there was a bit of a controversy earlier (remember that whole stuff about a British sports betting website announcing a day ahead of the draw that Britain will be playing Thailand and then the draw falling exactly that way? -- which later turned out to be quite possibly nothing but some sort of a strange coincidence as ITF claimed, and I couldn't find any reason to say they were lying!) .. Anyway, the way Paradorn is playing and with Rusedski and Bhupathi having withdrawn from the ties, I am sure the British are wishing they had rather got a better draw and travelled to India!

I have added the wednesday singles results in the Delhi juniors page .. No surprises .. 5th seeded Nidhi Shah was upset by a Chinese girl (so what is new? .. when the hell will we start beating Chinese girls, I wonder) .. All other seeds comfortably advanced, pretty much in straight sets, except for Sandra Sasidharan taking an 8th seeded Chinese girl to a tiebreaker .. Also,  Varsha Shivshankar gave a bit more trouble to Sanaa than expected .. The boys side also saw no upset of seeds .. All the really young kids are gone ..

A correction .. Prakash Amritraj and Rajeev Ram have won the first round of doubles at the $15K USA F24b, and are playing the second round tomorrow, not R1, as I said earlier .. They upset the top seeds Zack Fleishman/ Andrew Nisker, 62 75, as I sort of predicted in the Aug 16 notes.

No news yet on how Manoj Mahadevan is doing in the Jamaica $10K futures.

Sep 18 Note-2

It is already thursday afternoon in Adelaide, and the Davis Cup draw just came out .. I guess the rumors were right - the first match will be #2 Harsh Mankad vs #1 Lleyton Hewitt .. The second match on Friday will be #1 Leander Paes vs #2 Wayne Arthurs .. The doubles is now listed as Paes-Uppal vs Hewitt-Woodbridge .. The reverse singles are currently listed as Hewitt vs Paes and Mankad vs Arthurs .. From what I know about the rules, the doubles team may be changed up to an hour before the doubles match .. Now that Mankad is in the playing team and he was not in the original four nominations, I assume one nomination had to be changed .. That means either Rohan Bopanna or Sunil Kumar had to be changed to the fifth player .. Whoever is in the final nomination list of four (which had to be given at least an hour before the draw) can be susbtituted for reverse singles up to an hour before the match .. That means either Sunil or Rohan could still see action on the 3rd day .. It is certainly a surprise that Rohan did not get to play second singles (actually, had he played, LP would be the #2 player and Hewiit would be facing LP, according to the ATP ranks .. As ITF uses last week's rankings, Harsh is #2 behind LP though he is ranked above LP this week!) ..

If he is not injured or ill or anything, it's quite sad to see Rohan not get a chance yet .. I say that despite myself being a proclaimed long-time supporter of Harsh Mankad .. After all, Rohan did beat Harsh just a few days back at the Chennai final (though it was a very close three-setter) .. Perhaps Harsh's experience would tip it in his favor (and some of his tremendous wins a few months back in college) .. One could argue though that against highly ranked players, the only chance is for somebody to play a miracle match and that requires all kinds of big tools; experience is not a big advantage because the opponents are much more experienced anyway! .. It's fair to say that if his very big serves and everything else starts clicking, Rohan has a better chance to beat a higher ranked players than Harsh .. Then again, I guess none of it may matter anyway, against the world #1 player .. So, Harsh again continues his string of matches against highly ranked players .. Let us hope for him to do his best - he did do that, even in a loss, against Roddick last year.

Sep 18 Note-1

There is some news today which is very troubling, as in this article, Something Smells in the Indian Camp by S.Kannan in the Hindustan Times and then this AFP agency story, Hewitt fans the flames .. Oh brother! .. Hope it all works out without catastrophe .. No comments from me for now, as things don't make sense to me, and I don't know the details for sure.

Manisha and Leanne Baker reached the second round of doubles at the $75K challenger at Columbus (Ohio), with a 60 64 win over Barna-Krivencheva.

Sania Mirza came up big today at the Hyderabad satellite, totally outplaying 8th seed Ankita Bhambri in easy straight sets .. Ankita is very talented herself but when Sania plays her best, she is something else too .. By the way, Ankita was Sania's u16 Junior Fed Cup team mate last week, and is her doubles partner here, but that didn't stop Sania from doing the job, as she is playing an international event for the first time in home city, Hyderabad .. She next faces the top seed Rushmi, who has beaten her a few times in tough matches earlier; but she needs to watch out tomorrow! .. Geeta Manohar is certainly making waves, pulling off another upset today - once again over 3rd seed Radhika Tulpule whom she had upset last week too .. .. Shruti Dhawan went down today .. See the Hyderabad satellite page.

Both Prakash Amritraj (USA) and Rajeev Ram (USA) went down in the first round of the $15K futures at Costa Mesa, California, today .. Prakash lost to Willem-Petrus Meyer (RSA) after a fight, 76 46 36, and Rajeev lost to K.J. Hippensteel, 16 46 .. Well, this is what 18 yr olds go through - and it also underscores the time needed before they can break out in ATP singles, talent notwithstanding .. They will play the R1 of doubles together tomorrow.

I have not seen the R2 scores from the grade-4 ITF juniors in Delhi (actually, it may be in Gurgaon just across the border in Haryana, if ITF is to be believed, though the newspapers say Delhi itself - I am not sure) .. The top seeds Sanaa Bhambri and Somdev Dev Varman are reached the QF, that's all I know .. I will update the Delhi Juniors page as soon as I find out the scores.

Sep 17 Note-2

Barely minutes after I typed the last note about the lack of smack-talk in Davis Cup, I saw this from TennisAsutralia's website -- "Aussies to show no mercy - Adelaide, Sep 17.  Forget the gracious host, Australia wants to crush tennis minnow India in the Davis Cup qualifying tie starting Friday ... Australia has adopted a business-like attitude to combat any over-confidence entering a fixture in Adelaide the hosts are expected to breeze through. Australian coach Wally Masur and captain John Fitzgerald today warned there would be no sympathy for the lowly-ranked Indians at Memorial Drive. "This tie, we just see it as a means to an end," Masur said today .... "It's a relegation tie and that's not the situation Australia would like to be in, so it's business - three days of business and back to where we belong in the World Group next year. Australia has only been out of the World Group once in all these years so it's not an option we really want to entertain." .... Fitzgerald said the hardline approach would combat any Australian over-confidence against a squad which has no player ranked in the top 400 in singles. "We want to win this tie badly so we are going to leave no stone unturned in trying to do it," Fitzgerald said. "We are not going to underestimate them at all, we believe that we have got a competitive opposition." ...  OK, there is a semblence of some smack in that, and about as good as it can ever get in Davis Cup, but still not enough bulletin board material except for the author calling us tennis "minnows" :-) ..

But the Aussies have reasons not to forget what happened in 1987 .. Here is another article from TennisAustralia -- "Bittersweet Memories -- By Mark Macgugan .. It is September, 1987. The Australian Davis Cup team has won through to another semifinal, and faces a seemingly routine path to the last stage, needing only to defeat an unheralded Indian line-up at White City to advance .... Even after the late withdrawal from singles of newly crowned Wimbledon champion Pat Cash, the Australians are sure that the two remaining combatants, John Fitzgerald and Wally Masur, can guide the team to victory. However, confirming the commonly held theory that computer ranking points count for little in Davis Cup, this unshakeable confidence proves unfounded, as both Fitzgerald and Masur suffer unexpected opening rubber losses .... Restoring hope in the Australian cause, wins to the doubles team of Cash and Peter Doohan, and to Fitzgerald in the first of the reverse singles, see scores levelled at two apiece. It is left to Masur to play the fifth and deciding rubber against Ramesh Krishnan, a talented but often less than fully fit player. Wilting under the pressure of expectation, Masur is trounced in straight sets, 68 46 46 .... It is now 2002, and Masur, in his second year as Australia's Davis Cup coach, still vividly remembers the disastrous White City tie, describing that weekend's tennis as "Some of my worst".

But then that 1987 team had Ramesh, Vijay, Anand and S.Vasudevan - and was really not THAT unheralded a lineup as the authors says .. Ramesh beat Fitzgerald, and Vijay beat Masur on the first day .. Anand and Vasudevan lost the doubles and Fitzgerald tied it up with a win over a tiring veteran, Vijay .. Then came RK's final trumph in the 5th match to send India into the Davis Cup final .. The current Australian captain and coach would not forget that tie, though they did get revenge in a whitewash over India a few years later in 1993 when Stoltenberg, Masur and Woodies did not even drop a set against RK, LP and Zeeshan in the world semifinal, barely two months after the biggest miracle in Davis Cup history for India at Frejus, France .. Ah, the memories!

By the way, our highest-ranked player for this tie, Rohan Bopanna, has reached a career-high of #363 in the rankings this week with the points from the title at Chennai two weeks back .. The runner-up there, Harsh Mankad, has moved up about 420 spts to #831 .. Sunil Kumar is at #539 .. Mankad, Ajay Ramaswamy, Vishal Punna and Vijayendra Laad are in the entry list for the $25K+H Australian satellites starting next monday, all four legs in Queensland, three in Brisbane .. Ajay is in the main draw, but not the other three .. Harsh will need to play qualies, as the entries closed with his last week's ranking, but Ajay (ranked #710 this week) is in the main draw .

Sep 17 Notes-1

John Fitzgerald, the Australian Davis Cup captain said today that Hewitt might consider playing doubles on Saturday and will do some doubles practice also, with Woodbridge .. Indian captain Ramesh Krishnan said that though we are underdogs, we are not conceding anything .. The Australian captain said the usual things like "we are not taking the Indians lightly", etc [Yeah, riiiight! :-) ] .. Of course Davis Cup captains are famous for always saying only the uncontroversial things .. Just for a change, one of these days I want to see a captain who says smack like, "we are going to kick their butts and make them eat dirt!", but none of them seems to oblige .. Even John McEnroe when he was captain never badmouthed the other team :-) ..

Rushmi, Sai, Ankita and Sania advanced to the second round at the Hyderbad satellite today .. Three of them beating Korean opponents (I like the timing of that - as Korea ousted India in the Asian u17 football QFs last night in Abu Dhabi -- by the way, congratulations to the Indian boys there for finishing in the QF of the Asian regionals for the first time in some decades!) .. All four of them had very easy wins as well .. See the Hyderabad satellite page - I am waiting for some more results from today.

Sep 16 Notes

Saw Prakash Amritraj (USA) in the final qualies at the $15K Costa Mesa (California) futures today .. Tough match, but he came through 57 62 64 against Sam Webster of USA .. His intensity level was a bit up and down in the first set but he steadied himself afterwards .. I do enjoy watching Prakash's brand of tennis .. Solid these days from the backcourt and does not overdo serve and volley, but he can come up with some very creative stuff that is fun to see .. I like that .. Good temperament as well, occasionally getting himself pumped up with some Tamil and Hindi screams that are funny! .. Was on the verge of getting broken at 4-4 in the final set after an unfortunate slip and fall, but played mistake-free tennis for the last few points to get a break and finish it .. After four rounds of qualies he now gets a day off before the first round on wednesday against Willem-Petrus Meyer (RSA) .. Also qualifying in today was Rajeev Ram (USA) with a 75 62 win over the 11th seed Luke Shields (USA) .. I couldn't see his match which got over soon after I got there .. He plays K.J. Hippensteel (USA) in the R1 on wednesday .. In doubles Prakash and Rajeev are playing together .. Actually I don't remember these two playing together before, but I would expect them to be a formidable pair - they face the top seeds  Zack Fleishman (USA) and Andrew Nisker (CAN), who better watch out!

Vijay Amritraj was there and said that there is some procedure to go through for ITF approval for Prakash to play for India, and it doesn't seem to be as quick as he thought it was .. I asked him about that because AITA had said that they had tried to find out about Prakash's availability for Davis Cup recently .. Vijay mentioned that Leander had earlier talked to him about PA for Asiad as well .. VA said he doesn't expect any objection from US about Prakash representing India (especially since he has not represented US in any international events, which I think would have caused a three year wait period and all that) .. But the ITF procedures are a bit stricter these days after all the confusion with the new Europen countries, etc .. VA is of course very happy about how well Prakash is doing these days - "let him enjoy playing, that is the most important thing", he said.

Manosha Malhotra was in qualifying action this weekend at the $75K Columbus challenger in Ohio .. She beat Amy Dillingham (USA) 61 60 in the first round but went down in the second round to the 4th seed Shenay Perry (USA,301), 26 63 26 .. She should be playing doubles with Leanne Baker who has been doing well in the qulies - she is in the final qualies with an upset of the top seed.

Manoj Mahadevan is at the $10K Jamaica F14 futures .. He is unseeded this time and faces talented young qualifier Ytai Abougzir (USA) in the R1 .. He is the doubles draw with Kyle Kliegerman (USA) and they play Keith From and Jean-Julien Rojer in the R1.

At the Hyderabad $10K satellite, there were no big surprises today - Shruti, Sonal, Sheetal, etc have reached the R2 .. Megha Vakharia is playing doubles with her successful partner in Nigeria - Prariyawan Ratanakrong (THA), who did not make it for last week's event but has come for this week .. They must be playing some pretty good doubles - they beat the Venkatraman sisters in easy straight sets today .. See the Hyderabad satellite page.

The ITF grade-4 junior event started in Delhi today .. Somdev, Rupesh, VishnuVardhan, etc won today .. Nihal Advani beat 13 yr old Sumeet Gupta .. On the girls' side, Sandra Sasidharan, Krushmi Chedda etc advanced .. Sanaa, etc have not played yet .. See the Delhi juniors page.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Sep 16 ..

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.