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Indian-Tennis: Daily News for the weeks ending on Sep 27, 2004
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Sep 27 Notes

Prakash Amritraj could not pull off another top-150 upset like he did last week .. At the $550K Thailand Open ATP in Bangkok, PA went down 36 36 this afternoon to Flavio Saretta (BRA,125) ..  This was one of only two main draw singles matches in the scheduled today, as a lot of Davis Cup players like Roddick, Paradorn, Danai, Andreev, Safin, Garcia, Reid, Levy, Okun, etc were all playing Davis Cup this weekend.  The featured night match today are between Lopez and Johansson, followed by the best doubles team Asia has ever seen, the Indian Express!! .. Will report soon how the LP-MB match goes.

In other news, Harsh Mankad will be at the $15K futures in Irvine, California, as he plays two weeks of futures at Irvine and Laguna Niguel, barely 5-10 minutes from where I live .. Harsh Mankad started a very intense physical training program last week at the Huntington Elite Athletes Training (HEAT) program at a physical rehab facility in Pasadena, owned by Dr. Sunil Hegde, a sports medicine specialist (who happens to be my brother in law; how conveeenient! :)) .. Dr. Hegde may sponsor/help other indian athletes in this program later, but Harsh is the first Indian athlete they have taken on .. They have been working with others such as some Latin American national soccer players, etc. HM is under the watch of a couple of trainers who have experience with LA Galaxy soccer, Chilean soccer, USC football/tennis, NHL hockey etc .. The guys have been ripping Harshs body apart so far, from what I hear - focusing on things like "core abdomen stability, etc" which I don't understand .. HM is glad to do the hard work, as he trusts what they are trying to do with him - but he is sore as hell for now :-) .. No idea how he will do on court for the upcoming two weeks -- he is on a 5-6 week program with a couple of playing weeks mixed in .. The plan is more long term in nature and they expect to bring him up a few notches by the end of the year (he is expected to be back later this year for another stint with them).

Speaking of that, Rohan Bopanna has been undergoing rehab in Bangalore after surgery to his shoulder/arm a few weeks back in Mumbai .. I am glad to see that Rohan got the durgery done ..  Very often the doctors are too slow in recommending the surgery option to tennis players with shoulder/arm problems - I suspect due to a lack of understanding of how intense the playing schedule of a top tennis player is (many doctors tend to assume that one could carry on a top career in tennis with proper rest and rehab of a shoulder with problems -- which is of course not at all true, and top players can hardly find more than 2-3 days to stay away from the courts) .. I have rarely seen shoulder/arm pain problems in tennis go away without surgery, and some of the careers, such as possibly Niru's for instance, have been badly affected by late diagnosis of the nature of the shoulder problems and slower recommendation of the surgery option (in my view) .. Rohan probably lost a few months this year, but he got the work done without wasting any more time .. Bofors will start hitting on court by November but a realistic return to competitive tour tennis is not expected before January.

One correction on what I said about Sania being off the tour for two weeks .. Actually it is only a one-week break .. She will play a $25K challenger in Nigeria next week - she is listed as the 5th seed as of now.

Forgot to mention over the weekend that Vivek Shokeen and Punam Reddy won the singles titles at teh Mumbai grade-4 .. No suprises really .. 
The scores are all at the Mumbai juniors page ..

Sep 26 Notes

Not a good day for Sania Mirza yesterday, as her nice run with back-to-back top-200 upsets came to an end in a 26 46 semifinal against Lourdes Dominguez-Lino (ESP,248) on the clay courts at the $50K+H challenger in Jounieh, Lebanon .. Not sure where Sania is playing next, but she is not in the draws for the next couple of weeks anywhere .. As she is still under 18 (till Nov 15th), she is still under a 13 tournament limit .. She has played ten so far this year, and had played three in October and November last year .. She has nicely made use of the tournaments for points this year and is in great shape to get going at the challenger level soon, with a rank inside top-250 .. The 20 points for the challenger in Delhi three weeks back and the 25 from Lebanon this week were huge for Sania .. Great work.

Mustafa Ghouse went down 63 16 06 to Roger Anderson (RSA) at the Kenya F1 $10K futures yesterday .. Mustafa got eight points for that .. He goes next week to Rwanda for a $10K futures .. Have to give it to Mustafa for the preseverence to keep going .. He travels with a coach also, and spends quite a bit of money, but the determination is commendable.

Sep 25 Notes

The Indian Express is together for a week .. Top seed at the Bangkok Open starting next week .. They play Savolt and Vanek in the R1 .. More g ood news -- Prakash Amritraj has a wildcard to the main draw of the Bangkok Open .. Vijay Amritraj is the main "mover and shaker" for the tournament, so this was expected --  didn't want to report till the draw came out, because last minute changes are sometimes possible in wildcards .. Good work by VA! .. Prakash gets a decent first round match against Flavio Saretta (BRA,125) .. If he can pull an upset, it may be the 7th seed Andreev next .. Go PA .. 

Waiting for Sania's semifinal results from today at the $50K+H Jounieh challenger in Lebanon .. Another excellent win yesterday by the 17 year old - [QF] Sania Mirza (IND,285) d. Kyra Nagy (HUN,192), 63 31 (Retd.) .. That is back to back wins over top-200 players for SM .. Another tough match today, against Lourdes Dominguez-Lino (ESP,248) who had upset the 7th seed earlier and then the 4th seed in the QFs yesterday .. The wins have given Sania 25 big WTA points so far (including 5 bonus pts for one top-500 win and two top-250 wins) !! .. That takes her point total to 112.25 and will raise her rank to inside the top-250 !! .. Man, is the girl on fire, or what? .. GO SANIA .. GO Sania .. Go San!!!!! ...

Very good fight from Shikha Uberoi as well, yesterday at the $75K challenger in Albuquerque (New Mexico, USA) .. She went toe to toe with the top seed Marissa Irwin (USA,83) in a 46 67(10) quarterfinal loss .. More proof that Shikha is playing at least top-150 tennis if not better these days .. She picked up 17.5 points from the QF there and will take her point total to 187.5 .. The rank goes to somewhere just inside #170 .. That is about the rank that Nirupama had for a good part of her career, though Niru got there a bit earflier at about 19 .. Nice to see Shikha getting up there in a hurry with all the (unexpectedly) good results this year .. 18 yr old Neha Uberoi also picked up 8 points there and will raise her rank to about #315.

Great news from Kenya as well .. At the $10K in Mombassa, Muistafa Ghouse kept his focus and reached the final yesterday, beating Andrew Anderson of South Africa, 75 64 .. He was up a break early, down 2-4 soon, and then came back to win the first set .. Took an earfly lead to 3-0 in the second set and cruised to a win, according to the Daily Nation (Nairobi) .. He faces Roger Anderson of RSA in the final today .. Anderson upset the top seed Matwe Middlekoop (NED) yesterday in the other semifinal .. Mustafa \has picked up 8 points .. Good to see Vijay Kannan, Vinod Sridhar and Mustafa Ghouse all reach fuitures finals in back to back weeks .. Go Mustafa - close the deal today.

Sep 24 Notes

Sania and Shikha play the QF matches at the Lebanon and US challengers today ..

Mustafa Ghouse has reached the semis of the $10K Kenya F1 futures in Mombassa [sourse: Nation, Nairobi] .. The third seeded Mustafa beat unranked Kirill Kirioukov (RUS), 64 75(5) in the second round and then beat Andreas De Cunha Bang (DEN,1247) 62 75 in the QF .. He now plays 1308th ranked Andrew Anderson of South Africa who upset the second seed Toshiaki Sakai in the QF (Anderson was a top-30 junior about three years back - not a bad player) .. The competition is quite poor, but nice to see Mustafa making use of it for some points.

Eighth seeded Geeta Manohar went down 06 26 to the top seed Napaporn Tongsalee (THA) in the QF at the #10K in Jakarta.

At the Mumbai ITF grade-4 juniors, Vivek Shokeen is in the boys final against Rohan Gide who beat the top seed Sumit Prakash Gupta .. On the girls' side Punam Reddy showed her class with an authoritative 61 61 win over GK Shwetha .. Punam faces last week's winner Sandhya Nagraj in the final .. The scores are all at the Mumbai juniors page ..

Here is an article in the Times of India about our Junior Davis Cuppers (Jeevan, Sanam, Rupesh) going to Barcelona for next week's world final-16 .. I like the confidence we can feel from the coach Sandeep Kirtane and his wards ..  An exceprt: "We're very comfortable with the idea of playing anybody," said Jeevan, whom Kirtane rates as the best clay-court player in the country. "Clay is my favourite surface. It suits my game well," answers Jeevan with a grin, clearly relieved at the prospect." .. When have we seen our players looking forward to playing on clay? .. Times have changed a lot recently! .. These kids have travelled abroad a fair amount and are no spring chickens like some of the teams we have sent abroad till a few years back - and I like the general vibes from the coach and players so far .. Hope they can do some damage next week.

Sep 23 Note-2

Fantastic upset win by Sania Mirza (IND,285) today at the $50K challenger in Jounieh, Lebanon .. Defeated the 2nd seed Bahia Mouhtassine (MAR,162) in a romp, 64 62 .. Bahia had beaten Sania in Morocco a few months back, so this is nice revenge and one of the biggest wins of Sania's career .. She is showing all signs of heading stright into the top 200 or 150 now .. It is sometimes hard to believe that Sania is *still* only seventeen and she is doing all this.

In fact all three of our top girls did very well today - Shikha reaching the QF at the $75K in Albuquerque and Neha going down in a three-setter to the top seed ..  Shikha Uberoi (USA,185) d. Sandra Kloesel (GER,226), 60 36 63 .. Sandra had upset the 6th seed in the first round .. Neha Uberoi (USA,335) l. (1) Marissa Irvin (USA,83), 76(4) 16 36 .. That was a pretty good match that Neha played, at least for a set, against a good top-100 player .. The 18 yr old is coming along nicely too ..  Shikha can hopefully get revenge tomorrow, as she runs into Marissa Irvin .. Doubles did not go well for the sisters - a close loss, 64 57 46 against Maria Fernanda Alves and Kelly Liggan.

Sep 23 Note-1

Very nice win for Sania Mirza (IND,285) yesterday at the $50K challenger in Jounieh, Lebanon .. She beat Frederica Pidade (ESP,261), 61 62 .. Authoritative stuff from Sania! .. She plays the second seed Bahia Mouhtassine (MAR,162) today at 3 pm in the second round .. Not a great outing in doubles later yesterday though - Sania and Shelley Stephens (NZL) went down 16 36 to
Lourdes Dominguez-Lino (ESP)/ Laura Pous-Tio (ESP) ..

Bad news today from the $25K+H challenger in Beijing, China, as Prakash Amritraj went down 26 26 to Justin Gimelstob (USA, 260) .. Prakash and Gillermo Garcia-Lopez reached the doubles semi today though, beating Lars Burgsmuller (GER) and Kristian Pless (DEN), 75 63.

At the $75K challenger in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA, Shikha Uberoi plays Sandra Kloesel (GER,226) and Neha Uberoi plays the top seed Marissa Irwin (USA,83) in the second round today .. The sisters qualified into the doubles main draw, and they play the third seeds, Maria Fernanda Alves (BRA) and Kelly Liggan (IRL) ..

At the $10K Kenya F1 futures, third seeded Mustafa Ghouse beat unranked Eric Hagenimana of Rwanda, 62 63 yesterday ..

The grade-4 ITF "MSLTA" junior international tournament has reached the semifinal stage in Mumbai .. The top three seeds, Sumit-Prakash Gupta, Vivek Shokeen and  Kaushik Raju are in the SFs with 6th Rohan Gide on the boys side .. The top three, Punam Reddy, Sandhya Nagraj and GK Shwetha are all in the girls' semis with 5th seed Sandri Gangotri .. Not too many surprises so far, except for the 4th seed Vandana Murali losing to qualifier Anahita Jagtiani in the first round .. Anahita later lost badly to Sandri though .. The scores are all at the Mumbai juniors page ..  The only bad thing about these two grade-4 events (there is another one next week at Gurgaon) is that the top three junior boys, Jeevan, Sanam and Rupesh have to skip them because they are leaving soon this week for the world junior Fed Cup final-16 in Barcelona next week .. That leaves Vivek Shokeen as perhaps the one to beat in the boys' section .. Agnel Gladwin gave him a fight yesterday but could not get over the hump.

By the way, with Jeevan, Sanam and Rupesh, we have a good shot at doing something good at the Junior Fed Cup finals .. Both Jeevan and Sanam have been in good form lately (perhaops both looking somewhat better than Rupesh lately too) .. The Indian captain is a good one - Sandeep Kirtane ..  Let's wish the boys the best out there in Barcelona next week .. Go India!

Sep 22 Notes

The big news today is that Shikha and Neha Uberois have signed a deal to be co-managed by Mahesh Bhupathi's Globosport and "SFX sports", the group that manages Andy Roddick and Andre Agassi .. Here is the news Release from Bangalore
Tennis sensations Shikha and Neha Uberoi sign global agreement with Globosport and SFX
To be co-managed by Mahesh Bhupathi’s Globosport, and SFX Sports Group, managers of Andy Roddick and Andre Agassi

September 22 2004, Bangalore: Globosport, the sports management division of Mahesh Bhupathi’s Globo Media Solutions has signed on International Tennis sensations of Indian origin, Shikha and Neha Uberoi. Globosport shall manage Shikha and Neha in collaboration with SFX Sports Group, one of the world’s leading sports management companies who currently manage athletes like Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick.

Speaking on the occasion, Globosport’s Managing Director and Tennis superstar Mahesh Bhupathi said, “I am often asked who will succeed Leander and me. I believe it will be Sania Mirza, Neha and Shikha Uberoi. Their talent and discipline will, I am sure, put India on the map of International women’s tennis”

21-year-old Shikha Uberoi (World singles ranking 185), the older of the two made headlines all over the world, when at the recently concluded US Open, she beat top 100 singles player, Saori Obata from Japan and even gave Tennis star Venus Williams a tough fight in the next round. 18-year-old Neha Uberoi (World singles ranking 345) has already many titles to her name including the Luxilon Cup 2004. She also won a wild card for the Wimbledon girls’ main draw 2004 and the Nasdaq-100 Open 2005 based on her scintillating performances this year. ‘The Uberoi sisters’ as they are fondly known (yes, they are related to bollywood star Vivek Oberoi) are tipped off to be the future of International women’s Tennis and over a short span of time have received tremendous acclaim from fans and experts alike.

That is great news .. I had heard from Mahesh Uberoi that this was about to happen, but did not want to report it till they were ready to announce with a press release .. Not sure where the paperwork stands, as far as changing their affiliation to IND is concerned .. That comes via ITF .. The Uberois had discussed this with Fed Cup captain Rico Piperno and AITA but I don't know if the paperwork is underway or where it stands .. Hopefully, the above contract with Globosport, etc, would make it easier for things to move .. Mahesh Bhupathi has always talked in rather definitive words about these two being the next women tennis stars along with Sania .. Let us hope that everything will go fine on that count - though it is some sort of a personal decision for the sisters to make as well ..  Incidentally, Shikha was born in India, and the younger sister Neha in the US ..

What is interesting is that in our forum the fans have been asking me to start a "Mast-head TennisIndia web page" for Shikha Uberoi .. The fans seem to consider it a "badge of honor" from us, so far bestowed only on three players (Lee, Hesh and Niru) .. That requires, according to everybody, satisfying some loose criteria like reaching a QF or SF in a regular ATP, WTA tour event or winning a grand slam round against a top-100 player, or winning a few doubles titles on the ATP or WTA tour .. Shikha is the first one to qualify under our rather subjective criteria since early 1998 when Niru did it .. Of course, we will have to wait till her country affiliation changes ..

Shikha and Neha are playing at the $75K Albuquerque challenger in New mexico (USA) this week .. Both reached the second round yesterday - [R1] Neha Uberoi (USA, 385) d. Tanner Cochran (USA, 409) 62 61 .. [R1] Shikha Uberoi (USA, 185) d. Kelly Liggan (IRL, 282) 62 76(5) .. They have also reached the final round of doubles qualies there.

At the $25K+H Beijing challenger, Prakash Amritraj seems to have regained his form and confidence a bit .. A good win in doubles just now, following on his big upset of the sixth seed yesterday .. [R1] P.Amritraj/ Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP) d. Stephen Huss (AUS)/ Robert Lindstedt (SWE), 57 63 63 ..  They play Lars Burgsmuller (GER) and Kristian Pless (DEN) next in the QF .. PA will be playing the singles R2 on thursday against Justin Gimelstob.

At the $25K challenger in Tunica Resorts, Mississippi, USA, Megha Vakharia went down 36 16 to the talented youngster Vojislava Lukic of Serbia .. Meghaa is yet to play doubles ..

Sania plays her first round today at the $50K challenger in Jounieh, Lebanon .. [R1] S.Mirza (IND,280) vs Frederica Piedade (POR,264) .. The winner will probably play the second seed Mouhtassine (MAR,166) next .. In doubles, [R1] S.Mirza/ Shelley Stephen (NZL) vs Lourdes Dominguez-Lino (ESP)/ Laura Pous-Tio (ESP) ..

There are a few Indian women at the $10K in Jakarta, Indonesia .. Geeta Manohar has reached the QF there .. [R1] (8) G.Manohar d. (Q) Penporn Chantawannop (THA) 64 64 .. [R2] d. (Q) Shin Jung-Yoon KOR 46 63 64 .. Geeta plays the top seed Napaporn Tongsalee next .. Krsuhmi lost in the R2 and Nandini lost in the first round .. [R1] Krushmi Chheda (IND) d. (WC) Fiona Gracia-Tjipto (INA) 61 62 .. [R2] (6) Septi Mende (INA) d. K.Chheda, 62 64 .. [R1] (4) Thassa Vitayaviroj (THA) d. Nandini Perumal, 60 63 .. In doubles R1, the top seeds Sandy Gumulya (INA) and N.Tongsalee beat Geeta and Nandini 60 76(6), but Krishmi and Prim Buaklee (THA) beat the Indon pair, Astri Purnawati and Patricia Soesilo 75 61 .. They face the second seeds, Liza Andriyani (INA)/ Thassha Vitayaviroj (THA) in the QF.

On the men's side, the other player on tour this week is Mustafa Ghouse, who is second in the entry list at the $10K Kenya F1 futures in Mombasa .. No draw info yet.

I will start a page for the Mumbai junior grade-4 ITF soon ..

Sep 21 Notes

Great news today from the $25K+H Beijing challenger .. After quite a loing time, Prakash again won a top-150 match, upsetting the 6th seed .. [R1] Prakash Amritraj (IND,299) d. Glenn Weiner (USA,127), 62 75 .. Way to go, PA !! .. He runs into Justion Gimelstob (USA,260) in the second round there.

Meghaa Vakharia, who had taken a bit of time off to recover from some physical ailments earlier, is back on tour this week and she is in the main draw of the $25K challenger at Tunica Resorts, Mississippi, USA .. Meghaa faces a talented junior player, Vojislava Lukic (SCG), who was a top-10 junior last year and got a special entry there as a junior exempt from ITF .. In doubles, Megs is playing with Mariana Correa (USA) .. Their first round is against Chloe Carlotti (FRA) and Virginia Tomatis (ARG) ..

In other news, Sania Mirza is in the main draw at the $50K challenger in Jounieh, Lebanon .. Pretty good field - Sania was among the last few direct entries there .. Shikha Uberoi and Neha Uberoi are at the $75K challenger in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA .. No draw info yet from those two challengers.

There is an ITF grade-4 junior international at Mumbai this week .. Only a few matches done yesterday due to rain .. Will have the draw and results posted soon.

Sep 20 Notes

.. Unusually busy, and so almost no updates for the last 3-4 days .. Sorry about that! ..

Quick updates -- Hello title #31 for Leander!! .. Lee and his new temporary partner ran all over the teams down there in Florida this week -- [R1] (2) L.Paes/ R.Stepanek d. (WC) J.Blake/ J.Morrison, 62 64 .. [QF] d. K.Carlsen/ I.Karlovic, 64 76(6) .. [SF] d. R.Leach/ B.MacPhie, 64 75 .. [F] d. (1) G.Etlis/ M.Rodriguez, 60 63 .. Fantastic job! .. 175 more points to Lee who had gone up to #14 in the rankings last week .. Vijay Kannan finished his terrific run at Delhi, picking up his first big ITF futures title (beating Vinod Sridhar in the final) .. Big congratulations go to Vijay for the serious focus this week - and he did that, playing through an injury that has bothered him for a while too .. Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and Sandhya Nagraj won the junior ITF titles at the grade-5 in Chennai .. Harsh Mankad and Somdev Varman went down in the Claremont futures last week in the second round, as Prakash fell in the R1 at the China ATP .. Prakash plays this week at the Beijing Challenger .. Tough draw for him, against the 6th seed Glenn Weiner (USA).

One important info -- Leander and Mahesh have entered together for doubles at the Thailand ATP in Bangkok! .. How about that -- Indian Express will be in action next week!!

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the weeks ending on Sep 20 ..

I am getting some inquiries from US college coaches who are interested in Indian junior players .. I would like to be able to contact Indian players (some of the coaches are inquiring about specific names) .. If any of the junior players are reading this, please contact me .. Or if any of the other readers know the contact emails/address for any junior playera, let me know .. Please email me - R.Jayakrishnan