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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Sep 30, 2002
(Previous week's notes) (Next week's notes) (Daily Notes Index 1997 thru 2001)

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Sep 30 Note-1

Sorry for the site being down for about a day ..  Nothing much by way of news though .. The Asiad team event draws have just been made .. I have only heard of the women's draw (unconfirmed yet) -that India will play Mongolia and the winner will play Taiwan next, joining the other 7 teams who are drawn into the final eight straight .. Hopefully we will have confirmation soon .. No news on the men's side .. One result from the weekend to report - Manisha-Leanne went down 63 16 57 to the second seeds Tatiana Perebiynis (UKR)/ Christina Wheeler (AUS) in the Albuquerque challenger QFs on Friday .. Manisha would have left for Busan soon after .. The tennis events start on wednesday at Busan.

Sep 28 Note-2

This has nothing to do with tennis, but since I have not seen any Indian newspaper reports on this (unless I missed it), I thought I would post this news item that came up a day back in the Thai newspaper, The Nation .. Indians Make a Real Mess, about Asiad and a huge blunder that may cost us Geet Sethi's medals .. Disgusting and shameful .. Wonder what's up????

.. OK, phew .. Just saw this news item that came up in the HT .. Cueists saved from blunder .. They say it has been sorted out and this was all due to a faulty fax! .. Somebody buy these people a decent fax machine, please, or we will start taking donations for the Billiards and Snooker Federation of India :-) :-)

What are we going to hear next? -- Leander and Mahesh entered for synchronized swimming?

Sep 28 Note-1

Have not seen the scores of the QF for Manisha-Leanne yesterday at the $75K Albuquerque challenger against the 2nd seeds Tatiana Perebiynis (UKR)/ Christina Wheeler (AUS) .. It was curiously the only featured night match there, as Albuqerque was in the national limelight with the first ever ESPN telecast of a football match from the Univ of New Mexico stadium in the evening, followed by a prime-time boxing match from there too -- so I guess they decided that it was better to have a match involving just foreigners, as no American would show up anyway to watch! :-)

In other news, at the Jamaica $10K F15 quarterfinals, unseeded Manoj Mahadevan went down againt 7th seed Francisco Rodriguez (PAR), 76(1) 26 .. At the $15K Ojai USA F24c futures QF, Rajeev Ram went (USA) down to K.J. Hippensteel (USA) , 64 36 26 ..

At Mumbai, Somdev Dev Varman continued his mastery, with a 64 61 win over Karan Rastogi in the final, completing his 10 match win streak and second title in a row, as Karan defended his point from the runner-up finish at Mumbai last year .. On the girls' side, after all the energy-sapping heroics yesterday against one Chinese girl, Sanaa muct have been too tired to mount much of a resistence to another Chinese girl, the 3rd seed Yan Chong Chen .. She went down, but picked up 20 extra point for her point total and will now move to around #105 in the world, which is quite high for somebody who is just 14 and half ..  See the Mumbai juniors page.

Somedev Dev Varman has quietly become the junior story of the year on the boys' side, by the way .. This is his 3rd title of the year, having won the grade-4 in Kolkata in February .. He will move inside the top-125 or so now .. I had heard recently from a few about how much improvement Somdev has made this year .. In some sense he is a bit of a late bloomer in the junior ranks, as he is 17 (see how far our "watch em young" program has come when we consider 17 yr olds late-bloomers? :-)) .. I feel the turning point may have been his 46 75 60 comeback win against Jaco Mathew in February at the Kolkata QF on the way to his title .. Jaco, a year senior to Somdev, had been a thorn on his side in a couple of previous ITF events before that .. From then on he has not lost to any Indians, only going down to Wang Cheng-Hsieh and Tai-Wei Liu of Taiwan (#49 and #55 respectively; the "next two" from the Taipei factory!)  in the two Bangladesh events .. It was indeed a mistake for AITA not to select Somdev for the Asian tour earlier this year, as some newspaper reports pointed out then, and it looks even more so now .. Somdev is on a good roll .. He turns 18 next February, but I hope that he would not forgo the final year of eligibility in the junior circuit .. The best place to get a lot of match practice against quality competition at age 17 and 18 is the top ITF events, grade 2 and up .. Sunil Kumar made the right choice by sticking to the junior tour while turning 18 and playing a lot of good players last year, finishing as #30 in ITF .. Somdev has a chance to do that, as he will start next year at least in the top-75 if not better .. He MUST play all four grand slam juniors next year - at least I hope so .. Trying pro events is a waste of time in comparison, because one ends up playing much fewer matches, getting beaten by a lot of journey-men early .. More importantly, the junior tour is the right time for the kids to get exposed on a lot of surfaces, rather than playing the Indian pro events which are all on hardcourts .. Playing clay events, especially in Europe, is a must, and it cannot be done when one starts off with no points on the pro tour .. I am not sure if Somdev is going to the few good Asian events in October, starting with the grade-1 Osaka Meyer's Cup in early October, followed by Hong Kong grade-2, Thai grade-3 etc .. India is set to conduct the Asian junior grade-B2 big event in Delhi in early October as well .. Time for everyone to plan (actually, it's urgent!) for Somdev's development very carefully - I am sure this will be done.

Sep 27 Note-2

LP-Hill went down 36 36 to Julian Knowle and Michael Kohlmann today at the Hong Kong ATP quarterfinals .. I guess it's OK .. It gives time for LP to get down to Busan and get adjusted earlier ..

There was an interesting story in the Hindustan Times about the Indian tennis team being delayed by a day at Delhi because they had to undergo drug tests .. As the report says, drugs is unheard of in Indian tennis  .. I guess nobody knows if it exists -- but almost surely not in the group of players like Sunil, Rohan, Rushmi, Sania, Ankita, etc .. Anyway, they got delayed but the team put in some practice with Rico Poperno at the DLA courts .. Not a bad idea actually - the reports are that Busan seems still not be ready for the big event, and everybody is having a tough time getting things organized in the confusion there ..

Here is a story from Sukhwant Basra in the Times of India about all the Davis Cup controversy .. He talked to Rohan Bopanna, who himself confirmed that there was nothing to him not playing on the first day .. The belief (was) that he was being discriminated against because Leander did not want to see the protegee of CGK Bhupathi, Mahesh’s father, playing in the Davis Cup. “Ridiculous,” laughs the man himself. “What’s between Leander and Mahesh is a their personal matter. I have found Leander to be quite encouraging and supportive,” the 22-year-old from Bangalore remarks" ... "Ramesh took me, Harsh and Sunil Kumar (the reserve player) into confidence before announcing the second singles player," Rohan said. The Davis Cup rules are quite clear. The second ranked player of the team plays the number one of the opposing side. "The rankings at the time the team was submitted to ITF had Harsh ranked beyond 1000. As such Leander’s 976 rank allowed him to be number one player only if me (359) and Sunil (537) did not play.", said Rohan" ... It was purely a question of tactics. "After years of Davis Cup service to the nation it is sad that the integrity of Leander and Ramesh is now being questioned," says Vece Paes, the team doctor and Leander’s father. .... And it really is game set match as far as this controversy is concerned.  ...

So there - what I said earlier was not that off the mark ... And what Rohan says is exactly what Harsh said too, that Ramesh had told the team clearly what he was doing and why, at first itself .. But as I said, all of this would have been avoided, had Rohan been given a chance to play earlier (Lebanon reverse singles was where he should have clearly played first) - since for some reason he didn't play there, there was som reason for folks to get suspicious .. Seeing him bench-warming for a 3rd tie in a row when the draw first came out, was troubling .. Heck, I myself, the biggest supporter of Mankad out there, was unhappy about not seeing Rohan's name anywhere in the draw! .. Krishna Bhupathi did express his justifiable displeasure to the press too, though he of course did not accuse LP or RK, like some in our forum did .. That's about it .. Now, don't come after me saying I am making this all too goody-goody .. I have said that things are not all peachy, but there is no open war-fare there .. So we will put a lid on this - the team has work to do at Asiad under a new head, Anand Amritraj .. Go India!

Sanaa Bhambri played an incredible second match today in in the semifinals at Mumbai .. The 14 yr old top seed was down 2-5, 0-40 in the 3rd set, with no energy left but to lob the ball back, but she came back from that to win it 57 61 75 against Que Ying of China .. She faces the 3rd seed Yan Chong Chen of China in the final ..  On the boys side, Karan Rastogi beat Tushar Liberhan and will face Somdev Varman in a #1 vs #2 matchup .. This is Somdev's 3rd final of the year - he has really come on strong .. There were also the doubles semis today, but I don't have the scores .. I believe the top seeds Karan and Saurabh Kohli, who were both playing their 3rd match of the day, went down in a tiring 3-setter to Jian and Yin who were fresh after a 2 day break .. See the Mumbai juniors page.

Sep 27 Note-1

Paes/ Hill were to play Knowle/ Kohlmann in the evening at Hong Kong today .. No news yet.

At the $10K Jamaica F15, Manoj Mahadevan reached the singles QF yesterday with a 63 63 win over the Jamaican wildcard Kevron Bennett .. He plays the 7th seed Francisco Rodriguez next .. In the doubles R1, Manoj and Josh Lefkowitz lost to Adam Kennedy (USA)/ Martin Zumpft (GER),  63 46 36 .. At the USA $15K F24c futures in Ojai, California, Rajeev Ram (USA) is in the QF .. He beat a US wildcard, Robert Yim, 63 64 and then Peter-Jon Nomdo (RSA), 36 61 41 (retd.) yesterday .. In the QF, Rajeev plays K.J. Hippensteel (USA) who beat him at Costa Mesa last week.

Manisha Malhotra has not played the doubles QF at the Albuquerque challenger yet.  Up against the 2nd seeds.

At the ITF Grade-4 in Mumbai, Karan Rastogi, himself quite young, having not yet turned 16, ended 13 yr old Rupesh Roy's run with a 62 61 QF win .. 17 yr old 2nd seed Somdev and 15 yr old 4th seed Tushar Liberhan are also in the semis, but 3rd seed Chatwinder Singh was upset by Saurabh Kohli .. Somdev's win streak is now up to eight matches .. Top seed Sanaa Bhambri beat Kartiki Bhat 64 75 to reach the semi too .. The semis are also this afternoon .. See the Mumbai juniors page.

Sep 26 Note-3

Time to slowly catch the Asiad fever? .. I guess so .. I have put my wishes on the Leander and Mahesh web pages :-)

Here is a preview article on our tennis chances at Asiad - by Prajwal Hegde in the Deccan Herald .. She makes the interesting observation about how India has an advantage in the team events now because our #2 player can still clean the clock of most Asian players, let alone the #2 players of most teams .. Based on the rankings, Rohan Bopanna will be our #1 player in the team events, facing the #1 of the other teams, and Leander will be our #2 .. I believe the #2 vs #2 matchup comes first and so LP gets to rest for a possible doubles match later, which should be a slam dunk too .. Shall we count that team Gold in the kitty right now itself? .. Actually there is another reason which I realized only today, for the optimism .. The $800K Japan Open ATP is next week! .. Paradorn is in the entry list, and so is Takao Suzuki .. I assume Japan's #2 Motomura will be playing there .. Not just that - the Bukhara challenger in Uzbekistan is also next week, which means #134 Ogorodov and #154 Kutsenko playing the Samarkand challenger this week is probably staying back there (actually they awould be the toughest to beat in the team events) .. The only top player not committed to any place seems to be #81 Hyung Taik Lee (KOR) who would have been in the Japan entry list but is not there .. He has no choice but to play for team Korea at the Asiad at home .. But the Korean #2 is really not that big a threat to LP .. Danai Udomchoke may be there for Thailand, but the Thai #2 is not a big deal I think .. So, really, who is going to push us in the team event next week? .. Perhaps the two kids from Taiwan (Yeu Tzuo Wang and Yen-Hsun Lu) can trouble us -- well, may be not.

By the way, the Japan Open includes the Tier-III WTA event also and a lot of the top asian women like Sugiyama, Tanasugarn, Prakusya, etc are also committed there .. But those are just the top-200 types, and Asia has a whole hell of lot of others who are ranked much ahead of Indian players, so I am not sure how much it would help India in the women's team events.

Can these players skip the team event altogether and show up just in the second week for the individual events? .. I think they can .. Anyway, things look really bright for LP, MB, Rohan etc to pick up a Gold next week, unless I am missing something.

Sep 26 Note-2

Cannot seem to get away from these Australian teams .. At the $400K Hong Kong Salem Open ATP first round (delayed 3 days due to rain), the good news is that Leander and Michael Hill advanced after a tough one against an Aussie pair ..  [R1,Thu] #1 M.Hill/ L.Paes d. Nathan Healy/ Jordan Kerr, 76(3) 26 63 .. However, #1 Bhupathi/ Bjorkman l. Wayne Arthurs/ Andrew Kratzmann, 67(3) 36 .. So that Aussie team made up of guys who have won titles earlier as partners with LP and MB separately, has been trouble lately - they are the same ones who ousted Paes-Hill at the USOpen R2 in an extremely close match, and they could possibly face them again in the SF at Hong Kong .. In the quarterfinals tomorrow, Paes-Hill will play Julian Knowle and Michael Kohlmann who won a 76 67 76 match against wildcards Chang and Hrbaty.

If you are wondering how the potential Asiad players next week did at Hong Kong, #31 Paradorn Srichaphan (they say he is the first Asian to ever be seeded at the Hong Kong Open) went down in three sets to #62 Taylor Dent .. #117 Takao Suzuki (JPN) who was a qualifier, went down to #103 Jeff Morrison in easy straight sets .. #81 Hyung-Taik Lee (KOR) won a three-setter over #97 Julian Knowle .. There were no Asian teams in doubles ..  #183 Goichi Motomura (JPN) lost in the second round of qualies to #114 Dick Norman in three sets at Hong Kong .. Among other Asian top players, #134 Oleg Ogorodov and #154 Vadim Kutsenko are seeded at the Samarkand challenger in Uzbekistan and have both reached the QFs .. #205 danai Udomchoke (THA) was supposed to be at that challenger too, but withdrew (he had pulled off a face-saving deadrubber win against Britain's Arvind Parmar in Davis Cup last weekend) .. I am not sure where #221 Yeu-Tzuo Wang (TPE) and #251 Aisam Qureshi (PAK) are, this week .. It is probably a safe bet to say that the singles champion at Asiad will come from this group, the only other player who is perhaps capable of gatecrashing and doing it, despite the low ranking, is of course Leander, if he is healthy and gets some helpful draw matchups.

Forgot to mention earlier that there would be no play today at the Mumbai juniors, as it was Bharat Bandh - they had announced yesterday that all matches would be postponed to Friday .. Things seem to have gone without any violence today, Thank God!

Sep 26 Note-1

The WTA Tier-IV ($140K) event being brought in by Bhupathis' Globosport firm has gone to Hyderabad, according to the Deccan Herald report today that quotes KSLTA officials .. Bangalore had instead opted for an invitation event for which they are trying to get Anna Kournikova or Williams sisters to come .. That would work, because there is no way such top names would go for a Tier-IV event, though Anna did pay a rare Tier-IV recently in China .. Bangalore can possibly come up with enough money to attract them - of course it will be an invitation, so it will be that kind of tennis .. Expected originally in December, but now it may be early next year .. Apparently KSLTA is working with Vijay Amritraj in attracting some big names .. As for the official WTA event, I heard that Hyderabad has been very excited about conducting the event with the Chief Minister being very supportive of sports .. But then, we know that so is the Karnataka CM, except I doubt he has any time to worry about it with all that is going on in the dams, in the forest and in the streets out there.

Sep 25 Note-3

Manisha Malhotra and Leanne Baker have won the first round at the $75K challenger at Albuquerque, beating Freye and Van Exel, 63 75 .. Next round opponents to be determined.

Sunil Kumar, as I had suspected, did not get in at the Ojai futures and was replaced by a lucky loser .. Prakash Amritraj lost to Matt Hanlin, 36 36, and Rajeev Ram beat wildcard Robert Yim, 63 64.

There are some good matches tomorrow at the Mumbai junior grade-4, as Rupesh Roy, who is just 13 yrs old, upset the 8th seed Natapong Pongkunsub (THA,411) easily and will face the top seed Karan Rastogi .. All the other seeds, all Indians, reached the QFs .. This Bihari kid Rupesh, who I believe has been in Kolkata under Paes-en-Sport watch, seems to be something special, but 14 yr old Karan is a also so .. If you remember, Rupesh had upset Chatwinder Singh (the 3rd seed here) in his very first ITF tournament at Kolkata, lost only to top seed and eventual winner Somdev last week .. Rupesh was of course the leader of the team (along with Sumeet Gupta and M.Jeevan) in our u14 team that finished 7th in the world at Czech Republic recently .. I noticed a name in the boys' draw that I have nevere really seen, a Santanu Dhaka, who had 3rd seed Chatwinder on the run before going down injured in the 3rd set (he had beaten a decent Thai player in the R1 too) .. Who is he? .. On the girls side also there is a very good matchup tomorrow, as the top seed Sanaa Bhambri runs into Kartiki Bhat in the QF .. They are the only Indians left .. 5th seed Kartiki advanced 75 76(3) after what may have been some stiff resistence Sandra Sashidharan .. I have no idea how this kid Sandra (pronounced as "sandhra" as in the samkrutam word) manages to play some good tennis, coming from the worst wasteland of tennis that is my homestate Kerala - she is the only Malayali among some 400 odd players ranked by AITA and the only one I have seen playing even south Indian junior events .. See the Mumbai juniors page .. I have also added the qualifying scores there [courtesy: MSLTA website].

Sep 25 Note-2

They have basically lost all play for two days at the Hong Kong ATP, and only some 2-3 first round singles matches and a couple of doubles matches have been completed fo far this week .. There was no play today - I suppose due to rain again .. Both LP-Hill and MB-Bjorkman will play the R1 matches tomorrow, as theyt are hoping to finiah as many matches as possible to get back in schedule.

Sep 25 Note-1

MB-Bjorkman were supposed to play a late evening match todat at the Hong Kong ATP .. I have not seen the score yet .. LP-HIll seem to be playing their R1 on Thursday.

Manisha Malhotra and Leanne Baker are unseeded and drawn to play unseeded Kristin Freye (GER) and Anousjka Van Exel (NED) at the $75K Albuquerque challenger in the US .. If they advance, they may run into the second seeds next.

Manoj Mahadevan won the first round at the $10K Jamaica F15 futures yesterday, beating Scott Willinsky (JAM) 76(5) 63 .. He gets a break in the draw now, as the second seed withdrew - so he gets a wildcard, Kevron Bennett (JAM) in the R2 .. In doubles, he is playing with Josh Lefkowitz (USA) and they face Adam Kennedy (USA)/ Martin Zumpft (GER).

I had updated Tuesday's scores at the Mumbai juniors page for the ITF grade-4 at MSLTA .. No big upsets, the good news being Sandra Sashidharan beating a Chinese girl in straight sets :-) .. It's always good to see Indians beating decent Chinese players, which seems to be rare (last week, none of the Indians had a win over them, three of the four Chinese girls reaching the semi and the 4th one losing to the runner up Pichittra from Thailand) .. But 6th seed Krushmi Chedda was upset by last week's semifinalist Shuai Zhang of China yesterday .. On the boys' side, all eight seeds have reached the second round .. Will update today's score later at the event page.

Hope everything remains peaceful in Gujarat and the rest of India - and let's pray for the families of those who lost their lives in Gandhinagar yesterday.

Sep 24 Notes

Bhupathi-Bjorkman and Paes-Hill are not in the draw for Tuesday as well at the Hong Kong ATP .. They should be playing tomorrow or as late as even thursday.

Sunil Kumar is listed as the 5th seed in the draw at the $15K USA F24c futures in Ojai, California,  famous for it being the long-time base of J.Krishnamurthy .. It's a beautiful hill town a 30 min drive away from the coastal city of Santa Barbara .. Not sure if Sunil has reached there .. After the Sunday doubles final in Costa Mesa, Rajeev Ram (USA) went up there and won three rounds to qualify into the main draw .. Prakash Amritraj (USA), being the California kid, got a wildcard into that futures .. Sunil plays qualifier Mirco Schwindt (GER), Prakash plays Matthew Hanlin (GBR) and Rajeev plays wildcard Robert Yim (USA) .. None of them seems to be playing doubles there.

Had a chat yesterday with Harsh Mankad who is in Brisbane, about all the controversy surrounding the Davis Cup tie .. Harsh is usually quiet and diplomatic, and he has generally stayed away from all the pushes and pulls in Indian tennis - that is why I thought I would see what he had to say .. "I don't talk much to anybody about anything contentious - if I am asked play, I play the best I can .. If not, I will cheer the team", he said .. He said he did not feel anything was affecting the team spirit in Adelaide and that they were all supporting each other, which he said must have been clear from how they all played to their best ability .. He did say that he went to Australia fully considering himself as the #5 player and knew out there too that he would be the 5th player .. That he said was by all means fair, considering how well Rohan and Sunil had played lately and their rankings .. According to him, Ramesh Krishnan had told the team right away that he wanted Rohan Bopanna to play this time and that Harsh would be playing a second match only if LP was not playing on day-3 .. He thought the real reason for him to play on the first day was that only his ranking was below Leander's in the week before (which is what is used for DC ties), which gave a chance for Leander to play the #1 spot and try to do something against Arthurs to put some pressure on Australia rather than play Hewitt on the first day .. Harsh said his undersatanding was that Rohan would take his place for reverse singles against Arthurs on the 3rd day if the tie was live after the doubles and LP were to play the reverse singles ..

I know, I know, that all sounds too goody-goody, but that's all we will ever get from Harsh :-) .. Anyway, that is where that is, and as usual I will give the ones I support the benefit of doubt and stay away from negative speculation on India and it's players/captain ! ..

By the way, I got some emails saying I was being too unfair to Woodbridge in my comments on him talking about Mahesh playing at Hong Kong .. Yeah, of course, I am always harsh on whoever plays India or Indian players! .. I don't cut any slack for the "other guys" (whom we routinely call "bad guys" in our chat sessions, as those who come for our match chats know! :-)) .. That is what a fan does, and this is the website "by the fans, of the fans, for the fans!" .. I don't necessarily have to be balanced in my opinions like the newspapers, right? .. I think Woodbridge could have avoided getting involved in this .. On the other hand, the people who say that he may have been just showing their displeasure at India not going there full strength is probably right too .. The Aussies have had a tough time with their doubles combinations ever since Woodforde retired and I think they really wanted to test out the Woodbridge-Hewitt combo against a top team, for the sake of the upcoming ties .. By the way, this has nothing to do with what I think of Todd Woodbridge, as a player -- those who follow my writings over the years know that the Woodies (and perhaps McEnroe) are the only ones I call as "THE legends" here .. Woodbridge is one player I have often mentioned for longevity also .. He started about as far back as Leander if you can believe it, with some years in junior tennis as well (I think he took the Aussies to a world youth cup title) .. He was not gifted with the greatest power tools in tennis, but was still consistently in the singles top-100 (as high as in the top-20) for years too .. I have mentioned how I respected the guy for not giving up in singles as recently as last year, when he was playing singles qualies and even challengers - that is how much he enjoys his tennis .. He has set every damn record in doubles, and he is still going strong - how can any tennis fan not respect the guy? .. But, all the same, when he plays India, I hate him like he is a Pakistani :-)

I have started a page for the Mumbai juniors with the results from Monday .. Will have the draw as soon as I find out.

Sep 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.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Sep 23 ..

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.