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Indian-Tennis: Daily News for the weeks ending on Oct 04, 2004
(Previous week's notes) (Next week's notes) (Daily Notes Index 1997 thru 2004)

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Oct 4 Notes

Mahesh and Max Mirnyi are at the $790K Lyon ATP in France .. I had thought they were going to the Japan Open; I guess not .. They are seeded first and play the first round against Xavier Malisse (BEL) and Vince Spadea (USA) ..  Leander is taking this week off.

The Indian juniors lost another heartbreak tie in the knockout playoffs yesterday at the Junior Davis Cup yesterday, finishing at the 8th spot .. India (6) l. Australia (7) 1-2  .. #2 Sanam Singh l. Todd Ley 46 75 26 .. #1 Rupesh Roy d. Steven Goh 76(2) 36 63 .. Roy / Singh l. Symons/ Ley 46 63 36 .. After that nice start we lost three in a row, to CZE who then reached the final and became runner-up, to ARG who was the original #1 and beat #5 USA by an easy 2-0 score for the 5th place, and then to Australia.  The last two ties were all extremely close with 5 of the 6 matches going to three sets, though we lost 4 of those .. India had actually beaten Australia earlier in the year to top the Asia-Oceania regionals, if I remember correctly .. I wonder if Jeevan was not well for the last tie, because Sanam himself was nursing a palm injury which was why he was repotedly why he was not put in for much singles earlier in the tie .. Anyway, despite the losses, I give a lot of kudos to the boys for playing with so much spirit till the very end. Rupesh's win in the final singles match to keep the tie alive was commendable too - Steven Goh is a pretty good player .. Of course, we can never complain about a team that finishes #8 in a world competition that started with some 80 odd teams. With a little luck we could have been anywhere in the 4-8 range, looking at how close the level of play was among that group of teams ..

In this week's action, in addition to the DSCL, we have a few of our players in the pro tours abroad .. Sania is  at the $25K Lagos challenger in Nigeria .. She should be the second seed there, based on the latest ranking of #253, though she was only the 6th player or so when she enetered a couple of weeks back .. Not a great player field there, but decent .. Meghaa Vakharia was a couple of spots out from the main draw entry list at the $25K challenger in Lafayette, Louisiana (USA) a few days back but based on the qualifying draw, it looks like she made it into the main draw .. Harsh Mankad will be at the $15K USA futures in Mission Viejo, California (USA) - he should be the top seed there .. Sunil Kumar and Mustafa Ghouse are at the $15K+H Nigeria futures at Lagos ..

Update - Sania Mirza won 62 61 over Ludmila Nikoian (ARM) a former top-500 player, in the R1 at the Lagos challenger .. Easy win there for SM ..

By the way, if you did not notice, the Chinese player who beat Sania at the Asian Championship final (what looked like one of the worst losses by Sania then!), has been on an incredible tear lately ..   Na Li entered the Tier-III WTA at Guangzhou as a qualifier, and proceeded to beat everybody on the way to an amazing title this week .. This is interesting for us, because Na Li picked up some 165 points and raised her ranking from #145 to #92 today!! .. That means she now does not need the Asian wildcard to make the Australian Open main draw .. It would be interesting to see if they would give that wildcard to the Asian Championship runner-up, which would be Sania Mirza! -- I don't think so, but I hope they would.

Oct 3 Notes

The big National Championships, The DSCL Open is all set to start in Delhi monday .. The usual fantastic online coverage by dsclopentennis.com has started (take a look!!) .. Pretty decent field there except for the usual absence of the top few players from the men's and women's side .. The presence of some top juniors definitely adds some colour to the men's draw, but it really hurts to see Aqeel Khan of Pakistan seeded as the #1 at the Indian National championships .. Hopefully it won't be as bad as a few years back when our grasscourt national championships was won by a German! .. Notable absence are, Mankad, Amritraj, Sipaeya, and Ghouse on the men's side .. Mankad is playing the Souither California futures, Amritraj is taking the week off after a few weeks of continuous travels, Ghouse and Sipaeya are at the Nigeria futures .. Vishal Punna and Vijay Kannan are injured and skipping this week .. On the women's side, Sania, Rushmi, Meghaa, Sai, and Ankita are missing .. Sania is at the $25K challenger in Lagos next week .. Rushmi and Sai were in the list there too, but they have now withdrawn .. Meghaa is in the US and Ankita has reportedly withdrawn on medical advice .. Good to see Isha Lakhani back in a tournament after some 8-9 months or so .. She is the top seed with Sanaa Bhambri second ..  Also nice to see all the top juniors Karan, Tushar and Divij, and the latest promise, Vivek Shokeen, and  in the men's draw .. All four of them get seeds, with Shokeen having the tough job of tackling the tough second seed Vinod Sridhar ..

Speaking of Vivek Shokeen, he just won the title at the ITF grade-4 at Gurgaon .. Back-to-back titles for him .. I have added all the results from there in the Gurgaon juniors page .. Sandhya Nagraj won the girls' title and the doubles title also .. Sandhya beat the promising Coimbatore girl, Preethi Subrahmaniam who had some upsets on the way to the final .. Vivek beat Rohan Gide in the other final ..

Rohan Gide, by the way, had to play something like 5 matches in two days before playing Shokeen in the final, shuttling between Gurgaon and Delhi, as he was also playing the DSCL men's qualifying .. I wish he had got a wildcard at DSCL .. I should complain a bit more about some of the wildcard decisions lately - one of the topics I normally stay away from, because I often don't know the details of why somebody is given a wildcard in any of the tournaments .. I have often heard complaints from players who are away from Delhi that they do not get enough consideration .. That is subject for another time ..

An important junior event got done this week at the Bhupathi Tennis Village in Bangalore .. The Nike Junior India Masters for the u12/u14 levels which determine the 4 players who will represent India at the Nike INternational Masters to be held in 4 weeks at Pompadour, France .. I have archived all the results in the Nike Juniors page .. The u12 titles were won by Yuki Bhambri and YP Aishwarya .. The u14 titles were won by Akash Waugh and Sushrutha Reddy ..  The entry field at the Nike Masters was quite strong and is based on the points earned from the best three results out of 5 nantional u12/u14 events, one of them a Nike event in March and the next 4 from the AITA Nutrine-Naturo u12/u14 tour ..  The Nutrine tour has 2 more events remaining before the year-end u12/u14 Nationals in December ..  The joint efforts by Nike, Nutrine, AITA and the Bhupathis in conducting these tours commendable .. By the end of the year, we now will have a pretty good idea of who all are the top kids in those very young age ranges.

Oct 1 Notes

All of our pro players were done by thursday night this week; so it was certainly not a great week for anybody .. At the $50K Troy challenger, both Shikha and Neha lost their second round matches, though to higher ranked players .. [R2] N.Uberoi (USA,312) l. (5) Edina Gallowitz (ROM,154), 26 36 ..[R1] S.Uberoi (USA,173) l. (2) Shenay Perry (USA,96), 36 26 .. [R1] (Q) N.Uberoi/ S.Uberoi l. S,Krivencheva/ A.Mall, 36 36 ..

Mustafa Ghouse lost in the QFs of both singles and doubles at the $10K Rwanda futures .. [R1] (2)Mustafa Ghouse (IND) d. Yassir Bouyahya (MAR,1250), 63 60 .. [R2] d. Jurgens Strydom (NAM,NR), 75 76(3) .. [QF] l. (7)Toshiharu Kato (JPN,990), 26 62 26 .. Doubles: [R1] (2)Motaz Abou El Khair (EGY)/ M.Ghouse d. Jean-Claude Gasigwa (RWA)/ Jean-Paul Nshimiyimana (RWA), 63 75 .. [QF] l. Kirill Krioukov (RUS)/ Timour Lomtatidze (RUS), 64 16 67(3) ..

At the $10K in Balikpapan, Indonesia, Geeta and Krushmi went down in the second round - [R1] (7) Geeta Manohar d. Ayu Fani Damayanti (INA) 62 75 .. [R2] l. Mudarwati (INA), 36 46 .. [R1] Krushmi Chheda d. Marsela Gunawan (INA) 62 60 .. [R2] l. (2) Sandy Gumulya (INA), 62 06 36 .. Also, [R1] Mudarwati (INA) d. Nandini Perumal 63 61 .. In doubles, [R1] (4) G.Manohar/ N.Perumal BYE .. [QF] l. S.Gumulya/ P.Thongdach, 26 16 .. [R1] Prim Buaklee (INA)/ K.Chedda d. Joana Febri (INA)/ Wei-Ping Lee (SIN), 60 26 60 .. [QF] l. (1) M.Rosa/ T.Vittayaviroj, 16 26 ..

After a good start with 3-0 and 3-0 win in the first two pool ties, our 6th ranked u16 Junior Fed Cup boys ran aground against the 4th seeds and missed the semifinal yesterday .. Today, in the 5th-8th playoffs, they ran into the top ranked Argentina and lost 0-3 though after some close matches .. (6) India l. (4) Czech Republic 0-3 : Jeevan Nedunchzehiyan l. Miroslav Navratil 46 63 46 .. Rupesh Roy l. Dusan Lojda 36 26 .. R.Roy/Sanam Singh l. Filip Zeman/Miroslav Navratil 67(6) 46 .. (6) India l. (1) Argentina, 3-0 : Emiliano Massa d. Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan 36 64 64 .. Juan Martin del Potro d. Rupesh Roy 46 63 62 .. Terrera / Massa d. Roy / Sanam Singh 75 64 .. Those were some really close matches against some very good players from ARG .. Unfortunately, despite all the heroics, our biys will have to play for the 7-8 spot tomorrow ..

I still have not updated the scores from the ITF grade-4 in Delhi and the Nike International Masters at Bangalore .. Vivek Shokeen continues his unbeaten streak in Delhi .. Those like Aishwarya Shrivastava, Yuki Bhambri, Shriram Balaji, etc are in the later rounds at Bangalore .. I will put up the results pages soon.

Sep 30 Notes

Bad news from Bangkok .. The Indian Express lost the quarterfinal to Justin Gimelstob (USA) and Graydon Oliver (USA), 76(5) 46 46 .. It hasn't been all that often in their career that Paes-Bhupathi lost a match after winning the first set .. I don't have any details on the match, as it just ended .. It happens, I guess .. Mahesh plays next week at the Tokyo Open, and Leander takes the next week off .. The week after that, Leander and Rikl will play at the Vienna ATP, while Mahesh will play with Jonas Bjorkman at the Moscow ATP .. The tour starts to wind down now for the year, the main big events remaining after that being the Madrid and Paris masters events followed by the Tennis Masters Cup in Houston .. Mahesh and Mirnyi, now ranked 6th in team rankings, would probably qualify for the Hoston with another 200 odd points .. Leander and Rikl probably needs another 400 odd points to make sure that they will be in the top-8 for Houston.

Some good news from the Davis Cup draw, as India got a good one yesterday for the 2005 Asia-Oceania regionals:
(1) Thailand AT Pakistan
(3) Japan AT Chinese Taipei
(4) Uzbekistan AT Indonesia
(2) India HOSTS China
That is about as good a draw as we could have got .. The top half looks so much tougher than the bottom .. China is always much easier to take care of at home than away .. We will play them in February .. If we advance and face Indonesia, it will also be in India .. If we advance to face UZB, a coin-toss will decide on who gets home court .. Uzbekistan is clearly a bit down from their best years when Ogorodov and Kutsenko were at the top of their games ..

Here is my periodical reminder on the Davis Cup format, in case any of the new readers need to know -- This is for deciding two teams after two rounds next year .. Those two teams will play world group ties next October against two teams drawn from outside the Asia-Oceania region .. The eight teams who reach playoff stage from the various regional groups will be pooled with the 8 teams who lose the 2005 world group R1 next february; 8 teams will be seeded and drawn against the other 8 .. The eight WG playoff ties next October determines the 8 teams joining the world group in 2006 .. The eight winners in the world group R1 next february are automatically in the WG 16 for 2006 .. So, we are trying to make it to the WG playoff in the first two regional ties next year .. It seems like we have a very good chance to do that, if we take care of business like we normally do and don't unnecessarily get overconfident and mess it up like in Japan this year.

At the $25K challenger in Birmingham, Alabama, USA, Meghaa Vakharia (IND,479) lost the singles first round yesterday to qualifier Maria Jose Lopez (MEX,548), 57 26 .. Meghaa and Montinee Tangphong (THA) had gone down
earlier to Katarina Kachlikova (SVK) and Karolina Kosinska (POL), 75 46 16 in a first round doubles match on Tuesday.

At the $50K Troy challenger in Alabama, Shikha Uberoi plays the second seed Shenay Perry and Neha Uberoi plays the 8th seed Edina Gallowitz today in the second round..

Sep 29 Note-2

Leander and Mahesh play the QF at the Bangkok Open tomorrow against Justin Gimelstob and Graydon Oliver of USA .. The match is at about 6 pm there.

Good news form our kids in Barcelona at the Junior Davis Cup .. India beat Morocco 3-0 .. Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan d. Mehdi Benhamou 75 64 .. Rupesh Roy d. Reda El Amrani 75 76(5) .. Jeevan/ Sanam Singh d. Mehdi Benhamou/ Ayoub Benamar 63 62 .. Pretty good win over a team that gave quite a bit of trouble to the 4th seeds Czech republic yesterday in a 1-2 loss .. 6th seeds India play the 4th seeds CZE tomorrow in the all-important tie that decides the group winner who advances to the final 4 .. India is already assured of at least second place in the group which means we will finis in the top-8 .. I am sure our boys have what it takes to win the tie tomorrow against the Czechs and advance to the knockout final-4 ..

Sep 29 Note-1

Lots of news today .. The best wins yesterday were by the Uberoi sisters at the $50K Troy (AL,USA) challenger .. [R1] Neha Uberoi (USA,312) d. Jewell Peterson (USA,254), 62 63
[R1] Shikha Uberoi (USA,173) d. Varvara Lepchenko (UZB,245), 63 46 61 .. Shikha has a big second round match against the second seed Shenay Perry (USA,96) .. Neha's R2 opponent is TBD - it could be the 8th seed Edina Gallovitz (ROM,154) .. The sisters qualified into the main draw of doubles once again - [Q1] (1) N.Uberoi/ S.Uberoi d. Christina Fusano (USA)/ Jennifer Tuchband (USA), 54(5) 53 .. [Q2] d. (3) Arpi Kojian (USA)/ Dominique van Boekel (NED), 42 42 .. Up next in the first round are Svetlana Krivencheva (BUL) and Anne Mall (USA).

Meghaa plays the R1 of singles today at the $25K Birmingham (AL,USA) challenger against qualifier (Q) Maria Jose Lopez (MEX,548) .. In doubles, she was to play yesterday with Montinee Tangphong (THA) against Katarina Kachlikova (SVK) and Karolina Kosinska (POL) - no news yet.

A bad outing for Harsh Mankad at the $15K in Irvine, California (USA) .. HM was off the court for over a week with some hard physical training program he started in Pasadena, as I reported below, and was too sore to do much match practice over the weekend .. And the rust clearly showed in a 67(4) 46 loss .. He played a decent match against Brian Wilson (USA) who is the current college #2 and a talented big-server who had won one of only 3 futures he has played this year in the US .. HM bascially lost because his backhand was completely wayward all through the match, strangely - I counted about 18 BH errors, almost all of them unforced and three of them on AD court second serves at 30-40 break points he had, which is incredible for HM who does not miss more than 1/3rd of such chances normally .. Though Harsh was quite down about an extremely rare fiorst round ouster in a futures, to me it was not too unexpected this week .. To me, the reason to play this week was to make sure that he would not completely lose his tennis sharpness during the training program .. He does not have the luxury like top players to go away and train for 4 weeks and then take 2 week to get back to playing shape - as he has some points to defen before the year ends .. He will do more hard physical training work this week but is expected to be able to do much more practice tennis this weekend before going out for the $15K in Laguna Niguel (CA, USA) next week .. See my report in the forum on the match.

Mustafa Ghouse is the second seed at the $10K Rwanda futures in Africa .. [R1] (2) M.Ghouse vs Yassir Bouyahya (MAR) .. In doubles he and Motaz Abou El Khair (EGY) are seeded 2nd; they play Jean-Claude Gasigwa and Jean-Paul Nshimiyimana of Rwanda ..

At the $10K in Balikpapan, Indonesia, the seventh seed Geeta Manohar plays Ayu Fani Damayanti (INA), not an easy foe .. Nandini Perumal plays Mudarwati (INA) and Krushmi Cheeda plays Marsela Gunawan (INA) in the first round.

The Indian Junior Davis Cup team had a very good start yesterday, beating Tunisia 3-0 .. No.2 Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan d. Slah Mbarek 61 60 .. No.1 Rupesh Roy d. Wael Kilani, 67(4) 60 63 .. Sanam Singh/ Nedunchezhiyan d. Maher Boughnimi/Kilani, 63 62 .. Good match and set score stats, in case we need tiebreakers to advance .. The 4th seed CZE in our group beat Morocco 2-1 yesterday but went through a very tough tie, one of the #2 singles match going to 7-6 5-7 10-8 and the deciding doubles going to third set .. India plays Morocco today, which is a key tie.  Go India!!

The Nike International Masters is underway at the Bhupathis' TennisVillage in Bangalore .. Big u12/u14 event .. I will compile the results soon .. Also underway this week is the ITF grade-4 in Gurgaon .. Results coming soon.

In other news, the upcoming US college season should be fun for us to follow .. Since Harsh left college two years back, we have not had a lot to look for in colleges, but Somdev Dev Varman's entry has made it very exciting .. Buji is quite possibly the best freshman entering college this year .. He showed that with his win over last year's #1 player at the Claremont futures a couple of weeks back .. He was up to more stuff this weekend to shock and scare the college tennis world .. He won a tough tournament in Virginia last week to start the college year on a five-match win streak .. During the tournament he upset the 59th ranked and the 75th ranked college players also .. See the details I posted in the forum .. There are some college coaches in the ACC conference quite qorried about what the heck to do to beat the Virginia Cavaliars, if their #3 freshman player is so good (he may not be #3 for too long by the way, and the cavaliars already had a top-10 player, Doug Stewart, in the team) .. A couple of other Indians are expected to do something in college tennis this year .. Amanjot Singh, in his second year at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, is ranked #96 and Rohan Gajjar, in his third year at the University of Arkansas, is ranked #119 in the preseason rankings.

Sep 28 Notes

The Indian Express had no trouble winning their first round at the Thailand Open, 62 61 over Attila Savolt (HUN) and Jiri Vanek (CZE) ..

Meghaa Vakharia plays at the $25K Birmingham (Alabama USA) challenger and the Uberoi sisters play at the $50K Troy (Alabama, USA) challenger - the main draws starting today .. No idea why USTA allowed two challengers in Alabama in one week, but the cuts are quite lower because of that .. Sunitha Rao (USA) had a great weekend, qualifying into the $140K WTA event in Seoul, South Korea, with a couple of top-400 wins ..

Indian u16 juniors are seeded 6th and grouped with the 4th seeds Czech Republic at the Junior Davis Cup final-16 in Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain .. Morocco and Tunisia are the other two teams in the group. Not an impossibly tough group to come out through but a competitive one.

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 ..

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the weeks ending on Sep 27 ..

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