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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Oct 11th, 1999

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Oct 11 Notes

Some good news from Albuquerque -- Nirupama (#269) and Marion Maruska (AUT,289) reached the final yesterday in doubles in the $50K challenger .. They lost 6-4, 7-5 to Debbie Grahame (USA,80) and Nana Miyagi (JPN,61) to finish runners-up, but they must have upset Paulina Stoyanova (BUL,200) and Alexandra Olsza (POL,74) in the semifinal ..  I believe this is her first final since becoming the doubles runner up at the Lexington (Kentucky) challenger last year, and I think it is her first-ever final in a challenger with over $25K prize money too !! .. She has one singles and 3 doubles titles, as well as two more singles finals and a doubles final, all in $25K challengers in the past .. The final gives Niru 27 points to add to her 62 total and should push her ranking up by about 45-50 spots .. Great show, to come through the qualies as a lucky loser and then to go all the way to the final .. I am not sure if she made the draw at the Largo (Florida) challenger this week .. Will find out soon.

At Singapore,  Leander's match against Michael Chang does not appear in the schedule for Tuesday either - so I guess it will be scheduled for wednesday, which is rather rare for first round matches.

Sai Jayalakshmi and Rushmi Chakravarti should be at the $10K Indonesia ITF satellites this week.  Manisha should be rehabbing the shoulder tendinities in UK .. Most Indian male players should be getting ready for the 4-week satellites that start next week in Mumbai .. 4 satellites start next week (india, South Africa, Spain and Switzerland) along with 7 futures tournaments next week too.  So I don't expect all that much of foreign participation in the Indian stallites.  Srinath and Fazal should be among the top seeds.

The mini- and sub-junior (u14 and u16) DSCL nationals started today in Delhi .. More later.

Oct 10 Notes

Leander's match against Michael Chang is not in the schedule for Monday at the Singapore Heineken Open .. The match should be a featured match for Tuesday ..

The doubles draw is also out .. LP-MB are drawn against a relatively tough pair - Max Mirnyi and Eric Taino .. We will have to wait and see how fast Mahesh's pulled thigh injury gets better.

They have now given the wildcard, originally kept for Mahesh, to Thailand's promising 20 yr old, Paradorn Srichaphan - as MB is not in shape to play singles .. Paradorn started the year at a ranking around 400 and has now come up inside the top-170 .. He reached the quarterfinal of the Tashkent ATP event a few weeks back, and was again in the QF last week at Shanghai .. Nice reward for his efforts, to get a wildcard at Singapore .. I have been calling him the next best in Asia for a couple of years, ever since he was in the top-10 in ITF juniors, and it is basically going as expected so far for him.

The DSCL open official site has now added a Sunil Kumar profile to the men's section in their profiles page .. They didn't have it there at first (heck, who would think a 16 yr old kid would qualify in and mess up everyone's plans with a title? :-)) .. Prompt work by the Planet India web design folks, who apparently put together the web pages in a record 4 days! .. I liked the web site .. I always like web sites where the information comes up fast, like during the tourney when they kept updating their flash news on the front page with scores during the day - the looks of the web sites is of no interest to me ("if I need art, I go to a museum; no need for computer guys to draw for me", as I say often :-)), but their art design and layout was nice too.

There are some comments you might want to read, in the bulletin board today -- Especially Prasenjit's comments today on Sunil Kumar and what happened to some of the earlier phenoms - we should all think of the right things that need to be done.

Oct 9 Note-3

The draw is out at the $575K Singapore Heineken Open .. Great first round match - between leander Paes and Michael Chang .. Wow!! .. They are drawn in the upper quarter of the draw with top seed Rios and 7th seed Gambill .. The winner will play the winner of Gimselstob-vs-Gambil .. More later.

Oct 9 Note-2

Some good news from the $50K USTA challenger in Albuquerque, New Mexico .. Nirupama and Marion Maruska (AUT,289) have reached the semifinals of the doubles! .. They are the luckiest losers out there, I guess .. They lost the final round of qualies, to Maria Alexandra Vento (VEN) and Aneta Sokoup (CAN), but made it in as Fang Li withdrew due to injury .. They then beat the big teenage sensation Monique Viele (USA) and Jackie Trail (USA) in the first round .. Promptly got a walkover in the quarterfinals from Cara Black and Irina Selyutina .. Now they are in the semifinal today, playing Paulina Stoyanova (BUL,200) and Alexandra Olsza (POL,74) .. Depending on what happens today, Niru is still planning to go to the singles qualifiers at the USTA challenger in Largo, Florida, starting tomorrow.

By the way, talking about the newsmaker Sunil Kumar, I just remembered something from a chat session a few weeks back during the US Open doubles .. An American  (a former coach at Bollitieri's academy, not coaching now, but wanted to help a college coach who is his friend) was in the chatroom and asked me who the upcoming Indian players were .. I answered, "Just remember the name Sunil Kumar" ..  My crystal ball ain't too bad, huh ? .. :-)

Oct 9 Note-1

The "Sunny" days are here in tennis .. The "phenomenon" has arrived .. The "Chandigarh lion" comes out with a roar ! .. Sunil Kumar, 16 years and 6 months old, won the men's title at the DSCL hardcourt nationals, 7-5, 6-0, 5-7, 6-2  (best of 5 finals) .. More details will be available soon .. The kid had to play 2 rounds of qualifiers into the u-18 draw and 4 rounds of qualies into the men's draw .. He dove, fell, rolled, prayed on his knees, took injury break, overcame cramps, etc, in that 2 hr 15 minutes three-setter against Saurav Panja yesterday while Mustafa Ghouse had an easier straight sets win .. Many had doubted if he had enough in the tank to get over a very talented 19-yr old Mustafa (whose heroics have gone rather less noticed here) .. I guess the "lion" wasn't going to be denied .. Incredible stuff ! .. Indian tennis produces phenomenons every 10-12 years, the last being a kid coming out from the South Club of Calcutta [a kid from the Gulf following a few years later] .. Could this be the next one ? .. I sure hope so .. Oh, what a beautiful day.

Sai beat Rushmi in the women's final, 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 today, in yet another good match between those two .. 17 and half year old Akshay Vishal Rao, also of Chandigarh, won the u-18 boys singles title over Parantap Chaturvedi, 6-2, 7-5 .. Sunil Kumar's men's title takes a bit of glitter off that u-18 trophy though .. Men's doubles finals had been won yesterday by Mustafa Ghouse and Vishal Uppal, over Nitin Kirtane and Saurav Panja .. The Venkatraman sisters had won the women's doubles title over Radhika Tulpule and Janaki Krishnamurthi .. Mithun Murali and N.Mukundan won the u-18 boys doubles title Harsimran Kaur and Kushchehr Italia won the u-18 girls doubles.

Oct 8 Note-2

I am told that Mahesh will have to skip singles at Singapore next week, due to the pulled leg muscle injury .. Such a pity .. He had a main draw wildcard, which he has given up .. He is hoping to be ready by next thursday for doubles at Singapore .. It looks like he may skip singles at the Hong Kong challenger the week after too.  Oh darn! .. After a relatively injury-free 97 and 98, he has been badly stricken by the injury bug this year.

Here is yet another article on Sunil Kumar -- by Kadambari Murali in the Indian Express .. Check it out.

Oct 8 Note-1

I believe Mahesh had a pulled thigh muscle during the first round doubles win at Shanghai, which is why they gave a walkover in the QF match.  I am awaiting news on how he is feeling.

The Davis Cup draw for next year was done in London on Wednesday (you may have seen Simon Chaudhary's report from UK that India is drawn against Lebanon, in our bulletin board) .. India should not have a problem against Lebanon at home (Feb 4-6) -  then it will be against the winner of Korea vs Japan to advance to a world group playoff in Sep 2000 (against a first round loser in the world final-16 of year 2000), winning which will take us to the world final-16 in 2001 .. In the second Asia-Oceania zonal round, if it is Korea, we will have a home tie .. If it is Japan, we will have to travel there .. Lebanon has an interesting name in their team -- Ali Hamadeh - yes, the same dude who was Mahesh's doubles partner at Ole'Miss university in the US when they were NCAA doubles champions!

Here are today's big results from the DSCL nationals (courtesy, http://www.dsclopentennis.com)

Mens SF:          Mustafa Ghouse d. Vasudev Reddy   7-5, 6-1
                           Sunil Kumar d. Saurav Panja   6-0, 4-6, 6-4
Women's SF:    Sai Jayalakshmi (TN) d.  Archana Venkatraman (Kar)   6-2, 6-3 ..
                           Rushmi Chakravarthy (TN)  d. Arathi Venkatraman (Kar)   4-6, 6-3, 6-0
Boys u-18  SF: Rao Akshay Vishal (PB) d. Kedar Shah (Mah)   6-4, 6-4
                           Parantap Chaturvedi (Dli) d. Mithun Murali (TN)   4-6, 6-3, 6-4
Girls u-18 SF:    Radhika Tulpule (Mah) d. Sheetal Goutham (Kar)   6-4, 4-0 (conc.)
                           Karishma Patel (Guj) d. Sonal Phadke (Mah)   1-6, 6-4, 6-1
                    F:    Radhika Tulpule (Mah) d. Karishma Patel (Mah)   7-5, 6-4

On the men's side, the story of two teenagers (one real baby too, actually) is the best news Indian tennis has had in a long, long, time - school kid Sunil Kumar who turned 16 just a few months back is in the men's final now, after winning 4 qualifier matches and 4 main draw matches in a row! .. Talented 19 yr old Mustafa Ghouse, who has all the tools to be very, very, good (a  good serve, nice volley game and court movements) is finally proving that he can win enough matches in a row to be a force in Indian tennis too .. Should we be happy that Indian tennis is not dead yet ? .. You bet !! .. Women's final is really no surprise, as Sai and Rushmi are without a doubt the best in India after Niru (and Manisha) .. AV Rao and Parantap Chaturvedi in the u-18 final is no surprise (Actually the earlier win by Mithun Murali over Sunil Kumar was the surprise - apparently the u-18 matches are on clay - a surface that the players from the south have more experience on .. The seniors' matches are on hardcourts)  .. As for the u-18 girls draw, Radhika's title is not a surprise (pity that the top seed Sheetal had to concede the SF match to her though) .. Karishma's upset of 2nd seed Sonal in the SF is a bit of a surprise too .. I am looking forward to the men's final between Sunil Kumar and Mustafa "Pete" Ghouse -- exciting stuff.

Nick Rainey tells me that Nirupama's 36 46 loss to Cara Black (ZIM,62) at Albuquerque was in the first round .. Unlucky draw there, as Cara must have been the top seed or something in that tournament .. Niru will be playing several challengers in a row now .. I believe she is in doubles also at Albuquerque, but no news yet.

Manisha Malhotra gave walkovers in the singles and doubles finals last weekend at Glasgow because of some shoulder tendinitis .. I think that must have been the result of having won 9 matches in a row over two weeks in UK .. Sometimes winning consistently can also cause problems .. Anyway, she is in rehab in UK, and I am told the shoulder is getting better .. Manisha is up to #360 this week and will move inside the top-340 next week with the 4-5 points at Glasgow.

Oct 7 Note-2

Bad news to report .. LP-MB had to give a walkover to Godwin-Stafford in the QF today at Shanghai, because of a leg injury to Mahesh in yesterday's match .. I have no other details yet .. Oh boy .. They have been so snake-bitten in all but the grand slams and the Gold Flake Open this year .. It will be Singapore next week for both.

I am also told (thanks, Nick!) that Nirupama lost to Cara Black (ZIM,62), 3-6, 4-6, at the Albuquerque (New Mexico) Challenger this week .. I am trying to find out which round it was.

Oct 7 Notes

I was away for a week and just got back .. Alright, it's time to restart things again!

Leander and Mahesh are in Shanghai for the $325K Heineken Open .. They are the top seeds in doubles and easily beat the wildcards J.Zhu and B.Li in the first round, 6-2 6-1 .. They are playing the quarterfinal against Neville Godwin and Grant Stafford tonight - no news yet .. Both were to play the singles qualifiers, but Leander had to skip it in the last minute - I saw somewhere that Vicky Labbe, his girlfriend, had to undergo appendicitis treatment .. I need to confirm that .. Mahesh played a good match in the qualies but lost in three sets to Todd Woodbridge, 6-7(2), 6-2, 2-6 .. By the way, there is a very enjoyable article in the India Today magazine on LP and MB .. Here is the link .. Check out the article by Rohit Brijnath, which is so nicely put together and has a lot of well-researched details.

Nirupama was supposed to be at the Albuquerque - as is usal for many US tournaments, no press coverage that I can find yet .. I will find out soon how she is doing.

Manisha was in the finals of both singles and doubles, once again at Glasgow last Sunday, in a $10K satellite ! .. Congrats again to her for continuing the great unbeaten streak! .. Unfortunately, I saw that she had to give walkovers in both the finals -- I am trying to find out what happened .. Let us hope she is OK.

The big event this week is of course the Indian hardcourt nationals .. Thje DSCL Nationals (Sreeram Cup) in Delhi .. I am not keeping the scores updated here, as there is an excellent website for it -- Check out  http://www.dsclopentennis.com .. They even have photographs and profiles of players, latest score flashes, etc .. So, I will save time and compile the results and archive them after the tourney is over .. Check out that site for daily scores .. Anyway, the story so far has been undoubtedly 16 year old Sunil Kumar (who else?) who is creating the kind of waves that perhaps nobody has created since Leander Paes! .. First, he played 4 rounds to qualify into the senior draw .. He then went on to beat the likes of Vijendra Laad and SK Shivshankar to reach quarterfinal .. I believe he has won the QF today over veteran Asif Ismail (!!) to reach the semis too .. Sunil, who has played some 10 matches in the u-18 and senior draws, was perhaps too tired, as he lost to Mithun Murali today in the u-18 quarterfinal in a 3-setter .. Anyway, in the senior draw, he will play the SF against Vishal Uppal or P.Vishal .. The other good news is from Vijay Kannan, 19 yr old who won the u-18 title last year, who seems to be playing well again after almost a year .. He is in the seniors QF too .. Big upset today, as Mustafa Ghouse reached SF as the defending champ and no.1 seed Nitin Kirtane conceded the match at 6-3 5-1 .. Things have been quite uneventful on the women's side .. Check out the above official site .. Also, take a look at this Hindusthan Times article (perhaps by S.Kannan) that talks about Sunil Kumar's tennis to be "simply breathtaking" .. More comments later.

Sep 30 Notes

The latest info from the press is that LP and MB will be off to Shanghai for the singles qualifiers this weekend  (I had thought they were getting wildcards there too, not just at Singapore the week after -- not sure) .. Anyway, I will be away and the next update here will be around the middle of next week .. Check the ATP site where the qualifier draws should come up sometime during the weekend .. Here is the Shanghai Tournament Website (Not a promising site -- doubtful if they will have any qualifier results, etc) .. Those who find news on LP's and MB's singles matches there may want to post news at our bulletin board page and inform everyone! .. Same about any news from Manisha at Glasgow this week, Nirupama at Albuquerque next week and Fazal possibly at Turlsa next week ..  See ya next wednesday/thursday.

There was a news item in the Deccan Herald (Bangalore) today about a "reliable source" confirming that Mahesh will be changing his coach (Enrico Piperno now), and that both LP and MB will be coached by Bob Carmichael .. I can't confirm the news, as I have not been in touch with Hesh and Lee for a few days and won't try to bug them for at least another week!

.. Previous notes are at Weekly Notes, for 3 weeks ending Oct 4 ..