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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Oct 25th, 1999

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Oct 25 Notes

A small tid-bit news item .. The International Tennis Federation had a small competition on its WorldNet, the intra-net that various national organizations are hooked into .. The entry required answering some questionnaires, etc - basically a test on how well the net is being used, I blieve .. Just saw in the ITF weekly newsletter that AITA's Phillip Montes was among the two runners up (the winner was from the Slovinia tennis association and the other runner-up was from the LTA, London) .. Congrats Mr.Montes! .. He is the one who has been sending us the AITA rankings, etc, for archiving here, by the way .. I have received the latest rank lists from him late last week, which I will archive here soon.

Nirupama may not be playing this week .. That means LP, MB, NV are all off .. Not sure if Manisha will be playing anywhere, as there are no challengers in UK this week.  The only challenger is at Dallas for women, and there are only two $10K satellites (Greece and Belarus) .. That means Manisha, Sai and Rushmi may also be on vacation this week .. The Pune satellites is the only thing happening this week, I believe (also a grade-5 ITF junior event in Vietnam that some of the kids may be at) .. Later, ith the Pune satellite news from today.

Oct 24 Note-2

At the $10K Jakarta satellite, Sai Jayalakshmi (442) and Rushmi Chakravarti (485) lost the doubles final today to Liza Andriyani (INA,467) and Benjamas Sangaram (THA,232), 6-0, 6-3 .. The 16 yr old Thai kid Suchanan Voratprasert who beat Rushmi in the quarterfinals won the singles title there!

The qualifying rounds are all done at the Pune (second) leg of the satellites .. S.Zman, SK Shivshankar and Anand Radhakrishnan are the three Indians who advanced to the maion draw after three rounds of qualies .. Kunj Majumdar of USA, Matthis Kempe-Bergamen of Sweden, Pavel Kozak of Austria, Andrei Youzhnyi of Russia, and Conie VanWyk of RSA are the others .. Srinath gets SK Shivshankar in round 1, with the possible second round match against the winner of Sunil Kumar (wildcard) and Nitin Kirtane .. Sandeep is seeded 8th this week and plays S.Zaman .. Vinod Sridhar vs Vijay Kannan, and (wildcard) Manoj Mahadevan plays 5th seed Tom Chicoine .. Rohan Bopanna and AV Rao have the other two wildcards .. Fazal gets young Vijendra Laad .. It's important for Srinath and Fazal to pick up a couple of wins each, because they both have no circuit points so far due to R1 upsets last week  .. Next week's seedings are all based on the points from the first two weeks, and the 4th weeks entry are only to the top-16 in points after three legs ..  See the new Pune leg-2 page.

Forgot to check up earlier about what was going on at the Carlsbad Open ITF junior international in Thailand this week .. Our top-ranked boys like Sunil Kumar, AV Rao, Kedar Tembe, etc are all at the Indian satellites, but a few top-ranked girls, Radhika Tulpule, Sonal Phadke and Liza Pereira were down there .. 3rd seed Radhika Tulpule reached the semifinals of singles and Liza Pereira reached the quarterfinals, though .. The top seeds kept getting upset on the girls' side and actually Radhika was the only seed who reached the semi .. She then lost to Hong Da Jeng of Korea, 75 63, though .. In the QFs, Radhika beat the 6th seed Kathy Vymetal (GBR) 64 62 and Liza lost to Peng Shual (Taiwan), 61 64 .. Liza had got a walkover from the 4th seed in the second round .. The big upset of the tournament was unfortunately of the 2nd seed Sonal who went down in the second round to a 13 year old Thatcha Vittayaviroj, supposedly a very promising subjunior player in Thailand, 64 26 16 .. Though this is a grade-3 event, the competition seemed to be somewhat worse than I expected with just one top-100 player in the boys' side and only about 4 or 5 from the top-200 .. Wish Sunil could have gone and won the thing there! .. Saurav Sukul, Vivek Jhaveri and Harshit Sharma are three Indian boys who lost in the first round .. Nishank Mishra lost in R2 to the 16th seed Simon Weidl of Britain .. Shivank Mishra was seeded 14th but lost to the top seed Wang Yeu-Tzuoo of Taiwan in the 3rd round of the 64-draw .. There was one boy of some interest who reached the semifinal in singles - Prakash Amritraj of USA, Vijay Amritraj's son .. 16 year old Prakash was unseeded, but upset the 12th seed (Jan Holmia of Finland), 2nd seed (Ben Riby, Britian) and the 7th seed (Adam McNeil, New Zealand), all in comeback three-setters, to reach the semifinal where he lost to the 5th seed Nick Greenhouse of Britain who then won the title! .. Vijay was reportedly there with courtside support for Prakash .. Hey, Vijay, what's that (USA) we often see with the kid's name ? :-) .. Actually the Thai newspapers (Bangkok Post and The Nation) have been mostly writing IND with Prakash Amritraj's name .. Hmmm .. I wonder why ? :-)

Oct 24 Note-1

The singles qualies have started at the Stuttgart Super 9, and Leander could not have got in, as the draw closed at #157 .. So, it is a week of break - I believe he should be in Florida now .. LP-MB should be playing next week at Paris in Doubles, as Mahesh seems to be fine now.  They may add on the Stockholm Swedish Open the week after too .. We will wait and see.

Nirupama (#219) and Florencia Labat (#47) lost in the quarterfinals of doubles at the Nashville challenger to the 4th seeded US pair, Sandra Cacic (#121) and Lindsay Lee (#115), 64 63, on Friday .. She gets 6 points for the first round win here .. Her points total will go up to 107 next week with the points from the semi at Largo last week to place her at around #195 .. The points from this week will push it up to 113 points and place her at around #185 or so, the week after .. Very good job by Niru to come up from #270 to that high after just 3 weeks of challenger doubles - she had been unable to do much in doubles for such a long time .. I will check if she is planning to be at the Dallas challenger this coming week.

At the satellites in Mumbai, Mustafa Ghouse and Vishal Uppal upset the 2nd seeds Fazal and Karagiannis in three sets, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 .. Mustafa and Vishal has turned into a pretty darn good team  .. The newspaper reports are that it is basically Mustafa who keeps things going .. He has the serve, the strokes and the spirit, and he is the leader .. Based on what I have read so far, Mustafa and Harsh Mankad are probably the best young pair we can put together - Mankad was his partner earlier on when he was in India .. Mustafa/Vishal have now won 7 matches in a row, since losing to Fazal and Ashley Ford in the 3rd leg of the June satellites .. They started by getting in as the last team in the next week's masters leg then, and upsetting Fazal and Ford .. They went on to upset the Kirtanes in the final then, and have now pulled off  7 wins in a row .. The three-set final yesterday is descrobed as an exhilerating affair with all kinds of drama, by Sharda Ugra in The Hindu .. Fazal's normally reliable serve was not really on yesterday and the kids attacked him for the crucial breaks .. The singles title went to 3rd seed radim Zitco of Czech republic who beat Thomas Messmer in a comeback three-setter, aided also by a back fatigue injury to Messmer .. See the results in the Mumbai leg-1 page .. I have not seen any results from the Pune (second) leg qualifiers which must have started already.

At Jakarta, Indonesia, if I am not mistaken, Rushmi and Sai have reached the doubles final of the $10K satellite this week after beating Mudarwati and Sumantri of Indonesia 75 63 in the semis .. (incidentally, though they are technically called "satellites" and not "futures" on the women's side, these are one-week affairs .. On the men's side, the satellites are always 4 week affairs .. Only the $20K "developmental satellites" are 4-week affairs on the women's side, I believe) .. Rushmi was in the quarterfinals of singles too, lost to Suchanan Viratprasert of Thailand .. 16 yr old Suchanan is perhaps the best 16 yr old to come from Asia since Wynne Prakusya of Indonesia a couple of years back ..

Oct 23 Notes

Well, it seems Mahesh has not left Mumbai yet.  There were reports yesterday that he was being examined by a couple of  Doctors in Mumbai who said his injury is becoming alright .. I am not in touch with either LP or MB to see where their latest plans stand .. Looks like it will be one more week off.

Carlos Moya has confirmed his entry for the Gold Flake Open 2000, starting on January 3rd .. That is perhaps the first big one who has decided to return to Chennai - good news .. Yevgeny Kafelnikov has already confirmed too .. That may be two top-10 players possibly, by that time, one very close to #1 too .. I am sure they will all like Madras much better in early January with the great weather, than in April when it is much hotter.  By the way, the tournament director is a new one this time .. The infamous Australian Brian Cooney (called repeatedly as "Brain" Cooney at the tournament website's "first-volley" page - strange!) has now given the charge to Sheila Maniam who was doing IMG stuff in Switzerland before .. Gaurav Natekar is also part of the organizing team, if I remember correctly what I read a while back .. Will we have to again scream about any shady under-the-table business out there like last time when they lied about wildcard decisions already made to be not yet made, etc, etc ? .. Hope not .. All the best to this tournament - which excites all of us, despite some of us getting mad about some stuff every year .. The organizers have certainly done good work to make sure that the tournament is on solid foundation, with respect to sponsorship and fan interest .. By the way I was about to complain about the pictures of LP and MB I saw in the front page of their web site yesterday .. I am not sure where the heck they went and found that picture of Leander, which looked like a police mug-shot or something! .. .. That picture is gone today .. changed it just in time and they have some nice pictures now!

At Mumbai, the semifinals were done yesterday and both the players I was talking about yesterday lost .. Kunj Majumdar and Tom Chicoine .. Qualifier Thomas Messmer is in the final today against 3rd seed Radim Zitco .. The doubles final is between Fazal-Karagiannis and Ghouse-Uppal  .. Those in India may have seen the final already on TV today .. See the Mumbai leg-1 page.

Here are the three players that Manisha beat in the challenger qualifiers at Southampton, UK, this week .. 4th seed Katarzyna Straczy (POL,231) 62 26 63, Gabriel Kucerova (GER,293) 63 62, and Anne Keothavong (GBR,962) 62 16 76(2) .. Hmmm .. Two top-300 players in a row .. Not bad at all .. She continues to improve her results .. The wins gave her 3 quality points and 2.5 tournament points to add to the 46.75 points she has now. Will go up another 15 spots in rankings.

Oct 22 Note-2

Manisha Malhotra is back to tennis, after a couple of weeks break due to some shoulder problem .. Some good news - she won three rounds and qualified into the main draw of the $50K challenger in Southampton, UK !! .. The bad news is that she lost to the 3rd seed Emilie Loit (FRA,89), 6-3, 6-2, in the first round .. She still picked up 3 to 5 more points and will continue to raise her ranking, which will now go up to around #325 .. Perhaps one of the first times she is playing a top-100 player, and Emilie is a tough one.

Oct 22 Note-1

Nirupama and Labat won their first round doubles match yesterday against Roesch/Shaerer at the $25K Nashville (Tennessee) challenger, but I believe Niru is having a minor shoulder problem, and is a bit undecided whether to play next week at the Dallas challenger or not.

At the Mumbai satellites yesterday, both Vinod Sridhar and Manoj Mahadevan went down in the quarterfinals .. Manoj never even got started in a 61 60 whitewash by Thomas Messmer of Germany, but the Indian No.6 Vinod fought a bit before falling 64 64 to 3rd seed Radim Zitco (I saw a couple of newspaper reports mentioning Sridhar's serve lacking punch and that perhaps some technical corrections are needed, etc -- I am sure the KTC coaches would take note) .. A couple of US college players are doing pretty well there .. One is 22 yr old lucky loser Kunj Mjmudar (American, with Indian parents) who played till recently for Harvard and was up inside the top-40 in singles in US collegiate ranking, which is a good accomplishment .. The other is Tom Chicoine who was playing for the Univ of Minnesota till recently and finished inside the top-25 in singles ..  Tom, incidentally is a good friend of Harsh Mankad's (he is now at U of Minesota and had actually played doubles with Tom in a couple of futures in the US just before starting studies a couple of months back).  Tom will be tough for anybody to beat there, and Kunj has also shown a lot of fight, getting past Matthis Kempe-Bergman, someone he lost to in three tough sets in the final round of qualies earlier .. 3rd seed Radim Zitco and qualifier Thomas Messmer (a former top-10 junior player) are the others .. I think this satellite circuit has more talented players than the previous three we have had, and I expect all Indian players to find it not easy to rack up ATP points this time, like the previous few satellites .. In doubles, again, watch out for Tom Chicoine and Kunj Majumdar, who upset Srinath and Youzhnyi yesterday in the QF, though Fazal/Karagiannis will be tough for them in the semis .. The surprise was the top seeds Kirtanes going down to Messmer/Veress yesterday .. The Kirtanes continue to be the mystery men in Indian tennis .. They won't let you forget them, but they won't let you start trusting them to consistently win either (they are having some injury bugs lately though) .. Mustafa Ghouse and Vishal Uppal are turning out to be quite a team again .. They had done very well in the last satellite circuit, entering the masters leg as the last team and then winning the final against top seeds Kirtanes to pick up 23 ATP points each! .. Mustafa/Vishal are still at it - and are now in the semis .. See the results in the Mumbai leg-1 page .. I will add today's results as soon as they become available.

Talking of college tennis in the US, the new year is slowly starting .. A bulk of the season is after January, but two of the 4 big individual tournaments (the college grand slam as they are called) are getting done now.  Most of the entries for the claycourt tournament at Baltimore last month and the hardcourts (men at Austin, TX and women at Pacific Palisades,CA) are based on on preseason rankings.  It's tough to get into the final-32 in those tournaments and the competition is really in the qualifiers and prequalifiers where the top-60 through top-200 caliber players fight it out .. Some good news from last month - Jahnavi Parekh now in the second year at Baylor Univ qualified after many rounds into the main draw, and then pulled a big upset over the 39th ranked player at the Baltimore tournament last month .. She was unable to get through the qualifiers at Pacific Palisades this week though.  Ajay Ramswami, who has transferred this year to a top-10 program, the Lousiana State Univ, also tried his luck at the Baltimore qualifiers but could not fight his way in.  Both Uzma Khan and Harsh Mankad should be expected for these kinds of events later this year or next year, but neither have played much to show up in the singles rankings yet.  Uzma did win an invitation-type tournament in San Diego last month, so she is doing fine.  Mankad won his matches in a triangual university meet in North Carolina last month, beating some decent players and is already #2 or #3 for Minnesota.  FYI, Susheel Narla is now at the University of Alabama.  Jay Patel, who was at UCI before seems to have gone to Univ of Denver ...

At Jakarta, Rushmi and Sai defeated Archana and Arthi Venkatramans in doubles at this week's $10K satellite event round 1 .. In singles, I believe Sai lost a tough one to Monthika Anuchan of Thailand, 2-6, 7-5, 6-7(6-8) yesterday .. No other results known to me yet .. I will confirm more later.

Oct 21 Note-2

Nirupama advanced to the second round at the $25K challenger at Nashville by beating Shiho Hisamatsu of Japan (#289), 63 75 yesterday .. Niru went down today, though, in the second round to the #1 seed in the draw, Jolene Watanabe (USA,101), 26 26 .. Niru and Florencia Labat are scheduled to play the first round of doubles against Angelika Roesch (GER,290) and Larissa Shaerer (PAR,267) later today .. Incidentally, Larissa was Niru's partner for a couple of tournaments a few weeks back.

Oct 21 Note-1

Leander returned from Hong Kong and joined Mahesh in India for a couple of days .. They are scheduled to leave for Orlando today .. What I have just heard from a source in India is that Mahesh is doing fine with the injury .. He actually was pumped up to play right now, but he and Leander have decided to take an extra week off in Orlando (the boys are fully in sync now, it seems!) to do some final checkups on the injury and practice .. As of now, they seem to be skipping the Stuttgart Super 9 next week, but will go to Paris the week after, and may add Stockholm in the following week if they feel they need some more match practice in the week before Hartford .. Stay tuned.

Oct 20 Note-2

Now, only two Indians remain in the satellites, in the quarterfinals of the first leg of the satellites, at Mumbai .. 6th seed Vinod Sridhar and lucky loser Manoj Mahadevan .. Vinod beat  Russian Andrei Youzhny, who has been a regular visitor to the Indian satellites in a three-setter .. Not a surprise as young Vinod is among the best players in India after the Davis Cuppers.  When 18 yr old Manoj lost the final round of the qualies, I said I was disappointed .. Nice to see him making use of the lucky loser entry by reaching the QF (Basically, I have not lost hope on this kid turning out to be something good - he may have jumped to the seniors a bit too early, as he stopped playing the juniors at the age of 17 itself; hopefully he is settling down now) .. Sunil Kumar lost to the 4th seed Per Thornadtsson (SWE,500), perhaps the highest ranked player he has ever played .. No problems - it is good for the boy to learn through some losses for a while before he will be ready for bigger things (reportedly, the Swede kept serving high towards his backhand, showing Sunil something to learn from!) .. Qualifier teenager Rohan Bopanna, who has looked good here, went down in a second set tiebreaker .. No big surprises from Sandeep Kirtane, Vasudev Reddy and Vishal Uppal who all went down today .. See the nice reports from Sharda Ugra in The Hindu (link), and Arun Janardhan in the Indian Express (link) .. The results are all in our Mumbai leg-1 page .. I have not seen any doubles results for today.

Oct 20 Note-1

Nirupama is drawn to face qualifier Shiho Hisamatsu (JPN,289) in the first round today at the $25K challenger at Nashville, Tennessee, USA .. In doubles also, Niru and Labat are playing a qualifier pair - not sure if the opponents are determined yet.

No news yet from Mumbai on today's satellite prequarterfinals.

At the $10K Indonesia women circuit-4 satellite this week at Jakarta, Sai Jayalakshmi is playing qualifier Suzi Bunaran of Indonesia in the first round .. Archana Venkatraman plays Novianti Warsono (INA) .. Not sure about Rushmi's and Arti's opponents.

Oct 19 Notes

Mumbai ATP satellites news .. Yeeook .. It's not going good for our #3 and #4 either .. Today, the top seed Srinath got upset by Sandeep Kirtane 64 64, and then the second seed Fazal got upset by his doubles partner Niko Karagiannis in three sets too .. The "Chandigarh Diaper Dandy" Sunil Kumar advanced, but the nationals runner-up from two weeks back, Mustafa Ghouse went down to Swedish qualifier Mathis Kempe-Bergman (incidentally, somebody from Sweden had written to me that Mathis was going to surprise a lot of people -- looking at how easily he beat somebody as good as Mustafa, perhaps that was not just hot air?) .. Vinod Sridhar and Vasudev Reddy moved on, beating qualifiers Kedar Tembe and Kedar Shah .. Qualifier Rohan Bopanna pulled off a hard-fought three-set upset too .. See the results in the Mumbai leg-1 page.

Nirupama is at the $25K Nashville challenger .. She is drawn to face a qualifier (to be determined) on Wednesday .. In doubles, I am told that she is playing with a new partner this week - Florencia Labat (ARG,47), a good one .. Will try to find some draw news soon.

Oct 18 Note-4

The nightmare never ends .. The broken record remains broken .. It is more and more clear that Leander needs to sit down, not panic, and calmly take some tough decisions on where to take his singles game .. Clearly this is not just a simple losing streak .. He lost today in the first round at the Hong Kong challenger to Razvan Sabau (ROM,300), 5-7, 1-6 (source: South China Morning Post) .. Consider that Sabau has just one win over a top-200 players the whole year to go with umpteen losses - that dude is in a serious slump .. and Leander is in a bigger one himself .. I am not with all those people who say in our bulletin board that he is finished in singles .. Absolutely NOT .. The business-as-usual comback trail does not seem to be working though .. He needs to go to a very serious comeback trail :-) .. Needs to take time off, hit with the right partner, and get his game back - then play a few challengers and get back into it .. But how ?? .. It's time for Stuttgart and Paris Super 9s starting next week -- I feel bad for the guy, but let's hope he gets out of it somehow, one of these days.

Oct 18 Note-3

Nirupama reached the semifinal of the $50K challenger at Largo, Florida, last week, continuing on the final apperance the week before .. This was again in the company of Marion Maruska (AUT) .. Niru and Marion were ranked 270 and 289 last week, but upset Janette Husarova (SVK,101) and Florencia Labat (ARG, 46), 61 63, in R1 and then Sandra Cacic (USA,124) and Mashona Washington (USA,179), 61 62 in the QF, before losing to Francesca Lubiani (ITA,205) and Samantha Reeves (USA,149), 57 26 .. She picked up 19 more points from the two upset wins .. Her doubles rank has risen from 270 to 222 this week with the 26 points from the previous week, but her point total will now go to 107, which should place her at about #195 next week !! .. Pretty big jump in doubles in two weeks .. Congrats, Niru!

The first day of the satellites at Mumbai was pretty uneventful, except for Nitin Kirtane losing to Vishal Uppal .. Also, two lucky losers, Manoj Mahadevan and Kunj Majmudar (a collegiate player from USA), pulled off first round wins though .. Srinath, Fazal, Mustafa, Sunil, etc play tomorrow .. See all the results in the Mumbai leg1 page.

Oct 18 Note-2

Leander Paes was drawn to play Rizvan Sabau (ROM,296) today at the $50K+H CMG Asia Open Hong Kong Challenger (news from the South China Morning Post) .. No results yet .. Sabau is 6 ft 1' and is 22 years old .. Was ranked as high as #127 a couple of years back, according to ATP .. He was the second seed at the Mumbai challenger in late December last year when he was ranked inside the top-200, but got upset in the first round .. I believe Leander has never played Sabau .. On paper, this is not a bad first round match for LP, but till he gets out of his current funk in singles, we can't predict anything! .. Andrew Ilie (AUS,56) and Cecil Mamiit (USA,72) are the top two seeds at this challenger.

Oct 18 Note-1

Some news from Indonesia - Sai Jayalakshmi and Rushmi Chakravarti seem to have reached the semifinals of the $10K Indonesia satellite in Jakarta (Oct 11-17) ..  I am basing it on some Indonesian newspaper reports in Bahasa Indonesia, a language I don't know :-) .. As far as I can figure out, Sai lost to Satomi Kinjo (JPN,534), 36 75 46 .. Rushmi lost to Benjamas Sangaram (THA,415) 57 26 .. In the quarterfinals, Rushmi beat Irrawati Iskandar-Moerid (INA,684), 64 16 76 and Sai beat unranked Mimma Chernovita, 62 60 .. In the Prequarterfinals, Sai beat Arthi Venkatraman, 64 62 and Rushmi beat Veronika Ctvrtnickova (CZE,912), 75 61 .. Archana Venkatraman was also there, but lost to Wukirasih Sawondari (INA,675) 64 62 in the first or second round .. If I have got those results all correct, then a decent job by both Sai and Rushmi who both pick up 2 points each to improve their rankings - they have both become very solid over the last year by playing many tournaments -- once again, nothing helps the players more than playing, playing more and playing often ..

More later with any Hong Kong challenger news for Leander, Nirupama news, and Mumbai satellites news.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Oct 18 ..