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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Oct 28, 2002
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Oct 28 Notes

Leander and Michael Hill advanced to the second round today at the Paris Masters with a 64 75 win over Arnold and Etlis .. They are up against the 3rd seeds Bjorkman-Woodbridge next .. Chandigarh futures news later .. Still awaiting news on the Egypt satellite last week, where Sai and Rushmi were, and also on the draw for this week's Cairo challenger .. Also no news yet about Manisha at the Dalby challenger this week in Australia.

Oct 27 Notes

Only a brief, late, update today; after a busy weekend .. At the $2.83K Paris Indoors Masters, LP-Hill are unseeded and are drawn against Lucas Arnold and Gaston Etlis of Argentina in the first round .. The match is on Monday at noon .. MB and Mirnyi are seeded 2nd and have a first round bye..

The Chandigarh ITF futures gets underway monday .. I have posted the draw at the Chandigarh futures page.

Oct 26 Notes

The DSCL Nationals in Delhi turned out to be the stomping ground for 17 yr old Isha Lakhani, who added two more titles (women's and u18 singles) today to the women's doubles title to go unbeaten there in 13 matches .. Unseeded Isha won a straight sets final against Sonal Phadke, her 3rd win in a row against Sonal, to complete the upsets of the 8th, 2nd, 3rd and 4th seeds (Archana, Radhika, Ankita and Sonal) .. So, my darkhorse pick came through ..  It was actually easy to pick Isha for both titles, because of her tremendous fire and consistency .. I was sure that if the field had those she *could* beat, she would win the titles  (profound statement, eh? :-)) .. Actually I wonder if there is another player in the Indian circuit who is as consistent in winning against anybody she can beat, as Isha .. By my count, she has gone 15-0 against Indian opposition in singles now, including the u18 claycourt title in August in Chennai .. Add the two finals in the ITF satellite circuit where she played two legs in April (lost to Sai and Radhika in the finals), and the Pretoria ITF grade-2 where she beat Tara and lost to Sania, it is a 24-3 record against Indians in the last six months, including 3 wins against Archana, 2 each against Sonal and Radhika, one each over Ankita, Radhika, Kartiki, Lata, Tara, etc .. Lost to Sai and Sania in three-setters and had a straight sets loss to Radhika in those 27 matches .. Quite an impressive record from her, and it's true that she probably deserved to be in the Asian games team instead of Ankita ..  And don't forget that she is the highest world-ranked junior player at #29 too; she is ahead of Sania there, though Sania has got better of her a couple of times in the past (Sania is a different story - she is not as consistent as Isha, but may have a few more weapons than her at this time) .. Some seem to be doubtful about how ready Isha is in the power department for the big tour - the newspaper reports always talk about her being "diminutive" and all that .. I don't know, as I have not seen her play, but there have been many players who have gone very high because of attitude and fire in the belly, and talent in shotmaking and out-thinking the opponent - all of which are big positives for Isha .. Anyway, a great week for Isha - congratulations!

On to the other national champions - The men's title went to Vinod Sridhar, one of those "don't forget me yet" players who finally got his national title, after knocking on the door a few times .. Mustafa lost another final, like his loss earlier to Sunil at DSCL .. Arun Praksh in the u18 has reportedly been playing sweet tennis this week, and he too did a "don't forget me" with a win over Amanjot in the u18 singles final today .. See the DSCL Hardocurt Nationals page.

Oct 25 Notes

Quick update - Isha Lakhani is in the women's and u18 girls finals at the DSCL .. She and Sonal won the women's doubles title and so she has a chance for titles in all three events she entered (she must be a tired girl, after playing 11 matches in 5 days!) .. Sonal beat Shruti and will face Isha in the women's draw .. Isha beat Ankita .. Mustafa beat Nitin and Vinod Sridhar beat Somdev to reach the men's final .. Isha faces Sasha Abraham in the girls' final .. Amanjot and Arun Prakash face off in the boys finals .. All the doubles finals are done, and the singles finals are all tomorrow .. See the DSCL Open page for results ..

Oct 24 Notes

Hesh and Zimonjic got upset yesterday 36 57 by Karsten Braasch (GER) and Jeff Tarango (USA) .. Off to the Paris masters, LP and MB .. I assume they will be playing wth their regular partners, Hill and Mirnyi.

At the $25K Rockhampton challenger in Australia, the 4th seeds Manisha Malhotra and Leanne Baker had to retire after a 3-6 first set in the R1 against qualifiers Leslie Butkiewicz and Kim Kilsdonk - not sure who is injured .. Manisha is to proceed to the Dalby challenger next - she will be a seed in the qualies, like this week .. 4th seeded Rushmi advanced to the R2 at the El Mansoura $10K satellite in Egypt, with a 61 64 win over qualifier Amany Khalifa (EGY) .. Up next is Ana Jovanovic (YUG)  .. 8th seeded Sai beat Chattida Thimjapo (THA) 64 64 - she plays a qualifier Ekaterina Bychkova (RUS) next .. In doubles, Sai and Chattida lost 16 46 to top seeded Russiabs, Gulnara Fattakhedtinova and Galina Voskoboeva .. Rushmi and Zachariadou reached the QF with a 5-2 (retd) win over Ema Janaskova and Dominika Luzarova of CZE; they get Franziska Etzel (GER) and Ekaterina Ostapenko (RUS) next .. By the way, Rushmi and Sai are expected at the Cairo challenger next week .. Rushmi in the main draw, and Sai among the qualifying seeds.

Isha Lakhani, my (easy) pick as dark horse, upset the second seed Radhika Tulpule in the women's section today at the DSCL Hardcourt Nationals .. She struggled a bit in the u18 section (:-)) - after having dropped only one game in the first two matches, she dropped two today to Iciri Rai in a 60 62 win to reach that semifinal also .. Shruti, after having lost to Sheetal a couple of times earlier this year, came through to upset the top seed in the women's section and face Sonal in the semi .. 15 yr old Ankita faces 17 yr old Isha in the other women's semi which should be interesting .. This DSCL championship has seen a few players saying "don't forget me, I am still here" .. Vinod Sridhar upset Vijay Kannan to reach the men's semi against 17 yr old Somdev, who is looking good .. Parantap Chaturvedi, R. Arun Prakash, Amanjot Singh, Sasha Abraham, etc, are other names who have made their presence felt .. See our DSCL Open page ..  Newspaper reports say that Sunil Kumar retired from yesterday's PQF because of a lung infection he has carried from Busan, which was causing him breathing trouble ..

Kartiki Bhat and Karan Rastogi were both at the Thailand grade-3 ITF juniors in Nonthaburi this week .. Kartiki did well to qualify into the draw, but then had the misfortune of facing one of the toughest Asian players, 6th seed Yan Chong Chen (who you will remember as the nearly unbeatable one in the Indian ITF events recently) .. Kartiki went down 36 36 .. She and Nidhi Shah were in the doubles draw as well, but lost in the R1, 36 36 to the top seeds Moe Kawatoko (JPN) and Ting-Wen Wang (TPE), who have now reached the final .. Karan Rastogi was the 4th seed but went down 46 75 57 to Jimmy Schneider of Netherlands .. Karan seems to be recovered from the groin injury that caused his SF walkover in Japan two weeks back and then his skipping the Hong Kong grade-2 .. He was up 4-1 in the 3rd, doing well in a comeback, but lost the momentum after a long rain delay at that point and got upset .. Karan did not play doubles this week, probably to be careful about the groin .. By the way, I had hoped that there would be some way for Somdev Varman to go to Thailand for this event, rather than play the DSCL tournament .. He badly needs foreign exposure in a hurry, but I see no signs of any foreign trips for that boy .. Will somebody do something?

Oct 23 Notes

MB plays the first round doubles at the St.Petersburg Open at 5 pm today.

The DSCL hardcourt nationals lost its biggest name today, as Sunil Kumar retired at 75 67 01 against Kamala Kannan (don't know what was up with Sunil; hopefully nothing serious).. Somdev is alive in the QF of the men's draw with an impressive 62 63 win over Saurav Panja .. Somedev fell in the u18 though, to Parantap Chaturvedi .. Parantap, who turned 18 a few months back, is eligible for the u18 draw; he was in the top-5 of u18s last year but has not had many noteworthy wins in almost a couple of years - he had looked promising earlier on in the u16 ranks also .. He seems to be playing better in this tournament .. Also of note is Kedar Tembe, who was even #1 in the u18s a couple of years back if I remember correctly - he was also one who had gone away from the limelight .. Kedar seems to be doing well so far, with an upset of Manoj Mahadevan and now having reached the QF of the men's draw with a tough 62 67 76 win over Parantap .. 17 yr old Isha upset Archana and reached the women's QF as the only unseeded player .. Isha has dropped only one game in 25 in the two u18 matches so far, also! .. See all the results at our DSCL page .. The official site has been very prompt in putting up the results at the end of the day, just like they have done the last three years.

Rohan Bopanna, on his way back from Tashkent, stopped by at the DSCL yesterday .. Here is an article in The Hindu yesterday, with some comments from Rohan on his experience at the Asian Championships .. RB seems to be straight-forward in what he says and does not try to spin it, with regard to his tennis .. I was surprised that he said he was "stunned" at how Moromura was retrieving his shots in the final - clearly he has recognized a deficiency in his game to work on, and did not try to act like it wasn't there; and that's a good sign .. It seems like he needs to play a lot of those kinds of players who will hit the ball back at him till the cows come home and pass him at the net .. It takes a while for those with serve-and-volley weapons to learn to use them well against certain kind of players these days - or so it seems to me, but I am not an expert .. Frankly I am surprised at how well Rohan has come along this year.

There is also another important junior event going on this week, the Nike u12 and u14 juniors at Bangalore, organized by the Bhupathis' tennisvillage .. This is an interesting event, a part of a Nike-sponsored worldwide junior event with the winners getting to go to South Africa for the finals .. I heard that the kids are being treated like kings down in Bangalore, being picked up at the airport and driven around, put up at good hotels etc - part of a scheme to give them a taste of what is to come if they work hard and reach the top of the pro ranks in the future .. Sanaa Bhambri is probably the biggest star down there right now .. More later this week, with results from there.

Oct 22 Notes

Sorry for a very late update on LP's match yesterday (I had put the score in on the LP page, but didn't get time to update the notes) .. Anyway, the news wasn't great, as the 3rd seeded M.Hill/ L.Paes got upset 63 67(4) 63 by Irakli Labadze and Marat Safin in the R1 at the St.Petersburg Open .. That was a good comeback in the second set with a tiebreaker, but that was not enough .. I had noticed that tiebreakers have been a problem in many doubles matches for LP lately (2-7 in the previous 9 doubles tiebreakers by my count), and it was good to see them win one, against two good players .. MH-LP had lost the first five tiebreakers they played since they came together, but have now won two in a row, and in some ways it's a good indication .. I know, I am looking for whatever positive I can find from all these losses .. I wish they could hang on and win that 3rd set last night, but that's always tough with a partisan crowd on the center court in Russia with their favorite player Safin playing .. MB-Zimonjic should be playing their R1 tomorrow (wednesday)

Rushmi and Sai are at the $10K Al Mansoura satellite in Egypt .. 4th seeded Rushmi plays qualifier Amani Khalifa of Egypt .. 8th seeded Sai plays her doubles partner Chattida Thimjapo (THA) in the first round .. In doubles, unseeded Sai and Chattida face the top seeded Russians Gulnara Fattakhedtinova and Galina Voskoboeva .. Rushmi and Christina Zachariadou (GRE) are seeded 3rd and they face the Czech pair, Ema Janaskova and Dominika Luzarova.

Hardly any upsets at the DSCL championships in Delhi today .. I have updated the scores at the DSCL page. .. BTW, I find that Shantanu Dhaka who I asked about yesterday, is an Indian American boy from Rhode Island .. A top highschool player from the New England area .. That explains why he is not in the AITA rankings and is "stateless" in the official DSCL draws .. Not that he has been setting the place on fire in India or anything; he has played well and I was just curious who the guy was, that's all.

Oct 21 Notes

LP and MB are both at the $1M St.Petersburg Open ATP in Russia .. Mahesh is playing with Nenad Zimonjic of Yugoslavia this week and Leander continues with Michael Hill (AUS) .. MB-NZ are the top seeds and MH-LP are the 3rd seeds, both teams in the top half of the draw with a potential semifinal meeting .. Tough early matches for them though .. LP-MH play the featured centercourt doubles match tonight, against the Gergina-Russian singles exempt entries, Irakli Labadze and Marat Safin .. They could prove to be tough in front of the partisan crowd there, if they play seriously .. MB-MH play Karsten Braasch (GER) and Jeff Tarango (USA).

The big Shreeram National Championships (DSCL hardcourt nationals) main draws started today at Delhi .. The senior draws and the junior (u18) draws are this week, with the u16 (subjunior) draw and u14 (mini-junior) draws next week .. This is of course the biggest tennis mela in India .. Some of the qualies went 5 rounds, with a ton of players out there .. Quite a few top players are missing though, Bopanna and Mankad being the most prominent absentees .. Both have been playing quite a bit and would end up playing 6-7 weeks in a stretch without a break if they play this week (both have three futures from next week) .. There is no bigger recipe for disaster than to play singles for more than 4-5 weeks at a stretch .. So I guess it's understandable that they have no choice but to skip DSCL .. Sunil Kumar, who was a 16 yr old champion once and then was the runner-up in 2000 returns as the top seed in the men's draw this time - good to see him play there, and it gives the men's draw some real weight .. "Evergreen" Nitin Kirtane is the second seed .. Notice that I didn't call Nitin a "veteran"; he jokingly complained to me at the Chennai futures that he ain't no veteran and is not going anywhere :-)) -- but, of course, I don't call anybody a veteran just because of his age; the tough experienced ones are by definition my "veterans"! :-) .. Vijay, Mustafa, Ajay and Sandeep are other contendors .. The women's draw is not great with Sai and Rushmi not there, but Sheetal, Sonal, Radhika, Ankita and Shruti are the contendors there - though we should watch out for Isha as the strong dark horse .. The u18 boys draws are good too, with Somdev, Tushar, Amanjot, Rupesh etc .. I doubt there is anybody in the girls' draw who can beat Isha lakhani, though 2nd seed Punam, #3 Sandra Sashidharan (Go Kerala! :-)), #4 Lata, etc, capable of giving some fight ..

I have started the DSCL Open page with all the official scores from today and some of the qualifying round scores as published by The Hindu .. There is also a website for the tournament - The only real upsets today were the 5th seed Manoj Mahadevan going down to Kedar Tembe, and young Somdev Varman beating the 8th seed Vishal Punna, though the latter is not a big upset, knowing how well the 17 yr old top junior has been playing lately .. Take a look also at the final round qualifying results I have posted .. Some results such as young Shantanu Dhaka beating last year's u18 champ Arun Prakash in the final men's qualies caught my eye (who IS Shantanu - I asked that once before when I saw a good win from him, and didn't get an answer from anyone; the official draws do not even list which state he is from - he did get a wildcard to the u18 though) .. Another thing was Amanjot Singh having to play qualies to make it to the u18 draw as the 4th seed ..  That is tough for a former champion u16 player; I guess there are still those upset at Amanjot for various reasons (one being his reported "volatility" earlier on) ..  Whatever that is, I respect the guy a lot for doing it the hard way rather than giving up and sulking.

In other news, Manisha Malhotra was the 5th seed in the qualies for the $25K Rockhampton challenger in Australia, but went down this weekend in the second round .. She beat Bojana Bobusic (AUS) 64 62 and then lost to the talented Swedish youngster, Hanna Nooni, 46 57 .. Manisha and Leanne are seeded 4th in the doubles main draw and they play a qualifying pair to be determined.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Oct 21 ..

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.