Indian-Tennis: Daily News for the weeks ending on Nov 1, 2004
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Nov 1 Notes
Leander's year seems to have ended rather quickly today, unfortunately
.. At the Paris masters, LP and Rikl went down 26 36 to Martin Damm and Cyril
Suk in the first round .. The scoreline seems to indicate that Lee was probably
not fully recovered from the fever and body aches he had last week .. The
schedule also did not help LP - and that is partly due to them being not
seeded, which itself is unfortunately due to Rikl's rank being under 20 -
which in turn is due to him having not played a full schedule all year ..
Oh well .. Their chances to move up from #11 to the top 7 for an entry in
the year-end masters cup is shot now - but that was anyway a long shot because
they had to basically win the event to be sure of that .. Hopefully LP will
be back next year making more noise .. I am itching to say with which partner
- and it is not Rikl, with all due respect to the very good doubles player
that he is ... but you know where I am going with this :-) ... Have not seen
any word from the two Indian champs about anything like that since the Olympics
I had not bugged or publicly implored LP and MB to play together, for a long
time .. No, that was not because we in the fanclub were taking the hands-off
attitude like most Indian tennis stalwarts did during their first split,
saying they were pros and should do what they wanted as pros .. Not at all
.. In fact, I never believed that these two should be just "left alone" like
all professional doubles players, free to play with whomever they wanted
to play with, just because, as the argument from some went, they were
playing for money for themselves after all .. Never believed that bowl of baloney..
Because the fact is that LP and MB are not like just any other tennis
players .. Whenever they stepped on court, they were doing something more
than win matches for themselves .. They were among the very very few true
top world class sportsmen (top-10 quality) India has had in world sports
.. So, when they played, India cared - and India continues to care .. So
the argument that they should be left alone was not acceptable to me - and
on my part, on behalf of the fanclub, I of course sent them many messages
at one time (in 1999, during the first split) begging them to get back together
.. Because every record they created and every piece of history they made
was of utmost importance to Indian sports ..
Then I had completely stopped doing all that, because at one point in early
2002 when they split for the second time, I knew that they were not mentally
in position to play together again on the tour .. It seemed pretty clear
that they simply did not seem to enjoy playing with each other .. The trust
was gone .. The comfort level was completely gone .. It was no longer just
some ego and other people's influence and all that which happened the first
time when they split .. Their tennis together was probably not going to go
anywhere .. It seemed also clear that there was some sort of pressure as
well, real or perceived, to prove something to each other .. That was not
very useful for good results either .. Even to an observer from afar like me, it
was easy to see that they probably would not do well together even if they
tried to play together .. That really was the reason why I stopped pestering
LP and MB for a reunion .. In other words, if the general air between them
was not great, they weren't going to do well together on the relentless day-to-day
grind on the tour .. So there was no point in wishing for the Indian Express
to be together .. I was content to just live with the memories of the great
team and all they did earlier .. In a way I suppose somewhere inside I even
felt that I did not want to see them struggle along on the tour and mar the
great memories from earlier .. So I (and I am sure quite a few in the fanclub
as well) decided to just let it go and generally stopped talking about seeing
Anyway, that was the case all the way till this summer and the Olympics
.. Now things have again changed .. In my view they are both in a comfortable
place in their careers - both have done a fair bit and showed they can be
very successful with other partners .. Neither has really anything to prove
to anybody or to themselves as individual doubles players .. The whole world
knows that each have been among the best few doubles players in the last decade
(the world never had any doubt on what these two were as a team if only they
played together) .. Then we saw that they might even be able to play and
enjoy their doubles TOGETHER like old times when tennis was all that mattered
.. We saw some of that in the three weeks of tennis around Olympics and saw
how terrific they still are .. They must have even liked it a bit, seeing
as they played one event afterwards at Bangkok when their partners were not
available .. Well, then perhaps it is time to get together for the final
stretch run in their careers - which can still go another 2-3 years or more
Now, however, some other earlier goals
come back and start making sense again .. While they individually can hardly
prove anything more by playing with others, they both do have a lot to still
prove as a doubles team TOGETHER .. Like winning a masters cup (something
they could not do, falling in three finals) .. Like winning an Australian
Open and a US Open to get a career grand slam as a team (not even the woodies
have won all four, you know!) .. Like making a lot of money .. Perhaps more
importantly, winning another 10-15 titles and going down as a top-5 team
in the history of the game .. Like making sure that people won't for ever
say "what if" about their careers .. Well, as a practical matter, at this
point both could use a steady partner too; Neither has been able to
always be sure of the partner's availability, both having had to play with
others when Mirnyi and Rikl were unavailable this year .. Both have
arguably even had better results with others than their regular partners
this year, though in much fewer events .. It does seem to be time for both
to change partners, if you ask me.
So, here is my first call -- Hey Lee and Hesh, get the hell back together
.. (I have not decided how insistent I will be on behalf of the fanclub in
pestering them, but for now, this is the call from us! :-)) .. One of you
send an SMS like last time in 2001 with a "let's play again" message - and
let's get going.. OK, may be after MB gets done with Paris and Houston.
Alright, back to news .. The $25K "MSLTA" Mumbai women's challenger has started
today .. No big surprises but Sanaa Bhambri continues to play really well
-- she upset Sai Jayalakshmy in the first round today in easy straight sets
.. Krushmi Chheda beat qualifier Chirashantha Rajur .. Sonal went down to
Wilawan Choptang (THA) .. Three Thai girls advanced, as most Indian girls
continue to be unable to stand up to the physical energy and mobility of
the Thai girls who are always relentless when they come to India .. See the
Mumbai women's challenger page for all the scores.
In other bad news, Harsh Mankad could not get going in the one set he played
today and went down 60 26 26 to Robert Yim (USA) in the final qualies at
the Homstead challenger in Florida .. HM is the first lucky loser candidate,
but it does not look like there are any withdrawals from the main draw ..
Harsh and Aisam play doubles tomorrow in the afternoon.
In the latest singles rankings, we have another top-350 player --- and that
is Sunil Kumar Sipaeya, who has come up to #349 with the 12 points he gained
with the runner-up finish at the Nigeria futures a week back .. He is only
the 4th Indian since 1997 to crack top-250, with Srinath, Harsh and Prakash
as the previouos ones .. Sunil has not had a whole lot of top-350 wins
though, which is what he will need to move up much from where he is .. He will be playing a lot more challengers from now
on and would have a chance to play higher ranked players ..
Sunil Kumar, Vishal Uppal, Vijay Kannan, and Vinod Sridhar are all at the
Thailand $10K this week .. Young Karan Rastogi qualified in once again -
and had to go through a couple of tough three-setters to do that .. Also
qualifying in was former
national hockey captain Ajit Pal Singh's 23 year old son Gurmehar Singh,
who upset the top seed Jacco mathew in the final round of qualies .. The
draw is all posted by our Thai friend jirobkk in the
- take a look ..
Oct 31 Notes
LP and Rikl are scheduled to play on Monday itself at the Paris masters
.. That is terrible; I was hoping that LP would get a couple more days to
hopefully recover from his illness last week .. At this point, LP-DR needs
to win at least some three rounds to have any chance for the Houston Masters
Cup draw .. Let us hope LP is goon enough to play tomorrow.
A really good win for Harsh Mankad at the $50K+H Homstead challenger Q2 this
morning .. Mankad d. Brendan Evans (USA,730), 57 76(3) 63 .. He had to come
back from the brink against the 18 year old who is the current #2 in the
world junior rankings .. That he was able to do that in a three hour match
this morning after a 3 hour match last night in the Q1 was perhaps some indication
that HM has gained something from his recent training work in Pasadena -
actually HM himself said that today, as he felt he was able to tire the opponents
down by the third set in both the matches .. He then had to come back for
a 3rd match within 24 hours, in the afternoon - and did run out of gas after
7 hours of play - but got lucky as the match got postponed at 60 26 in the
Q3 against Robert Yim (USA) .. Hopefully he can win the third set and make
the main draw tomorrow .. In the doubles draw, Harsh is playing with Aisam
Qureshi (PAK) .. They face the wildcards, Vahid Mirzadeh and Jesse Witten
of USA ..
At the Q2 for the Tier III Bell challenge in Qubec City, Canada, Shikha Uberoi (USA) went down to Carly Gullickson, 36 46 ..
Oct 30 Notes
The doubles draws are out for the very final regular ATP tournament of
the year, the Paris Indoors Masters .. Good to see that Leander (who was
a bit ill last week) is in the draw .. LP-Rikl are unseeded and play Martin
Damm and Cyril Suk of CZE in the first round .. Mahesh and Max are
on the other half of the draw, seeded 4th - they play Andrei Pavel (ROM)
and Nenad Zimonjic (SCG) .. The firt round matches may be scheduled as late
as on wednesday this week.
At the Tier III WTA in Quebec City, Canada, the 5th seed Shikha Uberoi beat
Ekaterina Afinogenova (RUS,460), 57 63 76(5) and face Carly Gullickson (USA,409)
next .. Neha Ubeori (USA,317) could not get past the top seed Abigail Spears
(USA,118) in a 26 46 match.
At the $50K+H Homestead challenger qualies, Harsh Mankad had a very good
Q1 win yesterday, 63 67(3) 63 against Wayne Odesnik (USA,425), a 19 year
old who has been playing vey well this month with a $15K US futures final
and an upset of a top-225 player in the Burbank challenger, etc .. Up next
for Harsh today in the Q2 is Brendan Evans (USA,730), who will be another
tough match - he is the current junior #2 in the world ..
By the way, I forgot to mention that there were a few excellent onsite fanclub member match reports from the $10K in Pune, from Jaydeep (thyanks!) in our forum thread on the Pune ITF .. Take a look .. He mentions the gritty work there by the runner-up Rushmi, who had been injured from the QF onwards ..
Oct 29 Notes
Mahesh and Gambill had a good start at the Stockholm ATP semis yesterday,
but went down to the Spanish team of Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco,
63 57 26 .. Mahesh now goes to Paris for the masters event, to play with
Max Mirnyi again.
The Uberoi sisters are at the Bell Challenge (WTA Tier III) in Quebec
City for the qualifying rounds this weekend .. [Q1] (1) Abigail Spears (USA,
118) vs. Neha Uberoi (USA, 317) .. [Q1] (5) Shikha Uberoi (USA, 169) vs.
Ekaterina Afinogenova (RUS, 460) .. Tough match for Neha, but if she can
play with teh form she had last week in her straight sets upset of a top-130
player, who knows! ..
Harsh Mankad is in the draw for the weekend qualifying at the $50K+H challenger
in Homestead, Florida (USA) near Miami .. He is the 4th seed and faces
Wayne Odesnik (USA) in the Q1 today.
At the $15K in Baton Rouge, Louisiana (USA), 5th seed Prakash Amritraj
(IND,332) went down to qualifier Yaoki Ishii (JPN,719) 57 26, in the semis
.. I don't think Prakash was able to get down by last night to sign in for
the qualies at the Homestead challenger, unfortunately.
At the $10K Pune ITF, the unbeaten streak of Akgul Amanmuradova (UZB) continued,
as she won a dowble crown .. She beat Rushmi in the final (60 76) today,
and had won the doubles title with Sai Jayalakshmy yesterday (correction - I wrongly said that Rushmi won the doubles, earlier) .. For her part, Rushmi
had a very good tournament, as she always does when she is in India .. She
had beaten a resurgent Isha Lakhani in the semi yesterday quite easily ..
Now the girls move on to the $25K challenger in Mumbai.
Forgot to update how things went a couple of days back in the second round
at the $10K in Thailand .. All three Indians went down in the second round
there .. Denis Gremelmayr (GER,498) d. Vijay Kannan (IND,540) 63 61 .. (4)
Takahiro Terachi (JPN,327) d. (Q) Karan Rastogi (IND) 57 63 63 and David
Martin (USA,674) d. Vishal Uppal (IND,585) 36 64 61 .. Though he lost, it
was a pretty good match from Karan, against Terach .. At the $15K in Nigeria
(F6b) Mustafa had lost in the first round to Jonathan Igbinova (NGR) 46 46
.. Mustafa is in the doubles semis again, though.
Oct 28 Notes
Sorry for disappearing for two days .. Thought I would have good internet
connections during my travel, but it took two days to get set ..
I thought Mahesh would be off this week, as he was not in the early entry
lists at any of the ATP events .. As it turned out, he went and signed in
with Jan-Michael Gambill at the Stockholm ATP .. They advanced to the QF
with a really tough R1 win over Jordan Kerr (AUS) and Jim Thomas (USA),
76(1) 67(6) 76(4) .. Then they got a walkover in the QF and are in the semifinals
today against the Spaniards, Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco, who upset
the 2nd seeds Palmer-Vizner .. Good going, Hesh.
Nice work by Prakash Amritraj at the $15K Baton Rouge futures in the US .. He has reached
the QF with wins over wildcar, Michael Pallares (DOM), 62 60 and the talented
qualifier Scoville Jenkins (USA,889), 76(7) 62 .. He plays another qualifier,
Yaoki Ishii (JPN,719), who upset the 3rd seed Yu Wang Jr (CHN,317) yesterday
.. Praksh is only playing singles this week.
Harsh Mankad is at the $50K+H Homestead challenger (next week), and would be signing in for qualies this evening.
The Pune $10K ITF has now reached the semifinal stage .. The story has been
the nice comeback by Isha Lakhani .. She was made to fight all the way to
the end in a three set (3rd set tiebreaker) marathin by Sanaa Bhambri yesterday
though .. Sanaa is playing at a higher level lately, for sure .. Isha faces
Rushmi, who is generally unbeatable when she pays in India .. The top seed
Akgul Amanmuradova keeps cooking though, in the upper half of the draw -
she faces Wilawan Choptang (THA) who upset the 8th seed Sonal Phadke yesterday
.. See the
Oct 26 Notes
Prakash Amritraj is at the $15K USA F30 futures in Baton Rouge (Louisiana)
in the US this week .. He is seeded 5th and is drawn to face a wildcard Michael
Ray Pallares (DOM,1225) .. The match is on Tuesday.
At the $10K ITF tournament in Pune, the big upset today was by 15 year old GK Shwetha,
who pulled the rug out from under the 7th seed Archana Venkatraman .. That
is the first professional win for the young girl .. Wilawan Choptang of Thailand
beat the 4th seed Sai Jayalakshmy, who only occasionally seems to play at
the level that she used to be at a couple of years back .. I have not seen
the official Tuesday scores (the ususally prompt Deccan Gymkhana website
didn't update today), but have posted what I could find from a Marathi newspaper
(Sakal), at the
page. It looks like 17 yr old Punam reddy had a good win over Arthi Venkatraman,
and the 2nd seed Rushmi beat Sheethal. Young wildcard, 16 year old
Tara Iyer seems to have gone down to the 6th seed Thassha Vitayaviroj (THA),
though in a good 67(3) 36 match .. Tara has had some knee injury problems
this year but seems to be starting to play well after quite a while.
At the Thailand F1, Indians had a pretty good day .. The biggest win was
by Vishal Uppal who upset the 6th seed Herbert Wiltschnig (AUT,419), 62 63
.. Voijay Kannan (IND,540) had a very good 64 64 win over Martin Slanar (AUT,571)
.. Slanar was ranked around 400 just a few months back .. Qualifier Karan
Rastogi beat another qualifier Joji Miyao (JPN), 63 36 62 .. The bad news
was that Vinod Sridhar had an uncharacteristic 16 26 upset loss to a wildcard
youngster, Kirati Siributwong ..
Oct 25 Notes
There was good and bad news at the Nigeria F6A futures in Lagos over the weekend - Sunil Kumar
won the doubles title but went down in the singles final to Viktor Bruthans
(SVK,315), 26 46 .. Still an excellent week for Sunil Kumar, who picked up
enough points to move to about #355 in singles rankings next week! .. Good
job .. He needs to now start moving on to some of the tougher futures and
pick up some wins at the higher levels (against top-350 opponents) .. He
seems ready to start doing that .. SKS was in the entry list for the Thailand
futures series starting this week (three $10K events), but seems to have
withdrawn from the first week.
The $10K women's ITf event has started in Pune, sponsored once again by NECC
(National Egg Coordination Committee, I believe) .. Pretty decent field there,
led by Akgul Amanmuradova of UZB, the winner of the event last year at Pune
.. The runner-up last year, Meghaa Vakharia, is not playing as she is taking
some time off to rets some injury etc .. The big match today was between
the Bhambri sisters .. Sanaa who has usually had trouble against her elder
sister in the past, turned the tables on 3rd seed Ankita in a straight sets
upset .. Sanaa really seems to be in great form lately .. 5th seed Isha Lakhani
and 8th seed Sonal Phadke also won .. Rushmi, Sai, etc are yet to play ..
See the scores in the Pune $10K page.
18 yr old Karan Rastogi did a good job in the qualifying rounds at the $10K
Thailand F1 futures this weekend .. After beating a Thai wildcard in the
Q1 round, he beat tetsuya Chaen (JPN,1311),m 46 63 64 in the Q2 round and
then upset the 5th seed Mourad Inoyatov (UZB,839) in the Q3 to make the main
draw where he will face another qualifier, Joji Miyao (JPN), who had upset
Jaco Mathew who was the 6th seed in the qualies, in the Q2 .. Also qualifying
in was Ashutosh Singh, who beat Chris Nathan (USA) 61 60, Ante Andric (CRO),
76(4) 76(3) and Idan Rosenberg (ISR), 61 62 .. Ashutosh has a tough R1 against
the 4th seed Terachi (JPN) .. In the main draw, VIinod Sridhar plays a wildcard,
Vijay kannan plays Martin Slanar (AUT), Vishal Uppal plays the 6th seed Wiltschnig
.. You can see all the results posted by our friend jirobkk in the forum thread on the Thai events ..
Forgot to report on the Asian Tennis Federation (ATF) u14 tournament that finished this past weekend in Delhi .. Shriram Balaji won the final over Yuki Bhambri, 75 64 .. Poojashree Venkatesh
beat Prerna Mythry, 63 62 in the girls finals .. If I am not mistaken, the
winners of this event will be sent to Australia for a one month program,
in an arrangement between the Asian Tennis federation and Tennis Australia
(something like that) .. So, it is a very nice break for the youngsters Shriram
and Poojashree! .. Congratulations.
.. Previous notes are at Notes
for the weeks ending on Oct 25 ..
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