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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Nov 4, 2002
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Nov 4 Notes

There was only a very light schedule of matches at the Delhi futures today, with everybody in the Deepaavali mood .. Nothing much surprising today .. Vinod Sridhar took out Vishal Punna and Kamala Kannan beat the recent u18 DSCL champ, Arun Prakash .. See the Delhi futures page.

Late news - Rushmi and Sai finished as runners-up at the $25K Cairo challenger yesterday at the Cairo challenger! .. I had reported the R1 win earlier .. The big win was in the QF, where they upset the 2nd seeded Czech pair of Gabriela Navratilova and Hana Sromova in a tough marathon, 57 76(6) 76(4) .. They then got a walkover in the semis to the final, and lost 26 16 to Kyra Nagy (HUN) and Maria Wolfbrandt (SWE) ..

The main draw of the $10K Manila satellite starts tomorrow and a few of our girls, including Sania Mirza are in the entry list.

It turns out that Indian u12/u14 team had beaten Italy in the first round before upsetting the 7th seeds Israel at the Nike Junior World Masters at Sun City, RSA .. They seem to have gone down today in the QF .. No details with me yet, but still a good job by our team to be unseeded in the 25 team world competition and to reach the QF.

Nov 3 Notes

The Delhi futures starts tomorrow .. Chatwinder, Jaco, CD Ajay and Kedar were mong the eight qualifiers into the main draw today .. Mustafa is the top seed and has relatively easy early rounds against qualifiers .. Harsh Mankad continues to get great luck (:-)) with the draws, and faces the second seed Juraj Hasko this time .. 4th seed Vijay Kannan also has a tough one against last week's winner, Ivanov .. See the Delhi futures page.

I have made a page with the results of the u12/u14 Nike junior tour masters at Bangalore early last week .. Took a while to get around to compiling the scores .. As I said earlier, the top kids from the four Nike regionals were the ones who played at Bangalore .. AITA junior ranking points were also awarded for the event conducted at the Bhupathi TennisVillage .. Sanaa Bhambri and N.Jeevan won the u14 titles with two talented new names coming out in the u12s - V Poojashree of Karnataka and Sriram Balaji of Tamil Nadu .. The four of them are right now in South Africa, representing India at the Nike Junior Tour Finals in Sun City .. There are about 25 countries with their teams out there in the at the SunCity resort, the RSA version of Las vegas, about a couple of hors drive northwest of Johannesburg and Pretoria .. It is not really a city, just a big entertainment resort - the kids will definitely have fun out there, which was also part of Nike's plans .. By the way, Billie Jean King, a big supporter of the "team concept" in tennis is out there and World Team Tennis also has been doing a lot for this event and is down there in RSA .. The Nike tour is now in its 6th year, and India joined the thing this year .. The format is interesting with singles match-ups between the four u12/u14 champs of each country, and then two doubles matches and a mixed doubles match, all seven matches counting in each tie .. I just saw a blurb news item from RSA that India upset the 7th seeds Israel today to reach the QF .. I believe India is unseeded .. I will await further news/details, if anything comes in.

I have added a page for the DSCL mini/sub (u14/u16) junior Hardcourt Nationals .. I will add the doubles results and early singles rounds results later.

Nov 2 Notes

If you haven't noticed, Paradorn Srichaphan is continuing his big run .. After upsetting the 4th and 16th seeds, he beat the 12th seed Andy Roddick yesterday to reach the semi against Lleyton Hewitt at the big Paris Masters .. The dude will come into Chennai with a ranking near top-15 .. What an year for him!

At the Cairo challenger first round this week, Rushmi Chakravarthi went down to the 7th seed Barbora Strycova (CZE), 16 36 .. Rushmi and Sai beat the wildcard team, Magy Aziz (EGY) and Ekaterina Bychkova (RUS) 64 63, and were to face the second seeds Gabriela Navratilova and Hana Sromova of CZE in the QF ..  At the Dalby challenger in Australia, Manisha and Leanne had withdrawn from the doubles R1 due to Leanne's injury/illness .. That was good, as Manisha played 7 singles matches this week .. Not sure where she will be playing next .. After a week's break, there are three more challengers in Australia at Port Pirie, Nuriootpa and Mt.Gambier, the 3rd one coinciding with the Mumbai challenger (starting on Nov 25th)

According to Kamesh Srinivasan's report in The Hindu, the final at Chandigarh yesterday was a long-drawn affair of mostly backcourt grinding .. Harsh could not put a stop to his double fault problems, as he had about 15 of them .. Kamesh had a stat which was surprising - that there were 267 points played in the  57 64 57 loss to Harsh .. That is an average of almost 8 points per game .. With 151 points played in Harsh's 17 service games (I don't know how Kamesh finds these kinds of stats! :-)) .. To top it there were many rallies of 20+ points .. That means the games were going for ever .. Harsh's legs simply refused to cooperate in the end, after he was up 4-1 in the 3rd set .. He said he knew that it was over at that point with cramps not allowing him to move much .. Harsh is not too bad in stamina but he needs to do more work to be able to win these 3 hour type matches ..

The Delhi futures starts on monday .. Saurabh Singh, R.Arun Kumar, kamala Kannan etc have been given wildcards ..  Rohan will skip singles to give some rest to his serving arm, but had said that he may play doubles.

Kartiki Bhat and Abhay Prakash went down in the PQFs at the grade-3 Brunei ITF juniors this week ..

Nov 1 Note-2

Pavel Ivanov won the futures today at Chandigarh, beating Harah Mankad 75 46 75 .. Tough match .. According to The Hindu, Harsh had said after the semifinal win that he was concerned about not closing out matches porperly and about all the double faults he was serving, I wonder if that hurt him again .. Still, 8 more ATP points to him and that will move him up to a total of 20 and his ranking to about #675 from #807 .. Harsh must be getting that winning feeling again after a string of futures where he ran into top seeds and lost .. Ajay Ramaswmai won yet another doubles title, this time with Sunil Kumar, as they beat the top seeds Rohan-Vijay .. See the Chandigarh futures page.

The Hindustan Times had reported that India's Davis Cup Asia-Ocenaia round-1 against Japan early next year will be at Delhi, on grasscourts .. So, after six foreign trips, we finally get to play on our favourite surface! .. LP is probably still deadly on low-bounce grasscourts .. Rohan has grass as his best surface ..  Both Sunil and Harsh are all-court players, quite comfortable on grass, as well.  Not bad.

In other news, reportedly Paradorn Srichaphan has confirmed his participation at the Chennai Open .. That is great news, as he is extremely popular right now, and will bring some big fan enthusiasm .. He was of course the improbable unseeded finalist this year .. The cChennai fans of course warmed up a lot to him and he became their adopted favorite this year .. That is where his journey started this year, and he is still going strong .. He is in the QF at the Paris Masters with upsets of the world #3 Ferrero and then the 16th seed Canas this week, following on his second title at Stockholm .. He will come into Chennai with a top-20 ranking this time, probably among the top couple of seeds .. Philippoussis is another big name who is confirmed so far (his ranking is at around #80 now though) ..

The name that made a huge splash this week at the DSCL u16/u14 nationals was Madura Ranganathan, who won both the girls titles, and won a doubles title also for triple crown .. In the boys section, Divij Sharan beat Sanam Singh in the 16s, while Sanam won the u14 title .. Sanam's win against Rupesh Roy in the semis was noteworthy too .. The Chandigarh boy has not been as much in the news as a few others like Sumit, Rupesh etc, but he needs to be taken seriously too.

Oct 31 Note-2

Manisha pulled off her biggest win yesterday, upsetting the 7th seed Oxana Karyshkova (RUS,210), 26 61 64 to reach the QF at the Dalby challenger yesterday .. Good six match win streak for Manisha, who came through 4 rounds of qualifiers also there .. All of a sudden some big wins from Indians .. Manisha went down today to the 4th seed Evie Dominikovic (AUS,138) in the QF, but picked up 5.5 more points for the R2 win, including 2 more bonus pts for beating a top-250 player .. That is a total of 12.75 points from this challenger to add to her 34 points - that will take her ranking soon to around #360 .. Good to see that .. A little while back I was beginning to suspect that she was not focusing on singles much, but certainly that is not the case .. Good job Manisha!

At the $50K challenger in Tyler, Texas, Prakash Amritraj lost 26 16 to Mardy Fish (USA,92), the top seed today .. Great win in the first round though .. Here is an article in the Tyler newspaper (thanks Vas Param, for sending the link) that is interesting to read, about Prakash.

The news paper reports say that Rohan's bicep trouble that was there at Tashkent two weeks back returned today against Harsh, and he was unable to serve any aces, unlike the 10-15 he was serving in each of the previous three matches .. He needs to watch his arm and take rest if needed .. Apparently he is skipping the next two weeks but will be there at the Thai challenger etc afterwards .. Unfortunate, but that is the best thing to do.

Oct 31 Note-1

I said yesterday that it would be good for Rohan and Harsh to play each other, as it would improve them both .. A nice and healthy rivalry seems to have started .. In the last futures, we had Rphan beating Harsh in a three set thriller, and this time Harsh Mankad got his revenge with a 63 64 win today at Chandigarh over Rohan Bopanna .. He faces Pavel Ivanov, who upset the 2nd seed Juraj Hasko in the other semi .. Rohan/Vijay and Ajay/Sunil are in the doubles final .. See the Chandigarh futures page ..

Oct 30 Note-3

2nd seeds Mahesh and Mirnyi went down in a real barn-burner, 67(3) 76(5) 67(2) today in the second round at the Paris Masters, to Rick Leach and Brian MacPhie .. I have no idea how Rick Leach, 58 years old and all (or something like that, like I always say :-)) is able to be part of something like that against one of the toughest teams to win a tiebreaker against! ..  MB must be done with the year, as there is no year-end WDC this time .. Off to Bangalore for his wedding in a couple of weeks for MB ..

Some good news from Tyler, Texas .. Prakash Amritraj (USA) continues to show that he may have it in him to do some damage in due course of time .. Big win for him in the first round of the $50K challenger where he had a wildcard .. He upset Michael Russel (USA,152), 63 36 62 !!  (Thanks, Vas, for alerting me to this news) .. Prakash does not win all that consistently yet, as he is still learning the tour, but this is the biggest win of his career .. I think it is also the highest ranked player beaten by any Indian other than LP since MB beat Sanguinetti in Davis Cup in early 98 .. OK, I am counting Prakash as an Indian, based on public statements to that effect by VA and PA .. How about that? .. Within a span of two weeks we have had two wins against top-200 players (RB winning one in Tashkent, and beating a #204 player too) after nearly 5 years with nobody doing that except LP .. Go Kash! .. He now has a tough match, against the top seed Mardy Fish ..

Finally saw some news from on the draws at the Egypt challenger (courtesy: Alain Vincent) .. Rushmi was drawn against the 7th seed Barbora Strycova (CZE) - tough match in the first round .. Sai was the 4th seed in the qualies but did not make it in .. She beat Franziska Etsel (GER) 57 64 63 but then lost to Nadejda Vassileva (BUL), 26 61 26 .. In the doubles main draw,  Rushmi and Sai are unseeded and got a wild card team, Magy Aziz (EGY)/ Ekaterina Bychkova (RUS) .. No main draw scores yet.

Some news from the Brunei Grade-3 ITF juniors .. MV Abhay Prakash upset the 5th seed Ahmed Shebl (EGY,150), 26 76(3) 75 to reach the PQF of the 7 round event .. MVAP had a first round bye and had beaten Christian Schonau (DEN)  63 63 in the R2 .. He gets the 10th seed next .. Playing the 6-round girls draw is Kartiki Bhat, seeded 15th .. After a bye, Kartiki beat Johanna Morrison (AUS) 64 62 to reach the final-16 too .. She faces Katerina Kramperova (CZE) .. There is another "interesting" East European name -- Bychkova, Luzerova, Kramperova --- not exactly nice-sounding, don't you think? .. :-) ..

The DSCL u14/u16 hardcourt nationals have reached the semifinal stage .. u14 boys: #1 Sanam Singh vs Kaushik Raju, and RK Praveen vs AG Peter .. u16 boys: #1 Rupesh Roy vs #4 Sanam Singh, Divij Sharan vs Vishnu Vardhan .. Vishnu upset the 2nd seed Anshuman Dutta .. Rupesh will be tough for anybody to beat (he too qualifies for u14, like Sanam, but did not play that draw) .. Sumit Prakash is not at the DSCL nationals .. Girls u14: #3 Madura Ranganathan vs Neena Sharma, #2 GK Shweta vs #4 Gayatri Krishnan (RK's daughter, that is) .. Girls u16: Orrmila Ram vs GK Shweta, Preethi.S vs Madura R .. Madura and Shweta have looked strong in both the draws .. Of course there are quite of a few of the top girls not playing ..

Oct 30 Note-2

For the 5th time in a row, we will have an Indian in the final of a futures in India, as Rohan and Harsh won very easy straight sets matches against Smirnov and Vishal Punna today, to go into a keenly-awaited semifinal faceoff tomorrow at Chandigarh .. The last time we did not have an Indian in a futures final was in the India F1 in March .. Rohan won the F2, Sunil won the F3, Sunil was runner-up in the F4, Rohan won the F5 and now we will have Harsh or Rohan in the final again in the F6 .. Definitely our second string (which is now basically the first string, unless Leander decides to get back on the singles court) is doing much better now than a couple of years back after Srinath and Fazal went past their peaks .. The bad news today was Vijay Kannan going down after a tough match, 46 75 46 to the second seed Juraj Hasko who had miraculously escaped yesterday as well, when Saurav Panja fell apart due to cramps after triple match points at 61 53 .. See the Chandigarh futures page for scores ..

Rohan/Vijay and Ajay/Sunil are in the doubles semifinals as well, along with the qualifier youngsters Somdev/Jaco .. Harsh, who had won the F3 and F4 doubles titles with Ajay, is not playing doubles this week .. He probably did not find a good partner as Ajay was not available and decided not to waste time :-) .. By the way, Ajay Ramaswami has been really good in doubles lately .. I like how the Indian competition has improved .. There are some pretty tough guys there now, playing against each other - it can only improve them all .. Looking forward to Harsh vs Rohan tomorrow; these two should play against each other a lot, and both would benefit from it.

Oct 30 Note-1

MB and Mirnyi play Rick Leach and Brian MacPhie this evening at the Paris indoors Masters.

News from Australia .. After qualifying in with 4 wins into the Dalby challenger, Manisha Malhotra advanced to the second round, as Leanne Baker (NZL,345), who is also her doubles partner, retired after dropping one set 1-6 .. So I guess it is some problem with Leanne last week that caused them to retire in the doubles match last week too .. Not sure whether they will play the doubles draw this week .. MM faces the 7th seed Oxana Karyshkova (RUS,210) in the PQF .. Manisha has picked up 3.5 + 1.75 points for the main draw win and for qualifying and 2 quality points for the two top-500 wins, for a total of 7.25 points .. That is good work so far; she will soon climb back inside the top-400 again, about 35 spots up from her #421 current rank (which had just gone up 23 spots with 4.5 points from the Mackay challenger two weeks back).

Sorry, still no news from Cairo on how Rushmi and sai are doing at the challenger there .. Egypt seems to be a black hole for info, and I don't have direct contact with Sai or Rushmi ..

Oct 29 Note-2

4th seed Sunil Kumar got upset today at the Chandigarh futures in three sets .. Not sure what's up with SKS suddenly - hopefully just the after-effect of the illness he had .. Also going down was Nitin Kirtane (now officially known as "evergreen" - I saw Kamesh call him that too, in the Hindu article today :-)) .. Nitin did give a 3-set fight before falling to Smirnov of Russia .. Ajay Ramaswami is another one who fell in three sets to the 8th seeded Czech player, Masik .. The Vishal Punna story continues, as he upset another top-1000 player to reach the QF - but now he runs into Harsh Mankad who seems to be in good form; HM put a stop to Ashutosh's plans with a 60 61 romp .. Rohan had a tough first set which he won in a tiebreaker before running past Furukawa of Japan .. Vijay Kannan is the 4th Indian in the QF, with a 64 64 win over Rohan Gajjar .. See the Chandigarh futures page.

The u16/u14 DSCL hardcourt national championships has been underway in Delhi since yesterday .. Not all of the promising payers in that age group are playing there though .. I will have a scores page up by some time later this week.

In other news, I saw the entry list for the Manila satellites next week, and Sonal, Radhika, Megha, Geeta and Sania as the 5th, 7th, 13th, 16th and 18th main draw entries.

Oct 29 Note-1

Leander and Michael Hill seems to be unable to do any sort of a serious challenge to the top seeds like Knowles-Nestor and Bjorkman-Woodbridge, and Leander seems to invariably run into those guys in early rounds .. Today was no different at the Paris Masters, as they LP-MH went down in the second round, 26 06 to the 3rd seeds Bjorkman-Woodbridge .. That's a forgettable end to basically a forgettable pro year for Leander .. Hope he takes a break, does his year-end training and all that and comes back with a better plan next year .. The Kolkata Telegraph had reported a couple of days back that LP is looking at Mokael Llodra as a partner for next year .. Llodra is a good one, but we have been hearing the Llodra name for close to half a year and this time it is hopefully for real.

MB and Mirnyi, who had an R1 bye, have not played at Paris yet .. Their opponents would be decided today.

Good news from Australia .. Manisha Malhotra played four tough matches and qualified into the $25K Dalby challenger .. Manisha was the 6th seed and beat the 3rd seed along the way .. Here are the scores - [Q1] d Nadia Johnston (AUS) 64 63 .. [Q2] d. Gabrielle Baker (AUS,571) 36 63 64 .. [Q3] d. Marina Viliamovskaia (RUS) 63 67(3) 64 .. [Q4] d. #3 Leslie Butkiewicz (BEL,394) 64 26 64 .. I am not sure whom she is playing in the main draw .. Good job .. She still plays far too many three-setters than she should, but this time she won them and that is the good news .. In the doubles main draw, Leanne Baker and Manisha are seeded 4th and face Stefanie Haidner and Shiho Hisamatsu first

Awaiting news from Cairo on Rushmi and Sai at the challenger there.

At the Chandigarh futures, Harsh Mankad beat the 3rd seed Mustafa Ghouse yesterday in the first round - technically an upset, but in reality, it isn't .. Punna Vishal who has had a couple of good wins this year and has shown some promising signs, upset the 7th seed Boris Borgula .. Vinod Sridhar could not continue the good work at the DSCL Open, and went down .. Rohan Bopanna, Sunil Kumar and Ajay Ramswamy moved on with minimal problems .. The name that caught my eye was Ashutosh Singh, who had come through three tough qualifying rounds upsetting the 8th seed Kedar Tembe and the 10th seed Vijendra Laad, both talented and capable players .. Ashutosh, who turned 20 last month and has been generally in the top-30 of the men's ranking lately, won the first round against his Italian opponent as well - fortune favors the brave, as the Italian retired in the second set .. Interesting .. See the scores at the Chandigarh futures page .. Awaiting today's results.

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.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Oct 28 ..

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.