Indian-Tennis: Daily News for the weeks ending on Nov 8, 2004
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Nov 8 Notes
The Houston Masters Cup does not start till the coming weekend; so Mahesh and Max get a few days off.
Not much going on, except for the satellites in India .. Only doubles
today in the main draw at the Gurgaon leg-1 .. The qualies are completed and Kamala Kannan is
the only Indian who made it in trough qualies .. He was the top seed in the
qualies .. Vivek Shokeen is the first lucky loser, I believe .. See the
page for all the scores and draws ..
At the qualies for the $50K challenger in Pittsburgh,#316 Neha Ubeori (USA)
won one round beatolle (USA,389)ing Ahsha Rolle, 57 62 61 yesterday, but
she fell in the Q2 to the 7th seed Jewell Peterson (USA,252),
46 46 .. #172 ranked Shikha Uberoi (USA) will play Sofia Arvidsson
(SWE,167) in the main draw .. Sunitha Rao (USA) is at the Port Pirie
challenger in Australia .. That's about it for news today.
Nov 7 Notes
At the $25K+H India satellites leg-1 in Gurgaon, the second round of
qualies got done today .. Not too many surprises .. Vivek Shokeen has reached
the final round, and hopefully he can advance to the main draw tomorrow ..
Rupesh fell in a tough match today .. See the
page .. I have not seen the draws, but The Hindu reports that Sunil Kumar
plays Mustafa Ghouse and Vijay Kannan plays Karan Rastogi ..
Late news -- At the $10K Thailand F2 futures, Sunil Kumar Sipaeya
and Mohammed Al Ghareeb (KUW) won the doubles title this week .. They won
the R1 over Joji Miyao and Atsuo Ogawa of JPN, 76(8) 63, the QF over Jacco
Mathew and Yeu-Ming Si (MAS), 64 63, then got past the second seeds Martin
Slanar and Herbert Wiltscnig (AUT), and won the title with a 26 64 64 win
over Hiroyasu Sato (JPN) and Minh Le (USA) .. Congrats .. Sunil had gone
down in the first round of singles to Sergei Bubka (UKR), 57 63 35 (Ret.)
.. Good to know that he is not badly injured, as he continued in the doubles
.. He will be at the Gurgaon satellites as the second seed from tomorrow
Looks like both Harsh Mankad and Prakash Amritraj will be idle next week
.. Though HM is the 4th seed in the entry list for the Mexico futures next
week, the Mexican consulate refused to give him a visa even after repeated
visits .. Apparently, for all the "suspicious" people of the world like Indians,
Mexico requires a permit to come from Mexico City, before their foreign consulates can issue visas .. And despite having applied
for it way early, it is not there .. So HM is stuck in Miami, wasting time
and (nonexistent) money for next week .. Hopefully he will get the visa in
the next few days and can make it to the Puebla challenger on Nov 15th ..
Prakash will also be there at Puebla ..
Nov 6 Notes
Mahesh and Max could not get going today against and lost 36 46 to Wayne
Black and Kevin Ullyett of Zimbabwe, who seem to be playing very well at
Paris (they had upset the top seeds Knowles-Nestor by the same score in the
QF .. Off to Houston, where Mad Max will be the 6th team.
The Mumbai $10K challenger title went to the top seed Hana Sromova today
.. She beat the 3rd seed Akgul Amanmuradova in the semis and the 5th seed
Montinee Tangphong in the final .. The great run by Punam Reddy ended in
the semifinal against Montinee yesterday .. See all the results in the
Mumbai challenger page.
The four-week $25K+H India-2 satellites are starting in Gurgaon from
Monday .. Three weeks on clay at the National Tennis Academy in Gurgaon and
the final (masters) week on hard courts at the RK Khanna stadium in Delhi
.. The qualies have started .. See the qualies results in the
satellite leg-1 page ..
Pretty tough qualies; The Hindu
reports that there were as many as 17 players out there who could not get
into the qualies .. The main draw direct list has nine Indians .. Sunil Sipaeya,
Vijay Kannan, Vinod Sridhar, Vishal Uppal, Mustafa Ghouse, Ajay Ramaswami,
Vishal Punna, Srinath Prahlad and Ravishankar Pathanjali .. Divij Sharan,
Karan Rastogi and Arindam Dutta got wildcards .. Unfortunately, Tushar Liberhan
could not get a WC and ended up in the qualies where he was beaten by VM
Nov 5 Notes
OK, a two-day update .. I have been lazy to type for a couple of days,
that's all :-) .. And there is some impressive stuff to talk about, from
Punam Reddy and Tara Iyer, 17 and 16 year olds ..
First, Mahesh and Max have reached the SF of the Paris masters with a walkover
from Gonzalz-Massu in the QF yesterday .. MB-MM had beaten Pavel-Zimonjic
in the first round, 75 76(3) earlier ..
Mahesh and Max have now qualified as the 5th team into the Houston year-end
Masters Cup field .. The team rankings will not change regardless of the
semis and finals at Paris and here they are -- (1) Knowles-Nestor, (2) Bryan/
Bryan, (3) Bjorkman/ Woodbridge, (4) Black-Ullyett, (5) Bhupathi/ Mirnyi,
(6) Llodra/ Santoro, (7) Damm/ Suk .. These are the seven direct entry
teams in the Houston draw .. The eight team is Malisse-Rochus, who get in
with the spot reserved for the highest ranked top-15 team outside top-8 with
a grand slam title this year (they won the French Open) .. The next four
ALT teams are Etlis/ Rodriguez (8), Arthurs-Hanley (9), Palmer/ Vizner (10),
Paes-Rikl (11) .. I have not heard which teams would withdraw from Houston
- normally one or two teams do.
By the way, as for our fan club call to Mahesh and Leander to play together
next year (Nov 1 notes below), I heard from a solid source that nothing is
on as of now, and it doesn't look like they will play together .. It basically
has to be decided now, because most good players are all forming their teams
for next year .. I hope it can change somehow and we will see the Indian
Express together from January.
The big news from the Mumbai $25K women's challenger .. If you have never heard of Punam Reddy,
I guess it is time to sit up and take notice of the 17 year old who is currently
the second highest ranked junior player from India in the AITA rankings (ranked
#114 in the world juniors) .. Punam is the only Indian to reach the semifinal
of the challenger .. To do that she pulled two big upsets in a row, first
against the tough second seed Napaporn Tongsalee (THA,294) in the R2 and
then over the 8th seed seed Andreja Klepac (SLO,457) .. This is really the
first news-making event for Punam,; let us hope that she will gain a lot
of confidence and build up a career from here on .. The other junior player
to make big news there, was 16 year old Tara Iyer, the top ranked
junior in the Indian rankings (ranked #76 in ITF world junior rankings) ..
Tara had a big win over the 4th seed Rushmi Chakravarthi (IND,339) in the
first round and then another big win over the current DSCL national champion,
16 year old Sanaa Bhambri (who is ranked lower in the world and Indian junior
ranks only because she has not played much at that level this year due to
injuries etc) .. Tara herself has had a tough year with injuries earlier
and it is fantastic to see her do this .. She fell to the 5th seed Monitee
Tangphong (THA,353) in the QF yesterday .. Good to see Tara, Sanaa, Punam,
etc having such good results at the end of the year .. By the way, though
not creating big news, Madhura Ranganathan the second highest ranked Indian
in the world junior ranks alsoi had a good tournament and has shown an upward
tick in her results lately ... Madhura qualified in and won a round,
before giving a very tough fight to Isha Lakhani in a three-set second round
loss .. Isha then fell to the third seed Akgul Amanmuradova in the QF yesterday
.. All in all, this challenger has been extremely satisfying .. Good
to see all these young players (Isha herself included) back healthy and doing
well .. Sai Jayalakshmy and Akgul Amanmuradova are in the doubles final,
following their title last week at the Pune $10K .. See all the results in
the Mumbai challenger page.
At the $50K+H Homestead challenger in Florida (USA), unseeded Harsh Mankad
and Aisam Qureshi won the first round of doubles over Vahid Mirzadeh and
Jesse Witten, 63 76(6) before falling yesterday in a very tough fight against
the top seeds, another US pair, Huntley Montgomery and Tripp Phillips, 57
67(7) .. Harsh is still the highest ranked doubles player behind LP and MB
from India, ranked #204 this week .. HM now proceeds to Mexico (provided
he gets a visa from Miami today -- the Mexican immigration bureaucracy is
painful, though the Mexican Federation and AITA are trying to help) .. He
expects to play the $10K futures next week at Queretaro, where he will be
the 4th seed and then at the $25K+H challenger in Puebla, Mexico - both places
near Mexico City .. Also in the Puebla challenger (Nov 15) main draw list
is Prakash Amritraj, who might play the qualies at the Nashville challenger
I will update all the scores from the Nike international masters in France (u12/u14) soon.
Nov 3 Notes
Quick updates -- Mahesh and Max won at Paris and reached QF (they may
have assured themselves of a spot in the Houston masters cup with that) ..
Harsh and Aisam won the doubles R1 at the Homstead challenger .. Big upset
by 16 yr old Tara Iyer over 4th seed Rushmi at the
challenger .. Vinod Sridhar reached R2 at the Thai $10K, but Sunil Kumar,
Vijay Kannan, Karan Rastogi and Gurmehar Singh lost in the R1 .. The Indian
u12/u14 team won a round and reached the QF at the Nike International Masters
in France where they fell -- a very good achievement in the field of 24 countries
.. Details later ..
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 ..
.. Previous notes are at Notes
for the weeks ending on Nov 1 ..
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