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Indian-Tennis: Daily News for the weeks ending on Nov 8, 2004
(Previous week's notes) (Next week's notes) (Daily Notes Index 1997 thru 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 satellite leg-1 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 satellite leg-1 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 Ranjeet ..

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 this weekend.

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 Mumbai 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 time ..

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 another reunion.

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 easily ..

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 next year! .. (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 forum - 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