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LP/MB/NS/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the weeks ending on Nov 10, 2003
(Previous week's notes) (Next week's notes) (Daily Notes Index 1997 thru 2003)

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Nov 10 Note-1

At the Masters Cup in Houston, Mahesh and Max play their second match in the Blue Group, against the 5th seeds Arthurs and Hanley at about 9 pm tonight .. As both the teams have a loss each, this has become almost a do or die match, though three teams with 1-3 records tied for second place in the pool is possible .. The two teams who won their first pool matches, Knowles-Nestor and Etlis-Rodriguez are also playing today ..  The other group (Red) has the Bryans topping the pool with two wins .. Llodra-Santoro and Bjorkman-Woodbridge have one win each and Damm-Suk are winless after two matches each.  The 3rd matches in the Red Group are tomorrow, with the 3rd matches of the Blue Group on Wednesday.

The $10K ITF "NECC" satellite has started today in Pune .. Local favorite Radhika Tulpule went down in the first round but not surprises in the other matches today .. See the Pune satellite page for all the scores .. Sania Mirza inaugurated the event .. She is not playing the event, quite possibly because she may have exhausted the quota of pro events that a player of her age is allowed to compete in.

At the $10K Thailand F2 futures, Mustafa Ghouse faces the 4th seed (4) Aisam Qureshi (PAK), Ajay Ramaswami and Vijay Kannan play qualifiers to be determined, and Sunil Kumar Sipaeya plays Vinod Sridhar, according to the draw .. Mustafa-Vijay are 2nd seeds in doubles, and Ajay-Sunil are 4th seeds.

Very good news from the Vietnam grade-4 ITF juniors .. Madura Ranganathan won the title beating Sandri Gangothri in the semi and Sandhya nagraj in the final .. Good run by Madura, who rises to just outside the top-100 with that .. M.Jeevan went down in the semi on the boys side .. Later with the scores roundup.

Nov 9 Notes

I don't know what's up with Mahesh and Max -- after a really strong run a few weeks back, they had suddenly lost a match uncharacteristically in the St.Petersburg Open semis .. Yesterday, after a 2 weeks break they got to gether at the Masters Cup in Houston and had another veryt uncharacteristic loss .. [RR 1] (2) M.Bhupathi/ M.Mirnyi l. (8) Gaston Etlis/ Martin Rodriguez (ARG) 46 46 .. I hope there is no injury/fatugue problems, which normally affects tennis players at the end of a long year .. MB was reportedly fine in the few matches at Hyderabad last week though .. Hopefully just another bad day at work and that's all .. Now they do have to win over higher seeded teams in the pool though -- they are in a bit of a hole already, especially as they did not even win a set, which is a tiebreaker variable.

Prakash Amritraj is in the main draw of the challenger in beautiful Austin, Texas (the place where I went to post-grad studies, so I am a biased party of course :-)) .. He is drawn to face a qualifier to be determined .. Pretty tough draw there, with a cut inside the top-300 .. Hopefully the illness problems he had at Hyderabad last week is all gone.

Good news from the grade-4 ITF in Vietnam .. Four Indians (M.Jeevan, R.Madura, Sandhya Nagraj and Sandri Gangothri) have reached the semis in the boys and girls draws .. Will round up scores later.

Nov 8 Notes

The Masters Cup doubles competition starts in Houston today .. The singles competition starts only from Monday .. They will finish six round robin doubles matches over the weekend and will then mix in some double matches throughout next week .. Mahesh-Max play the 3rd match today, the first one starting at 1 pm Houston time .. [RR 1] (2) M.Bhupathi/ M.Mirnyi vs (8) Gaston Etlis/ Martin Rodriguez (ARG) .. If the ATP website folks remember that matches start today itself and not on Monday (people seem to only care when the singles matches are), they will hopefully have some score updates .. It does not seem to be point by point updates .. We will find out .. It is silly that the Houston people cannot even make a web site for it and has to depend on the ATP's guys to make a template website, which means it is just the basic stuff and not terribly exciting ..

The Tennis Channel is supposed to do some live coverage of the doubles competiton (ESPN does the live singles) in the US .. Except that even the tennis channel live coverage of doubles is starting only on Monday according ATP .. That is insane, if so - half of the doubles round robin matches get done this weekend itself, and they won't even be there? .. Oh well, everyone has doubles as a very late afterthought .. We will check if Tennis channel coveres anything today ..

At the Mumbai $25K challenger, Isha Lakhani's wonderful run ended in a 26 36 loss in the final to the 8th seed Akgul Amanmuradova (UZB) .. I really thought she could pull this one off, but big congratulations go to Isha for the great form this week and for being the first 18 year old Indian in a challenger final .. First challenger final by anybody other than LP and MB in 7 years.

Nov 7 Note-2

YeeeHaaaw!! .. We have a woman challenger finalist for the first time in seven years .. And that is the youngest ever Indian challenger finalist (both men and women) that I am aware of .. Isha Lakhani, all of 18 yrs and 6 months, reached the final of the $25K Mumbai challenger today, with a 62 63 shellacking of Montinee Tangphong .. I expected Isha to win, but that was an unexpected score line .. It shows what great form she is showing this week .. She runs into the 8th seed Akgul Amanmuradova (UZB) who is even younger than Isha and has been having a great run there, herself ..  Rushmi-Sai, who had reached the doubles final late yesterday, went down to the top seeds today .. See the Mumbai women's challenger page.

The last Indian woman to be in a challenger final was Nirupama Sanjeev, in Nov 1996 when she won a double crown at the Bad Goggung challenger in Germany, a month ahead of her 20th birthday .. Niru had reached two finals a few months earlier (Spoletto, Italy and Bilbao, Spain) in July 1996 .. Leander Paes reached his first challenger final at Guangzhou, China, in Dec 1992 when he was also 19.5 years .. So, Isha Lakhani just became the youngest Indian in a challenger final in the modern era (since late 80s :-)) .. More impressively, Isha Lakhani has just become the #1 Indian woman's player on WTA points, leaping past Sania to a ranking (soon) somewhere around #365 .. What a show by Isha .. Go Girl, WIN THAT TITLE!!!

In an interesting development, ITF announced today that it will be releasing combined (singles-doubles) junior ranks from January 2004 onwards .. Basically the best 6 points total in singles will be augmented with 25% of the best six doubles points .. The idea is to encourage players to play doubles also with some seriousness .. Sounds great .. The only thing that I am unclear of, is whether they are going to use the same points table for singles and doubles .. They really should, if they want to really give doubles the 25% weight .. As of now, the doubles points tables give only about 66to 75% points for the same rounds as singles gives .. Unless they use the same points table (as do WTA and ATP), the effective wight for doubles in comparison to singles is probably only about 18%, which is probably on the lower side than I would have liked, to help their intent behind the new scheme.  We will await more info.

M.Jeevan, Sandri Gangotri, Sandhya Nagaraj and Madura Ranganathan have reached the QFs at the grade-4 ITF juniors in Vietnam this week .. Tushar did not go there .. I will round up the scores later.

Nov 7 Note-1

ttThe draw has come out for the Masters Cup (world doubles champinship earlier) at Houston .. Mahesh and Max are seeded #2 and they do get the relatively easier pool (or so it seems for now) .. Grouped with #4 Mark Knowles (BAH)/ Daniel Nestor (CAN), #5 Wayne Arthurs/ Paul hanley (AUS) and the #8 Gaston Eltis/ Martin Rodriguez (ARG) .. Eltis-Rodriguez replace LP-Rikl who would have been the 8th seeds otherwise and would have made MadMax's pool much tougher .. Barring unforseen difficulties, I think MB-MM should make the semifinals .. The other pool has #1 Bryans, #3 Bjorkman/Woodbridge, the ever-so-dangeorus #6 Llodra-Santoro and the veterans, #7 Damm-Suk ..

The format is, as usul, round robin, three matches each against other pool-mates for every team, followed by the semifinals pitting the #1 of each pool with the #2 of the other pool ..  More later on that.

Nov 6 Notes

It has been nearly two years since Sania's last loss to an Indian player .. She lost to Rushmi then at Delhi in the DSCL Nationals in three sets in december '01 .. By my count, Sania has won 24 matches in a row against Indians (5 in the juniors, 11 in pro satellites, 1 in Afro Asian Games '03 and 7 in the National Games '02) .. The only Indian name to beat her during this period was Sunitha Rao (USA) who got to Sania two times .. Well, the streak ended today, as 18 year old Isha Lakhani upset Sania Mirza 63 16 62 to reach the semifinal at the $25K in Mumbai! .. These two had played some close matches in the juniors, though the last time they faced each other, Isha (injured then, if I remember correctly) had a cheap loss to SM .. Isha has come through in tremendous fashion at this challenger, having upset the top seed and the biggest name in the draw in successive matches .. She faces Montinee Tangphong who had stopped Sania's 20 odd match win streak in the pro satellites at Jakarta last month .. Montinee herself had a big upset of the more illustrious compatriot, 3rd seed Suchanan Viratprasert .. In the bottom half of the draw, Rushmi went down in a tough three-setter to the 4th seed Navratilova and Megha went down to the strapping Uzbek, Akgul Amanmuradova .. Megs is reportedly a bit banged up with an accidental head injury (reportedly she was all ready to withdraw yesterday but pulled the upset of the 2nd seed and surprised herself!) ..  Sania is still alive left in doubles, as she reached the semi partnering Suchanan .. Rushmi/Sai also are in the semis .. See the Mumbai women's challenger page.

The win gives Isha 14.5 WTA points (including 3 bonus pts) so far, taking her point tally to 42, just behind Sania with 43 points and Rushmi with 42.75 points .. Her ranking will move up by about 90 spots from 478 giving us three players (Sania, Rushmi and Isha) ranked right around 380 .. Isha has pulled off more top250 and top-500 wins this year (10 bonus in her list) than any other Indian, I believe ..  In my view, her win today will help both Sania and Isha .. Such a nice rivalry is something that will make both of them push themselves to higher levels .. Both are in need of some serious time undergoing coaching .. Sania is in good shape as fas as funding for coaching is cobncerned, from newspaper reports .. She will be at Bob Brett's academy in San Remo, Italy, for extended periods .. As for Isha, it is time for somebody to come up with some serious sponsorship .. MSLTA? .. AITA? ..

The entry list came out for the $10K India F6 men's futures, the first of the three futures series starting in less than 2 weeks .. Harsh Mankad leads the field that includes all other Indians (Vijay Kannan, Sunil Kumar, Vinod Sridhar, Mustafa Ghouse, etc) .. Bopanna and Amritraj are skipping it .. HM has 20 points to defend from last year's futures, so he has to play this and keep his ranking safe at around 350 .. I posted the list in the forum tournament area, but will start a page for the futures soon.

Not a great day at the Nike International Masters in Sun City, RSA .. Agnel Gladwin had a nice win in the u14 first round yesterday but went down to the 7th seed in the PQF today .. [R1] Agnel Gladwin d. Pascal Krauth (GER) 57 62 64 .. [R2] l. (7) Steven Foreman (USA) 46 26 .. In u14 girls, GK Shwetha went down in the PQF, also to the 7th seed, Maite Gabarrus (ESP) 16 26 .. The toughest loss was in the u12 by Yuki Bhambri, who went toe to toe with the #1 seed Steven Diez (ESP) in a 57 57 loss .. The draws did not give us any breaks there, as two of our players faced members of the 4-member Spanish team that won the team title earlier .. But then again, these are the very best at the young age levels from all these countries and it was nice to have three of our four playing in the final-16 in the world at that level .. It will help these kids believe that they too "belong" and push themselves harder over the next few years ..  I am particularly heartened to see Agnel Gladwin do well in the tough Indian Nike competition to get selected for this and also pull off a win out there in RSA .. After his disastrous trip to Europe earlier in the year with the ITF team, when he was having trouble even winning a set in the 5 events he played, I was concerned .. He is a talented player and would hopefully come through from now on out.

Nov 5 Note-2

At the Nike Junior Tennis International Masters in Sun City, South Africa, the individual singles events started today .. In the u14 draw, Shwetha Kakhandki beat Shanda Simmons (BAH), 62 62 to advance to the second round and face the 7th seed Maite Gabarrus (ESP) .. In the u12 girls draw, Nandita Krishnan went down to Magdalena Oesterle (AUT) 46 26 in the R1 .. Tough draw for Yuki Bhamri in the boys' u12 - he had a first round bye and faces the top seed Steven Diez (ESP) in the R2 .. In the boys u14, Agnel Gladwin plays Pascal Krauth (GER) and if he wins he will face the 7th seed Steven Forman (USA) .. I have only seen the mid-day scores from today, so far .. In the Worl Team Tennis event completed yesterday, unseeded China who had beaten India in the first round continued their run with upsets over the 3rd seed Belgium, 7th seed France, and then the 2nd seed Croatia before falling to the top seed Spain in the final .. Now two of our kids are facing players from that 4-member Spanish team early in the individual draw .. Tough going for our kids.

I have not seen any results from the grade-4 ITF juniors in Vietnam this week, where some of our junior players must have gone.

Nov 5 Note-1

Fantastic stuff in Mumbai today in the second round .. THREE huge top-300 upsets by Indians .. Two top-250 wins by Indian teenagers - upsets of the top two seeds .. Isha Lakhani (IND,478) d. (1) Shiho Hisamatsu (JPN,238) 64 63 .. Megha Vakharia (IND,476) d. (2) Hana Sromova (CZE,249) 46 64 61 .. Rushmi Chakravarthi (IND,428) d. (5) Verena Beller (GER,284) 62 76(1) .. As she was not faing a seed, Sania couldn't do much about joining the seed-felling party by Isha, Megha and Rushmi, and so she did the best she could to get in the news by double-bagelling poor Sonal .. (7) Sania Mirza (IND,392) d. Sonal Phadke (IND,593), 60 60 .. See the Mumbai women's challenger page .. Now we get a fanstastic QF match between Isha and Sania and we are assured of at least one Indian in the semifinal .. What a great day in Indian women's tennis!

With 2 bonus points for beating top-250 players, both Isha and Megha pick up 8 WTA points each to move up inside about 430 or so in the rankings [correction -- 9 pts each] .. I think this is the 3rd top-250 win by 18 year old Isha, by the way .. Sania will move inside around 380 and Rushmi will move up right around that too (Sania has 3 points to defend from last year's challenger) ..  Great work by all of them ..

.. And there is bad news from the Thailand $10K F1 .. [R2] (4) Herbert Wiltschnig (AUT) d. Vijay Kannan 76(3) 62 .. All Indians are gone in doubles too, as [QF] (1) (WC) Sanchai Ratiwatana/ Sonchat Ratiwatana (THA) d. Ajay Ramaswami/ Prima Simpatiaji (INA) 62 57 64 .. Earlier, [R1] Ajay Ramaswami/ Prima Simpatiaji (INA) d. Lefteris Alexiou/ Nikos Rovas (GRE) 76(7) 64 .. [R1] (4) Martin Slanar/Herbert Wiltschnig (AUT) d. Manoj Mahadevan/ Vinod Sridhar 46 64 64 ..[R1] (3) Toshihide Matsui/ Takahiro Terachi (JPN) d. Ti Chen (TPE)/ Sunil Kumar Sipaeya 76(6) 62 .. [R1] Naoki Arimoto/ Go Soeda (JPN) d. (2) Mustafa Ghouse/ Vijay Kannan 16 63 76(5) ..

Nov 4 Notes

Things went along expected lines with all the higher ranked Indian women advancing to the second round at the NSCI ITF $25K challenger in Mumbai .. See the Mumbai women's challenger page .. Eight Indians are in the R2, but all but one (Sania) would need to pull tough upsets to make the QF .. The only seed to get upset was the 6th seed Chin-Bee Khoo of Malaysia, upset by the talented youngster Montinee Tangphong of Thailand ..

I wish Indians could perform in Thailand like the Thais always do in India (they all seem to overachieve in India all the time!) .. Very poor results at the $10K futures in Pattaya City .. Only Vijay Kannan advanced to the second round .. Losses to lucky losers and qualifiers .. Oh well .. [R1] Vijay Kannan d. (WC) Minh-Quan Do (VIE) 76(4) 63 .. [R1] (LL) Nikos Rovas (GRE) d. Sunil Kumar Sipaeya 63 64 .. [R1] (Q) Jasper Smit (NED) d. Vinod Sridhar 64 63 .. [R1] Martin Slanar (AUT) d. Ajay Ramaswami 76(7) 61 .. [R1] (4) Herbert Wiltschnig (AUT) d. Mustafa Ghouse 75 63 .. In doubles, [R1] (4) Martin Slanar/ Herbert Wiltschnig (AUT) d. Manoj Mahadevan/ Vinod Sridhar 46 64 64

Nov 3 Notes

At the "NSCI" ITF $25K challenger in Mumbai, the schedule was pretty light today .. The big match was between Ankita Bhambri and Shruti Dhawan that Ankita won in three sets .. Radhika Tulpule, showing good form, easily beat Thassa Vitayaviroj, also a qualifier but the top seed in the qualies .. Megha and Sonal also advanced to the second round .. See the scores at the Mumbai women's challenger page.

A bunch of our men are at the $10K futures in Thailand this week .. Sunil Kumar Sipaeya and Vinod Sridhar are drawn againsts qualifiers TBD .. Ajay Ramaswami plays Martin Slanar (AUT) .. Vijay Kannan gets the Vietnamese wildcard Minh-Quan Do (VIE) .. The only one facing a seed is Mustafa Ghouse who runs into the 4th seed Herbert Wiltschnig (AUT) .. In doubles, Ajay Ramaswami and Prima Simpatiaji (INA) play Lefteris Alexiou/ Nikos Rovas (GRE) .. Ti Chen (TPE) and Sunil Kumar play the 3rd seeds Toshihide Matsui/ Takahiro Terachi (JPN) .. Manoj Mahadevan and Vinod Sridhar play the 4th seeded Austrians, Martin Slanar and Herbert Wiltschnig .. 2nd seeds Mustafa and Vijay Kannan play Naoki Arimoto and Go Soeda of Japan ..

The Nike World u12/u14 Junior International has started in Sun City South Africa over the weekend .. The Indian team is managed by CG Krishna Bhupathi and includes GK Shwetha (u14), Nandita Krishnan (u12), Agnel Gladwin (u14) and Yuki Bhambri (u12) .. The first 4 days of competition is the WTT (world team tennis) ties .. India had a terrible draw, having to face unseeded China (of course the European teams and the USA always get great seedings at these events) .. China d. India 27-14 .. China then went on to upset the 3rd seeds Belgium 22-16, then the 7th seeds France 29-28 and have reached the semi today .. Those are game scores over multiple matches played (singles, doubles, mixed, involving the 2 u12 players and 2 u14 players in each team) .. India also went down today in the consolation tie against RSA , 22-31 .. I don't have the details of the scores with me .. The individual events are usually more interesting and they start soon, down there.

By the way, now that AITA has done a pretty nice job above the u15 levels in encouraging and at times financially supporting Indian players to take the ITF junior circuit seriously and in coordinating their pans well, it may be time to start seriously looking at what needs to be done at the u12-u16 age range .. One thing that China has been doing is to send a lot of kids in the 13-15 age range to Europe for the domestic circuit there .. I am not sure, but I don't think China has much of a strong domestic junior circuit (India does have quite a large domestic circuit, though with rather low levels of competition) .. I don't know if China pays for the trips for the kids to Europe, but over the last few years I have noticed a whole bunch of Chinese kids (12 to 14 year olds) in small and big ETA events (u14, u16 and pehaps some u12 also) in Europe while the only Indian kids who get exposed in Europe before 16 are the one or two who get selected to the ITF developmental teams every year (like Agnel Gladwin and Kartiki Bhat this year and Sanaa and Sumit Prakash last year) .. I wonder if China has gone one step ahead of us with this strategy of ealy exposure in Europe .. Something to keep an eye on .. I will investigate and write more on this later .. Anyway, our loss to China at Sun City made me think about this today .. I would love to see Yuki Bhambri next year for some events in Europe, for instance.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Nov 03 ..

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.