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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for week ending on Nov 16, 1998

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Nov 16 Notes

At the $15K Pakistan F1 Futures qualifiers at Islamabad yesterday, Viplav Anjan of India beat Rashid Ali of Pakistan, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 to advance to the main draw - that makes it Vijay Kannan, Rishi Sridhar and Viplav in the main draw there .. As far as we know, they are the only three who went there (I assume Vijay will be there, as there is no report of any withdrawal from their main draw list yet) .. The draw is today, and the main draw competition starts tomorrow (tuesday), I believe .. There are 15 direct entries sent in by ITF, 4 Pakistani wildcards, 6 entries decided by lot and 7 entries through qualifiers (4 Pakistanis, one Indian, one Australian, David McCabe, and one spot to be determined today - George Barth of US is playing a Jalil Khan of Pakistan .. David McCabe and George Barth were two who were in the Indian satellites too, but never got anything going, losing often in the qualifiers, etc..) .. three Chinese players in the 800-1000 ranking range are in the main draw, who had not come to the Calcutta futures .. Danai Udomchoke skipped this futures and went home - so has Rovai and Hede of Sweden .. Nigri and Karagiannis are there .. It is on clay courts ..

By the way, I have added the results from the DSCL national sub and mini juniors (u-16 and u-14) hardcourts at Delhi from 5 weeks back at this site - check out the DSCL sub&mini Juniors page .. there have also been 3 other subjunior ranking tournaments around the country in the last few weeks, for which I only have patchy results - will try to put as much of it together as possible sometime soon, and also comment on how our really-budding-youngsters are doing - Some names to note - Parantap Chaturvedi, Sunil Kumar, Anant Sitaram, Benjamin Xavier, Nishank Mishra, Sonal Phadke, Mekha Vakharia, Isha Lakhani, Lisa Perreira, Sasha Abraham, Samrita Shekhar, etc, etc .. One under-14 girl who seemed to have made a big splash is Nandita Chandrashekhar of Tamil Nadu ..

Nov 15 Notes

The only news today is from Pakistan - the $15K Islamabad Futures is all set to start Monday, and the qualifiers are in progress .. According to The News International, Karachi, it's a similar draw as in India - rather weak in foreign competition .. Vijay Kannan is expected as a main draw direct entry according to the entry list they have received from ITF .. Another Indian made it in through a lot they held for six spots - that is Rishi Sridhar ! .. There is one Indian in the final round of qualifiers - Viplav Anjan was set to play Nasir Shirazi of Pakistan today to qualify for the main draw .. There was a report in the one of the Indian newspapers last week that Srinath might go to Islamabad, but he is not there .. The top two seeds are the Uzbeks, Ogorodov and Kutsenko in the top-300, but the next player is Patrik Erhardt in the 600s and then about 4 or 5 more in the top-1000 .. Vijay Kannan is among the top 10 or 12 players there .. Pakistan's best young talent, 18 yr old Aisam Ul-Haq has been given a wildcard .. This $15K futures is reportedly the biggest tennis tournament ever held in Pakistan !! .. Will report any news as and when it comes out from Islamabad.

Nov 14 Note-2

Second seeded Vadim Kutsenko beat top seed Oleg Ogorodov today in the Calcutta Futures in what was reportedly a boring match that took and hour and 30 minutes for a score of 6-3, 6-3 .. lot of long rallies with each trying to wear out the other, but ogorodov lost .. As it stands, Ogorodov is still in the running for that Australian Open asian Wildcard .. Leander will be a direct entry .. Suzuki is right now the #2, but I believe his new ranking after this week's QF at stockholm would put him inside the top-110 or 105 and he should be a direct entry .. I think one needs to be inside the top-200 to get that wildcard though, so I am not sure about Ogorodov, even though he will be the highest ranked Asian player from a country that does not have anyone in the main draw .. in the doubles final at Calcutta, Vishal Gupta and Vishal Uppal lost to top seeded Ogorodov/Kutsenko, 6-2, 7-5 .. the winners gets 16 ATP pts each and the losers get 12 pts each .. See the complete results at the Calcutta Futures page .. As for next week, there is a futures tournament at Islamabad, Pakistan, but we don't know if any of the Indian players will be going there ..

Nov 14 Note-1

The black Friday was complete yesterday, with both the Indian semifinalists losing at the Calcutta futures .. Fazal played high-quality tennis, from all reports, but couldn't get past Oleg Ogorodov, losing 6-7(1), 5-7 .. The improvement in Fazal's game over the last year or two has been a surprise for many out there .. Vinod Sridhar finally ended his dream-run too, losing to second seed Vadim Kutsenko (no shame - even Leander has lost to him - within the last year), 6-7(2), 1-6 .. Vinod was up 5-1 in the first set, when Kutsenko figured out that he should stop going all out and play the game of keeping the ball in and wearing out Vinod - which made the difference .. So much in the game of tennis comes from experience in doing the things needed to win .. That is why it's very good for talented youngsters like Vinod to play more and more of tough competition like this .. The Indians are not fully done, as Vishal Uppal and Vishal Gupta are in the finals of the doubles today, facing Ogorodov/Kutsenko (those damn Uzbeks! :-)) .. The results are all in the Calcutta Futures page ..

Talked to LP today .. He says the loss yesterday was not particularly due to his injury, but was because Haggard/Nyborg played a terrific game .. That sometimes happens .. I think his injury troubles may have prevented LP-MB from going the extra distance to get over the red-hot opponents .. Anyway, the injurty situation is a concern .. LP has been carrying a fatigue- related injury for the last 2-3 weeks .. Started as a groin pain, then became a hip-flexor problem, and has basically been affecting various parts of the mid-to-lower body .. It does give him pain during forehand shots .. The doctors and trainers are advising him to take a 4-week break, but he has no way of doing that .. After Hartford, he will get 2 weeks break, but then he will need to be at Asiad (he says he cannot imagine skipping Asiad, something he has been waiting four years for, since missing the singles gold in 92) .. After 2 weeks at Asiad, he will get two weeks off if he skips the challengers in India .. That is where things are .. He is taking complete rest today, will fly to Hartford, may take a day's rest, and then get on with practice, as the matches start on wednesday .. Hopefully, things will be alright at Hartford (he seems to think he can manage) .. It's playing the singles matches that causes serious trouble .. We will wait and see what transpires.

The Hartford draw is on Tuesday, I believe - all we know is that there will be 2 groups of 4 teams for the first three days of round-robin matches, and that Eltingh/Haarhuis and LP-MB will be in two different groups, as the #1 and #2 teams .. A draw will place the #3 and #4 in different groups, which means the Woodies or Knowles/Nestor will be in our guys' group .. same for #5-#6 and #7-#8 ..

At Stockholm, Takao Suzuki lost in the quarterfinals to Todd Martin in straight sets yesterday .. Leander is very impressed with Suzuki .. Says he has a solid game .. Nice serve-and-volley and very quick .. Sounds to be similar to LP's own game. LP knows he needs to watch it, or the Asian #1 spot he took away from Matsuoka will go right back to a Japanese ..

Early preview on the Davis Cup against Korea, from Leander .. Apparently we have managed to adjust the dates of the tie by a week (I didn't know that was possible in Davis Cup!), so that LP-MB will be able to play at Dubai in the second week of February, and then go to Korea for the 3rd week .. LP remembers the 5-0 whitewash we got from Korea in 1990, when Zeeshan Ali and Leander lost even the doubles tie in 5 sets (S.Vasudevan lost the first tie in 5 sets and Zeshan lost the second - in reverse singles, the losers were LP and Rohit Rajpal - remember him ?) .. LP was 17-yr old then, though. [Leander did not mention the next tie we had with Korea though, where he won the crucial 5th match as an 18 year old for us in India!] .. Anyway, the February tie will be on clay (nobody picks any other surface against us anyway!) and the Koreans will be tough on clay, with Hyung-Taik Lee (now #259) and Yong-Il Yoon (now 320, but has been inside 200 last year) in their team.

Nov 13 Note-2

Black Friday !! .. It is Friday the 13th !! .. We should have known that bad things were coming our way .. The day started with Nirupama losing after leading 6-4, 4-3 and up a break, in Australia .. the day has become much worse now - Paes-Bhupathi had the shocker of the year, losing to Haggard and Nyborg, 6-4, 4-6, 4-6 .. Looking at the opponents' rankings, this is the second worst loss of the year, the last being the loss at Wimbledon to Gimelstob/MacPhie .. It is only the second time in much over an year that the Indian Express has allowed anybody to come back and win after being one set up (the last time was - you guessed it - against Gimelstob/Macphie at Wimbledon) .. Today's match was a fight all the way, but our guys got the key break in the final (10th) game of the first set to go up 6-4 .. But our boys were not dominating in their service games, and early in the second set, we could see something was not looking right .. they got broken in the 3rd game of the second set, and again early in the 3rd set .. In the very final game, at 4-5 in the 3rd, LP-MB were down 15-40 but fought back to force a deuce and then 4 more deuces, there were some 4 match points that they fought off, but they could not convert the one break chance they had .. and that was the match .. it took a long hour and 50 minutes .. Right now I am really concerned about whether LP is being seriously troubled by the hip injury .. Hartford and asiad coming up .. Will find out from him, soon.

No news from the futures semifinals at Calcutta today - any chance Fazal or Vinod would give us some good news in this wretched Friday the 13th ?? .. unlikely, but we will wait and see.

Nov 13 Note-1

The LP-MB semifinal match is scheduled for about 4 pm at Stockholm .. (10 am EST, 7 PST, usa .. 8.30 pm India) ..

Nirupama lost this afternoon (Friday) at the Mount Gambier challenger quarterfinals in Australia, to Desislava Topalova (BUL), 6-4, 4-6, 0-6 .. I am not sure what happened here, but perhaps she was tired after playing 2 matches yesterday because of the wednesday rainout (she also lost a first round doubles match, today) .. Not all that bad to get out of there with 9 points, though .. That will move her ranking up from #186 to about #175 in a couple of weeks .. She next goes to Port Pirie for the next week's $25K challenger in Australia ..

Nov 12 Note-1

Good news from Australia - following up on her upset of 6th seeded Amanda Grahame in the first round, Nirupama came back and played the second round match also on thursday, and won another straight set match, 6-3, 6-4 again, over #262 Vanessa Webb of Canada .. In the quarterfinals - go Niru !

..And oh, by the way, LP-MB won their second round match at Stockholm today, over Wayne Ferreira and Marc-Kevin Goellner, 6-2, 6-4 .. I checked the score of the match, and about 5 minutes into it, they had already won two breaks and had gone up 4-0 in the first set .. Took my son to school and checked about half an hour later and it was basically getting over .. Not a contest at all .. Our friend, Dr. Sanjeevi writes from Stockholm that LP-MB were playing even better then yesterday .. yep they continue their roll .. LP-MB face Chris Haggard and Peter Nyborg in the semifinals tomorrow .. The other three seeds are all out ..

Great news from the Calcutta Futures - two Indians are in the semifinals !! .. As we expected, the match of the day was between Fazal and Danai .. Fazal played a tough three-setter, but pulled it off against 6th seed Danai Udomchoke .. 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 was the score - Fazal did what was needed right on time breaking a fighting Danai in the 11the game of the 3rd set .. the day belonged to somebody else though - 19 yr old Vinod Sridhar, who upset the 3rd seed Patrik Earhardt of Germany, following up on his upset of the 5th seed Karagiannis yesterday .. this was another three-setter, but Vinod (formerly at Dhaita, but now at the Krishnan tennis center at Chennai, I believe) showed his talent, and basically won it by moving Patrick around a lot .. This is truly heartening to see this Vinod show .. Both Fazal and Vinod get 8 points each .. The interesting thing is that Vinod all of a sudden comes out of nowhere and becomes the #5 Indian player now ! .. He had 5 points from the satellites .. He will now have 13 points which ties him with Harsh Mankad, but will place him above, as he has played fewer tournaments .. His satellite points haven't shown up in the ranking yet (he is unranked), which means there is a chance that he will come from being unranked to #5 at around ATP #800 in a big hurry ! .. He was the last among the Indian young guns that I was waiting to see show up - Over the last 6 weeks including the DSCL hardcourts, they have all had their shows - Vijay Kannan, Harsh Mankad, Saurav Panja, Vishal Uppal and even Mustafa Ghouse - Put Vinod right near the top of that group too .. None have totally disappointed us so far.. Hopefully some of them will make further moves in the January satellites .. Anyway, back to the futures - the semifinals will be tough for both Fazal and Vinod, as they face #1 seed Ogorodov and #2 seed Kutsenko, respectively - both in the top-300 .. Sandeep Kirtane did not do much against Ogorodov in the quarterfinals today, but can't blame him .. It's rather unfair for Ogorodov to show up at futures :-) .. Another surprise here have been the doubles team of Vishal Uppal and Vishal Gupta - they have now upset 2 seeds and are in the finals, to face the top seeds Ogorodov/Kutsenko, who beat the Kirtanes in the semis .. See all the results at the Calcutta Futures page .. As always, courtesy to the Indian newspapers for all the scores ..

Nov 12 Note-1

The Quarterfinal match for LP-MB at Stockholm against Wayne Ferreira (RSA) and Marc-Kevin Goellner (GER) is scheduled to start at about 5 pm there (11 am EST, 8am PST, u.s.a .. 9.30 pm India) .. A correction from a note below - It is Wayne Ferreira, ranked #64 in doubles, not Ellis Ferreira, who plays with Rick Leach and is ranked individually at #10 ..

Dr. Sanjeevi from Stockholm who saw the LP-MB doubles match at Stockholm yesterday sent a note (thanks!) - he talked to Leander after the match - LP does have a hip injury that he says does not bother him much in doubles, but causes trouble in singles .. He will need the 2 weeks rest after Hartford to get ready for the Asiad

Talking of Asiad, the one we should watch as the biggest threat for LP's singles gold chance, Takao Suzuki, pulled another upset at Stockholm yesterday .. Qualifier Suzuki beat Kenneth Carlsen, to reach the QF .. He is just 22 years old ..You might remember him coming to India last year and winning the Mumbai challenger as a lucky loser entry - he was ranked around #400 then .. Right now he is ranked #125 after a series of challenger titles .. Stockholm is his first big ATP event and he has already poicked up enough points to move to just outside the top-100 .. I hope LP has watched him at Stockholm .. He is the best to come out from Japan since Shuzo Matsuoka .. Some more Asiad news - apparently Japan's Ai Sugiyama (ranked #21) is not going to Asiad .. That makes Tammi Tanasugarn (#38) of Thailand the favorite to win the women's singles, though she will get challenged by several top-100 players, like Basuki (Indonesia) and Sawamatsu (JPN) .. Thailand may have one of the few mixed doubles teams that has had some experience playing together - Narathorn Srichaphan and Suvimol Duangchan won the SEA (Sotheast Asia) games title this year and are playing at Asiad (source: Bangkok Post) .. If they get time to put some practice in, I believe Mahesh or Leander with Nirupama may prove to be the best mixed doubles team there, though ! .. In other Asian tennis news, Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand won the futures tournament in Thailand last week .. ATP recently released a list of top-10 young guns (under 19) who have made the biggest jumps in ATP rankings in the last year and Paradorn was in it, after moving from around #800 to #300 within this year (Others in the list include Wesley Whitehouse of RSA and Nicolas Massu of Chile, who have both been to India).

Nov 11 Note-3

Good news from Australia - Nirupama won the first round of the $25K Mount Gambier challenger today (that is Thursday there), beating Amanda Grahame (ranked #176) of Australia, 6-4, 6-3 .. Since yesterday's play was washed out, they are playing two matches today .. Niru comes back later to face Vanessa Webb of Canada (#262) in the second round. She gets 5 poinst for this win, and can make it 10 with a second round win also .. Go Niru !

Vinod Sridhar was the star of the day at the Calcutta futures today, beating 5th seed Niko Karagiannis .. I was itching to predict this upset yesterday, based on how Niko has played in the circuit so far .. Vinod is talented enough to beat him, I thought, but since I rarely predict anything here, I chose not to do that .. The thing that I did not expect was how easily Harsh Mankad lost to Sandeep today, 0-6, 4-6 .. Harsh is on one day and off the next .. With a telented veteran like Sandeep, one needs to play at your best, or he will just beat you - so, Sandeep gets 4 points, but now has a tough QF match against top seed Ogorodov .. Fazal had an easy win and now faces Danai Udomchoke the 6th seed .. I think this could be the match of the day .. Good to see three Indians in the final eight .. See the results in the Calcutta Futures page.

Nov 11 Note-2

The first round doubles match today at the $800K Stockholm Open was a ho-hum affair .. The qualifiers, Geoff Grant and Myles Wakefield played gallantly, it would seem, considering that they held their serves rather easily most of the time .. But LP-MB are the kind of team that knows how to play well within themselves and tighten the screws at the right time, which is exactly what they did, getting breaks in the 9th games of each set and serving off the final games .. Final score was 6-4, 6-4, and the match took 68 minutes .. LP-MB next face Ellis Ferreira and Marc-Kevin Goellner in the quarterfinal. Here's an interesting stat - 17 of the last 18 wins LP-MB have are straight sets wins - the only team to take a set off them in those wins, were the Woodies ay the Shanghai final .. Those 17 straight sets wins include those against the #1,#3, #6, #8, #11, #17, #23, #29, #31 teams in the world !!

Nov 11 Note-1

LP-MB are scheduled to play the first round doubles, starting at around 2.45 pm at Stockholm .. That is 8.45 am EST, 5.45 PST, usa .. 7.15 pm India ) .. There will score updates in the chatroom .. This shouldn't be a tough match, against qualifiers Geoff Grant and Myles Wakefield, but one should never be over-confident ..

I have posted the entry list for the $75K Delhi Women's Challenger (Nov 30 - Dec 6) at the women's challenger page .. Take a look .. The press release had classified the top entry Anna Smashnova as a Russian, which is incorrect .. She was born in Belarus in old Russia, but she has been a resident of Israel since late 80s, and plays for Israel .. Also the 3rd entry, Meilen Tu was a successful partner in doubles with Nirupama last year ..

Nov 10 Note-3

Today was not a good day for Leander, as he went down to #44 Vicent Spadea, 7-6(1), 6-1 .. LP went ahead 3-1 with a break of Spadea in game 4, but Spadea won the break back in the next game, and broke Leander in the 9th game to go up 5-4 .. But Leander got back into it and broke Vince right back too, to go up 6-5 .. Then Spadea went on a hot streak winning 11 of the next 12 points including a 7-1 tiebreaker .. In the second set, Leander made a second comeback attempt on Spadea's serve in game 3, and was up double break points on him, but once again Vince came up big and averted the break .. That seemed to deflate LP and the curtains seemed to come down, with LP getting broken in the next game and in game 6 .. VS finished it off at 6-1 .. The match took 70 minutes .. LP had mentioned to me a few days back that he is carrying an injury, but I didn't think it was serious, as he was doing fine in doubles (usually, though, injuries are much more of a problem in the strenuous singles matches) .. I am not sure if that had anything to do with today's loss, but the way he folded in the second set points to something like that .. Or, it is just that he is not feeling much pressure to defend points till march - he seems to always do better when his back is against the wall !

Nirupama is drawn against Amanda Grahame of Australia, ranked #176, at the Mount Gambier challenger in Australia .. The match was scheduled for wednesday (it's already wednesday afternoon there), but rains were threatening postponements.. It will probably be thursday when she gets to play.

Good news about the $75K Delhi WTA Challenger - Nirupama made it in as the second-to-last direct entry ! .. The last entry is our old friend, Rika Hiraki ! .. As we guessed earlier (Oct 15 Note-2), the main draw closed inside WTA 200, and the qualifier draw itself is closing at about 400 as of now .. This is the first chance for Indians to see world-class WTA competition in India (though I wish we had smaller tournaments where some of our players other than Nirupama had a better chance) .. I will post the entry list, as in today's Indian Express, soon .. Anna Smashnova of Israel (ranked #49 this week - is there a better name in tennis ? :-)) is the top entry .. Other notables such as Sonya Jeyaseelen (Canadian of Srilankan ancestry) are also there .. As it stands, 3 wildcards to the main draw are under AITA's control and should be going to Indians .. So will be three wildcards to the qualifiers too .. Uzma, Rushmi, Sai, Manisha, and Shruti are sure to get 5 of those 6 spots - It may be better to get into the qualifiers than the main draw, as there is some chance of pulling an upset to get some points (WTA is liberal with bonus points for upset of players upto #500, and lets players keep qualifier round points, unlike ATP, where qualifier wins get you nothing normally, unless you make it to the main draw, and bonuses are for wins over top-200 only)

On to the Calcutta ITF Futures .. The first round draw really disappointed me, as some of the best young players ended up against each other, despite there being 14 qualifiers and 4 luckylosers, many of whom would have been easier wins - First, Vijay Kannan ended up with 4th seed Fazaluddin, and lost 3-6, 4-6 .. Then Vinod Sridhar and Saurav Panja ended up against each other (Saurav conceded in the 3rd set) .. Then there is Mustafa Ghouse against Vishal Uppal (the only one of the 16 first-round matches I have not seen a score for) .. The fastest win of the day was for Harsh Mankad, who crushed lucky loser Abhishek Jagnani, 6-0, 6-0 .. Ouch! .. Nitin, and Sandeep also won .. Another notable match was qualifier Vishal Gupta's three-set win over Manoj Mahadevan (who was a lucky loser entry after losing a three-setter to Praveen Sreenivasan in the final qualifiers) .. Hope Manoj gets on track soon .. Ravikiran Bhat is another youngster to reach next round .. Fazal should have an easy time against qualifier David McCabe in round 2 .. Harsh plays Sandeep next .. See the Calcutta Futures page for the results.

Nov 10 Note-2

At the $800K Swedish Open, Leander's first round match against Vince Spadea (USA, #44) is scheduled for about 7 pm in the evening there (1 pm EST, 10 am PST, usa .. 11.30 pm India) .. There will be live scores at the chatroom ..

Spadea started the year at #88 and has come all they way up to #44 now .. He had a couple of good tournaments in Australia in January to move inside the 70 and then cracked the top-50 with a final at St.Poelten on clay .. His best wins this year are over Petr Korda, then ranked #3, at Montreal, and Andre Agassi at Cincinnati .. He then had a string of first round losses for about 3 months after that, which ended last week at Paris, where he upset #17 Pioline and #14 Siemerink before losing to Rios .. So, he is right now in form .. Leander has a tough match at hand.

Leander has just crossed $1.5 million in career prize money .. Mahesh is just under $1 million .. LP is #27 and MB is #32 in earnings this year .. In doubles, their first round opponents will be Geoff Grant and Miles Wakefield who won the final qualifiers on monday (the match is not in the schedule for Tuesday - it should be on Wednesday)

The one I warned you about in yesterday's note-2 - Takeo Suzuki of Japan, the Asian #2, pulled a big upset today at Stockholm, over the 8th seed Tomas Enqvist in three sets.. Suzuki is a qualifier there ..

I received the official ATP points list for the Indian satellites tody from Steve Gocha (thanks!) .. There are a few more such as S.Zaman, who got some points at the satellites - ATP had not yet included some of them in the rank list released this week - so I wasn't aware of that, and was wondering what happened to them ! .. The top few I mentioned in Nov 9 note-4 are all in .. ATP does some strange things; I assume everyone will enter the rank list soon .. Anyway, check out the complete list at the ATP satellites points page ..

Nov 10 Note-1

Not much happened monday at the $15K Futures at Calcutta - only four doubles matches - Kirtanes advanced and the second seeds, Erhardt/Karagiannis got upset by Saurav Panja and Anand Radhakrishnan ! .. Fazal and Mustafa double-bagelled Saif Ali and Kamala Kannan .. There was bad news though - Srinath Prahlad withdrew in the last minute .. I am not sure what the reason is .. Now, the top Indian is Fazal Syed .. Among the foreign players in the satellites, Frederico Rovai, Gerhard Fahlke, Marian Leysek and Johan Hede are not taking part at Calcutta .. The new foreign players are three Uzbeks - Ogotodov, Kutsenko and Abuhamid Makhramov .. See the Calcutta Futures page for the list of 14 qualifiers (13 of them Indians - I believe there are three more names which I have not listed, who have made it in as luckylosers too) and other details and known matchups for Tuesday in the first round .. Some more bad news - Vijay Kannan is drawn to face 4th seed Fazal .. Vijay, who had a tough time being drawn against seeds in the early satellite legs, ends up with a seed once again .. I don't know whom to root for, in this match ! ..

.. Previous notes (with the Stockholm draw for this week and the ATP point list and Standings from the Indian satellite that ended last saturday) are at Weekly Notes, ending Nov 9 ..