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LP/MB/NS/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the weeks ending on Nov 17, 2003
(Previous week's notes) (Nex t week's notes) (Daily Notes Index 1997 thru 2003)

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Nov 17 Notes

Sorry for being totally MIA for two days .. Changed my home computer system and was setting up for a day, and then promptly fell sick with af flu for a day too .. Nothing much has happened though .. Megs went down in the Pune final on Saturday, Bryan twins won the Houston masters beating Santoro-Llodra and the the Dehra Dun men's $10K futures is starting .. The qualies are not done fully yet, due to rain delays and the main draw R1 will be on Tuesday .. Harsh Mankad is the top seed with Sunil Kumar and Vijay Kannan also seeded .. HM plays a qualifier TBD .. I will add the draws soon .. be back soon.

Nov 14 Note-2

Big announcement from AITA today .. Ramesh Krishnan wanted to step down as the Davis Cup captain, and Leander Paes will take over as the Playing captain .. This is a very interesting development .. RK reportedly wrote to AITA showing his inability to do the captain duties .. It is reasonable that RK wants to concentrate on traveling with his two daughters and coaching them .. I think he must have been struggling a bit for time, with the Davis Cup duties, the KTC work and the daughters' plans .. Let us give Ramesh Krishnan big props for doing a very good, capable job in a classy way as the captain .. He showed tremendous passion for the job and his attention to details and the no-nonsense approach to practice sessions before the ties to get the team prepared well, were all much appreciated .. He stayed away from unnecessary controversy and did what was needed at all times .. Thanks Ramesh! ..

As for Leander becoming the captain, well, it was only a matter iof time, knowing what this man has meant to us and to our Davis Cup hopes all along .. Didn't think this would come at this time though .. AITA announced the team for the upcoming (Feb 6) away tie in New Zealand --  LP as the playing captain, Mahesh Bhupathi, Rohan Bopanna, Prakash Amritraj and Harsh Mankad .. It would seem that the AITA's executive committee was relieved not to have to make a choice among RB, HM and PA ...

.. but then again, may be not .. It looks like there is a little oversight of the Davis Cup rules .. If there is a playing captain, then the team should consist of only THREE other members, not four .. That is my understanding of the rules - but I could be wrong .. But the official team can be announced as late as 10 days ahead of the tie, so AITA may have decided not to get into the details now :-) .. So I suppose Leander will have to pick one player to drop at that time, if he were to play (which he of course has to!).

The interesting thing is that this "Playing Captain" option is hardly used these days, though it is still in the Davis Cup rulebook .. Vijay Amritraj was a playing captain for us, as recently as 1987, but I haven't noticed any country using this option lately .. But Leander is unique and only very few countries have somebody that senior and respected-enough to be the captain (except for Agassi who doesn't play Davis Cup now) who is still effectively the country's top player .. Karm Alami who was the captain for Morocco probably was good enough to play if needed, but he was a non-playing captain .. Not too many other cases I can think of [added later -- OK, checked up on this.  Nenad Zimonjic was a rare "playing captain" for Yugoslavia recently .. He played the doubles match against Greece and the team had four members including him, like I guessed] .. Go Leander!!

Nov 14 Note-1

At Pune, we have yet another teenager reaching the final of a pro event -- Megha Vakharia reached the $10K finals today with a straight sets win over Thassha Vitayaviroj (THA) .. Megha had beaten Ankita Bhambri yesterday in the QF, as Sonal fell to Thassha and Isha to Akgul Amanmuradova (UZB) .. Isha was carrying high fever in her second round win on wednesday and could not do much yesterday in the QF .. But it is good to see Megs doing well .. She now is in the unenviable position of having to tackle the big Uzbek in the final -- Akgul beat the 3rd seed Karen Paterson (GBR) and extended her winning streak to 9 matches in India, following her title in the challenger last week ..
See the Pune satellite page for all the scores.

Megha has picked up 4 points this week .. With the 9 last week for he top-250 upset and QF appearance last week, that is 13 points so far for Megs who raises her point total to 41 and ranking inside the top-400 .. In two weeks we will have Isha, Sania, Rushmi, megha all in the top-400 and three of them are teenagers ..

By the way, Indian women's tennis has come a long way -- just found out that Manisha Malhotra has been coaching Anastassia Rodionova, 21 year old Russian ranked #165 in singles and #137 in doubles .. That is great to know -- that an Indian is coaching somebody that good .. Manisha herself is not done with her playing days and might play a few events as she travels with Anastassia .. Manisha has been coaching her since US Open .. I had not been in touch with her for a while and found out only when our friend "jirobkk" in the forum reported on it, as he met Manisha and Rodionova at Pattaya City this month .. Jiro has posted some pictures of them in our forum (players area, in the Manisha thread) .. Check them out.

In other news, Sunil Kumar went down in the singles at the Thai $10K futures yesterday but won the doubles title .. Sunil lost to Dimitri Mazur (UZB) 26 36 in the QF .. In doubles, 4th seeded Ajay Ramaswami and Sunil Kumar Sipaeya beat Juan Ignacio Cerda (CHI) and Ti Chen (TPE) 64 63 in the SF .. They then beat the 3rd seeded Austrians, Martin Slanar and Herbert Wiltschnig 62 46 63 in the final .. The Austrians had beaten Manoj Mahadevan and Vinod Sridhar 64 63 in the other SF.

Stephen Amritraj (USA) is at the USA F31 $15K in Hawaii this week .. He had a wildcard and advanced in the R1 with a 46 76(6) 63 win over qualifier Aaron Talarico (USA) .. he plays the 5th seed Paul Logtens (NED) next .. Stephen is also in the doubles semis there, partnering Lamine Ouahab, the very talented Algerian teenager .. They beat the wildcards Timothy Neilly and Dennis Zivkovic of USA, 62 75 and then got a QF walkover ..

At the grade-4 Indoensia ITF juniors, 11th seeded M.Jeevan went down in a tough threesetter to the 7th seed in the 3rd round (PQF) .. Madura, Sandhya and Vandana were also in the entry list but apparently could not make it to Indonesia from Thailand due to airticket problems .. E.Ashmitha and Sandri Gangothri were the 5th and 7th seeds there .. Sandri had advanced to the QF but Ashmitha was upset in the second round .. Awaiting more score details.

In other news, Leander Paes was added into the "Sahara Parivar" as a council director of the company's "Kartavya Council", which reportedly protects the rights of customers and workers .. This was done at the high-profile Amby Valley lake city near Mumbai this week .. Amitabh Bacchan, Aishwarya Rai, Kapil Dev, etc are also members according to the PTI report yesterday .. Vece Paes has been given charge for developing the Amby Valley Sports Academy as well .. By the way, Anna Kournikova was out there in Mumbai as a brand ambassador or something for Amby Valley as well .. I don't know,  may be it is the remnants of the old malayalee communist in me feeling this way -- but I am rather ambivalent (:-)) about stuff like this Amby Valley business.

Nov 13 Note-1

Ah, shoot .. The Bryans were one point away from being losing out to Bjorkman-Woodbridge, and being ousted from the masters-cup in a three-way tie with 2-1 records, as Bjorkman double-faulted at match point tuesday night .. MB-MM were two points away from winning the 3rd set against Knowles-Nestor and advancing as the group-topper yesterday .. But none of that happened - the Bryans advanced and are assured to be the year end #1 team instead of MadMax who were ousted last night as G.Etlis-M.Rodriguez won the first set in a three-set loss to W.Arthurs-P.Hanley .. MB-MM (3-4 sets record), GE-MR (3-4 sets score) and WA-PH (3-5 sets score) ended up with 1-2 record and the alternate team, Etlis-Rodriguez, who were there only because Paes-Rikl could not play, are in the semifinal on head-to-head over MadMax .. Damn it - so agonizingly close!

But then again, this may be the tennis Gods making sure that the good karma is for Leander and Mahesh is to play together next year...

In other news, Sunil Kumar reached the quarterfinal at the $10K Thai F2 futures yesterday .. [R2] Sunil Kumar Sipaeya (IND,598) d. Bart Van Delft (NED,759) 64 76(3) .. Vijay Kannan went down to in the R2 against the 3rd seed Herbert Wiltschnig (AUT,461), 26 16 .. Sunil plays the lucky loser Dmitiri Mazur (UZB,826) next .. In the doubles QF, the 4th seeds Ajay Ramaswami and Sunil Kumar beat Jasper Smit and Bart Van Delft of NED, 64 64 and Manoj Mahadevan and Vinod Sridhar upset the second seeds Mustafa Ghouse and Vijay Kannan 76 64 .. Ajay/Sunil play Juan-Ignacio Cerda (CHI) and Ti Chen (TPE) in the SF, and Manoj/ Vinod play the 3rd seeds Herbert Wiltschnig/ Martin Slanar (AUT) in the semis.

Nov 12 Notes

Well, Mahesh and Max fought hard, saved a bunch of match points to win the second set and keep their hopes alive, but they could not win the match .. [RR-3] (2) M.Bhupathi/ M.Mirnyi l. (4) M.Knowles/ D.Nestor, 46 76(6) 67(4) .. I unfortunately could not watch the match, and hence no match report .. As far as I can see, they are not out yet, and can still advance to the semi in a three-way tie with 1-2 records for the second place .. That will be if Gaston Eltis/ Martin Rodriguez lose to Wayne Arthurs/ Paul Hanley in the final pool match that is about to start as I type .. Knowles-Nestor with a 3-0 record have advanced to the semis to face Llodra-Santoro who finished #2 in the other pool .. Arthurs-Hanley are winless with a 1-4 set record right now .. MB-MM are 1-2 with a 3-4 record in sets .. Here is my understanding of the situation .. If Etlis-Rodriguez beats Arthurs-Hanley, they advance to the SF with a 2-1 record .. But, if GE-MR lose to WA-PH, then it is a three-way tie with 1-2 records and MB-MM can advance in some cases .. If E-R lose in a 2 setter, we will have WA-PH and MB-MM both with 3-4 sets record and I think B-M will advance on head-to-head over them .. If GE-MR lose in a 3-setter, then it is a 3-4 set record with a tie between B-M and them, and THEY will advance on head-to-head over MB-MM .. So, I suppose we need E-R to lose in straight sets. But if I am reading this right, either way, Arthurs-Hanley cannot advance. Would they have enough spirit to go for a 2-set win over E-R? ... Do I have  this all correct? .. I don't know - but we will find out soon what happens.

In other news, Prakash Amritraj lost in the first round of both singles and doubles at the $50K Austin challenger .. [R1] Prakash Amritraj l. (Q) Amer Delic (USA), 26 75 26 .. Delic is a top college player, ranked in the top 5, and so this was expected to be a tough match for PA; I had hoped he would be able to pull this one off though .. In the doubles first round yesterday, [R1] Brandon Coupe (USA)/ Jordan Kerr (AUS) d. Prakash Amritraj/ Jean-Julien Rojer (AHO) 64 46 64.

At the Pune $10K today, Rushmi Chakravarthi had to retire at 46 00 against Ankita Bhambri due to a shoulder injury .. Ankita plays 6th seed Megha in the QF .. Sonal and Isha are also in the QF .. Shruti Dhawan made Isha fight all the way to a 7-5 3rd set .. Good to see four Indians in the QF .. See the Pune satellite page for all the scores.

Nov 11 Note-2

At the $50K Austin (TX) challenger, Prakash Amritraj plays the doubles first round today, partering Jean-Julien Roger (AHO) .. They face the top seeds, Brandon Coupe (USA) and Jordan Kerr (AUS) .. In singles, PA awaits a qualifier to be determined today after the final qualifying rounds get done - his singles R1 will be tomorrow ..

At the $10K in Pune, Archana Venkatraman had a big three set win over the top seed Chin-Bee Khoo (MAS), who seems to be ill or injured, as she later withdrew from the doubles .. Otherwise, no surprises today when the firstr ound was completed - except for a 60 61 scoreline in Isha Lakhani's win over Sheetal Goutham .. Perhaps SG was a bit rusty, but I am still amazed at the kind of wins Isha has been putting together lately .. See the Pune satellite page for all the scores.

At the $10K futures in Thailand, Vijay Kannan advanced to the second round with a 26 61 76(5)  win over qualifier Seung Hoon Lee (KOR), and Sunil Kumar beat Vinod Sridhar 16 62 62 in the R1 .. Three R1 losses today - [R1] (4) Aisam Qureshi (PAK) d. Mustafa Ghouse 62 61 .. [R1] (Q) Frederik Nielsen (DEN) d. Ajay Ramaswami 63 62 .. [R1] (3) Herbert Wiltschnig (AUT) d. (Q) Kamala Kannan (IND) 62 64 .. Kamala Kannan had a nice run in the qualifying rounds, upsetting the 8th seed Manoj Mahadevan 64 46 63 in the Q2 and Hiu-Tung Yu (HKG) 63 63 in the Q3 after a 36 76(5) 62 win over Duck-Hwan An (KOR) in the Q1 .. Hiu-Tung had upset the 10th seed Jaco Mathew 60 60 in the Q2 .. In the main draw PQF, Vijay play the 3rd seed Herbert Wiltschnig (AUT) and Sunil plays Bart Van Delft (NED) .. Doubles - [R1] (4) Ajay/ Sunil d. Murad Inoyatov/ Dmitri Mazur (UZB) 26 63 64 .. [R1] Manoj/ Vinod d. (WC) Anuwat Dalodom/ Attapol Rithiwatanapong (THA) 63 61 .. [R1] (2) Mustafa/ Vijay d. Mohammed Al Ghareeb (KUW)/ Patrik Fredriksson (SWE) walkover .. IN the QFs, it will be [QF] (4) Ajay/ Sunil vs. Jasper Smit/ Bart Van Delft (NED) and [QF] (2) Mustafa/ Vijay vs Manoj/ Vinod.

Nov 11 Note-1

Here is the report on the nice run that 15 yr old Madura Ranganathan had in the grade-4 in Vietnam last week (sorry I am rounding up the scores a bit late -- way too many of our players there, and a lot of matches) .. All but one Indian girl had first round byes .. [R1] Varsha Shivshankar l. Thuy-Dung Nguyen (VIE) 61 67(5) 16 .. [R2] Amoolya Raghunath l. Sandri Gangothri d. 06 36 .. [R2] Gayatri Krishnan l. Shuao-ya Shen (TPE) 26 46 46 .. [R2] Asha Nandakumar l. Thuy-Dung Nguyen (VIE) 63 57 26 .. [R2] Vandana Murali l. Gira Schofield  (USA) 62 06 26 .. [R2] Sandri Gangothri d. Amoolya Raghunath 60 63 .. [QF] d. Shuao-ya Shen (TPE) 60 61 .. [SF] l. Madura Ranganathan 36 16 .. [R2] Sandhya Nagaraj d. Huyen-Trang Tran (VIE) 62 60 .. [QF] d. Gira Schofield (USA) 63 61 .. [SF] d. Nungnadda Wannasuk (THA) 63 64 .. [F] Sandhya Nagaraj l. Madura Ranganathan 26 16 .. [R1] Madura Ranganathan bye .. [R2] d. Thuy-Dung Nguyen (VIE) 60 61 .. [QF] d. Wei Ping Lee (SIN) 62 26 62 .. [SF] d. Sandri Gangothri 63 61 .. [F] d. Sandhya Nagaraj 62 61 .. In doubles, Madura and Vandana beat Sandhya and Sandri in the final for Madura's double crown .. They had beaten a Vietnamese team in the QF and then Asha-Amoolya in the SF after an R1 bye.

Madura Ranganathan seems to be asserting herself as perhaps the best among this set of juniors in the 14-16 age group .  She had won the u14 and u16 titles at the DSCL Nationals last year, but did not get much recognition for it, because Sanaa/Tara/Kartiki etc did not play that event .. On her side, Madura has quietly won matches and brought herself up to #103 in the juniors ranks right now .. She could be inside the top-75 in the January rankings and she has THREE more years left in the juniors! .. Don't forget that she was good enough to reach the QF of a grade-2 last month in Thailand .. Actually her most impressive result was a 64 67 36 loss, at the beginning of the year to Pichaya Laosirichon (THA), a top-75 player last year, who was three years older than her .. Last week Madura beat, by a 61 61 score, a Thai girl who had beaten her in July in three sets - so there are some indication of good improvement in Madura .. Hope she will keep it up!

On the boys's side, here are the results from Vietnam -- [R1] Karthik Raju l. Thanh-Hoang Tran (VIE) 46 67(0) .. [R1] Manu Bajpai l. Richard Wire (GBR) 36 16 .. [R1] Kaushik Raju d. Nikki Peel (GBR) 67(6) 76(4) 76 .. [R2] l. Xiao-Peng Lai (HKG) 06 26 .. [R1] Jeevan M Nedunchezhiyan d. Chian Yuan Chang (TPE) 61 60 .. [R2] d. Ryoken Matsui (JPN) 61 63 .. [QF] d. Faris Khatib (GBR) 63 63 .. [SF] l. Takanobu Fujii (JPN) 57 63 06 .. Good job by Jeevan there .. He is also a talented player that we should hope to see coming through in the near future.

The caravan has moved on to the grade-4 in Indonesia .. Vijit Sehgal qualified into the boys draw there -- main draw results later .. Neil has been promptly reporting all the scores in the "junior abroad" thread (players section) in our forum.

Nov 10 Note-2

Mahesh and Max knew they had to win today's matchg and preferably in two sets to keep their chances, should any ties occur for advancing from the pool .. [RR-2] (2) M.Bhupathi/ M.Mirnyi d. Wayne Arthurs (AUS)/ Paul Hanley (AUS), 64 76(2) .. The match was covered live by the TennisChannel .. Here is a match report -- the first set was quite eventless .. MadMax went up early in the 4th game, converting their first break point .. They kept the lead all the way through the set .. They had a few chances in the 8th game for an extra break but could not convert them .. Things got a bit tight in the second set - Our guys found themselves behind after a break in the 4th game and soon they were down 1-4 .. Max seemed off and on all night, while Mahesh was his solid self (actually playing tremendous doubles - nice returns, good serves and his usual great hands at the net) .. MB knew that they had to break back in the 6th game off Hanley's serve because Arthurs is always very tough to get a break from .. MB was pumping up Max, who sometimes looks a bit subdued .. Sure enough the Aussies wilted mentally right in that game just when they were ahead .. For no apparent reasons they canned what was working and decided to go for the Aussie formation - a clear indication at that point that they were worried about dropping serve .. Sure enough, MB teed up on one serve for a return winner, Hanley served a double fault and it was a break .. Then it went to 4-5 on serve when Max went through a monumental game where Mahesh literally saved him, as Max's first serve went in only once or twice in a game where our boys saved SIX set points .. Down 0-40 after a couple of hot returns form the Aussies, Max came up with an ace, Mahesh won a great reflex volley duel and then Arthurs hit one out .. It was deuce .. It took three more deuces and 2 more break chances before MB came up with a trmendous overhead shot to seal the game ..  That was a key hold because our guys simply could not afford to drop a set (sets won is a key tiebreaking stat) .. In the tiebreaker, Max played very well and Mahesh was pumped up with his returns .. From 2-2, our guys won 5 points in a row to finish it off .. So they stay alive and will face Knowles-Nestor in the 3rd match in a couple of days ..  As Knowles/Nestors beat Etlis/Rodrigues today, things have brightened up for MB-MM a bit.

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.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Nov 10 ..

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.