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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Nov 18, 2002
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Nov 18 Notes

No big event to report on, this week .. I am travelling, and so the next update may be on wednesday morning, US time.

Sjeng Schalken (NED,20) has confirmed his entry to the Chennai Open, making it the 3rd top-20 player to confirm, after defending champ Guillermo Canas (ARG,15) and runner-up Paradorn Srichaphan (THA,16) .. Schalken is coming to Chennai for the first time .. With entries closing today, I guess there are no other top-20 players coming in, though it is a slight improvement over last year when there were two top-20 players in Canas and Johansson (then #18) .. I am curious about which other top-40 players will be at Chennai .. Last year, there were Santoro (#22), Pavel (#28), Mirnyi (#35), Hrbaty (#36) and Tabara (#64) .. This time we have heard of Mirnyi (#43) and Philippoussis (#83) also so far .. I hope there will be at least another 3 or 4 top-60 players coming to Chennai .. So, once again there is no high-ranking big name there .. Well, the big name is really Paradorn .. With the Indian Express not obliging to make an exception and come out of the shed for a nostalgia-run there, it is all up to Chennai's adopted son, "Mr.56" Paradorn .. It's his tournament and he will have to carry the event.

Prakash Amritraj and Rajeev Ram of USA won the doubles at the $15K Costa Mesa futures in California .. Their big win was the upset of the second seeds Ye-Tzuoo Wang and Raven Klaasen .. Rajeev had fallen in the singles semi to 3rd seed Doug Bohaboy (USA) .. I had very busy days this week and could not make it down to Costa Mesa to catch some action.

Nov 17 Notes

Make it three titles in the last three satellite outings for Sania Mirza .. A bit of problems in the second set, and then she had to come back from being down a break in the 3rd with 4 straight games to clinch it, but she did the job and beat the 6 ft 2 inch Akgul Amanmuradova (UZB), 60 46 63 in a repeat of the final she had at the Hyderabad satellite where she won her first title .. Sania has played 5 pro events this year - lost the first round against Sunitha Rao (USA) at the Mumbai futures in February (Sunitha has now gone up to top-225), lost in the final round of qualifying in the $25K Delhi challenger the follwing week to Jing-Jing Liu (CHN) .. She has now gone undefeated in three satellites on her return to the pro events after a 7 month break .. There are some restrictions on how many pro events a 15 yr old can play .. Now that she has turned 16, she can play up to 10 events, I believe .. She has 17.75 points now and should be ranked right outside #600 in a couple of weeks .. Now she gets a well-deserved week of break .. Then it will be the Mumbai challenger starting on Nov 25th, where she would surely be a wildcard .. She may be playing the Pune satellites that follows on Dec 2nd and the ITF Asian juniors on Dec 9th ..

Nov 16 Note-2

It was about 2.5 years back that Harsh Mankad won his first satellite title in India, beating Danai Udomchoke in the satellite masters .. And uncharacteristically for an Indian, he had won his first futures title in Canada last year .. He came through today for his second futures title, and first in India, by beating Nitin Kirtane, 61 76(1) .. Nice end to the Indian season for Harsh, who fought through a bit of a slump, and perhaps a bit of a crisis of confidence as well, a few weeks back (though he doesn't admit it) .. He reached the finals of three of the last four futures, and this time won the title to even his record at 2-2 in futures finals .. Harsh gets 12 points to take his points tally to 32 and his ranking to just at #550, at #3 among Indians behind #411 Rohan Bopanna and #525 Mustafa Ghouse and just ahead of Sunil Kumar at #564  (Mustafa's ranking may be a bit misleading, as he picked up all but a handful of his ATP points from the Indian satellite in May that had the weakest field in memory, with Rohan, Harsh, Sunil and Ajay all skipping it) ..

Anyway, the last six futures from late August till now in India have generally had the full set of our first string players (again, I have stopped calling them second string, as LP and MB have stopped playing professional singles), so this would be a good time to see where they all stand, based on the ATP points picked up in the six events .. Here is the table .. If the player was not in the main draw of any leg, it is shown with a "-" .. The rank order is based on points gained per tournament played.
 
# Name F3 F4 F5 F6 F7 F8 ATP
Points
ATP Points/
Tournament
1 Rohan Bopanna 4 1 12 4 - - 21 5.25
2 Harsh Mankad 1 0 8 8 0 12 29 4.83
3 Sunil Sipaeya 12 8 1 1 0 0 22 3.67
4 Ajay Ramaswami 0 2 2 1 8 4 17 2.83
4 Vinod Sridhar 0 0 4 0 12 1 17 2.83
6 Vijay Kannan  8 0 1 2 0 2 13 2.17
7 Manoj Mahadevan - - - 0 2 4 6 2.00
8 Nitin Kirtane 0 1 0 1 0 8 10 1.67
9 Rohan Gajjar 1 4 1 1 0 - 7 1.40
10 Jaco Mathew 0 - 1 0 4 0 5 1.00

There you have it! .. Funny how it all shakes out properly after a few weeks, eh? .. This means there were really no big surprises in this set of futures, except for Vinod Sridhar coming a bit nearer the top group .. The top three remain pretty much as we all knew .. Wish Sunil hadn't just fallen apart in the last four futures after a splendid start .. Rohan and Jaco are the youngest ones to crack into that top-10 .. This group is pretty much our top ten players, except for one notable exception - Mustafa Ghouse .. He could not do much in the whole circuit, ending up with just 3 or 4 ATP points .. He has often been troubled by injuries and had to skip the 3rd futures .. He seemed healthy in the latest three futures, but just couldn't get going.

If you extrapolate the points to a full 18 event year, you would get Rohan, Harsh and Sunil with 95 points, 87 points and 66 points with about a #300, 320 and #375 ranking respectively .. Of course, they don't play all their events in India, and they actually may play more than 18 events, etc - and such an extrapolation means nothing - it's just for fun!

Nov 16 Note-1

Sania reached her 3rd consecutive final at the satellite level today .. She upset the 4th seed Chin-Bee Khoo (MAS), 64 62 at the Manila $10K today .. She faces Akgul Amanmuradova (UZB) in the final tomorrow .. Akgul has been playing very well lately, but Sania has had two wins over her - one in the final at the Hyderabad satellite in September and one last month at the Asian Championships .. Sania has picked up 4 more WTA points to take her point total to 16.75 from just 4 satellite events and her ranking to around #615, which is a jump of over 250 spots with just two weeks of work in Philippines .. The satellite win streak stands at 14 now ..

Sania and Radhika won the doubles title also today, upsetting the 3rd seeds Yanhua Dong (CHN) and Yao Zhang (CHN), 64 63 .. That means they had beaten Kim Kilsdong (NED) and Sonal Phadke in the semis, with Dong-Zhang upsetting Amanmuradova-Israilova in the other semi (haven't seen score of the semis) .. Getting lost in all the talk of Sania's singles success is the fact that she is a terrific doubles player also .. She has had all kinds of doubles success with a whole lot of different players in the ITF juniors, and of course she becamethe youngest Indian to win an Asiad medal when she got the bronze recently in mixed doubles with LP.   Go Sania!

No news yet on the Davangere futures final - they may be doing the final only in the evening there, under floodlights (they were frantically installing the lighting fixtures at the brand-new venue, according to The Hindu report yesterday).

Prakash Amritraj and Rajeev Ram (USA) reached the doubles final at the $15K Costa Mesa futures .. Rajeev upset the 6th seed Raven Klaasen (RSA,381) 63 36 75 to reach the semifinal .. I believe this is the biggest win in Rajeev's career.

Nov 15 Notes

Sania won the QF at the $10K Manila-2 satellites today with a 61 61 win over Diana Julianto (INA) .. Another SF for her .. I believe she also turns 16 today .. Happy Birthday! .. She faces the 4th seed Chin-Bee Khoo (MAS) in the semi tomorrow .. Sania had upset Chin-Bee in a three-setter at the Hyderabad futures in September, but this could again be a tough match .. In doubles, Sania and Radhika Tulpule reached the semifinal upsetting the top seeds Chin Bee Khoo (MAS)/ Wilawan Choptong (THA), 64 63 today .. They run into Sonal Phadke (IND)/ Kim Kilsdonk (NED), who beat Orawan Lamangthong (THA)/ Pichaya Laosirichon (THA), 57 75 75 in another QF .. Orawan/Pichaya had upset the 4th seeds Chin-Wei Chan (CHN)/ Geeta Manohar (IND), 75 60 in the R1 .. Sonal/ Kim had beaten Chattida Thimjapo (THA)/ Napaporn Tongsalee (THA), 67(5) 62 64 in the R1 as well ..

At the Davengere $10 futures, Harsh Mankad continued his fine form and ran past Ajay Ramaswami, 62 64 .. He was down 0-3 in the second set but tightened the screws and ran away with 6 of the next 7 games, finishing the match with an ace .. With his uncle Mayur Vasant traveling with him as a coach, Harsh seems to have got a bit of his touch and confidence back - things had gone walkabout for a few months with some tough draws and tough losses for him .. This is Harsh's third final in the last 4 futures in India .. In the other semi, Manoj Mahadevan had Mr.Evergreen on the mat at one point .. But never count out the 29 yr old though - Nitin came back to win it, 46 75 63 .. It will take some of the best stuff from up his quiver of tricks for Nitin to get past Mankad tomorrow, though .. Vijay-Vishal reached the doubles final against Ajay-Sunil .. See the Davangere futures page for all scores.

The Karnataka kids had a hard time today in the QFs at the grade-5 ITF juniors in Indonesia .. Anthony Tan (INA,605) upset 4th seed Abhay Prakash (#299) 76(4) 06 63, Sanu Wahya Trijati (INA,755) beat Jayanth Janardhan (#951) 62 62, and the top seed Sandy Gumulya (INA,92) beat unranked Iciri Rai 64 63 .. Of course, this is not our first string of juniors out there, but a decent show by them - I like all "strings" of players getting a chance to go abroad and play .. The overall level of competition in India gets better with anybody going abroad and getting exposed, even if it is in some of the lower-ranked events..

In other news, Prakash Amritraj and Rajeev Ram of USA got a walkover in the doubles QF at the Costa Mesa $15K futures in California .. Rajeev Ram has reached the singles QF also.

Nov 14 Notes

At the Manila-2 $10K satellite, Sania Mirza continued her win streak with an easy 62 63 win over Kim Kilsdonk (NED) to reach the QF .. She now plays Diana Julianto in a repeat of last week's R2 .. Sania and Radhika Tulpule have reached the QF of doubles as well, with an easy 60 61 win over Filippino wildcards Godoy/Labay ..

At the $10K Davangere futures today, Manoj Mahadevan picked up a good win over Anton Kokurin ofd UZB who had upset the 4th seed earlier .. It's a rare futures semi for Manoj, who should be doing more of this .. The "evergreen" ended Shriranga Sudhakar's surprising run .. Harsh Mankad has had Vijay Kannan's number for a long time, and things were no different today when he beat the 3rd seed very easily .. He now has a tough match against Ajay .. These two have not played each other in a long time .. If I am not mistaken, the last time was in May 2001 when they played in the year-end collegiate tournament in the US; Ajay was playing his best tennis around that time and took out HM in a 62 63 match .. Tomorrow's match will be interesting for sure.

Talkng of US college tennis, the new year's competition has started over the last few weeks .. I have not said much about it lately, now that Harsh has moved on and Prakash is taking a one-semester break (perhaps not returning to college anymore?) .. Prakash was ranked #42 in the preseason ranking in college, among the top second-year players .. The other noteworthy name in the rank lists is a 4th year player who once was our next hope in the women's side - Uzma Khan .. Playing her final year, after transferring late in her second year to a lower ranked UC Santa Barbara from U.of Arizona where she started first as a top-100 ranked freshman player .. Then she disappeared from the news for a long time .. Anyway, she has started the year well with a 11-2 record and a couple of good wins against top-100 players .. She would be ranked higher when the spring rankings come up later .. Good to see her name in the rank lists - I am sure the lady can still play some tennis!

By the way, I have posted something on Sudhakar and his record in a thread in the forum as the topic came up there .. He is not exactly a young one, 23 and having returned from US college tennis where he hardly did anything much noteworthy .. He may be getting some coaching in India (the newspapers mentioned Pryadarshi, a good one at Bangalore, as his coach), as he has shown good results lately with a 20-5 record (mostly in qualifying) in the last 5 satellite legs and futures he played in Australia and India .. He picked up two ATP points for his first main draw wins .. It may be a bit late for him to now start creating big news, but it's always good to see improvements in our players.

At the grade-5 Jakarta ITF juniors, 954th ranked Jayanth Janardhan from Karnataka (17 yr old) upset the 3rd seed Immannuel Prabowo (INA,310), 62 64 today .. MV Abhay Prakash (17 yr old), also from Karnataka, beat Hyung Jin Kim (KOR) to reach the QF as well .. However, 277th ranked top seed Nihal advani (17 yr old from Mumbai) was upset in the PQF by Tio Lana Putra of Indonesia .. On the girls' side, yet another Karnataka one, unseeded/ unranked Iciri Rai who turned 17 recently, reached the QF with a win over Eliza Rustander (INA), 63 60 .. Iciri had upset the 7th seed Stella Sondang (INA,562) 61 26 63 in the first round.

Nov 13 Note-2

After winning three rounds of qualies to make the main draw at the $15K Costa Mesa futures in California, Prakash Amritraj went down to the 6th seed Raven Klaasen (RSA,381), 46 46 in the first round .. Rajeev Ram (USA), also a qualifier, had a big upset the 2nd seed Christopher Kas (GER,242), 64 06 63 today in the R1 .. In doubles, Prakash and Rajeev beat Casey Smith and Danny Westerman of USA 64 62 to reach the QF .. This event is played just a 10 minute drive away from where I live, but I have not been able to find the time yet to go that way and catch some action..

Nihal Advani and Abhay Prakash won two rounds each to reach the final-16 at the ITF grade-5 in Indonesia .. Iciri Rai on the girls' side won her first round and haa also reached the final-16 .. As it is a lower grade event, the competition is not that great though.

Some late news - it turns out that Mathivannan Jeevan (or alternatively Jeevan Nedunchezhien) had won the consolation draw  (which had all but the semifinalists, I believe) in the u14 section last week at the Nike junior tour world masters in Sun City, RSA .. Good job by Jeevan after losing a tough three-setter in the final-16 of the main draw.

Nov 13 Note-1

At the $10K India F8 futures in Davangere, we are assured of an Indian in the finals once again, as Ajay won the second round and got a walkover from Boris Borgula to a semifinal against Harsh Mankad or Vijay Kannan, who both reached the QFs today .. In the upper half of the draw, once again top seed Mustafa Ghouse went down - today it was against the most unlikely opponent, qualifier Shriranga Sudhakar .. "Evergreen" Nitin Kirtane ended Vinod Sridhar's win streak in a three-setter and Manoj Mahadevan played a good match to get past a decent player, qualifier Y-M.Si of Malaysia .. Manoj faces Kokurin who upset the 4th seed Hasko in the R1 and then took out Kamala Kannan .. See the Davangere futures page.

In Manila, Sania Mirza cruised for a while in the $10K satellite first round today, and then the elbow trouble returned .. She pulled off a tough first round win though - 60 26 76(4) over Thassha Vitayaviroj (THA) .. The news was bad today in the first round for all other Indians.. Qualifier Kim Kilsdonk (NED) beat 6th seed Sonal Phadke, 64 26 63 .. Kim again faces Sania like last week .. 5th seed Elizabeth Bahn (AUT) beat Radhika Tulpule, 62 76, Gabriela Velasco-Andreu (ESP) beat Megha Vakharia, 62 62, and Diana Costa (POR) beat Geeta Manohar, 62 61, in a wretched day for Indians out there ..  Doubles scores later, but more importantly, I hope SM's elbow injury is not the type that will worsen if she plays on .. Her dad Imran Mirza is there and I am sure he is watching closely.

Nov 12 Notes

There were a couple of articles yesterday that tell us about LP's and MB's plans - an article on MB's plans in the Hindustan Times, and an article on LP's plans, by Sukhwant Basra in the Times of India .. LP says he will be playing at first with David Rikl (CZE) .. I like that - Rikl seems to be a good partner to team up with .. Mahesh, as he had said earlier too, will be playing with Joshua Eagle (AUS) .. LP mentioned RB and SKS as the ones to carry the load for India, and specifically commented on how he is impressed with Sunil's work ethic .. MB said that he will be available for Asia Cup, if the event is conducted (I hope not; as far as I can see, it is a waste of money, especially this year, after the Asiad and asian Championships) .. The bad news is that it is pretty clear that the Indian Express won't be playing at Chennai together .. I had hoped that somehow these two would find a way to play just that event together (they have 4 titles in 5 apperances, and had their first ATP title there) - I think the Chennai crowd that lifted them time and again with all the unqualified support through the years deserved such an act from them - oh well, things don't always work out perfectly in this world .. Best of luck with whomever they each play with, out there.

I had a very short email early today from Prajwal Hegde of Deccan Herald from the Davangere $10K - "Ought to be proud - Just a line to tell you that Harsh played great tennis today and displayed outstanding sportsmanship" .. She didn't tell me the scores or exactly what sportsmanship HM showed, and so I surmised that Harsh must have lost the match by reversing a bad call at match point or something! .. Well, it turned out that Harsh beat Vishal Uppal 75 46 62 in a great match (here is Prajwal's article) - it turns out that HM asked for a reversal on a call and gave a point to Vishal at a crucial juncture in the second set, which actually did play a part in him getting broken and losing the set .. Always nice to hear of sportsmanship (as long as you win the match :-)) .. Sunil Kumar's poor run continued, as the 2nd seed went down today again (what happened to SKS suddenly? -- he was looking great in the previous three futures in India, but he has been totally out of sorts this time) - though it was to the tough Ajay Ramaswami this time, the way SKS has lost the last three matches in a row, puzzles me .. The qualifiers  Ashutosh, Arjun, Anjan, Ondriyas (SVK) and wildcards Arun and Jaco, all played tough tennis, but all of them fell in three set matchs .. Quite a competitive day out there - see the Davangere futures page.

At the $10K Manila-2 stallite, Sania Mirza plays Thassha Vitayaviroj (THA) in the first round and may next run into 6th seed Sonal Phadke who play Kim Kilsdonk (NED) .. Megha Vakharia is listed to play Gabriela Velasco Andreu (ESP), though I am not sure if she is there, as she was not there last week .. Geeta Manohar plays Diana Costa and Radhika Tulpule, unseeded this time, faces 5th seed Elisabeth Bahn (AUT) .. Slightly tougher field this time with some Thai players also - Sania is in the same quarter as the top seed Napaporn Tongsalee (THA) .. By the way, a Manila Bulletin story had mentioned that Sania was playing with an elbow injury in the final which had that great fighting comeback by her .. Hope she is in good playing shape this week.

Prakash Amritraj (USA) played four rounds and qualified into the main draw at the $15K Costa Mesa futures in California .. He plays the 6th seed Raven Klaasen in the first round.

Nov 11 Note-2

All but one of the first round doubles matches got done at the Davangere $10K futures .. The qualies got completed and the draw came out today as well, for singles .. All first round singles matches are on Tuesday .. Somewhat of a lopsided draw with the lower half being considerably tougher with Sunil, Harsh, Ajay, Vijay, Vishal, Borgula, Jaco, Kedar, Somdev etc all bunched in there .. 2nd seed Sunil plays Ajay and Vishal Uppal plays Harsh mankad in some unfortunate R1 matchups .. Top seed Mustafa once again gets qualifiers in the first two rounds - hope he finally makes use of the good draws he always seems to get .. And Harsh continues to draw seeds and tough matchups, as usual .. As for the qualies, the nice run by young Arjun Gautham from Bangalore was noteworthy .. G.Arjun beat a Moroccan player first, then Huber (GER) who was a Q last week, and then the 3rd seed CD Ajay to make the main draw and get a winnable matchup against Shivang Mishra - Arjun he has done quite nicely in the last few months .. Another youngster who has done nicely in the qualies lately, Ashutosh Singh, also made it again, this time beating a good Shantanu Dhaka in the final round today .. V.Anjan, S.Sudhakar and C.Ritesh were the other Indians to come through the qualies ..  Arjun and Ashutosh had a somewhat surprising doubles R1 win also today - 64 75 over Jaco and Somdev, two of the more well-known youngsters .. See the Davangere futures page.

Nov 11 Note-1

Just got an email from Manila .. Marathon classic from Sania Mirza today where she made several fighting comebacks, at the $10K ITF satellite final in Manila! .. She was down 26 04 to I-Ting Wang (TPE), before she really started playing .. She won six in a row to even the sets .. She was again down 26 64 03 before evening it with a break in the 5th game to 3-3 .. Now she was down again at 4-5 facing I-Ting serving for the championship .. She raised her game again to win three in a row and take the championship .. [F] S.Mirza d. I-T.Wang, 26 64 75 ..

How about this girl? .. She really should stop getting broken as many times as she does, but that's women's tennis I guess .. What is impressive about Sania is her confidence to fight till the end and her ability to raise her game when it matters .. She is quickly building up a reputation as a player to be feared, and that is important too .. This is the 10th consecutive win on the ITF satellite circuit for her .. She has only played three satellites this year - Lost in the first round to Sunitha Rao of USA at the Mumbai 10K in February (news on Sunitha below!), and won the Hyderabad $10K two months back; she had also picked up some points from the Delhi challenger qualies where she reached the final round .. Sania's point total goes up to 12.75 and her ranking will be near top-675 soon .. Congratulations to Sania who is still only 15 and celebrates her 16th birth day this week! .. There is one more satellite, this week, at Manila and she will be in it .. After that I suppose that she will be at the Delhi challenger and Pune satellite followed by the ITF grade B2 Delhi Asian Closed juniors .. I am still waiting for her to get back on the training courts wth Krishna Bhupathi down in Bangalore .. She has hardly had much time to get coached for quite some time, with the RSA trip, then representing the India u16, then Asiad, then Asian championships etc .. On the other hand she has been a player who has steadily improved her abilities by playing a lot in the international circuit, and there has been a step-up in her results in the last 5-6 months for sure.

Ran has delayed the start of the qualies at the Manila-2 satellites .. Sonal, Radhika, Geeta etc are again there.

The only one to beat Sania in an ITF satellite this year, Sunitha Rao of USA, also just had a great week .. At the $25K Mexico City challenger, Sunitha, who just turned 17, was the 5th seed and she reached the final! .. This is the first event for her since reaching the Bahia Tier-II WTA event second round in early September, and making a big jump into the top-250 (I had reported that earlier) .. She beat Maria Fernanda Riveroll (MEX), 62 60 and qualifier Vanina Garcia Sokol (ARG) 60 16 61 to reach the QF where she had the big upset of the 3rd seed Seda Noorlander (NED,155) 64 36 64 .. She then beat Dimana Krastevich (BUL,464) 62 67(6) 60 to reach the final where she went down to the 4th seed Olga Blahotova (CZE,230) 67(2) 63 .. Congratulations to Sunitha whose dad had earlier mentioned in passing that he might consider his daughter playing for India when she played in India in February (no news on that matter after that though, and I did not see her name in the entry list for the Mumbai challenger starting in two weeks) ..

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Nov 11 ..

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.