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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Nov 19, 2001
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Nov 19 Notes

Mahesh Bhupathi got a wildcard into the draw and plays Robert Krause (RSA) at the $10K Vietnam F1 futures .. Mustafa Ghouse was the top seed in the qualies with a first round bye .. He won his Q2 match against Phu-Quy Huynh (VIE), 57 60 64 to make the draw .. Mustafa plays the 5th seed Benjamin Cassaigne (FRA) in the main draw R1 .. I don't know why Fazal is not in the draw  there - he had a direct entry originally .. No news yet from Australia on Rohan Bopanna at the $15K F5 futures in Berry, on grass courts.

I believe the tennis events at the National Games in Chandigarh start Tuesday.

I am not into commenting too much about other sports on these pages - but I was quite deeply troubled by what happened to our cricketers in South Africa today .. What is it, 27 years since the Sudhir Naik socks incident in England, and we are still taking this kind of crap ? .. "Call the bloody tour off!, Now!" - was my first reaction about the crazy stuff Mike Dennes is pulling out from his behind .. I was amazed to see exactly that as the title of Prem Panicker's article in the rediff.com .. Go Prem! .. Well said .. Time to show some backbone and stand up to these ******!

Tuesday's Times of India has an article ("wedding bells..") that claims that Leander and actress Mahima Chaudhury are getting married soon, but the article provides only a non-denial from LP of his relationship with Mahima as the reason for them to be announcing this in such a definite tone, that too in the front page of the Newspaper's online edition (funny to see the Sachn story and Leander story on the front page!) .. "As and when we decide to get married, we will make the announcement" is all LP said in Kolkata, apparently .. It seems that the rumor mill and film fish-wraps in Bollywood have been on to this for a while too .. Don't ask me - I know nothing! .. I rarely talk anything other than tennis with Leander ..

In other news, Guillermo Canas (ARG,15) has confirmed his entry for the ATP Tata Open, Chennai .. Good news - he joins other top players such as Johansson, Santoro, Hrbati, etc.

Nov 18 Notes

Nothing much going on in tennis, of interest to us .. Hewitt kicked some behinds down under at the ATP singles championships and is #1 in the world - he is all of 20 yrs old! .. Mahesh, Fazal, Bopanna, etc will be playing in Vietnam and Australia starting Monday.

The National Games start in Punjab tomorrow, at last - though not too many Indians have noticed yet .. The Games get  planned, postponed, announced, postponed again, etc, every now and then .. Then suddenly it happens - every 2 or 3 years, out of the blue .. Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Chandigarh etc are venues this time, as Punjab which was to conduct the events a decade back had to then give it up due to the security concerns .. Isn't it wonderful to see Punjab hosting this event after all that had happened out there not so long back?

The tennis events are to be held in Chandigarh and quite a few of the domestic players are expected there, representing the varius states .. The most interesting name is probably the youngest one out there - Sania Mirza, just about turning 15, representing Andhra Pradesh .. For Sania, playing there will give some very timely practice before she proceeds to the big ITF Asian Open in the december first week .. As for the games, on the women's side, Tamil Nadu with Sai Jayalakshmi and Rushmi Chakravarti, and Maharashtra with Radhika Tulpule, Sonal Phadke, would probably compete for the top honors .. Delhi has Ankita Bhambri in the list and Karnataka has SK Tara, Iciri Rai, etc .. On the men's side, again, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu would be at the top of the list .. MAH has Ajay Ramaswami and Kritane cousins entered, and TN has Vijay Kannan, Manoj Mahadevan, Vinod Sridhar and Rishi Sridhar .. Vasudev Reddy with AP and Vishal Uppal with Delhi, etc, are other notables .. I don't see Srinath listed with Karnataka, and KAR will also miss the services of Rohan Bopanna who is playing abroad .. Have not seen the lists for other states such as Bengal ..

If you are wonderng who the defending champions at the national games (the last one was in 1999 Feb in Imphal, Manipur) are, it was Rushmi Chakravarti (TN) and Vinod Sridhar (TN) who won the individual singles golds, Gaurav Natekar/ Asif Ismail (MAH) and Janaki Krishnamurthi/ Radhika Tulpule (MAH) wo won the doubles golds .. In the team events, Maharashtra won the and Tamil Nadu won the women's and men's team event golds, respectively ..

And of course, Manipur basicaly proclaimed themselves the overall national champions, by manipulating the point total formula and pulling off a bogus disqualification of Kerala on the last day in what was one of the biggest daylight robberies in the history of Indian sports - Kerala of course won the overall title in reality, but the whole nation just sat there and watched Manipur do that crap! .. See my 1999 Feb 27 Note-2 here for the nostalgic memories of all the gory details.

Check out the nice official website, www.nationalgames2001.com .. There was some really up-to-date reporting on the official website last time from Manipur in 1999 .. Let us hope that they will do a good job this time too .. The Indian media and sports fans like to complain about how poorly we conduct the National events, but I think rather than complaining all the time, if we all show some interest in finding out what our athletes are doing out there (they do put in good effort representing their home states) and get a bit excited - it would help in the long run .. Hopefully the Indian sports fans would show even a small fraction of their attention towards the Punjab Games than to the hapless Indian cricketers abroad .. I am always glad to see the National Games come around!

Nov 17 Notes

No tennis news, so let me use the time to put in some blatant bragging for my home state, Kerala, for bringing home the Santosh Trophy football national title!! .. Well done, "God's Own Country" !!! .. Now, I repeat my old question -- when will we get some good athletes from Kerala to start playing some tennis?

Nov 16 Notes

Not much news today .. Niru and Vanessa Webb lost 46 46 to the 2nd seeds Nannie DeVilliers (RSA) and Irina Selyutina (KAZ) at the $50K Hattiesburg challenger doubles R1 yesterday .. Niru may be done with playing this year, unless she goes to Australia for the Nuriootpa and Mount Gambier challengers in the next two weeks, or the Bangkok challenger the week after those .. 4th seeds Rohan Bopanna and Mustafa Ghouse lost 36 63 36 to Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE) and Frank Moser (GER) in thge semis at the $10K Bangkok challenger .. Not a great week for any of our players .. Will wait for next week -

Mahesh and Rohan were earlier reported to be proceeding next to Australia for two $15K futures before returning to Bangkok for the challenger after that (Thailand has women's and men's challengers starting on Dec 3rd) .. But I just saw that Fazal, Mustafa and Mahesh are listed in the entries for the Vietnam F1 challenger .. Fazal has made the main draw .. Mustafa #5 and Mahesh is #10 are in the alternate list (I am not sure if MB has a wildcard like he had in Thailand) .. Rohan is listed in the Australia F5 and has made the direct entry .. $15K AUS F5 closed at #852, one of the lowest cuts I have seen for a $15K futures .. $10K Vietnam had a much higher cut at #652 -- Vietnam seems to be a more popular place!)

I also saw the entry list for the Bangkok men's challenger, and Leander narrowly missed the main draw - he is #2 in the alternate list .. The entry closed at a somewhat high #296, and LP is ranked #302 .. I think he will make the draw by the time the tournament comes around.

Have not heard anything further about LP, MB, etc asking for a Jan 28 date for a rescheduled World Doubles Championships in Bangalore - and if ATP has consented to it .. I guess time is sorta running out ..

Nov 15 Notes

Nothing much good to report today .. Nirupama still does not seem to be completely fit and in form after the 3 month injury layoff - she had a good start against the 3rd seed Seda Noorlander (NED,106) but then went down, 61 26 26 in the first round of the $50K Hattiesburg challenger yesterday .. She plays the doubles first round today ..

Rohan Bopanna could not do much against the 8th seed Lior Dahan (ISR,409), and went down 26 26 in the R2 of the Thai F2 futures in Bangkok .. Shivang Mishra went down 16 16 to the 5th seed Yeu-Tzuoo Wang (TPE,452), but considering Wang's talent, it was not entirely unexpected .. In the doubles QF, the 3rd seed Fazal and Tomashevic got upset 76(8) 46 63 by the wildcards Sanchai and Sochat Ratiwatana, which was also quite a surprise .. 4th seeds Rohan and Mustafa advanced to the semifinal with a win over a relatively tough pair, Peter Handoyo (INA) and Raven Klaasen (RSA), 76(1) 36 64 .. They are the only Indians remaining in either draw now, and they face Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE) and Frank Moser (GER), who upset the top seeds James Auckland and Aisam Qureshi 62 63 today.

I hear that Mahesh skipped this week's singles at the Thai F2 because of an injury worry .. He felt some hamstring tightness during some strenuous workout and deicded to skip a week - it may not be serious, and I believe he is expected to play next week, as of now.

Nov 14 Note-2

Good and bad news from Thailand .. The good news is that the Bangkok Post reported wrong news from yesterday - Rohan Bopanna actually won his first round, over Conie van Wyk (RSA,646), 63 30 (retd.) .. That means he got his 3rd retirement in a row - following two in the qualies (what is he doing - serving body aces and hurting people? :-)) .. Rohan plays the 8th seed Lior Dahan (ISR,409) in the next round .. The bad news is that Fazal, following his good upset win over the 3rd seed Rik DeVoest (RSA,374), went down to Raven Klaasen (RSA,543), 36 57 .. Shivang and Rohan play their second round only tomorrow, I think .. In doubles, Rohan Bopanna and Mustafa Ghouse upset the 3rd seeds Lior Dahan and Coenie van Wyk, 76(7) 76(5), and will play Peter Handoyo and Raven Klaasen in the QF .. 4th seeds Fazaluddin and Dmitri Tomashevich (UZB) had an easy win over the Thai wildcards Suparat Chukwan and Ekkarin Pisuth-Arnonth, 63 63 .. They play another Thai wildcard pair in the QFs - the Ratiwatana brothers, Sanchai and Sonchat [source: Steve Gocha]

Nov 14 Note-1

I must be really getting old - I looked at the Hattiesburg challenger draw a few times over the last couple of days and kept reading it wrong - that is why I said Niru had an easier first round match than in the last week, against a qualifier .. Not so .. She is actually playing the 3rd seed Seda Noorlander (NED,106) in the first round .. They play this afternoon at 1 pm .. Niru's doubles first round match against the 2nd seeds is tomorrow.

No news yet about how Fazal and Shivang did in the singles second round at the Thai F2 today.

The Indian press has done a good job of noticing Harsh Mankad's superb show at the collegiate indoor nationals last week - Here is the article from Shailesh Soni with a lot of details in the Rediff.com .. Here is an article interviewing Harsh, by Akshay Sawai in the Times of India today ..

Also for good reading, here is an article on Rohan Bopanna last week by Prajwal Hegde .. Correct comments from her about the Rohan at 6 ft 4 being the most physically gited among the group of five whom we have hopes on (22 yr old Harsh, 21 yr olds Ajay Ramaswami and Rohan, 18 yr olds Sunil Kumar and Prakash Amritraj), and about Harsh and Sunil being the most talented .. Especially worth noting is the seriousness with which coach Bhupathi Sr has been grooming Rohan, and about his long letter to Rohan after his recent show .. Prajwal also has an article today about Sania Mirza, the world's highest ranked 14 yr old, who in my opinion has taken all the right decisions so far in navigating up the junior tour and setting proper goals to move up slowly into the pro tour .. Sania is now in a two week program with Bhupathi Sr in Bangalore .. Always good to know of anybody coming under Krishna Bhupathi's watch - I have said time and again, that he has the most modern ideas about tennis among all coaches in India (again, just my humble opinion .. I don't even know the names of most coaches in India :-)) .. Both Prajwal articles appeared in the Deccan Herald  ..

Also of interest, here is an article today in The Hindu  with details on a brand-new idea of a junior circuit being organized ahead of the Tata Open, with sponsorship from Tata group, next week .. Good concept, and it will be coordinated by Dr. Vece Paes and Paes-en-Sport .. The winners will get a chance to play Chennai Open qualies two .. Regionals in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bangalore (Nov 19-23) and the final rounds in Chennai (Nov 23-26) .. Great!

Nov 13 Note-2

Generally bad news from Thailand .. First of all, Mahesh, for some reason seems to have not played his first round, and was replaced by lucky loser Shivang Mishra today .. Shvang advanced, but two others fell .. Rohan Bopanna who had qualified in, retired in his match today at 36 03 against Coenie van Wyk (RSA) .. Mustafa Ghouse who was the first lucky loser in the draw, lost to the 8th seed Lior Dahan (ISR), 36 16 .. Shivang Mishra who had the easiest match, against the relatively unknown Thai wildcard, Supanya Apaipun, won 76(2) 62 [source: Bangkok Post] .. He now has a very tough match against the 5th seed Yeu-Tzuoo Wang (TPE) .. No idea what caused Mahesh to not play, and what injury Rohan has.

Niru has not played yet at the Hattiesburg challenger.

As for the Lebanon-Taipei Davis Cup tie, I am told that they had some discussions and apparently Lebanon wanted it postponed again .. So the tie hasn't been played yet and there is talk that Taipei may just be awarded a walkover .. We will wait and see, but one way or other (even if they play, I am sure Taipei will beat Lebanon), India is almost sure to travel to Taipei for the Feb 8-10 weekend tie.

Nov 13 Note-1

Nirupama is at the $50K Hattiesburg challenger in Mississippi, USA .. She has a better draw this time than in the last week when she faced the top seed .. She plays a qualifier, to be determined .. In doubles, she is playing with Vanessa Webb (USA), and will face the second seeds nannie DeVilliers and Irina Selyutina.

I am still trying to find out when exactly Taiwan and Lebanon are going to play that postponed Davis Cup tie to qualify into the 2002 Asian Group one .. India will face the winners at either Lebanon or in Taiwan in February next in the first round of the zonal group 1 .. I had seen earlier that the TPE@LIB tie was postponed from Sep 21-23 to Nov 2-4, but I did not see any news of them having played last weekend (actually the Chinese Taipei players like Yeu-Tzuoo Wang and Yen-Hsun Lu were playing at the Japanese challenger that week; so the tie has not happened) .. We will wait and see.

Nov 12 Note-2

Here are the details from the weekend qualies at the Thailand F2 futures .. Rohan Bopanna was the top seed in the qualies and made the main draw without having to do much work, as both his opponenets retired during their matches .. In the Q1, Bopanna beat Rik Tukensteen (NED), 63 10 (retd.) and in the Q2, he beat the 15th seed Wei-Jen Cheng (TPE), 62 (retd.) .. Mustafa Ghouse was the 3rds seed but fell in the second round to the 11th seed Henry Pramono (INA) 46 63 46 after beating Yasutomo Nakase (JPN) 62 67(6) 63 in the Q1 .. 9th seed Shivang Mishra won the Q1 over Ata Khatib (GBR) 16 61 75 and then lost to #7 Jeremy Berman (USA), 46 26 .. In the main draw, Bopanna plays Coenie van Wyk (RSA,646) .. Fazaluddin, who upset the 3rd seed today, plays Ravel Klaasen (RSA,543) next .. In doubles, Bopanna-Sridhar play the #4 seeds Lior Dahan and Conie van Wyk (RSA) .. Fazal and Dmitryi Tomashevic (UZB) are the 3rd seeds and they play the Thai wildcards Suparat Chukwan and Ekkarin Pisuth-Arnonth [source: Steve Gocha]

Nov 12 Note-1

Good news from Thailand .. At the $10K Thai F2 futures first round in Bangkok, Fazaluddin Syed upset the 3rd seed Rick DeVoest (RSA,374), 63 36 75 !! [source: Bangkok Post] .. That is a big win for Fazal, the 3rd or 4th top-500 win in his career .. Great job, Fazal! .. I have not got any draw information yet, but Mahesh is scheduled to play a Thai qualifier or wildcard, Supanya Araiphun, tomorrow - it should be an easy match for MB .. The top seed is Aisam Qureshi of Pakistan, who also plays tomorrow.

Awaiting the draw from the Hattiesburg challenger in the US to see if Niru is playing there this week.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Nov 12 ..

I am getting some enquiries 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 enquiring 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 enquiries from the coaches too .. Please email me - R.Jayakrishnan.