Notes for the week ending on Nov 24, 2003
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Nov 24 Notes
The Delhi futures is underway
and four first round matches were done today with Vinod Sridhar pulling a
pretty good upset win over Dmitri Mazur (UZB) who had beaten Harsh Mankad
and gone to the semifinal last week .. Prakash Amritraj withdrew and that
had allowed Mazur to squeeze into the draw after he had missed the qualies,
but Vinod made sure that his joy was shortlived .. We have to be impressed
by Vinod's commitment in putting his best foot forward whenever he gets a
chance .. Also winning was Suinil Kumar over the wildcard Gurmehar Singh,
the son of illustriuous former Indian hockey captain Ajit Pal Singh .. The
qualifying ended with four Indians making it in .. Both your young guns,
Karan Rastogi and Somdev Dev Varman made it in with nice 3rd round wins in
the qualies .. Karan has a tough R1 matchup against the 3rd seed Middelkoop,
who is "upsettable" .. Somdev gets wildcard Shivang Mishra .. Harsh has an
interesting match tuesday against wildcard Arun Prakash .. Jaco Mathew made
it in as a lucky loser when John Thivolle was a now show .. Didn't help,
as Jaco bowed out against the 8th seed Op Der Heijde (NED) .. "Evergreen"
Nitin Kirtane and Kamala Kannan were the other two Indian qualifiers .. Lots
of interesting matches on Tuesday, and some of the seeds will get upset by
qualifiers, I am sure! .. See the Delhi $10K futures page.
There was news yesterday, as in the Times of India
that the National Tennis Academy (Gurgaon, Delhi) has roped in a good coach,
T.Chandrasekharan .. That is a good hire - "Chandra" has coached those like
Leander at the BAT and also Srinath, Fazal, etc at the former DHAITA .. It
would be good to see him get to know a lot of the newer juniors in India
(if I am not mistaken, he had not been much in the swing of things in the
juniors lately, till he was put in charge of the Indian grand slam team to
the US Open) .. NTA could still use a good foreign coach, even in limited
capacity for occasional coaching .. Apparently those schemes are also in
the works ..
Another interesting article by Sukhwant Basra in the Times of India was about Isha lakhani,
who became the Indian #1 with her fantastic show in the Indian ITF challenger
and futures recently .. Take a look .. Interesting comment from "AITA sources"
about not selecting her earlier for the Indfian team to "teach her a lesson"
for questioning team captain's decisions earlier .. I don't know if I agree
with "teaching lessons" in indirect ways - if AITA told her that that is
why she was not selected, then I am fine with that, provided she indeed did
what she is accused of (which I assume was at the Asiad
when she was in the team .. I had heard from some other "sources" that she was quite down at one point due to not getting
much of a chance to play) ..
Anyway, I hope that is all old story and that Isha and AITA have put
it all behind .. After all she is just a teenager and was even younger whenever
the earlier incidents happened .. AITA has shown some willingness lately
to be flexible in these matters and to not let "old wounds" get worse ..
So I hope it is all fine and we can all move on .. This girl is way too talented
- and that is why she is the Indian #1, though Sania Mirzas would like to
come back with a bang and take that spot away from her.
Here is another interesting article to read - "Paes should not have been burdened with captaincy" (Telegraqph,
Kolkata) .. I am not sure who wrote this (Naresh Kumar? Jaidep Mukherjea?),
as that newspaper continues to drop bylines from the web articles (irritating!)
.. Anyway, I agree with the sentiments in the article
about all the things that a captain has to do and how it won't help us to
burden Lee with all that work .. I don't necessarily feel as down on our
chances as the author says though ..
Nov 23 Notes
I have added the main draw and the qualifying results so far, at the Delhi $10K futures page .. Prakash has also withdrawn from there .. Aisam won the Dehra Dun futures .. More later.
Nov 22 Notes
It was announced yesterday
that Prakash Amritraj and Leander Paes have been given singles wildcards into
the Tata Open in Chennai .. Despite being the biggest fan of Leander and
all that, I am still not in favor of literally wasting a wildcard spot for
Leander Paes when the three wildcards should really go to Prakash, Rohan and
Harsh, our other three top players .. I know, the fans want to see Lee play;
heck I too am dying to hear of Lee doing something in singles, as I felt
he stopped way too soon when he retired from singles a couple of years back
.. But having said all that, unless Leander wants to seriously play singles,
I don't know what the point is, in getting him to suit up to play one match
at Chennai, only to see him spend the rest of the time only in doubles before
the Davis Cup week which was probably the only time he was doing any competitive
singles practice for a while ..
On the other hand, things
are different now, as Lee is the captain of the Davis Cup team .. He knows
quite well of some serious challenges he will face, pretty much right away
in the first tie in early february against New Zealand .. Lee said in an interview
the other day that it is possible that two among PA, RB and HM may have to
play first day singles, as they may be sharper than him in singles, but that
if needed on the 3rd day he will be there .. Knowing how tough it is to face
NZL in their place, it is quite possible that on the 3rd day LP will need
to play singles .. Imagine a 2-2 tie going to the 5th match .. If he has
to make that decision, he knows that he better be in top singles condition,
as he himself is the one to answer questions now .. He has some tough challenges
ahead, but we all know that Lee is the type who relishes pressures like that!
.. Back to the Chennai matter, Leander may actually *want to* play some serious
singles there this time unlike in the past few years .. If so, the wildcard
can certainly go to him .. The last couple of years, it was more like, "hey,
everybody wants to see Lee, so here he is" and LP seemed like, "OK, I will
try my best and see" .. One hour on court and out like the last few years
is of no point when we know that Leander, if he is in some decent singles
shape, is much better than that even now .. If he puts in a week of
serious singles practice, he is probably still the best singles player we
have .. So, if he is seriouos about playing in Chennai, the wildcard won't
be wasted .. Apparently Leander has not officially accepted the wildcard
when they announced it yesterday .. He may decide to accept it with some
seriousness this year .. If so, terrific!
Prakash and Stephen have also
been given a doubles wildcard to the main draw at Chennai.
The terrific run by Vishal
Punna ended in the semifinals today at the Dehra Dun futures .. He went
down to Nick Crawley of Britain .. Young Tushar Liberhan had gone down
in a good QF match to Aisam Qureshi yesterday, too .. Congratulations
to these two for going as far as they both did, starting with three qualifying
matches .. Sunil Kumar and Ajay Ramaswami won the doubles title today there
.. See the results in the Dehra
Dun futures page. Dmitri Mazur's run also ended today in the
semis against Qureshi. With Vishal and Crawley being ranked just ahead
of him grabbing the two special exempt slots at next week's Delhi futures,
it is unclear if he will make the draw at Delhi, as he has missed qualies
The qualies have started today
at the $10K+H in Delhi [correction
- it was pointed out to me that this is a $10K event .. There were fact sheets
with $10K+H earlier, but finally I think it is only a $10K event, as ITF
and AITA lists it now .. Thanks Dhruv] .. I have added the qualifying draw in the Delhi F7 futures page
.. Karan Rastogi and Somdev Dev Varman are in the qualies this time - that
is good for them to get good match practice as well ..Not sure how Gurmehar
Singh and Shivang Mishra deserved wildcards into the main draw, but those
two have been out there playing hard on the circuit (though with hardly any
big results) for a long time, that it is fine to give them a little break
.. ArunPrakash also gets a wildcard into the main draw, as does Wijemanne
of Sri Lanka which is probably from a mutual understanding between the federations;
they had given Somdev some wildards into the Sri Lankan futures .. The main
draw will be a little tougher this time with Prakash Amritraj also
joining .. Harsh Mankad is the second seed .. Rohan was also initially
expected, but he has withdrawn .. .
Nov 20 Notes
A pretty wretched day at
Dehra Dun for Indians, except for the heartening run by the young pup Tushar
Liberhan who has won five matches in a row to reach the quarterfinal .. First
of all, Harsh Mankad went down in a three-setter against Dmitri Mazur, who
would have been a high seed based on his old ranking - but he is coming back
from a one year layoff for military service .. Though he is a much better
player than his current ranking would show, I had hoped Harsh to move on
after a tough match .. These Uzbeks are always tough for Indians, it seems
.. Mazur had beaten Sunil Kumar in Thailand last week in straight sets ..
And I am reminded of all the losses Leander had against guys like Tomashevic
.. Anyway, the seeded players have found it very tough there - with only
one remaining in the QF - 3rd seed Aisam Qureshi of Pakistan .. That is very
rare in pro tennis .. More interestingly 4 qualifiers and one lucky loser
are in the QFs - when does that happen in a futures? .. Two of the qualifiers
are Tushar and Vishal Punna, and THEY are the only two Indians left in the
frey .. What are the odds, eh? ..
I am thrilled to see how
well Tushar is playing .. He upset the 5th seed Matwe Middelkoop (NED,581) .. If Tushar can show this kind
of form into the next year, his final year in the juniors could be quite
terrific .. Punna Vishal, who had beaten karan Rastogi yesterday, continued
the fine form by beating Sergei Krotiouk, who had beaten Somdev yesterday
.. P.Vishal has a decent chance to beat lucky loser Naim Lalji of Britain
tomorrow .. Tushar has the tough task of facing Aisam Qureshi, who seems
to be back to his old form when he was in the top-300 - he had won the Thai
fiutures last week .. See the results in the Dehra
Dun futures page.
Jeevan Nedunchezhian went
down in the 3rd round, and the two girls, Sandri Gangotri and E.Ashmitha
are also out by the second round in the Surabaya grade- juniors in Indonesia
(Neil has postyed all the scores in the juniors abroad thread in the forum)
.. So, nothing good happening in the juniors this weeke either. .
Nov 19 Notes
Here is a nice interview
in The Telegraph (Kolkata) with Leander Paes on his thoughts
about the new chgallenger he has taken up, in leading the Davis Cup team
as the captain .. Interesting read ..
The first round got done at
the Dehra Dun challenger today .. Harsh moved on with a very easy win ..
Vinod Sridhar upset the the 8th seed Ogorodov, who was of course a former
top-125 player .. The 8th seed Vijay Kannan got upset by Manoj Mahadevan
.. A bit disappointed that both Karan and Somdev lost their first round,
though they did fight hard in three-set matches .. The best news was about
Tushar Liberhan, who only turned 17 last month and had come through with some
upsets in the qualifes, beating Jaco Matthew to reach the R2, though Jaco's
cramps also affected the out come in the 3rd set .. The bottom half of the
draw is wide open with no seeds left, as two seeds were no shows and the
other two seeds have lost .. See the results in the Dehra
Dun futures page.
Nothing much else happening
.. Some of our juniors are in the grade-4 ITF in Surabaya, Indonesia ..
Jeevan has advanced in the first round .. Scores later.
Nov 18 Note-2
A really sad news to report
- Bob "Nails" Carmichael, former coach of Leander Paes', who played a vital role in moulding LP and MB
into the world-topping doubles players, passed away this morning in Melbourne,
Australia, unexpectedly .. This comes as a shock to all of us, who have
met the gentle non-nonsense coach who was such a classy gentleman .. He
has coached several top players such as Rafter, Hewitt, etc, also .. A carpenter by original profession
(hence the name "Nails"), Bob was also a top-class player once .. He reached
the quarterfinals of Wimbledon in singles, doubles and mixed doubles in
1970 and he was ranked in the singles Top 10 that year as well .. May his soul rest in peace!
Nov 18 Note-1
At the $50K Puebla Challenger
in Mexico, Prakash Amritraj went down in the first round to the 6th seed,
Marcus Hantschk (GER,197), 46 67(2) .. Prakash is not playing doubles
there .. He is in the entry list for the Indian futures the next two weeks
and so would be going to India now.
There was hardly much of
first round play at the $10K futures in dehra Dun today, it seems
.. I have seen the results of only two first roppund matches .. One was
an upset of the 6th seed Sunil Kumar, by Vishal Uppal .. I think one of
the final qualifying matches is stilll to be completed .. One interesting
item is that the talented 16 year old, Tushar Liberhan, qualified into the
main draw, upsetting the 7th seed Kamala Kannan iamong his three qualifying
wins .. As he is unranked, he needed a wildcard to make the qualifying draw
.. I have added the draws and results in the Dehra
Dun futures page.
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.
.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Nov 17 ..
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.