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LP/MB/NS/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Nov 24, 2003
(Previous week's notes) (Next week's notes) (Daily Notes Index 1997 thru 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.