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LP/MB/NS/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Dec 1, 2003
(Previous week's notes) (Next week's notes) (Daily Notes Index 1997 thru 2003)

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Dec 1 Notes

The 3rd leg of the current futures series in India started today at the MSLTA courts in Mumbai ..The story once again is the emergence of Vishal Punna .. Continuing his giant-killing work the last two weeks, he upset the 4th seed Toshihide Matsui (JPN, 468) by a score of 76(4) 64 to advance to the PQF today .. Here are some excerpts from Nandakumar Marar's article in The Hindu -- Punna Vishaal is an advertiser's delight;fast and furious approach coupled with courage to back himself on court. A firm believer in taking risks to win points and matches, the Indian's pace and punch unnerved Matsui .. .. The hard-serving, powerfully-built Japanese felt the pressure building up in the face of constant net forays by his agile rival, almost like running into a wall. Punna troubled Matsui in service games with winners of effortless timing, growing in confidence with every backhand stop volley .. .. "I played to a plan, putting pressure on him at the net and denying him the pace. I am a serve-and-volley player so it was my normal game, just a little more careful,'' said the happy Indian, who sought advice from seniors Ajay Ramaswamy and Vinod Sridhar to update his information about Matsui, ranked 468th on the ITF computer .. That is how it should be done, epecially the part about scouting the opponent! .. P.Vishal is taking things seriously and coming through every time .. He is almost there with the upper echelon of our players like VIjay, Vinod, Ajay, Mustafa, etc, in my view .. I am reminded of a comment made in passing by Fazaluddin a couple of years back - he singled out Vishal Punna as somebody who had potential to do very well, and that surprised me a bit then .. I guess, Fazal knew what he was talking about - I guess the 20 year old is beginning to do just that .. In other matches, Karan Rastogi had an easy win against a lucky loser .. Somdev got a raw deal, as he has to tackle the 3rd seed Aisam Quereshi, who has been vurtually unbeatable for some three weeks .. Vijay Kannan withdrew due to some sort of injury I believe .. Prakash also had wuthdrawn earlier, but this time Riohan Bopanna is playing .. Manoj mahadevan and Kedar Tembe qualified into the main draw .. Manoj plays the second seed Harsh .. Sunil Kumar, RB, HM, etc are all in action tomorrow .. See the scores in the Mumbai futures page.

Manisha Malhotra, not quite retired just yet, but doing traveling coaching for a top-150 player Anastassia Rodionova, was out playing this week, in the qualies at the $50K Changsha challenger in China .. Played a usual Manisha-like three-setter (hey, some things never change, and Manisha always plays 3-setters :)) .. Cassandra Barr (AUS,734) d. Manisha Malhotra,  76(2) 46 76(3) .. Tough loss, but always good to see Manisha playing.

Today's new ITF junior rankings show Tushar Liberhan as the latest entry into the top-100, as he reached a career-high #95 rank with the grade-3 title at Maysia last week .. Actually, Tushar has been on a torrid pace with a 28-2 record in the last 30 junior matches he has played, a lot of them at the grade-4 level .. He seems ready for tyyhe next step of grade-2 and grade-1 events with top-75 players .. Mathivannan Jeevan Nedunchezhiyen, who turned 15 only a month back, moved up 90 spots to #202 in the doubles rankings, with his title with Tushar last week ..  I believe the Indian kids will all be at the second Malaysian grade-3 event this week.

Nov 30 Notes

Great news from the grade-3 ITF juniors in Miri, Malaysia, as Tushar Liberhan, who has been showing all signs of breakthrough lately, won a double crown .. Tushar picked up 60 points for the title, taking six-best point total up by 40 points to 235 .. That will give him a ranking of around #95 next week and somewhere around top-65 in January, which will be enough to qualify him into the Australian Open juniors ..  Good to see another one, "emerging" - except that I was expecting this from Tushar sometime earlier this year and it took a few months more before he started his run .. He will now overtake Divij Sharan for the #2 spot among 17 year olds (behind Karan Rastogi) ..  Yet another strong double partnership among our juniors, as Tushar and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan looked very good this week in winning the title .. Unfortunately the Bhambri sisters did not perform anywhere near I expected them to, both in singles and doubles ..  They will be back in good form soon, I am sure .. Here are the scores roundup, starting with first round losses (there were a ton of Indian kids there, bust most did hardly much in a pretty competitive field) .. Singles:  [R1 losses] Patrick Jozwik (AUS) d. Vivek Shokeen 75 63 .. Takanobu Fujii (JPN) d. Navdeep Singh 62 67(2) 61 ..Martin Sayer (HKG) d. Anshuman Dutta 61 60 .. Razian Rawi (MAS) d. Karthik Raju 26 64 64 .. Urska Klemenc (SLO) d. Sanaa Bhambri 76(5) 61 .. Shuai Zhang (CHN) d. Sandri Gangothri 76(2) 60 .. Lara Picone (AUS) d. Asha Nandakumar 61 60 .. Wan-Ting Liu (CHN) d. Oormila Ram 62 62 .. Miyoko Takahashi (JPN) d. Parul Goswami  46 62 76(5) .. Ayu-Fani Damayanti (INA) d. Pooja Kommireddi 61 63 .. Scores for those with wins - [R1] Jeevan M Nedunchezhiyan (IND,334) d. Dominic Inglot (GBR,329) 61 62 ..[R2] l. (1) Weerapat Daokmaiklee (THA,99) 57 46 ..[R1] Ashmitha Easwaramurthi d. Chien Mary Ngiam El (MAS) 61 60 ..[R2] l. Urska Klemenc (SLO,268) 26 36 .. [R1] Tushar Liberhan (IND) d. Miles Armstrong (AUS,613) 64 61 .. [R2] d. Martin Sayer (HKG,368) 63 64 .. [QF] d. Sandy Purnomo (INA,429) 60 61 .. [SF] d. Naoki Sato (JPN,445) 75 75 .. [F]  d. Patrick Jozwik (AUS,160) 61 62 .. [R1] Ankita Bhambri (IND) d. Lizaan DuPlessis (RSA,435) 63 63 .. [R2] d. Erika Sema (JPN,787) 63 62 .. [QF] d. Wan-Ting Liu (CHN,140) 67(3) 60 75 ..[QF] l. So-Jung Kim (KOR) 16 26 .. Doubles [R1 losses]  S.Purnomo/ Anthony Tan (INA) d. Karthik Raju/ Naoki Sato (JPN) 60 61 .. Andy Chirita (SWE)/ Robert Veres (SWE) d. A.Dutta/ V.Shokeen 63 76(5) .. M.Armstrong (AUS)/ Botond Godry (HUN) d. Keith Meisner (GBR)/ N.Singh 36 64 63 .. Denise Harijanto (INA)/ S-J.Kim (KOR) d. U.Klemenc/ S.Gangothri 64 61 .. A-F.Damayanti/ Joana Febri (INA) d. Pooja.K/ O.Ram 62 61 .. Joanna Craven (GBR)/ Varanya Vijuksanabon (THA) d. Ashmitha.E/ Anna Vavrik (RUS) 63 26 62 .. Hanne Skak Jensen (DEN) / M.Takahashi d. P.GHoswami/ Nidhi Shah 64 62 .. Scores for those with wins - [R1] T.Liberhan/ J.M.Nedunchezhiyan d. Xiao-Peng Lai (HKG) / M.Sayer 63 61 .. [QF] d. S.Purnimo/ A.Tan 62 63 .. [SF] d. M.Armstrong/ B.Godry 62 63 .. [F] d. W.Doakmaiklee/ Sunu Wahyu Trijati (INA) 26 64 63 .. [R1] A.Bhambri/ S.Bhambri d. C.M.Ngiam/ Sieu Ec Toi (MAS) 60 60  ..[QF] d. H.S.Jensen/ M.Takahashi 64 61 .. [SF] l. W-T.Liu/ S.Zhang 36 46 ..

Nov 29 Notes

Asiam Qureshi has been in great form lately and has been playing like he used to when he reached inside top 225 early last year .. He won his 3rd consecutive tfutures title today, beating Harsh Mankad 76(4) 64 .. Harsh did play well to come back from a break down in the first set but did some tactical mistakes in mixing up some volleying at some crucial points in the tiebreaker and also when he went down a break in the second set .. Actually, considering the poor form HM has been in, this was a nice run with some gritty wins .. He can hopefully pick up some more points next week and bring his ranking up near 350 again to have a realistic chance at the Australian Open qualies .. See the Delhi $10K futures page for scores ..

At the grade-3 in Malaysia, Tushar Liberhan and Ankita Bhambri have reached the semifinals .. E.Ashmitha and M.Jeevan went down in the PQFs and everybody else lost in the first round as reported earlier .. We have posted the scores at the forum pages (thread players|juniors abroad).

Nov 28 Notes

Well, the great news that we all were waiting for has come in today! .. Mahesh broached the subject yesterday as PTI reported, that he was waiting to hear a final confirmation from LP on playing at the Chennai Open and about playing a lot of events together the coming year .. The news came from Kolkata today that LP wholeheartedly agreed .. So the Indian Express will be back together again for PART-III, once again starting from their favorite tournament, the Chennai Open .. They have not said that they will play together permanently next year, and have mentioned that they may play with other as well, but hopefully that will all be all history when they lift the cup at Chennai and get going from there .. They have a lot of work to do to get their old edge back and get past teams like the Bryans who have clearly gone ahead .. They can do it, and we know they will! .. Go Indian Express!

At Delhi, Harsh Mankad once again came bak from a set down against Sunil Kumar, raising his game and completely dismantiling SKS in the next two sets .. Asiam kept his end of the bargain in the other semi and so we have an Indo-Pak final .. Aisam Qureshi is in superb form and is on a 14 match win streak with two titles in a row .. HM will need to play his very best tomorrow .. Meanwhile Mankad-Qureshi won the doubles title today in a three-setter over Ghouse-Uppal; so we are assured of a double crown winner tomorrow .. See the Delhi $10K futures page for scores ..

Nov 27 Notes

At the Delhi futures, Harsh Mankad and Sunil Kumar reached the semifinals against each other today .. 20 year old Vishal Punna could not make it three Indians in the SFs as he went down fighting in a 3rd set tiebreaker today .. The HM-vs-SKS match tomorrow will be a good one .. Apparently HM was late in coming for the match today as he was wuith the pysiotherapist, according to the article in The Hindu -- I am not sure what is up with Harsh - he has not been in peak form but he has played smartly so far to get to the semis .. Sunil Kumar seem to be in pretty good form though .. If Aisam Qureshi can come through in the semi, we will have an Indo-Pak final this time .. In doubles, Mankad-Aisam face Ghouse-Uppal tomorrow in the final .. HM-AQ beat Divioj Sharan and Arun Prakash Rajagopalan in the QF, as Ghouse-Uppal got a walkover .. See the Delhi $10K futures page for scores ..

At the Malayaisa gradd-3 juniors, Tushar Liberhan and Jeevan nedunchezhiyan advanced to the PQF with R1 wins, but Karthik Raju, Navdeep Singh, Vivek Shokeen and Anshuman Datta went down .. On the girls' side the top seed Sanaa Bhambri got shocked by Urska Klemenc (SLO) in tyhe first round itself -- Sanaa must be rusty after the long injury layoff .. Ankita Bhambri advanced, as did E. Ashmitha, while Sandri Gangotri, Pooja Kommireddy, Parul Goswami, Oormila Ram and Ashja Nandakumar all lost in the first round.

Nov 26 Notes

 have added the complete entry list for the Chennai Open, as it closed this monday .. See the Tata Open page .. Good to see the very talented youngster Rafael Nadal of Spain, in the list .. Pretty decent entry list .. Not particularly stronger or weaker than normal .. If all five of the top-25 players show up, it would be a pretty strong field at the top, though as usual, the field is very sparse in the top-25 to top-75 range ..

Four Indians made the quarterfinal at the Delhi $10K futures today, the best upset coming from Punna Vishal, who is really on a very nice streak lately .. He upset the 3rd seed Middelkoop in a spunky comeback after dropping the first set and falling a break down in the second .. P.Vishal is adding his name slowly to the top echelon among our second stringers .. Vijay Kannan retired injured in the match against Vinod Sridhar .. Harsh Mankad and Sunil Kumar are the two seeds to move on .. Sunil had a very nice an easy win against last week's finalist Nick Crawley .. See the Delhi $10K futures page..

Nov 25 Notes

It was announced today that two more top players have confirmed participation for the Tata Open (Chennai) in January .. Sjeng Schalken (18) and Tommie Robredo (21) .. With Moya (7), Srichaphan (11) and Mantilla (22) in the list already, that makes it 5 top-25 players .. Good going ..

Harsh Mankad does not seem to be in his best form (The Hindu says he is not in good health), and struggled abit against Arun Prakash at the Delhi futures .. HM dropped the first set, but had enough to raise the game and easily win the next two sets .. Also advancing were P.Vishal, who beat Robert Haybittel of Australia (a decently talented youngster, if I am not mistaken?), Somdev Varman and Vijay Kannan .. Ajay fell to Lalji of Britain .. Nitin and Uppal also didn't have much to show .. Karan played a good game but could not upset the 3rd seed Middelkoop in a 67 36 match ..  See the Delhi $10K futures page..

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 ..

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Nov 24 ..

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.