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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Dec 2, 2002
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Dec 2 Notes

Manisha Malhotra went down today in the first round of the Thai $25K challenger to wildcard Wilawan Choptang (THA), 63 57 36 .. According to The Nation (Bangkok), Manisha was troubled by a leg injury and could not pull it off against Wilawan who ran down everything today .. I am not sure if Rohan played the first round of the men's challenger there yet - he was to face the top seed Hyung-Taik Lee who was in the singles final in the Japan challenger over the weekend .. So Rohan's match may be on Tuesday.

There were no big surprises in the first round of the $10K Pune ITF satellite .. Sania won her match easily againt Sheetal .. Radhika had a good win and wildcarded youngster Ankita upset the 7th seed, which is not a big surprise .. See the Pune satellite page for scores; five R1 matches are scheduled for tomorrow.

Tara Iyer had won two round and reached the final qualies at the grade-1 Key Biscayne (Florida) ITF juniors when I saw last .. Details later.

Dec 1 Note-2

The Pune $10K women's satellites qualifying rounds were completed today .. I have added the results in the Pune satellite page .. Rushmi is the top seed, Sania the 5th and Sonal the 8th seed .. Talented youngsters Isha, Kartiki and Sanaa got the wildcards to the main draw which includes a lot of Indian players .. Sania runds into Sheetal in the first round - I have not seen the whole draw yet though ..  5 Indians made the main draw among eight qualifiers, but Arthi Venkatraman ran into talented Varana Beller (GER) and lost today.

Rajeev Ram of USA won his first professional title today at the $15K futures in Laguna Niguel (California) .. He beat a whole bunch of good players including three seeds .. Good show by Rajeev.

Dec 1 Note-1

OK, good news .. Rohan Bopanna made the main draw of the $25K+H Nonthaburi challenger in Thailand .. The bad news is that RB has drawn the top seed, Hyung-Taik Lee (KOR,92) in the first round .. That is the highest ranked player he has ever played .. I am rather surprised that Lee is going around playing all these challengers, actually (he is in the final at the Yokohama challenger today) ..

Manisha Malhotra gets an easier draw, against wildcard Wilawan Choptang (THA) in the women's challenger main draw in Nonthaburi .. She is drawn right next to the 8th seed Jane O'Donoghue (GBR,293) ..

Nov 30 Note-2

Bad news from the $25K+H Nonthaburi challenger in Thailand .. Bopanna is not in the qualies; I wonder if his stomach injury from Yokohama has unfortunately caused him to skip it .. Also, Seong-Yoon Chung (KOR) beat Mustafa Ghouse 46 64 61 and wildcard Pracharapol Khamsaman(THA) beat Vijay Kannan (IND) 64 76(10) in the first round of qualies today .. Yikes.

There is also the $25K challenger for women there in Nonthaburi .. No Indians i the qualies, but I believe Manisha had made the main draw.

Nov 30 Note-1

Nothing much going on .. Top seed Tzipi Obziler of Israel pulled off a double crown with a singles title today over 3rd seed Adriana Barna (ITA), which added to her doubles title yesterday .. See the Mumbai challenger page.

In other news, Rajeev Ram (USA) is in the semifinal of the $15K USA F30 futures in Laguna Nuguel, California .. He has upset the 4th and 6th seeds (top 300-400 players) for that.

Nov 28 Note-2

Friday's Telegraph (Kolkata) reports that Mahesh will be playing with Todd Woodbridge at the Chennai Open .. That's a very good partner, but I just cannot get excited about MB or LP playing with anybody else in that city .. Fine everywhere else, but not at Chennai - I still feel that the fans in the city deserve better for the incredible support they have shown, like no other doubles team has got in any other place, ever - after all LP and MB played together for India; and I don't think it would have killed them to have played together for all the Chennai fans who have lost their voice screaming at the stadium over the years whenever they played - and that would have been indeed a fantastic gesture to the fans .. Just my (somewhat unusually harsh) opinion.

Have not seen a confirmation about Leander going to Chennai .. I assume he will be going there, despite the Telegraph article a couple of days back quoting LP to be saying that he had a wildcard to Doha, and that his partner Rikl wanted to go to Doha .. I did see a definitive Gulf Times article on Tuesday that the two foreign wildcards at Doha had been given to Hicham Arazi and Lee Ling (Korea), with the 3rd going as usual to a local Qatari player .. I suppose LP would be at Chennai after all, unless he decides to skips singles.

Nov 28 Note-1

There were no upsets today at Mumbai, with the top three remaining seeds advancing .. Indians are all done, as Rushmi/Sai and wildcards Isha/Ankita fell in doubles .. Though we have no Indians left in the QF, I am not that disappointed with our players such as Manisha, Sania, Radhika, Ankita, etc, who all went down fighting .. Sania and Manisha managed one upset each as well .. Unfortunately Sai and Rushmi could not do much against higher ranked players in both singles and doubles .. Despite the rankings of the players, I feel that there are more talented players and fewer journeywomen at this challenger than we normally get in Indian challengers.  Hopefully we will have a nice show in the $10K Pune satellite next week as well .. See the Mumbai challenger page .. Here is the article in The Hindu with all the details of Sania's long match last night.

Rohan and Mustafa withdrew from the doubles R1 at the Yokohana challenger - the reason was a stomach muscle problem for Rohan, according to the tournament website .. Yikes, RB is a bit snake-bit lately with the injury problems .. I assume he will be in the qualies at the Nonthaburi challenger the upcoming weekend.

Tara Iyer must have had a let-down after the big win Tuesday at the ITF Grade-1 Eddie Herr tournament in Florida, USA .. She again made a comeback after dropping the first set like in the first round, but could not take the momentum deep into the 3rd set, falling 36 63 36 to Amanda Fink (USA) .. Tara, I am told, will be proceeding to a string of grade-1/grade-A events in Mexico, Costa Rica, etc, now .. That is some good early experience against top players for young Tara in the higher grade ITf events .. She will also be at the u14 tournament at the grade-A Orange Bowl (that will be her last apperance at the u14 level, and she may be among the top participants out there in the u14) ..

Nov 27 Notes

It was just her first challenger tournament, and already she had won a round - but now she was up against the 4th seed .. Yes she lost, but Sania did make a statement even in a loss, going down after a massive fight against Dominika Luzarova (CZE,279), 67(7) 75 57 in a three hour match .. If you are to lose, that is how you do it :-) .. Sania's 16 match win streak is over, but no problem - the 16 year old will get plenty of chances to do a lot more in her career .. She will move up to around #525 next week - great work in picking up about 20 points with the win streak, all of it in just 4 events .. The bad news was that Manisha also went down, 57 26 to Suchanan Viratprasert of Thailand .. Suchanan is a talented young player who has gone through a lot of injury problems and all that .. Looking at her 60 60 win over a pretty good Chin-Bee Khoo in the first round, she must be playing very well, and I had expected trouble for Manisha - it turned out to be so .. Also, Manisha and Amanda Hopmans had to give a walkover in the doubles QF, as Amanda is ill .. MM will proceed to the Nonthburi challenger in Thailand next week, where she has made the main draw .. See our Mumbai challenger page .. Due to the doubles matches being held late into the night, the draw spreadsheets are coming out a day late on that, and I still have not seen some of the doubles scores from yesterday.

Nov 26 Note-3

There were a whole bunch of thriller three-setters in the evening at the Mumbai challenger, that I had not commented on earlier .. Radhika Tulpule actually made it into the main draw as a lucky loser and put up a great fight against a talented Scarlett Werner (she was ranked as high as #10 in the juniors, so she is a pretty talented up-and-comer) .. Unfortunately Radhika fell in a 3rd set tiebreaker .. Good job by Radhika .. I don't know what happened to Amanda Hopmans whom Radhika replaced .. Amanda had won the doubles R1 with Manisha yesterday, and we hadn't heard of any injuries.

Now a big, big, win to talk about! .. Tara Iyer, the 14 year old power-house was the lone Indian girl at the prestigious ITF grade-1 Eddie Herr International at the Bolletieri academy in Bradenton, Florida .. She had the tough first round matchup against the 7th seed Andreja Klepac (SLO,32) .. Tara went and upset her 36 63 76(6) to advance to the second round of the 64-size draw today .. She faces wildcard Amanda Fink (USA) next .. It is incredible to see a 14 year old Indian upset a player who is over 2 years older and was ranked as high as #17 earlier this year .. I don't remember any Indian girl, including even Sania, beating somebody who has had a top-20 ranking in the juniors (though the way Sania is playing now, she will beat some of them) .. A couple of years back I said "Sania is for real, folks!" .. Perhaps I should add, "Tara is for real, folks!" .. This is indeed great news! .. Go Tara, Go!

By the way, there was also a really young kid, Tara's brother, Venkat Iyer, who reached the final 16 of the under-12 tournament there (the u18 section is the ITF grade-1 event that Tara is playing; but they have other age groups also with large draws there) .. Some in Delhi may remember Venkat playing the local u10 tournaments a couple of years back .. The kids are both now in McLean, Virginia, near Washington, DC, as their father Param Iyer is with the World Bank .. 11 yr old Venkat is ranked #2 in the Mid-Atlantic division of USTA (one of about 17 USTA divisions) .. He is only ranked #182 in the USA under-12 rankings (but I believe he is in his first year in the category), but he upset two players in his three wins to reach the final-16 where he lost to the #7 ranked u12 player in the USA .. d. Tyler Brown (#497), 62 61 .. d. Victor Bared (#87), 64 60 .. d. Larry C Condez (#154), 63 36 62 .. l. Andy Magee (#7), 16 06 .. [source: Eddie Herr website] .. I will keep an eye on this little kid Venkat too - I believe the kids are both serious about tennis and are undergoing serious coaching in the US .. Both are of course playing under Indian colors, and Tara was part of the u14 Indian team that finished in the world top-8 in Europe earlier this year .. Here's a cute picture I found from the "nations parade" at Eddie Herr (May be Tara and Venkat - no idea who is carrying the flag either, but I don't think any older Indian boys are there, and Tara is the only Indian girl listed in the acceptance lists)

India at Eddie Herr Juniors 2002 - Tara and Venkat Iyer??

At least we have somebody representing India at the big event .. This and the grade-A Orange Bowl next week are probably among the most prestigious junior events outside of grand slams (Orange Bowl actually has the same point level as a grand slam) .. Traditionally our kids rarely are there, though a lot of other Asian countries, and virtually every big country, has some players at these two events (the events have 12/14/16/18 age groups too, and many hundreds of players show up) .. Sania was there in late 2000, but because of the Asian Juniors in Delhi that clashed with it, she wasn't in the US last year and it is the same this year too ..

Nov 26 Note-2

I have updated the AITA calendar at this site (accessible from the archives/calendar page, as usual) - it was badly out of date .. The calendar now includes events up to the end of June 2003 .. The last three months or so are probably tentative .. Forgot to mention earlier that the Asia Cup is back in the schedule again .. It is in the last week of december .. I had thought that it had gone away, after ATF restarted the Asian Championships and was giving it some prominence .. That is for individual singles and doubles .. Asia Cup, I guess is in the team format .. A bit redundant this year, as we had Asiad already with the team medals, but if players are willing to come, no damage done .. It is the week before Chennai and so some Asian players who would like to play qualies at Chennai may like to come down; but then again, nobody likes to play during the Christmas week .. We will see what happens - I believe tomorrow is the deadline for entries from national associations ..  Mahesh had surprisingly said a couple of weeks back that if the Asia Cup is on, he would be available to play ..

The inaugural WTA Tier-IV ($140K) event at Hyderabad is all set for Feb 3rd .. I have not heard of firm commitments from top players yet .. I am sure Mahesh Bhupathi who is organizing it, will get down to that work once he gets done with trips to Maui, Capri, Kumarakom and other exotic honeymoon places (just kidding - I have no idea where they are going :-)) .. I hope he will be able to pull in some top-30 players and with some persuasion perhaps even a top-15 type, which will be tough for a Tier-IV ..

Here is a wedding picture that Sai emailed me (thanks!):

MB and Shwetha at the wedding reception ..

Bow-tie? .. OK, but Hesh, you still look like a malayalee, man! .. Though a smart-looking one :-) .. Congratulations to the happy couple.

Nov 26 Note-1

Terrific work by Manisha Malhotra - she went and upset the second seed Katerina Daskovic (YUG,250) in three sets (what else? - it is Manisha! :-)) .. She gets Suchanan Viratprasert of Thailand next .. Sai and Rushmi  went down to higher ranked opponents, which was not really unexpected - both have had trouble getting over the hump against top-350 players .. Manisha has now had two or three of top-250 wins over the last year or so .. MM gets 5.5 points for the win, including 2 quality pts for a top-250 win .. All things considered, referring to the brutal draw, I am rather happy to see two of our players in the second round .. Kudos go to the MSLTA for promptly updating their web site ( multiple times a day with singles scores - I wish they would add some doubles scores also, though .. Awaiting the scores of the final five R1 matches, including those of two talented youngsters, Akgul Amanmuradova (UZB) and Scarlett Werner (GER), but both facing seeded players ..

By the way, Manisha and Amanda Hopmans of Netherlands are seeded first in doubles and they have reached the QF with a win yesterday .. They go up against Shelley Stephens and Scarlett Werner next .. Sai-Rushmi are also in the doubles main draw, as are wildcards Isha and Ankita .. Sania had earlier played doubles qualies with Radhika but fell there to the qualies' top seeds Khoo-Choptang who also beat Sonal and Megha, bith in three-set comebacks .. See our Mumbai challenger page for all the scores.

Bad news from Japan - 5th seed Ivo Karlovic (CRO,175) beat Rohan Bopanna 62 76(4) in the first round today at the $25K+H Yokohama challenger [Thanks, Dhruv, for translating the Japanese web page and posting the score in our forum] .. Doubles R1 results not yet with us.

Nov 25 Note-2

Good news from Japan - Rohan Bopanna, seeded 6th in the qualies won three rounds and made the main draw of the $25K+H Yokohama challenger .. Here are the scores (courtesy: Steve Gocha) - [Q1] d. Tomoaki Kuwazima (JPN), 60 61 .. [Q2] d. Naoki Arimoto (JPN,1005) 67(2) 63 62 .. [Q3] d. Atsuo Ogawa (JPN,995) 62 63 .. Atsuo had upset the 4th seed Dong-Hyun Kim (KOR,370) 64 60 in Q2 .. Unfortunately, Laurence Tieleman (ITA) upset 8th seeded Mustafa Ghouse (IND) 64 62 in Q1 .. Rohan now faces the 5th seed Ivo Karlovic (CRO,175) in the main draw .. He is not in the doubles main draw. [correction - he IS playing doubles with Mustafa .. They play Yen-Hsun Lu and Danai Udomchoke in the R1 .. Thanks, Dhruv, for the correction in the forum page; my eyes simply missed it in the draw!]

I have added the singles and doubles draws at the Mumbai challenger page .. Terrible draw from our standpoint, with Manisha running into the second seed Daskovic and Rushmi facing the 3rd seed Barna (Isha fell to the 4th seed today) .. Sai also did not get any breaks - she battles Stephens who is the highest ranked unseeded player .. Hoping for at least one upset tomorrow from the three ladies ... Out of 32 players, the Indians got 5 from the highest-ranked 13 players there; so the draw is not at all kind to Indians.

Nov 25 Note-1

Monday was turning out to be an absolute disaster at the GA Ranade courts in Mumbai for the MSLTA $25K ITF challenger, till Sania Mirza put some smiles back on Indian faces .. First, all three Indians in the final qualies went down, only 16 yr old Ankita Bhambri giving a good three-set fight .. Then 17 yr old wildcard Isha Lakhani fought till the end before falling to 4th seed Dominika Luzarova (CZE,279), 36 57 .. But there was the nice upset win by Sania Mirza, who moved up to the 4th in India with a #600 WTA rank today .. Sania inflicted a 63 63 shellacking on Olena Antypina (UKR,383) .. The win gives Sania 4.5 more points including one quality (bonus) point .. Her win streak is at 16 matches and she has picked up 19.5 of her 22.25 points from those wins .. Her ranking will now go up to around #525, pretty much all of that from just 4 events - boy, the 16 year old is cruising now .. This is her first challenger-level win and it comes at her birth place, Mumbai .. Sania runs into Luzarova next - I hope she can make her a "loser-ova" in the second round .. The top three Indians, #366 Manisha Malhotra, #388 Rushmi Chakravarthi and #479 Sai Jayalakshmy are all in the main draw .. They will all play tomorrow .. Radhika, Karen Paterson (GBR) and Ankita Bhambri are the top three waiting for lucky loser spots if anybody fails to turn up by tomorrow when the remaining first round matches are played .. See the Mumbai challenger page.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Nov 25 ..

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.