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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Dec 03, 2001
(Previous week's notes) (Next week's notes) (Daily Notes Index 1997 thru 2001)

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Dec 3 Note-1

Got a bit busy unexpectedly over the weekend - hence no updates, but nothing much was happening ..

Leander, Mahesh and Mustafa are at the $50K Bangkok challenger .. Leander plays qualifier Lior Dahan (ISR,407) in the first round - it's never easy to play qualifiers who have match practice in the first round, especially for someone like LP who hasn't played any singles matches since the Davis Cup in October ..  Mahesh has a wildcard and he plays Suwandi Suwandi (#288) of Indonesia .. Mustafa was the 8th seed in the qualies but lost to Andrei Merinov (RUS,851), 61 63 .. LP is playing doubles with Mustafa to give him some help and points - they will play the top seeds Dennis Golovanov (RUS) and Vadim Kutsenko (UZB) .. Mahesh is playing doubles with Vittaya Samrej (I guess he has to help a Thai, as they gave him a singles wildcard :-)) .. MB-Samrej play qualifiers (TBD) in doubles.

The Asian Open juniors ITF grade B2 event starts in Delhi today .. All the top Indian juniors are out there, and except for the very highly ranked Taipei kids on the boys's side, pretty much all the top girls from Asia are also there .. This is the highest graded international junior event in India - being conducted for the first time, as the event moved this year from Japan to India .. This is not a great year in Asian juniors on the boys' side though - and the Indian kids don't have all that much better competition than a grade-3 event, unfortunately .. On the girls's side there are a few top-100 players.

Just an update from Friday .. Manisha and Leanne Baker lost in the QF of the Mount Gambier challenger doubles ..

More later.

Nov 30 Notes

Rushmi Chakravarti finally got beaten in a match at the National Games today, but only after she had picked up her second and 3rd golds in singles and doubles for Tamil nadu .. She lost the mixed doubles final to end with 3 golds (including TN's team gold) and one silver .. Not bad .. The sad story was of Karnataka's Sheetal Gautam, who got injured while leading in the bronze medal singles match and had to forfeit the MXD bronze match too, one in which she may have had a decent chance to win the medal, and also the doubles bronze match .. But then good luck has rarely been with Sheetal throughout her career .. Ajay Ramaswami picked up the men's singles gold with the Kirtane cousins picking up the doubles gold for mahrashtra as well.

Ajay Ramaswami (MAH) beat Manoj Mahadevan (TN) in a close one, 64 46 75 for gold .. Nitin Kirtane (MAH) beat Vinod Sridhar (TN), 60 62 for bronze .. Sandeep and Nitin (MAH) beat manoj and Rishi Sridhar (TN), 62 64 for the doubles gold, while Vijay Kannan and Vinod (TN) beat Ajay and Vijayendra Laad (MAH), 64 63 for the bronze .. On the women's side, Rushmi (TN) easily overpowered Sonal Phadke (MAH), 60 63 for the singles gold .. Then SK Tara (KAR) got the retirement from Sheetal (KAR) at 67 32 for the bronze .. Rushmi and Sai Jayalakshmi (TN) beat Sonal and Liza Pereira, 61 36 62 .. Radhika Tupule and Radhika mandke (MAH) won the bronze with a walkover from Tara and Sheetal (KAR) .. In the mixed doubles final, Sandeep and Radhika Tulpule (MAH) beat Rushmi and Vijay Kannan (TN), 64 75 .. The bronze match was again a walkover for Shivang Mishra and Ankita Bhambri over Sheetal and SK Shivshankar ..

Here is the medal tally I calculated -

Maharashtra - 4 Gold, 3 Silver, 2 Bronze
Tamil Nadu  - 3 Gold, 3 Silver, 1 Bronze
Delhi - 1 Silver, 1 Bronze
Andhra Pradesh - 2 Bronze (both in team events)
Karnataka - 1 Bronze

So, this was a Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu show basically .. Pity that Bengal is nowhere to be seen - but it could all be different, had Mahesh, Srinath and Bopanna played for Karnataka .. Or Leander and Fazal for Bengal :-) .. Maharashtra did not really need Harsh Mankad's services it seems .. Nothing much would have changed on the women's side, had Nirupama played for TN and Manisha for Maharashtra ..

As the Games now end, we really should be aware that tennis is just not picking up in many areas of India .. Our players are all still coming from Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Coimbatore, Bangalore, Mysore, Delhi, Chandigarh, Kolkata, Hyderabad, and perhaps Jaipur, Guwahati and Lucknow/Allahabad .. Will we someday see good tennis players coming from Kochi, Imphal, Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Bhubaneshwar, Patna, etc ? ..  I am particularly intrigued about the first two places - it's time AITA and others did something serious about getting some good ones from Kerala and Manipur to play tennis - tennis draws a big zero in those two places, which do well in the Games normally .. Particularly Kerala, as they do well in the "good sports" like Athletics, Swimming, Canoe/Kayak, Football, Volleyball and even Badminton to some extent, as opposed to Manipur which is better in weird stuff like Archery, Boxing, Judo, Fencing, Taekwondo etc which are not sports (kidding .. just taking a dig at them! .. actually the Manipuris are really good in cycling too) .. Ahemedabad actually has decent tennis infrastructure and has conducted a lot of events, but not a whole lot of top players have come from there .. But then again, Gujarat is never known as a sports powerhouse (one bronze altogether so far in the Games for GUJ.. But Bihar has zero, and Orissa is not that far ahead :-)) .. Just thought I would mention these things for people to keep in mind.

And that concludes our coverage of the National Games!

Nov 29 Notes

#338 Manisha Malhotra seems to have played her heart out against the 6th seed #198 Eun-Ha Kim at the $25K Mount Gambier challenger first round, but fell short in the end in a 46 76(3) 67(9) match .. Close, but no cigar .. Manisha and Leanne Baker are in the doubles QF with an easy 60 64 win over Pavlina Nola and Shelley Stephen of New Zealand.

At the National Games today, the Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra powerhouses reached the finals of men's and women's singles .. Ajay Ramaswamy (MAH) beat Vinod Sridhar (TN), 26 61 61 and Manoj Mahdevan (TN) beat Nitin Kirtane (MAH), 63 64 in the semis ..  On the women's side, Sonal Phadke (MAH) beat Sania Mirza (AP) in the QF first, 64 63 and then beat SK Tara (KAR) 64 64 in the semi .. Rushmi Chakravarti (TN) beat Sheetal Gautam (KAR), 62 75 in the other semi .. So, Karnataka is assured of a bronze medal in women's singles .. In doubles, it's again the TN-vs-MAH battle all around .. MAH's Sandeep and Nitin Kirtane beat TN's Vijay Kannan and Vinod Sridhar, 63 63 in one semi while Manoj Mahadevan and Rishi Sridhar (TN) beat Ajay Ramaswami and Vijayendra laad (MAH) 46 62 76 in the other semi .. In women's doubles, TN's Rushmi and Sai beat Radhika Mandke and Radhika Tupule (MAH) 62 64 in one semi, while MAH's Sonal Phadke and Liza Pereira beat KAR's Sheetal and Tara, 62 26 62 .. In mized doubles, Rushmi and Vijay Kannan (a strong team, actually) will play Radhika Tulpule and Sandeep Kirtane (MAH) for the title tomorrow .. In fact Rushmi is the favorite to win perhaps all three of her finals tomorrow and could come out with 4 gold medals in tennis events for Tamil Nadu including the team gold earlier .. She has beeen virtually unbeatable there, and is assured of at least one gold and three silvers .. Also, Manoj Mahdevan, Sonal Phadke and Sandeep Kirtane are all in line for double golds in individual events tomorrow ..

Nov 28 Note-2

Rohan Bopanna's week ended quickly yesterday in Australia ..  Rohan lost 26 36 to wildcard Todd Reid .. I am not sure if he is troubled by anything, but Rohan and Ronnie Rugimbana (TAN) gave a walkover in doubles to the top seeds Ellwood and Petrovic .. So, bad news from there .. So he picked up 6 points in singles and 3 in doubles from there for two weeks of work - not bad .. I hope he is alright and can get to Thailand to play qualies at the challenger there during the weekend.

Nov 28 Note-1

Maharashtra won the Gold in the men's team event over Delhi (silver) and Tamil Nadu won the Gold in the women's team event over Mahrashtra (silver), at the National Games, though both teams had to play the doubles match to pull it off after spitting the singles matches .. Both the bronzes went to Andhra Pradesh!

On the men's side, Vishal Uppal of Delhi, who is the "where the heck have you been lately" player out there showed that he is still no pushover (or Ajay Ramaswami showed that he has been slowly losing the momentum and confidence he gained from the wonderful final year he had in college) .. Anyway, Vishal beat Ajay 75 62 and Mahrashtra tied it up with Sandeep Kirtane beating Shivang Mishra, 61 62 .. Then Sandeep and Nitin beat Vishal Uppal and Vishal Gupta in doubles to lift the Gold for Maharashtra .. For the bronze tie, the holders Tamil Nadu men, lackluster all week long, added to their misery by missing a medal against Andhra Pradesh, frankly a team they had no business losing to .. Vijay Kannan (TN) beat P.Ravikrishna (AP), 62 60, but Vinod Sridhar went down to Vishal Punna (AP) 26 64 26 in a bit of a surprise .. Then Vasudev Reddy and Vishal Punna beat Vijay Kannan and Rishi Sridhar in doubles to lift the bronze .. I have no idea how a team with Vijay Kannan, Manoj Mahedavan, Rishi Sridhar and Vinod Sridhar could play like such no-entities and come back without even a medal in the team events! .. Hats off to the AP team led by Vasu.

On the women's side, Sai Jayalakshmi (TN) continued her streak of bad outings, this time losing to Sonal Phadke (MAH), 46 26 .. Rushmi made it even for Tamil Nadu with a 63 64 win over Radhika Tulpule .. Rushmi and Sai then beat Radhika and Sonal in doubles to win the team Gold for Tamil Nadu .. It looks like Rushmi almost single-handedly brought the Gold for her state .. Then the young Sania Mirza helped win her first senior medal for her state in the bronze playoff - Andhra Pradesh over Karnataka .. Sania beat yesterday's giant-killer SK Tara (KAR) easily, 63 61 .. Sheetal Gautham beat Geeta Manohar (AP), 75 61 for 1-1, but then Sania and Geeta beat Sheetal and Tara in doubles to pick up the bronze .. Big kudos to the two youngsters from AP - despite the good efforts by Geeta Manohar, Andhra would be wishing they had the "lost player" Uzma Khan playing for them (by the way, Uzma, who allowed her career to be all messed up and disrupted, is again playing college tennis in the US since this March after over an year of break, though not with the kind of results we expected from her eralier).

The individual events are also ongoing at the National Games .. On the women's side, Sania upset Sai Jayalakshmi in the PQF, 36 62 64 .. If I am not mistaken, Rushmi, Sheetal and SK Tara are in the semis with wins over Redhina Parekh (WB), Ankita Bhambri (DLI) and Naina Karsolia (UP) respectively .. Not sure of Sonal who had won the PQF yesterday .. She may be facing Sania in the QF - no results yet on that .. Nitin Kirtane, Vinod Sridhar, Ajay Ramaswmay are in the semis I believe, with wins over Vinod Sewa (WB), Vishal Punna (AP), and Harshit Sharma (WB) respectively .. manoj Mahadevan vs Kamlesh Shukla may be the remaining QF match .. I don't see Vishal Uppal in the individual events, for some reason .. Also, the doubles and mixed doubles events have started .. It's a packed schedule out there.

No news yet today from Australia on Rohan and Manisha.

Nov 27 Note-3

Heroics from Sania Mirza (AP) and S K Tara (KAR) in singles were not enough to beat Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu respectively in the semis of the National Games women's team events .. Sania upset Sonal Phadke, but she and Geeta Manohar could not beat Radhika Tulpule and Sonal Phadke in the crucial doubles, going down 67(3) 26 .. As for Karnataka, Tara had upset Sai Jayalakshmi in singles, but after Sheetal lost to Rushmi, Tara and Sheetal could not upset Sai and Rushmi, only giving the top doubles pair a scare in a 63 26 16 loss.

So the team events finals will be between Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu in the women's section .. On the men's side, helped by the big upset of Manoj Mahadevan by 18 yr old Shivang Mishra, Delhi upset the holders Tamil Nadu, to face Maharashtra in the final tomorrow .. The women's team final looks like a toss-up, looking at the very poor form Sai has shown lately, but it would be a monumental upset on the men's side if Delhi can overcome Maharashtra with Ajay Ramaswami in ominous form, ably supported by the Kirtane cousins.

Some of the individual events have also started .. Check out Kamesh Srinivasan's report in Wednesday's The Hindu for all the scores .. On the heels of upsetting Sai in the team event, SK Tara of Karnataka produced an upset in the individual events as well, simply beating Radhika Tulpule 60 63 .. Either Sai and Radhika are troubled by some ill-health or SK Tara has just raised her game up several notches - not sure what the deal is.

I don't know about you, but I am quite interested in the National Games .. Not because of the quality in display at the Games, but more for the symbolism of what the National Games stands for .. I wish sports fans would look at these things in the proper perspective .. Day after day I see all the newspaper reports complaining about what is not going right out there .. Complaining about what does not work is the most important part of the Indian psych I guess .. With reportedly one-third or one-fourth the funds allocated from the center for this Games compared to the last Games at Manipur, we should be complimenting Punjab for this stuff even taking place, notwithstanding the cancellation of swimming due to lack of heated pools and the blocked toilets in the hostels! .. My home state Kerala is not having a great time, but that's fine - you can't win it all every time, you know :-)

Here is a picture of Sania Mirza at the National Games (courtesy: Chandigarh Tribune)

Nov 27 Note-2

Manisha Malhotra is drawn to face the 6th seed Eun-Ha Kim (KOR,196) in the first round of the $25K Mount Gambier challenger in Australia .. Tough match for her .. In doubles, Manisha and Leanne are agan the 3rd seeds and they play Pavlina Nola and Shelley Stephens of New Zealand in the first round .. Nirupama is not playing at the $50K West Columbia challenger in the US.

No Indians at the Philippines futures this week .. Mahesh's hamstring is much better now and he is practicing in Mumbai, I am told .. Fazal, Mustafa, etc are also in India .. All three along with Leander are expected at the $25K Bangkok challenger next week ..

Here are some of the results from the 2001 National Games tennis events today, courtesy the official site - it appears that in the Men's team semifinals, in a bit of surprise Delhi beat Tamil Nadu (Vishal Uppal, DLI d. Vinod Sridhar,TN, 64 63 .. then Shivang Mishra, DLI d. Manoj Mahadevan, 64 36 63 in a shock win) and Maharashtra beat Andhra Pradesh (Ajay Ramaswmai, MAH d. Anant Sitaram, AP, 61 61; Nitin Kirtane,MAH d. Vasudev Reddy,AP, 63 36 64) after the singles matches - no need for doubles in either tie .. In the women's team semifinals, the singles matches ended up in 1-1 splits in the AP vs MAH and TN vs KAR ties .. Sania Mirza, AP, seems to have upset Sonal Phadke, MAH, 76(5) 57 75 (Wow!) .. Radhika Tulpule beat Geeta Manohar, 61 64 to even it .. Then Rushmi Chakravarti,TN, beat Sheetal Gautham, KAR, 61 64, but S.K.Tara shocked Sai Jayalakshmi, 26 63 63 (How the heck??) to even it for Karnataka .. I have not seen the women's team doubles results .. Also, I will await some newspaper confirmation of all these results .. Shivang's win over Manoj and Tara's win over Sai are big surprises, if correct .. And about 15 yr old Sania beating Sonal - what can I say? .. This girl keeps on impressing us!

Nov 27 Note-1

Rohan Bopanna and Ronnie Rugimbana (TAN) beat Chris Guccione and Anton Klaric of Australia, 75 76(3) in the first round of doubles at the $15K Australia F6 futures in Barmera, yesterday .. The QF opponents not determined yet - possibly the top seeds .. Rohan may be playing his first round singles match today.

Manisha Malhotra is in the main draw of singles and doubles at the $25K challenger in Mount Gambier, Australia .. No results yet.

No news from the $15K Philippines futures .. I saw the entry list - none of the Indians made the cut, but Fazal, Mustafa and Mahesh were listed in the alternates list .. Not sure if any of them went there - none were in the qualifying final-16 that I saw yesterday .. Also, there was nothing to that newspaper report that LP would be playing a futures there, I assume.

There is also a $50K challenger women's challenger in West Columbia, Texas .. The draw should be out from USTA today, and I will check if Niru is playing there.

At the National games, a bunch of doubles matches were also done yesterday.  It seems that these are team events though they are listed as individual events at the web site .. If so, that means MAH, TN, DLI and AP are in the semis on the men's side and MAH, TN, AP and KAR are in the semis on the women's side - but I am not sure, as there isn't much newspaper coverage yet on tennis from there.

Nov 26 Note-2

Rohan Bopanna is drawn to face a wildcard, Todd Reid (AUS) in the first round of the Australia F6 futures in Barmera, South Australia .. Todd Reid, if I am not mistaken is a promising player in the Australian juniors list .. In doubles Rohan and Ronnie Rugimbana of Tanzania are in the main draw, playing Chris Guccione and Anton Klaric of Australia, also a wildcard team .. Rugimbana seems to be a decent player - he upset the second seed in the qualies and made the singles main draw as the only foreign qualifier .. Actually only 4 or 5 foreigners have ventured to go to Australia for this.

Here are the women's results from the National Games today .. Sonal Phadke (MAH) d. Vishika Chhetri (DLI) 60 61 .. Radhika Tulpule (MAH) d. Ankita Bhambri (DLI) 62 63 .. Sania Mirza (AP) d. Saima Khan (UP) 60 60 .. Geeta Manohar (AP) d. Naina Karsolia (UP), 61 61 .. S. K. Tara (KAR) d. Kamalpreet Bhullar (PJB), 60 61 .. Sheetal Gauthan (KAR) d. Jasleen Randhawa (PJB) 62 61 .. Sai Jayalakshmi (TN) d. Ragini Vimal (WB) 62 61 .. Rushmi Chakravarti (TN) d. Reedhina Parekh (WB) 63 63 .. Again, no surprises.

Nov 26 Note-1

First results are out now from the National Games in Punjab .. Men's events on Monday (16 players, so we start from PQF) - Sandeep Kirtane (MAH) d. Vinod Sewa (WB), 64 61 .. Manoj Mahadevan (TN) d. Bhuvan Chaturvedi (UP), 61 64 .. Ajay Ramaswami (MAH) d. Harshit Sharma (WB), 61 61 .. Vinod Sridhar (TN) d. Kaptan Karsolia (UP), 61 61 .. Vishal Punna (AP) d. Shivshankar S. Kambargimath (KAR), 60 64 .. Vasudev Reddy (AP) d. CD Ajay (KAR), 60 64 .. Shivang Mishra (DLI) d. Tushar Sharma (PJB), 75 62 .. Vishal Uppal (DLI) d. Gursharan Singh (PJB), 62 61  [courtesy: official site; hopefully their results are correct - a lot of state affiliations were wrong at the site at first, but they have corrected them later] .. No surprises among those results .. The QF matches will get more interesting .. With about the top 6 or so national men's players not playing (LP,MB,Sri,Mankad,Fazal,and Bopanna), the men's events are not the highest in quality, but the women's events do have all the top players except Niru and Manisha (Radhika, Rushmi, Sonal, Sai, Sania, Sheetal, etc) ..

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Nov 26 ..

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.