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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Dec 9, 2002
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Dec 9 Notes

I have only seen a PTI news blurb so far on the first round of the prestigious Asian Closed ITF juniors main draw that started today .. The top three Indian girls, top seed Isha Lakhani, 2nd seed Sania Mirza and wildcard Ankita Bhambri have all advanced, with straight set wins over Thai opponents .. On the boys' side Somdev Varman and 13 yr old wildcard Rupesh Roy have advanced, along with Amanjot Singh, who has not been playing much juniors this year but is playing one last junior tournament before his eligibility is over .. No idea on the qualifying rounds yet, as I await any official draws or anything to come my way .. Will update the Asian Juniors page as soon as the tuesday newspapers bring the news in a few hours :-)

Dec 7 Note-2

Parantap Chaturvedi and Sandhya Nagraj won the Adidas masters u18 title today, over Saurabh Kohli and Madura Ranganathan, respectively .. see the Adidas Masters page for scores .. I am told that Karan Rastogi, who gave a walkover to Parantap yesterday, only had a minor twisted ankle, which turned out to be fine after further checkup .. He is practising now and will be there next week for the Asian juniors, along with Somdev as the highest ranked two Indian boys .. Sandhya and Madura have got wildcards to it, as I reported below.

Not much else in tennis to report, so I would write on a very tangential topic .. Here is an interesting article by Sunil Gavaskar in today's Hindustan Times, which I liked a lot (If you don't know who Gavaskar is, you are probably a non-Indian reader who can safely skip the indo-centric piece I write below) .. SG talks about how there is no need for us to go out of the way to treat the foreign players like Gods, when our players do not get anywhere near such treatment abroad (the Harbhajan shoe incident in NZL forcing him to write on this) .. I agree .. Not that we need to ill-treat anybody, but we also do not have to bend over backwards for anybody .. Despite what everybody would say, it is a fact that many Indians still do .. I wouldn't have a problem and would welcome such extreme hospitality from Indians, if only India ever got any credit for it anywhere .. Not so .. Not at all so .. Nobody ever really gets all that impressed with the Indian "hospitality" .. They always take it for granted and hardly have any respect for those who run around and act like they are the servants of the foreigners .. The foreigners do notice whatever goes wrong though .. Remember Pat Cash getting a wildcard at Chennai? (why, I don't know - but the Australian IMG was running it then) .. Somebody stole his towel from the locker room and he blew a fuse, kicking and screaming .. In front of a silent press and embarassed organizers - "your damn tournament - you can shove it - why am I here" .. Would somebody say, "sir, you lost - would you kindly leave the country and never return; we will get you a farewell towel"  - but no .. The Indians who thronged to receive him at the airport did not matter to him, but the lost towel was! .. At the first instance when they can complain, a lot of foreign players would talk about falling sick because of some bad water they drank or some silly pav-bhaji they ate from a dirty roadside stand .. They will talk about how hot it was - the same ones who would hardly mind playing in hotter weather in Waco, Texas, in August .. They will talk about how there weren't enough ball boys in a satellite, while keeping absolutely silent about how it is really no different anywhere else in the world .. Very few of them ever return to India too, if they are any good to avoid it .. This is all-pervasive, and Gavaskar makes a lot of sense in what he says ..

I am not saying that we should change anything in how we do things - just that we should do things with a sense of balance, that's all .. I am also not saying that all foreign players are unappreciative of Indian hospitality.

I can tell you a story .. Syed Fazaluddin was in the US last September, as a member of the Indian Davis Cup team, the week after 9-11 .. He was travelling to the Tulsa futures after the Davis Cup was postponed .. Ended up being stopped at the Tulsa airport by a bunch of National Guard folks with guns drawn, humiliatingly paraded in front of everybody in the terminal to a room where he was interrogated for a couple of hours before being allowed to proceed .. That he was a national guest, here in the US with the visiting Indian Davis Cup team, did not matter .. Nobody was going to do anything special because of that .. To them, he had suspicious travel patterns, to places like Dubai in his passport (:-)) - and that was enough .. The US authorities were just doing their job, though we can say that they should have had a bit more of sense to show some respect in how they did it .. In India, we would bend over backwards to please the foreigner and would offer to carry the dirty shoe - that is what cricketer Harbhajan Singh was fined for bringing into New Zealand this week! .. By the way, Fazal was quite discouraged by the whole incident then and decided to drop his plans to play the tour here (and that effectively ended his career too, as he is based in the US) .. I happened to talk to Faz the next day and he did not want to make an issue of this at that time .. So I did not report it here - there really was some cause for India to officially protest our Davis Cup team member being treated like that, but Fazal understood why they were doing it and decided to leave it at that, especially considering what US had just gone through - and I had no problem about it.

I will tell you a non-tennis incident also, at the Chennai airport four months back when I landed there .. An NRI tried to get a bit smart and cut into the immigration queue somewhere in the middle .. A foreigner right behind shouted and screamed at him and got him to back off like a mouse .. That was fine - but what drove me crazy was that there was a police officer standing right next to this whole commotion who just let the foreigner humilate the Indian (who of course deserved it) .. I would have liked that idiot policeman to say "sir, you keep quiet and mind your business, I will handle this" to the foreigner .. Of course not - because, the policeman was intimiditaed by the foreign guy! .. That is what made me mad .. I looked around and there was a British guy smoking in the non-smoking lobby where no Indian would dare to smoke because they know that other Indians would not stand for that .. But nobody was asking the British guy to stop .. I had a ball going after him for doing that .. All I had to say was, "you won't let ME smoke in your airport in UK; why do you think YOU can do that here?" .. Well, he didn't know what hit him .. The guy simply dropped the thing and stubbed it out on the floor, which gave me another chance to go after him again .. My fellow countrymen were silent and looking at me like "did you really have to go after the poor guy like that" ? .. You see, there is nothing wrong in doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done .. No need to bend any rules for anybody .. The same Britisher caught ME smoking outside and we had a nice chat about it .. He came up to apologize that he wasn't thinking when he smoked inside - you see, he had no problem when somebody said what was right, to him.

Whether you agree with Gavaskar's views or not, one has to give it to him .. He has the spine, and has always had that, to stand up and say what he wants to say .. When I used to be in India, I did not have as much of an awareness of this, like I have now, being an Indian citizen abroad .. I remember being totally mad at Govaskar for walking off the field with Chetan Chauhan in a test match abroad after getting an unfair caught-behind decision - I thought it was in poor taste then .. I don't think so now .. Now I understand how he was a lot more tuned to the behavior of foriegners and Indians in such matters .. He wanted to make a statement that his goodness as an Indian should not be taken for granted .. Wish we had more like him, to talk about the issue of spinelessness from a lot of people .. Actually in cricket, money comes from India, and that has given a lot of Indians spine .. That has not happened in all walks of life yet .. If you didn't see what I wrote about the Chennai tournament earlier, take a look at the notes from three days back .. That tournament also runs on Indian money, but there is still no sign of a wildcard to the highest ranked Indian (even if they will claim they have give TWO to Indians) ..

Hope I am not boring you to death with this, but hey, there isn't much tennis going on.

Dec 7 Note-1

It was an easy final for 16 yr old Kateryna Bondarenko (UKR) today at the $10K ITF "NECC" satellite in Pune, as Ipek Senoglu was troubled by injury and played, as she said, only because of all the fans .. The match was nationally televised too, as usual .. Again, where else in the world do you get a satellite final televised nationally? -- I am sure Kateryna will remember her first professional singles title! ..

By the way, the title sponsors for the Pune event was "NECC" .. If you don't know what that is, it is the "National Egg Coordination Committee", the organization that sets egg prices and monitors egg and poultry issues at the national level - pioneered by the late Dr. BV Rao of AP who was to poultry in the country what Kurien was to milk .. Some of you may have seen their Ad campaign during the football world cup, showing highlight of some players and saying "on egg, definitely on egg" - I saw somewhere that it was a very successful Ad that got some international awards too .. Anyway, the commercial poultry leaders, Venkateshwara Hatcheries, has a Pune presence with Dr. BVR's daughter Anuradha Desai, chairperson of VH Group, being based there .. The "egg people" have done a pretty good job over the years, bringing India up to the 4th or 5th largest producers of egg in the world, I believe .. I just happened to have looked into the egg matter some time recently, after an interesting discussion with some friends on protein consumption in India, as a lot of Indians are non-vegetarians .. Per capita consumption is something like 1 in 8 days now - still way below recommended levels of 1 in 2 days, but the consumption rate has come up some 50% in the last decade or so .. Of course, none of this has much to do with tennis, other than tangentially (Indian players should eat more eggs and hit the weight room more! :-)) .. I just thought I would give some props to the title sponsors of a tennis tournament in India .. I would like to do more of that - after all their money is a big reason for all these events .. I also try to list the title sponsors' names in our results archives pages as much as possible, if I know the name, which sometimes go unreported.

OK, the Pune event finishes the year in the AITA calendar of professional events, but the big junior ITF junior event comes up next week in Delhi.

The main draw wild cards for the GAIL-sponsored ITF grade-B2 Asian Closed event next weke, have been given to Navdeep Singh, Rupesh Roy, Kartik Raju and Siddharth Gulati in the boys section, and to Ankita Bhambri, Parul Goswami, Madura Ranganathan and Sandhya Nagaraj in the girls section .. There are quite a few other Indians who got direct entries, as listed in our Asian Juniors page.  Glad to see that Ankita will be playing there!

There was an important announcement a few days back from AITA about the junior tour .. A committee that looked into the junior tour recommended the abolition of the u16 section (which had a lot of events, while the u18 section in the past only had a bare minimum schedule) ..  Now there will be u14 section and u18 section as the main two sections .. Pretty good decision by AITA to adopt the recommendation .. Ther are a lot of issues involved in this .. You can get a good idea about it all in a detailed report that AITA has published at their website - I have archived the Changes to Junior AITA Tour (MS Word document) here .. Take a look.

Dec 6 Note-2

Here is some good news with regard to the Prakash Amritraj matter .. Here is the PTI report today, which quotes Anil Khanna of AITA, "The Davis Cup committee of the International Tennis Federation has communicated to us its decision to allow Prakash to play for India, yesterday," he said .. The report says, The ITF rules governing Davis Cup say that a player has to hold a passport of the country he wishes to represent but the fact that Prakash was of Indian origin was enough for the world body to relax the conditions for Prakash, Khanna added .. He said the United States Tennis Association president had also written to the AITA, expressing his no-objection to Prakash playing for India ... Prakash, however, will have to wait till April next year to make himself available for India, as the ITF rules stipulate a six-month duration from the date of permission being sought by the player, Khanna said.(PTI) ..

Welcome, Prakash! .. Now that PA and Vijay have done the paperwork for this, nobody needs to doubt PA's interest in playing for India anymore .. Of course, I have reported here before that he had said as much to me (as had Vijay) and I knew it was just a matter of time .. Regardless of what ATP or ITF decides to list next to his name - (IND) or (USA), I will now officially drop the (USA) suffix in my reports .. Cool!

OK, we need to look at Prakash just like any of our top young prospects .. I hope there would not be a big clamour for him to play Davis Cup and all that .. He is still getting his experience on the pro tour (I need to find out if he will be returning to USC for college tennis in January) .. Has the right tennis instincts, touch, talent, height, serve and ground strokes - has also pulled off one top-200 win so far .. Very big upside potential .. He needs to be allowed to have fun playing tennis and not get caught in controversy about Davis Cup and all that .. 22 yr old Rohan and 23 yr old Harsh are still our top two players in my view, but we can expect Prakash and Sunil Kumar (both 19 now) to get up there in the next couple of years .. Isn't this great?

Dec 6 Note-1

Forgot to mention yesterday that though he was a qualifier ranked #525, Frank Moser who beat Rohan in the second round at the Thai challenger yesterday was not a bad player .. He was ranked in the top-10 in US collegiate rankings a little while back and is on a climb up the ATP ladder .. He also upset the 8th seed Kutsenko today to reach the SF at Nonthaburi.

Kateryna Bondarenko is in line for a double crown at the Pune satellite, as she and Amanmuadova won the doubles title over Sania and Radhika, and she beat Varana Beller (GER) in the singles semis, today .. She faces Senoglu in the final .. Kateryna, the younger sister of Valeria and Alyona Bondarenko of Ukraine, is quite a telented young player .. She is also just 16 years of age, about three months older than Sania .. She is ranked #43 in the ITF juniors .. By the way, this is another case in point in favor of my often-stated comment that top junior players are pretty good - especially the ones not from Asia, because the junior competition in the top events in Europe and elsewhere is harder and there are no easy wins even in grade-3 and grade-4 levels ..

By the way, speaking of that, here is an article on Sania from Kamesh Srinivasan in the SportsStar magazine, with the usual lesser-known stats and info that only Kamesh can seem to dig up :-) .. What caught my attention was Sania saying that she would be playing fewer junior events next year .. That made me think a bit .. I think it is a good idea if she will be playing the challenger level and up and facing top-300 players, but otherwise, facing top-25 caliber players in the better junior events is perhaps better than all the matches against the 500-800 ranked players in the satellites .. The top-25 juniors are the ones who hardly stay in the satellite levels all that long .. You can check out the WTA rankings of the top-25 players from a year or two back in the juniors .. Most hit the challenger circuit after a few satellites and a couple of wildcards to challengers and tour events - and they almost invarialy get up inside the top-400 or 300 quite fast - and the top-300 players rarely play satellites .. Sania would do better to play at least 10 to 15 junior grade-1 and grade-A ITF events; perhaps a few of the better grade-2 events in Europe as well .. The grade-A's are about 8 or 9 events including the grand slam juniors .. You would get the top-25 players within a couple of rounds in all those events .. She is anyway allowed to do only a limited number (10 or so) challengers and satellites .. Satellites may not significantly help because of worse competition - that is the point I am making ..  So far, Sania's parents (Imran and Naseema Mirza) have done an excellent job in her tour-planning, with good advice from the coaches .. That is a big part of the reason for her seemingly never being under the pressure of the rankings and other distractions .. She plays like she has all the time in the world to get better and better (and she does!) - whacking the felt off the ball, whetever the situation :-) .. We can expect them to move her along nicely, mixing in the top junior events with pro events, hopefully at the challenger qualies and main draw level.

The situation is similar for 17 yr old Isha Lakhani as well .. She is right around #30, but she has hardly played many of the tougher grade-1s and above in the junior tour .. Next year is her last year of junior elgibility and hopefully she will have a chance to go to the European and other grade-A/grade-1 events .. She will take much longer to improve from satellite competition next year .. This is also the reaosn why I feel Ankita should be playing juniors for the next year or two (she has 2 years remaining), but she has hardly played ANY juniors .. As always, these are just my opinions, which I write only as food for thought ..  You need not agree with me :-)

The AITA Adidas junior and mini-junior (u18/u14) masters has been on in Delhi this week .. I have put all the results from QF onwards in the Adidas masters page .. 13 yr old Sumit Prakash Gupta of UP (3rd seed) won the u14 title today with a win over the top seed Sanam Singh (CHD) .. Sumit had beaten the 2nd seed M.Jeevan in the SF as well .. 13 year old Rupesh Roy did not play u14 but reached the semi in the u18 draw .. Madura Ranganathan of TN, who made some waves at the u14/u16 DSCL nationals recently, has reached the final of the u18 draw at Adidas .. Admittedly, a lot of the top u18 girls players are not there, like Sania/Isha/Ankita/Sanaa, but Madura has been doing very well .. GK Shweta who lost to Madura in the u14 final at DSCL, won the u14 final today at the Adidas masters .. The one tough news was that 2nd seed Karan Rastogi who is our top ITF-ranked junior player (turned 16 recently) had to give a walkover in the u18 quarterfinals to Parantap chaturvedi, who is in the final against Saurabh Kohli who upset the top seed Chatwinder Singh .. Not sure what is up with Karan .. He was down with a back problem at the end of last year, after a great start to the junior career when he reached near top-100 while he was just 15 .. Then he lost a few months and started a hard climb back this year, finally breaking through to reach the QF of the Japan Grade-A with a surprising top-50 win too (which is ever so rare for Indian players) - only to have to give a walkover there due to illness .. I was hoping for a good show from him next week at the asian juniors, to seal down an entry to the Australian Open juniors next month - and again he hits a bump on the road .. Hopefully his walkover was not due to anything serious.

Dec 5 Notes

At the $25K+H challenger in Nonthaburi, Thailand, Rohan Bopanna went down today to Frank Moser (GER), 67(3) 06 in the second round .. Strange scoreline - hopefully his injury from last week is not acting up again .. Anyway, end of the year for Rohan .. He will finish close to #400 .. Get some rest, dude .. Get back after three weeks for the Chennai qualies in good health .. Also, Manisha and Shelley Stephens lost in the QF to Ivana Abramovic (CRO)/ Remi Tezuka (JPN), 36 64 60 at Nonthaburi.

In somewhat of a surprise, Jennifer Schmidt, the second seed, beat Sania Mirza today at Pune .. The young girl did not go down without a fight, as she won the first set and lost the 3rd set in a tiebreaker .. Sania and Radhika are in the final of doubles though .. See the Pune satellite page for scores.

A correction on what I said earlier .. It turns out that Hesh does have a top-100 win in the ATP tour ..  Sid alerted me to this today, as he remembered a win over Carlos Costa somewhere .. I too remembered a win over Carlos Costa - it was at the Indian Wells challenger in March 1997 (I went up there and missed Hesh's match; but I returned happy that he had upset the 5th seed there) .. What I actually never knew was that C.Costa was ranked in the top-100 and was a 5th seed at a challenger! .. I again checked the ranks archives from 5 years back, and yes, Costa was actually #75 (it turns out that the top seed there was #49 Jiri Novak, if you can believe that at a challenger!) .. Mahesh was a qualifier and he beat Costa (#75),  64 36 76(4) in the first round vefore falling in the next round .. Funny that it took this long to have a reason to find who it was from India who had the last top-100 win other than LP!

Dec 4 Notes

Rohan's second round match at the $25K+H Nonthburi challenger in Thailand is scheduled for 10 am tomorrow .. A couple of late scores on doubles out there .. 4th seeds Manisha Malhotra and Shelley Stephens (NZL) won the first round in the Nonthaburi women's challenger, over Ivanna Israilova (UZB) and Chin Bee Khoo (MAS), 62 46 62 .. They face Ivana Abramovic (CRO)/ Remi Tezuka (JPN) in the QF .. Rohan Bopanna and Vijay Kannan went down Tuesday in the doubles R1, to the Austrian pair, Werner Eschauer and Herbert Wiltschnig, 63 36 67(4).

Sania is playing at such a higher level over the last few months, it is scary .. She beat Isha Lakhani for a 60 61 score - that is the same Isha, the DSCL triple crown national champion, one who I think only a handful of other Indians are capable of beating in my view ..  Radhika, who won the Pune satellite early last year, continued her homecourt streak, upsetting the top seed Rushmi .. Sonal, Ankita, and Megha could not do much though .. See the Pune satellite page for scores.

No indication yet that any word has reached the mighty maharajas in Chennai about any wildcard to Rohan Bopanna yet .. I suppose they are holding that 3rd wildcard just in case Pete Sampras decides to play there (or perhaps they can get some truly great ones like the Sergei Brugueras to come out of retirement and play, just unable to withstand the lure of the greatest show by IMG in the world) .. This is just ridiculous .. The country's top singles player not getting a wildcard should NOT be tolerated by any Indian with any influence on IMG .. So far, not a word from any of the Indian tennis' big wigs on this issue .. Has anybody picked up the phone and called Fernando Soler, the tournament director? .. Spine has not been in abundant supply in post-independence India, but I hope there are still some who can stand up and make the case that IMG should not be taking things so lightly.

Once again, for the umpteenth time, it is not that a wildcard is the end of the world .. I don't agree with those who write in the forum that not getting one is going to crush Rohan and kill his morale and all that .. Of course not - he like all other players know fully well that the fans and supporters have really no say in these things, that hardly much is lost from not getting a wildcard, and that this is really not against him or his tennis achievements .. Rohan surely knows that he still needs to play some 25 other events in many other places to go up in the rankings; nobody can get anywhere with just wildcards .. No, that is not the issue .. The issue that drives me up the wall at this time every year is that the Chennai tournament maharajas (foreigners, I should clarify again?) seem to know that they can get away with this and that nobody would stand up and say a word against it .. For instance, that great patron of independent Indian press (my left foot, of course), The Hindu based in Chennai, has not said a word about this issue - nor about what a pathetic situation it is when the city's premier event still has a foreign tournament director, while several good people from the city toil every year to put up the show that IMG takes credit for .. They have never felt the need to expose the moral bankruptcy and utter arrogance of IMG in their wildcard decisions year after year .. They hardly said anything about these guys wasting a wildcard last year on a player who did not even show up (incompetence on the part of the IMG organizers), though Marach was one whose WC could be justified because of his results in India .. Nor has there been much coverage of IMG's inability to significantly improve the entry list rankings - Chennai gets perhaps the lowest 8th seed ranking every year in $400K ATP events, that too in the opening week of the year when the largest number of players play tennis .. The Hindu has great tennis coverage, thanks to those like Kamesh, but I doubt the editorial desks would allow any comments on these kinds of issues in that newspaper .. Pathetic! (the other national newspapers are not headquartered in Chennai - hence my criticism of The Hindu)

I hate seeing people not stand up for what is right, and showing that they would not allow people to take them for granted .. I think many bigwigs in Indian tennis are letting IMG take them for granted .. What the heck is IMG going to do to you folks? -- Come out and make a statement in the press, will you, that IMG's arrogance is getting out of hand?

Damnit, the #1 INDIAN SINGLES PLAYER .. This should be a no-brainer and he should get a wildcard .. Even an acknowldegment from IMG of the fact that they have not given a wildcard to the country's #1 singles player would have made the situation better .. If they had even said that RB deserved one, and that they might give it to him barring any late surprises, it would have shown that they cared for the public's opinion .. Not doing that shows that they know nobody would raise the issue and that the public would not even know .. You know what, they may be right - they know that the subservient Indians would not let the issue come out in the open .. Disgusting.

Man, what a broken record I am, on this issue! .. The same thing, the same old, again and again .. Sorry for that - but I am given no choice.

Dec 3 Note-2

I knew I would need to look this up some day when we would finally have somebody who can beat a top-100 player, and I was quite sure at the back of my mind that RK was the last one other than LP to do that in an ATP event ..  And the answer is ...... of course, it was Ramesh Krishnan who had the last top-100 win on the ATP tour .. It was interestingly in his very last ATP tournament, the week before the Frejus Davis Cup miracle, when he entered the Gstaad tournament in Switzerland as a wildcard and upset Cedric Pioline 62 63 .. I am not sure of Pioline's exact ranking on July 5th, 1993, but I know he was ranked inside the top-25 .. It took almost a decade for anybody but LP to get a top-100 win on the ATP tour, till RB did it at Nonthaburi with the upset of #86 Hyung-Taik Lee .. Rohan, you made us all proud today!

By the way, Mahesh's best on the ATP tour was against #128 Daniel Nestor at the LA ATP in July 97 .. Of course he had had that still-unbelievable 5-set win over #20 Jan Siemerink, and the upset of #71 Jacco Eltingh in the Delhi Davis Cup in early 96 .. He also later upset #87 Davide Sanguinetti in the DC in Italy in March 98 .. The shoulder scare cut short his singles career after that, sadly, though.

There is a pretty interesting matchup between two of the most talented youngsters tomorrow at the Pune satellite - Isha Lakhani against Sania Mirza .. Isha has given Sania a couple of very tough matches in the past but Sania has pulled through in the end, the latest being a Houdini act in South Africa a few months back when they met in a grade-2 final where Sania escaped from being down a couple of breaks in the 3rd set against Isha .. SM is playing with a lot more confidence and authority now, but IL is still one who can give her trouble I would say.

I have added the acceptance lists for the prestigious Asian Closed Junior ITF tournament next week in Delhi .. It is a grade B2 event which is rated slightly higher than a grade-2, with 120 points for the winner - the entries are limited to the Asian players though .. Glad to see #38 Wang-Cheng Hsieh and #39 Tai-Wei Liu of Taiwan coming for the event .. The top asian player, #23 Go Soeda of Japan, is 18 and has stopped playing juniors .. Not too many top-100 Asian players in a relatively week year .. Karan Rastogi, ranked #109 is the 3rd seed .. On the girls's side I was sad to see some of the really talented Asian girls missing from the event .. The biggest one missing is Ryoko Fuda of Japan (almost the same age as Sania) who came out of nowhere to win some big events in Japan recently, beating even top-10 ranked European players, to shoot up to #17 in the world .. Also missing are the 15 year old sensations - #58 Rui Du (China) and the #79 Yan-Chong Chen (Taiwan) - two girls that Indians have never beaten .. Apparently Rui Du is going to the Orange Bowl juniors in Miami .. #52 Chin-Wei Chan (Taiwan) is almost 18 and may be moving on to pros now - she was the winner last year at Delhi - she had beaten Sania early there, and she also beat Isha at the US Open thsi year too .. #27 Isha and #61 Sania as the top two seeds .. Sania, if you remember, had quite a poor first half of the year with exams and other things and so her ranking is quite lower than her best at around #30 earlier ..  She is still the one to beat there though  .. Not sure of #149 Tara Iyer, the 4th highest ranked Indian behind Isha, Sania, and Sanaa .. Tara is currently in Florida .. She is listed in the Delhi list for next week though .. I also hope that Ankita Bhambri will take a wildcard and play there .. I have never figured out why Ankita has basically completely skipped the junior tour, though her younger sister Sanaa has played quite a bit already .. Ankita still has two years left and could quite easily reach top-50 and play a lot of top-20 junior players - better experience than against a lot of lower-ranked players in the ITF satellite tour in India, in my view (though mixing that in is fine too!).

At the grade-1 Key Biscayne ITF first round, lucky loser 14 yr old Tara went down today to an 18 year old - Marcela Arroyo (MEX,71), 36 46,  .. Qualy scores for Tara - [Q1] d. Olga Poutchkova (BLR,365), 62 64 .. [Q2] d. Vanja Mikovic (YUG), 61 26 64 .. [Q3] l. #1Tatjana Malek (GER,112), 26 46 ..

Dec 3 Note-1

Yay, yeay, yeay .. Yeah! Yeah! .. Rohan Bopanna has just pulled off the biggest win in Indian tennis in a long long time today, at the Bangkok challenger .. Rohan upset the top seed Hyung-Taik Lee (KOR,86), 76(5) 62 !! .. Wow! .. Top-100 win .. Go RB ..  Yo, you dim-wit foreigners at Chennai - pull that damn wildcard out and give it to Rohan Bopanna! .. OK, repeating, for the benefit of the foreigners there - Rohan upset the top seed Hyung-Taik Lee (KOR,86), 76(5) 62 !! ..  Should I do it once more? .. Oh, by the way, the Thais gave Rohan a wildcard; that is how got into that tournament .. Oh why not, I will repeat it - Rohan upset the top seed Hyung-Taik Lee (KOR,86), 76(5) 62 ..

Since Leander beat Roesset and the then world #2 Sampras in Aug 98, there have been only two top-100 wins till now - both by LP .. LP d. W.Ferreira (#32) at Newport, July 99 and LP d. Federer (#50), March 2000 .. Rohan's win is the first top-100 win by anybody other than LP on the ATP tour since .. since, I don't know when :-) .. Perhaps since the Ramesh Krishnan times? .. Mahesh had a top-100 win against #88 Sanguinetti in Italy in Davis Cup in March 98, but that's the only one that I remember from the top-100 ..  Anyway, a historic win by Rohan today.

A bit busy today .. More later .. Light schedule at the Pune satellite - Isha advanced, to face Sania in the 2nd round .. Tara could not upset the top seed in the final qualies, but made the main draw at the grade-1 Key Biscayne ITF as a lucky loser - she plays the R1 today.

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.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Dec 2 ..

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.