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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Dec 10, 2001
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Dec 11 Notes

Sorry to just take off with only a brief announcement below, for 5 days .. I'm still on semi-vacation, actually ..

A couple of quick updates .. Sunil Kumar won the Asian Juniors title a couple of days back .. Great work by him in the final, in coming back from facing a matchpoint in the second set to turn it around and win the title .. Sunil, who clearly did not play up to potential in quite a lot of junior events he played, has once again showed that "Leander-esq" ability to come up big when the stage is big .. That is the big hall-mark of this boy who has finished his junior career with his biggest title to raise his junior world ranking by about 30 spots to #30 this week, the highest ranking in nearly a decade by any Indian boy (only year-end rankings count - the rankings are sometimes deceptively high at the beginning of the year when the 18 yr olds leave the list) .. I was very sad to see the #1 seed Sania Mirza unexpectedly go down 36 36 in the second round to a realtively unknown Chin-Wei Chan of Taiwan .. I feel much better now, after seeing that the Taiwanese went on to win the title, also beating the #2 seed Da-Jung Hong in the final by a 63 64 score .. She had hardly dropped a set in her other games (by the way, what exactly is going on in Taiwan for them to suddenly start producing these players by the truckloads? .. Not making accusations here, but I am truly a bit curious) .. The other notable match in the draw was actually by #105 Megha Vakharia who lost to Da-Jung Hong (now #31) in a very close match, 67 67 .. 13 yr old Sanaa Bhambri's semifinal showing was no mean achievement, as she shoots up by about 250 spots to #233  .. She may be the highest ranked 13 yr old in the world top-250 now, actually .. Sanaa does seem to have made some big strides lately .. 16 yr old Isha lakhani is now the Indian #3 behind Sania and Megha - she was in the QF to pick up 40 points for 120 total from just three events this year (she won the two other grade-4 events she played in India .. By the way, financial difficulty seems to be causing her to miss a lot of events, from what I hear, sadly) .. I will add all the scores in the Delhi juniors page soon.

The postponed DSCL national championships have started yesterday in Delhi ! .. I had almost forgotten about it .. All the top domestic names are there .. No surprises on the first day .. I will start a page for results and report on the event soon.

In the end-of-fall computer rankings just released in US college tennis, Harsh Mankad is ranked an unbelievable #2 !! .. He deserves it, having gone 12-1 for the season with some 9 wins over top-100 players (wins over #3, #6, #11, #12, #13, #22, #50, #60, #95) and only one loss (to the #9 player in a three tie-breaker match) .. Here is a really nice interview article in Rediff.com on Harsh - good analyses on himself, by Harsh .. He pretty much says exactly where he is and seems to understand what he needs to do (but I also feel that he is being exceedingly nice in thanking the whole world in the interview :-)) .. I am also hearing the distesssing reports that Harsh Mankad may end up not going to the Chennai Open qualies because of financial difficulties in buying a ticket for the travel .. That is truly sad, if so.

Dec 6 Notes

Mahesh played pretty well against the #169th ranked 7th seed Martin Verkek (NED), but fell in the end by the score of 67(3) 64 26 .. MB got 5 ATP points for the first round win, and it's nice to see that the hamstring injury that made him withdraw from the Thai F2 futures and then retire in the R1 of the Vietnam F1 is not too serious .. A modest but decent start to a singles comeback by Mahesh in the two futures and challenger he played, picking up 8 points to come up to about 775 in rankings next week (he reached the QF at the Thai F1).. I am glad to see his effort to start from scratch in singles, all the way down from the futures level rather than giving up on it and I am sure he knows that he still has a good bit of singles abilities left in him .. We will see both MB and LP in the Chennai Open, and having played 6 singles matches in this swing, MB will feel comfortable playing in 4 weeks.

Women's challenger news from Thailand -- Sai Jayalakshmy finally won a match, after a string of bad outings including at the National Games .. She beat Chin-Bee Khoo (MAS), a pretty decent player, 46 63 63 .. She then went down to 8th seeded Dominika Luzarova of Czech republic, 63 63 in the R2 .. As I did not see her in the singles draw or qualies and saw her usual partner Leanne Baker playing doubles with Shelley Stephens, I did not look carefully at the doubles draw for Manisha .. Now we find that she is indeed in Bangkok, playing doubles with Mi-Ra Jeon of Korea - they are seeded 2nd .. Not sure why she did not play singles, perhaps she did not get there early enough .. Manisha and Mi-Ra beat Yuliana Fedak (UKR) and Irina Kornienko (RUS), 62 64 to advance to the QF where they will meet the Thai wildcards Wilawan Choptang and Napaporn Tongsalee [source: Alain Vincent] ..

Dec 5 Note-2

I have updated the results from Delhi after wednesday's play, at the Asian Juniors page .. Really bad news, as Sania Mirza went down in a huge upset .. Sunil, Amanjot, Nishank, Isha, Megha, Sanaa are in the QFs along with Samrita sekar who pulled a bit of a surprise upset in the PQF .. Isha will not be an easy for 4th seed Pichaya in the QF, if I were to guess ..

I have been busy and not been able to comment much on the Asian Juniors .. And, darnit - It looks like I will need to travel again till next monday, after an early thursday update ..

Dec 5 Note-1

At the Bangkok challenger, both LP and MB, playing with other partners (of course, it won't be fair for them to play together in a challenger!), went down in the doubles first round .. LP and Mustafa lost to the top seeds Golovanov and Kutsenko, 63 46 64 and MB and Wittaya Samrej (THA) lost to Hyung-Taik Lee and Frank Moser, 62 64 .. MB has not played the second round singles match yet against the 169th ranked 7th seed Martin Verkerk .. In the women's challenger first round,  Yuliana Fedak (UKR) beat R.Chakravarthi (IND) 64 62 yesterday (sorry, I had the wrong player name for Rushmi's opponent yesterday) .. I have not seen the R1 result for Sai yet .. Rushmi and Sai lost in the first round of doubles to the top seeds Leanne Baker and Shelley Stephens, 61 61 .. Bangkok has not been great so far.

Dec 4 Note-1

Good and bad news from the $50K Thailand challenger today .. First the bad - I expected Leander to be rusty and have trouble against an in-form and match-fit qualifier Lior Dahan (ISR,406) and that was exactly what happened as Dahan upset LP (#299), 62 46 62 to advance to the second round .. As for good news, wildcard Mahesh Bhupathi upset Suwandi Suwandi (INA,290), 63 67(3) 62 .. MB now faces the 7th seed Martin Verkerk (NED) in the second round [source: Steve Gocha] .. LP and MB will be playing their respective doubles matches tomorrow, I believe .. At the Thai women's challenger, Sai Jayalakshmi faces wildcard Chin-Bee Khoo (MAS) and Rushmi Chakravarti gets qualifier Natalia Dziamidzenka (BLR) in the first round .. No news on those matches yet .. In doubles, Rushmi and Sai have a tough draw - first round against the top seeds Leanne Baker and Shelley Stephens of New Zealand.

Later, with the Asian Juniors news from Delhi.

Dec 3 Note-2

LP, MB, etc, haven't played yet at Thailand and will be in action tomorrow .. Rushmi and Sai are also there in Bangkok, for the women's $25K challenger as well - both made the singles draw, and is also in doubles together.

The prestigious Asian "Closed" Juniors B2 events has started in delhi .. One upset today - 3rd seed Rohan Gajjar got upset in three sets .. Rohan is a very talented player, but he needs to start winning consistently - he may have to discipline his mind a bit and learn to grind out wins rather getting impatient and frustrated too fast (based on newspaper reports from a few similar matches he has played this year) ... Sania had an easy win, but those like Chia-Jung Chuang, Da-Jung Hong and Isha Lakhani are all tough ones in a pretty good girls' draw .. Sasha Abraham who has strangely not had good results for over an year now, got upset in the girls draw .. I have started a page for Asian Juniors - see all the results there.

By the way, what about France, eh ? .. Incredible for them to go to Australia and pull off the Davis Cup title miracle .. And talk about Australians being simply stupid .. Utterly stupid .. But what do you expect? ..  This kind of stuff will keep happening till the Davis Cup captains learn to respect doubles players properly .. Todd Woodbridge should have played doubles .. Australia has not excuses for losing the doubles match, with four excellent doubles players including the world #1 (who did not even get to play!) .. I mean, come on! .. To what stupid extend can arrogance go? .. I like the Aussies, but I always enjoy it when Australian "teams" lose - even if it is to the French :-) .. Even more sweet when it happens in their crib!

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.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Dec 03 ..

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.