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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Dec 11, 2000
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Dec 9 Notes

Here is an interview by S.Kannan in the Hindustan Times with Mahesh - "It'll be tough, not impossible" .. Mahesh is already in Bangaloe since Friday and Leander was expected in India on saturday night, according to Mahesh .. Mahesh is concerned about the lack of practice, but said the league format before semifinal is in their favor .. He also says LP and MB have made a tentative schedule for next year which they will refine later after they meet in Bangalore .. No idea what playing shape LP will be in, but I believe the knee tendonitis should be more or less just about healed .. A couple of days of practice with Mahesh, and watch out! .. Here is a good article on the pair, in Hindustan Times - "Home again, together" by S.Kannan .. As I have always done, I disagree somewhat with the general press opinion about "the split" that it was due to ego and immaturity .. Not that they weren't reasons; most tennis players have a good amount of ego which is often an ingredient to success, and young guys often have a certain amount of immaturity also .. It's just that I don't think these two guys are any worse than any other tennis players out there on those counts - actually they are better than most .. The reason why any problem got magnified (and started looking like serious ego and immaturity problems) was that they are two guys who are really quite different in their outlooks and approach to life which made it possible for mistrust to develop easily, as they were not thinking the same way and had trouble understanding each other .. But then again, I am not an unbiased observer, as I am of course a "fan", who is never unbiased, by definition :-) .. Anyway, I guess "the split" is a non-issue, as they have put it all behind them and were back in sync with the Tokyo title two months back .. Hey, I am looking forward to titles in Bangalore and then in Chennai in January - and they will be back in business again .. As Kannan nicely puts it - "This is no time for despondency. This is a pair which has shown remarkable resilience and focus in regrouping especially when the chips are down.  Last year was proof of that when despite the off-court digs at each other, when it came to competing against the best pairs, they never looked anything less than perfect. It has taken them years to achieve this kind of a rapport, and they are not about to throw it all, and so cheaply ... To analyse their chances vis-a-vis other teams in the fray would be an immature exercise, since causing upsets is what they know best. And pressure, which has affected the best of professionals, is something Leander and Mahesh thrive on. To think that lack of matches and all that has happened between them will hamper their chances in Bangalore is wrong. Leander and Mahesh are the future, a fact acknowledged by the Woodies. And what better venue than home to show the country is not content with just picking up beauty crowns." .. Yeah, let's go Indian Express!

More preview articles on next week's Bangalore Goldflake WDC for you to read - "O'Brien, Palmer duo raring to have a go" in The Hindu .. Alex O'Brien had given us that most memorable quote ("Egyptian Magician") on what I believe may be the best shot of LP's career - the final shot of the 3rd set 7-5 tiebreaker win over Lareau-O'Brien at Hartford in 97 .. Alex is at it again, praising LP-MB today in Bangalore -- "It is going to be very tough facing them with all the crowd here supporting them. I bet guys would hang from there and cheer for them,'' said O'Brien pointing to nearby trees, according to the article .. Here is another preview - "OBrien-Palmer keen to end on a bright note" in the Deccan Herald.

Not all teams have arrived yet, but there has been one more injury withdrawal - John-Lafnie DeJager unfortuantely had a wrist injury last week and so Adams-DeJager are being replaced by the alternates, the Swedish pair, Simon Aspelin and Johann Landsberg .. Not a bad replacement at all, as they are two talented young players who have had a breakthrough time in doubles over the last year or two .. The last time they were in India was in Jan-Feb 1999, when they won the title at the futures in Mumbai (in three sets over Ghouse-Uppal), and played in the Calcutta challenger [both reached the singles semifinals at the Mumbai futures too] .. LP-MB have beaten them this year though.

Dec 8 Notes

Nothing much going on this week - hence the slow updates .. The Adidas AITA u14 and u16 events is on in Delhi .. 14 yr old Karan rastogi seems to be one to really watch for, as he reached the final of the u18 event and went down fighting to CS Mohanty .. He had won the u14 and u16 titles in the Shriram Cup earlier, and now this! .. On the girls' side 14 yr old Ankita Bhambri won the u14 and u18 titles, and she is another one to really watch out for .. Younger sister Sanaa Bhambri looked to be the one with somewhat better results earlier on, but Ankita has been coming on strong lately, beating her sister in the u14 final .. Somehow, I don't think Sania Mirza has played these two girls much, and so I don't have much of a comparison between them, but those three are clearly the best ones in that age range .. The newspaper reports have been patchy about the Adidas junior event, but I will compile the results and post them soon in our archives.

If you need to read a nice preview of the big Goldflake World Doubles Championships, here is one - from Kalyan Ashok in The Hindu -- Will the Indian pair battle it out for national pride? ..  Nice write-ups on the eight teams .. This will be fun in Bangalore next week!

I will post the latest AITA rankings, from a couple of weeks back, soon..

Dec 6 Notes

It looks like Uzbekistan has withdrawn from the ATF Cup men's event.  That is unfortunate, as they are one of the more well-known groups of players (Ogorodov, Kutsenko, Tomashevic, etc) in India, and they have generally come for every event in India .. The dates being the week before Christmas, it makes it difficult for players to be in India, even though it ends 2-3 days before Xmas .. The Uzbeks will be replaced by China.

Also, Nirupama is not expected to be there for the women's event at the ATF Cup .. Niru is in New York, nursing some leg infections .. Not exactly an injury, but she has been playing with it for a while and has been asked to be off the courts for a few weeks .. She is a bit disappointed in missing both the challenger and the ATF Cup in Delhi, but that is how it turned out .. I believe she is not planning to go to India during Xmas, but would be training in New York and proceeding to Australia by the first week of January .. The good news is that Niru and Nana Miyagi have decided to play doubles together at the Australian Open, and I believe they will make the doubles main draw (Nana is ranked in the top-50 and Niru has now come up inside the top-150) ..

Sorry if some of you found funny characters at the top of the page as I was playing with some slightly more modern look to this page (it may have shown up funny on some IE browsers) .. It should be fine now.

Dec 5 Notes

I saw the Costa Rica results today; a lucky loser replaced LP in the draw (and he won; actually LP would have been the 3rd seed and could have easily picked up a lot of points if he were healthy enough to play there) .. So, as we knew, LP has skipped playing this week, choosing instead to give his injury an extra week of recovery time before playing in a week's time at the WDC.

The Bangalore WDC official website, http://www.worlddoubles.com, has come alive! .. Take a look .. It's a nice website with a lot of info (click on the team names in the team profiles page, for instance) .. It's such a nice improvement from the crap they put up as a website for that Hartford events .. I am not sure if the site has been officially launched yet, as some things are still under construction.

Nothing else going on this week .. No juniors in action either, as far as I know .. Hey, it's the vacation time, except for the WDC next week and the Asia Cup the week after.

Dec 4 Notes

Nothing much going on; hence no news yesterday .. I have seen the $100K Costa Rica challenger draw that just came out .. Leander is still listed in the draw as the 3rd seed, drawn in the bottom quarter of the upper half with 6th seed Laurence Tieleman (ITA) .. Gaston Eltis as the top seed .. LP is drawn to face Adrian Garcia of Chile in the first round, but that match is not in the schedule for today .. As it is an injury situation, LP could withdraw anytime without penalty, I guess - and based on what Dr.Paes said a couple of days back, LP had dropped plans to play there.

The draw at the $75K women's challenger in France closed above #160 there and Niru would have had to play qualies there to enter  .. So, unless LP decided to play Costa Rica, the only action this week is at the Adidas AITA u18 junior event in Delhi, along with an ITF junior event (Prince Cup) in Miami, where Sania Mirza may be playing.

Unseeded Prakash Amritraj of USA reached the quarterfinal of singles at the prestigious grade-1 Eddie Herr Internmational ITF junior event ..  He had a win over the world #23 and 6th seed, Radoslav Lukeav of Bulgaria, 63 41 (retd.) in the second round .. He however fell in the QF to the world #16 and 4th seed, Michael Lammer of Switzerland, 36 26 .. This would raise 17 yr old Prakash's world junior ranking from #102 to inside the top-75 .. Prakash and #80 Sunil Kumar are the highest ranked Indian "names" in the ITF rankings (but Prakash is of course a US player unless he decides to play for India, which he apparently can!) .. 10th seeded 15 yr old, Sunitha Rao (USA), ranked #22 in the world (incredibly high for her age) was in the quarterfinal of singles, but lost to the 8th seed (world #21) and eventual winner, Edina Gallovits of Romania, in a dogfight - 57 62 57 .. For some reason, Rajeev Ram of USA did not play this event .. By the way, the Far East junior circuit ended last week with agrade-4 event in Vietnam .. No news has come from there yet; so I am not sure if Sunil Kumar, Vinod Sewa, Megha Vakharia, etc, had gone there.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Dec 04 ..

I am getting some enquiries 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 enquiring 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 enquiries from the coaches too .. Please email me - R.Jayakrishnan.