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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Dec 23, 2002
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Dec 23 Notes

I have added all the "Indian Oil Servo" (Chennai) tournament results from today at the IOS/KTC tournament page .. Ajay Ramaswamy, Manoj Mahadevan, and Punna Vishal advanced today, along with the 17 yr old youngster Somdev Dev Varman .. Somdev's win over a more-seasoned Kamala Kannan is quite noteworthy .. I have also added all the detailed match reports I had received from KTC at the match reports page .. All the seeded players will be in action tomorrow - Harsh, Nitin, Vijay and Vinod.

There is also an under-16 event at Kochi this week .. Later, on that one - always good to see anything related to tennis happening in my home state (tennis "wasteland", shall I say? :-))

Dec 22 Note-1

The last event in the tennis calendar for 2002 - actually the first event in the 2003 calendar, is the "Indian Oil Servo" tournament (invitational for men) at the Krishnan Tennis Center in Chennai .. There was one withdrawal from the entry list I had reported earlier - Sunil Kumar has withdrawn and instead Vishal Punna, fresh from the noteworthy silver medal at the National Games,  will be playing there .. I have added the draw and other details in our IOS/KTC tournament page .. Take a look .. Will be updating the page during this week .. The four seeds (Harsh, Nitin, Vinod, Vijay) have byes in the first round .. The action starts at 1 pm on monday, with the final scheduled for thursday.

Dec 21 Note-3

Here is the Deccan Herald news service article on Nitin's show against a hostile crowd at Hyderabad - Often during the course of the match, Nitin Kirtane stood, hands on his hips and staring at the crowd, probably wondering what he was playing for – his life or a gold medal in the National Games tennis competition. A packed house at the Fateh Maidan tennis complex was baying for blood, as he took on local teeanger Punna Vishal. Kirtane decided he was playing for pride. So after three sets of pulsating tennis when Punna sent a backhand into the net at match point, the Pune pro celebrated by ripping the shirt of his back. Unfortunately you couldn’t see the size of Kirtane’s heart for that really was what today’s match was all about .... A lesser professional would have found a way to lose but Kirtane found a way to win. “I just couldn’t lose. The whole crowd was against me and I had to find a way to win,” Kirtane said after the 63 46 76(4) win today that fetched him the gold medal. The crowd greeted the win by raining plastic bottles on the champion, who lay on his back on the court. Once he got on his feet Kirtane tossed a bottle back into the stands and the crowd replied with loud cheers ... That says it all about heart in playing tennis! .. Vishal even served for the match in the 3rd set before Nitin showed he just was not ready to lose .. Well done, Evergreen!

Dec 21 Note-2

At the Hyderabad Games, the mixed doubles Gold was won by Vishal Uppal and Ankita Bhambri for Delhi, 76 61 over Vijay Kannan and Rushmi Chakravarthi (TN) .. Tamil Nadu had a chance to pick up a Gold and finish right behind AP for second place, but as has been the TN pattern this time, they seem to not have offerred much resistence in the second set (I am harsh on my "adopted team" TN this time - they should have done better .. I just did not see the fight from TN that I expected in many key ties .. OK, there's always a next time) .. Here is the final medal tally as the curtains come down in the tennis events -
 
# State Gold Silver Bronze
1 Andhra Pradesh 2 2 3
2 Maharashtra 2 1 4
3 Delhi 2 0 1
4 Tamil Nadu 1 3 2
5 Karnataka 0 1 1
6 Chandigarh  0 0 2
7 West Bengal 0 0 1
8 Uttar Pradesh 0 0 0

In individual performance, Nitin Kirtane led the men's side with 2 golds (singles, doubles) and one bronze (team) .. Vishal Uppal with 2 Golds (mixed, team) had the next best show .. On the women's side, Sania led with 2 Golds (singles, team) .. Manisha comes next, along with Rushmi .. MM had 1 Gold (team), 1 silver (singles) and 1 bronze (mixed) .. Rushmi had 1 Gold (doubles), 1 silver (mixed) and 1 bronze (team) ..

Dec 21 Note-1

She finished her year with her best win on paper - Sania Mirza (AP) won the gold, 60 60 over Manisha Malhotra (AP) .. Even if Manisha is slowed by fever and all, I didn't think it was possible for her to be beaten that badly .. Sania's results lately have been downright scary! .. Andhra Pradesh almost pulled off a second gold in singles today as Vishal Punna gave Nitin all he could handle .. Nitin Kirtane came through for Maharashtra in a 3rd set tiebreaker .. Tough not to be impressed with Nitin's spirit - after all these years he never misses a domestic event and always plays to win it all ..  That is a double crown for Nitin, as he won the men's doubles also yesterday .. See the National Games page.

Mixed doubles finals results awaited .. That will decide if Tamil Nadu finishes tied with AP at the top of the medal tally in tennis, or 4th!

Dec 20 Note-2

It will be the "Andhra Upstart" Vishal Punna vs the "Evergreen Punewallah" Nitin Kirtane in the men's singles final at the 7th (or is it the 32nd?) National Games in Hyderabad .. Nitin beat Vinod Sridhar easily and Vishal ended the nice run by Chandigarh's young Chatwinder Singh in three sets .. The women's final will be an all-AP affair, with Manisha facing Sania .. Manisha had to pull out her best today, fever and all, in a three-set comeback to get past Archana Venkatraman (KAR) .. Both the doubles finals were between MAH and TN .. Rushmi and Sai (TN) won the doubles title over Radhika and Sonal, but the Marathis got the revenge in the men's final - the Kirtanes taking out the Kannans .. See the National Games page .. Tamil Nadu, despite not doing as well in the more prestigious team and singles events, will however come back with a very good tally, thanks to doubles .. Vijay and Rushmi are also in the mixed doubles final Saturday against Vishal Uppal and Ankita Bhambri (DLI) ..

Dec 20 Note-1

The singles semis have started at Hyderabad .. And it seems to have taken about the same time it took for me to type that line, for you-know-who to reach the final too :-) .. Sania Mirza steamrolled Sonal Phadke 61 60 in the semi just now .. And Sonal is one player who seemed to be playing well out there so far! .. This is almost unreal, what SM is doing .. And she does all of that on one leg, it seems - her left knee has been heavily bandaged for a whole week .. I guess that is why she goes out and starts whacking the hell out of the ball to finish her matches fast! .. Manisha is not doing very well, running some high fever and suffering from dehydration and dizziness (according the reports on yesterday's semi against Radhika) .. Unless she has got better, she could be in trouble against Archana .. Men's semis and mixed doubles semis come up later, along with the doubles final .. See the National Games page.

Here are some details on the "Indian Oil Servo" Krishnan Tennis Center (KTC) invitational for men that starts on Monday the 23rd .. The usual format - there will be a draw of 12 with 4 first round byes .. Eight players from Chennai and four top national players .. This year the Chennai players are Vinod Sridhar, Manoj Mahadevan, Vijay Kannan, Kamala Kannan, Arun Prakash, Som Dev Varman, Jaco Mathew and V.M.Ranjeet .. The four national players are Harsh Mankad, Sunil Kumar, Nitin Kirtane, and Ajay Ramaswami .. The finals will be on the 26th Dec .. Vinod Sridhar, Nitin Kirtane, Saurav Panja, Harsh Mankad and Ajay Ramaswami have won it in the past .. I like the event, because it is a good opportunity for the players to have some fun and get some good match practice before the Chennai Open qualies .. The line-up looks quite good this time too, with all of our top string except Rohan being there! .. Harsh has been taking some well-deserved time off after a long year that started with a lot of matches in US colleges and later ended with a bunch of matches when he made the finals in three of the final four Indian futures .. I am sure Harsh is looking forward to a good show at KTC and at the Chennai qualies .. Sunil also looked a bit tired by the later few futures, and he too must be rejuvenated after a few weeks off .. Manoj Mahadevan was not at the National Games but was in Dubai this week, playing for one of the tournaments that gives a wildcard into the main draw for the Dubai Open .. He will be back at KTC next week, it seems .. There are some talented youngsters too, in Arun, Jacco and Somdev .. Ranjeet is too young to do a whole lot yet ..

Tara Iyer went down in the second round at the orange bowl 14s in Florida .. Jet-lag probably caught up with her, finally!

Dec 19 Notes

The singles semis and doubles finals are all set at the Hyderabad Games .. Tamil Nadu finally had a good day, with Vinod Sridhat reaching the semi, to face Nitin next, and also with the men's and women's doubles teams reaching the final .. It will be TN vs MAH in both the doubles finals .. Vijay Kannan and Kamala Kannan (no relation!) face Nitin and Sandeep Kirtane (cousins) .. Sai and Rushmi face Radhika and Sonal .. The MAH pair had a pretty good upset in the first round yesterday, in three sets over Manisha and Sania, the highest ranked Indian doubles player (and Asiad MxD silver medalist) and the most talented Indian youngster .. We could potentially have an all-AP final in women's doubles ith Sania and Manisha both in the semis of singles though .. Manisha got some resistence from Radhika today in the QFs but she moved on .. Punna Vishal has done AP proud reaching the SF against Chatwinder Singh (CHD) - we will certainly have an unexpected finalist from these two .. See the National Games page.

Dec 18 Notes

The grapevine now tells me that AITA did do some "friendly persuation" to ensure a wildcard to Rohan from IMG at the Chennai Open, and that this was on for a while even before I was kicking up a stink out here about it .. To be fair and nice, let me assume that IMG would have done this anyway but all is well that ends well.

The first round (PQF) singles matches are all done at the Hyderabad Games, and the QFs are underway today .. Vishal Punna's upset of 2nd seed Vijay Kannan was the only real upset of the first round .. In the QFs today, there have already been a few upsets .. Chatwinder Singh (CHD) pulled the big upset over the defending champion Ajay Ramaswamy (MAH) 36 63 75 .. Nitin Kirtane (MAH) has reached the SFs beating Arjun .. Sonal Phadke (MAH) took out the defending champ Rushmi Chakravarthi (TN) 76(5) 60, with Rushmi losing heart and going down easily after the first set according to the PTI report .. That is surprising from a seasoned player like Rushmi - I assume something was bugging her .. But Sonal has the game to beat Rushmi and she came through for Maharashtra after Ajay's surprise loss .. To add to Tamil Nadu's horror show, Sai Jayalakshmy went down to Archana Venkatraman 36 46 too, if the only QF score that is up so far at the official website is to be believed .. and Tamil Nadu is now down to Vinod Sridhar in the QF .. You see, I have a soft corner for TN after having studied in Chennai a few years - but I must say that this has been an utterly pathetic show from Tamil Nadu - I mean, they have been laying eggs all over the place! .. What is bugging you all Tamilians - too much of hot Andhra food? .. See our National Games page which I keep updating as I confirm the scores.

There will be the Krishnan Tennis Center Invitational for men next week in Chennai, before the Tata Open qualies start at the end of the week .. Will give more details on the KTC event soon - a press conference is set for this Friday evening on the tournament.

Tara Iyer was in Florida 10 days back, went to Delhi with her grand father last week for the Asian Juniors, and she is back in Florida for the Orange Bowl 14s tournament which is the most prestigious and competitive 14s event in the world .. Tara has been playing mostly in the 18s draws this year, but she is there for that one final 14s event that she is eligible for .. She advanced, jet-lag and all, to the round of 64 yesterday with a 62 63 win over Ana Mungo (USA) .. Tara should have been seeded easily there, but as she is not elgible for a USTA ranking, she is unseeded there like a few other top foreign players .. She might run into a tough 4th seed Krysty Marcio (USA) if she advances in the 2nd round.

Just learned that Karan Rastogi and Somdev Dev Varman made the main draw entry list at the Australian Open juniors in January, and the grade-2 and grade-1 events in AUS before the AO .. Would be great to see Somdev play three events down there .. Isha Lakhani and Sania are also in the Asutralian main draw, though I had seen a news report with Sania's dad mentioning that she might not play the AO, but will play the other three junior grand slams .. Tara will be in the qualies for the AO juniors but I believe she will be among the seeds in that.

Dec 17 Note-3

The Chennai Open website has put up a news release on the wildcard to Rohan Bopanna - what I found interesting was this excerpt in the news release - "Now in its eighth year, this tournament has been a springboard for young Indian tennis players, who get a chance to play against international stars like Becker, Rafter, Philippoussis, and Srichaphan in Chennai," said Mr. Anil Khanna, Honarary Secretary General - AITA. "With Rohan Bopanna and Prakash Amritraj, once again, IMG has ensured that deserving Indian tennis players get a wildcard into the main draw of this prestigious tournament. The AITA and IMG have always worked together to give young Indian players such a worthwhile opportunity, and will continue to do so to help develop tennis in India," he added  ...  That surprised me a bit - I thought AITA did not have much to do with this tournament though IMG officially always listed it to be "under the aegis of the AITA and organised in collaboration with TNTA", etc .. I don't remember them highlighting AITA in their own press releases in the past, unless I failed to notice .. If Anil Khanna and AITA played a part in RB getting the wildcard, then more power to AITA!

Anil Khanna is definitely being quite generous in what he says about IMG's record .. Yes, they have given two wildcards in the past to Indian youngsters while Stark, Kilderry, Phau, Whitehouse, Marach etc have all wasted WCs .. They gave one to Sunil Kumar a few years back when he won the national hardcourts as a 16 year old, but if I am not mistaken IMG was also trying to sign up SKS under their banner then .. They did give one to Fazal in 2001 too .. Other than that, it is a big zero, in main draw wildcards to Indian youngsters .. And I will never forget them giving wildcards to Bjorn Phau and Wesley Whitehouse, over Srinath in 1998 when Sri and Faz could not even play the qualies because of them being in Italy for Davis Cup .. OK, that's all old stories I have repeated many times .. I shouldn't be bitter .. The tournament has done very well this time, in giving WCs to both Rohan and Prakash .. Good job, IMG! .. We all wish the tournament well and I am sure it will be a big success this time with Paradorn, Philippoussis, Rohan, Prakash, LP, MB, etc all being there .. I hope an Indian or two would finally manage to come through the qualies too .. Harsh, Sunil, etc are candidates to potentially do that, if the draws also help a bit in the qualies, but that has never been done at Chennai by an Indian.

Dec 17 Note-2

Delhi pulled a good upset over TN to win the men's team gold today .. Vishal Uppal has really come through every time, it seems .. Tamil Nadu really disappointed me .. On the girls' side there was not much of a doubt about Sania and Manisha winning the gold for AP, the real question being how much of a fight Sheetal and Archana would give .. Sheetal gave plenty of resistence before going down in a marathon 16 76(10) 57 loss to Manisha, after Archana did her best in facing the inevitable in a typical Sania 2-set job .. By the way, they had the police band playing and the Hyderabad mayor in the stands and all that at the team finals, to go with Sania's big hometown fan crowd .. More later on the ongoing singles rounds also (see our National Games page) .. Sania came back for another romp, this time over Sheetal in the singles to reach the QF .. Sonal beat Shruti in a 3-setter too .. All these are scores are from the official website, just for the record ;-)

My thanks to all of you who wrote asking me not to be bothered about the email from a player, as in the last note .. I am really not .. I put it up for everyone to have a good laugh at somebody unnecessarily hyperventilating - that's all!

Just got an email from Niru who mentioned something that I had not thought of - she said, "I am quite sure,there are some jealous people out there as u are able to express whatever u want" .. She is right about that; I have this platform to express my thoughts all the time and I am lucky to have you folks read my non-stop babble .. This is why I remind everybody every now and then to come and "mouth off" in our forum .. It's open all the time; just keep it clean, that is all .. Talking about that, we might move to a better forum format - our friend Dhruv is testing out a new board, actually with an Indian soccer discussion side-by-side with an Indian tennis board, so that sports fans can congregate in one place .. I am thinking about moving the forum up there ..

Niru will be back on court in January with some satellites in Florida and then a challenger .. That is the good news!

Dec 17 Note-1

Just got an email from a woman player from Delhi (I withhold the name) -- thought I should share it with the readers here, as we are in a holiday mood with only one tennis event going on and nothing much else to write on .. The email goes - "stop giving wrong scores u moron.... delhi beat ap 2-1 ... vasudev reddy beat ashutosh singh 6-1,6-3 ... vishaal uppal beat p. vishal 6-4,6-0 ... vishaal uppal/ashutosh singh beat v. reddy/p.vishal 6-2,1-6,6-4 ... stop reporting wrong scores on your website!!!" .. (underline emphasis mine :-))

Well, what can I say?  .. For a minute I thought I must have caused some serious financial damage or something to this particular 19 yr old! :-) .. The scores I reported in my National Games page are exactly what is shown at the official website (even now) - that is the only source I had, with that particular tie's scores not coming out in any of the national newspapers or other news sources .. I had the correct scores and said Delhi won too; just that the player names may be messed up at the official Games site .. I will correct it when I see official info anywhere .. But this particular lady needs some serious help in anger management, if she flies off the handle for something like this! .. Perhaps she is upset that I have not covered her much here .. But that is only because she has not shown anything worthwhile to talk about, in tennis - and with an immature attitude like that, we probably should not be surprised at her lack of success too, eh? ..

Of course, once in a while I do get one of these gems from some player who perhaps thinks I have this web work as a job that somebody pays me for, or that I am making some money from the web site! .. But then again, I have never got negative emails from anybody good (wonder why, eh?) .. Don't worry, I am not going to stop reporting scores or anything, because of the few who scream at me .. even "wrong" scores :-)

Dec 16 Note-2

I have added the singles results from Monday evening at the Hyderabad Games that had not hit the news wires earlier .. See the National Games page .. All the first round singles matchups are also there .. Priyanka Parikh beat Sanaa Bhambri in a bit of a surprise today .. Another interesting one was 17 yr old Arjun Gautham (KAR) beating Tushar Liberhan (CHD) in a three-set comeback. Arjun is one of those names that came up only this year, but his fighting qualities are quite evident from the few results he has had in ITF qualies etc - he had a rather unexpected 3-set win over Shivang Mishra in the team events for Karnataka yesterday as well ..

The official website shows Nitin Kirtane playing Ajay Ramaswamy in the QF tomorrow .. Either that is a mistake, or they have really messed up the draw - the rules require the same state's players to be in two halves of the draw .. Sheetal is facing Sania, and Shruti is facing Sonal, but most other top names have easy first rounds .. Surprised also to see that Radhika Tulpule is there in the singles draw .. I think MAH made a mistake in not having her play in the team event, in their loss to KAR, if Radhika was available!

Earlier today, Delhi reached the men's team final to face TN, after a close tie with AP .. I thought it would be tough for Delhi to upset Vasu and Punna Vishal, and they did it despite Vasu beating Vishal Uppal of Delhi .. Shivang came through with a somewhat unexpected win over P.Vishal, and DLI won the doubles in a three-setter to assure themselves of at least a silver..

Dec 16 Note-1

Very good news .. Rohan Bopanna has been given a wildcard to the Chennai Tata Open, according to the PTI report this evening .. Hey, good decision, IMG and others who run Tata Open .. If you were going to do this, why didn't you just say a word earlier that "we would be considering Rohan Bopanna, barring a late surprise from any top player"? .. Could have saved me and a couple of newspaper folks some typing effort, screaming bloody murder .. Anyway, all is well that ends well, and I will drop my whining about the Tata Open for now .. Go IMG!! .. Ok, ok, now I am pushing it :-)

AITA announced the u14 teams for the ITF South Asian u14 championships in Colombo, Feb 26 - March 3 .. GIRLS: 1. Shwetha Kakhandki (Kar), 2.. Ashmitha Easwarmurthy (T.N), 3. Gayathri Krishnan (TN) ... BOYS: 1. Arnav Jain (Mah), 2. Agnel Gladwin (Mah), 3. Kaushik Das (Asm) .. AITA press release says, "This team will proceed to participate in the ITF East Asian Under 14 Championships from where an ITF Team will be selected into the ITF Asian Team to Europe" .. There isn't much data on where these kids stand with respect to international levels yet, but after these events and the events against other Asian teams later on, we will have an idea where our u14 teams would be next year .. This year we had both our u14 teams finish in the top-7 in the world .. This group may not do all that, but it's too early to say, as they start their international journey - probably the first trip abroad for all of them, as players.  Gayatri Krishnan is of course RK's daughter.

At the National Games women's team semifinals today, AP took out TN in two straight sets matches .. Sania over Sai 64 64 and Manisha over Rushmi, 76 64 .. The other semifinal between Karnataka and Maharashtra turned out to be a dandy .. Sheetal beat Sonal 76 76, and then experienced Archana Venkatraman pulled one back from the brink, beating 17 yr old Isha, 36 76 75 .. Not an enviable position for Karnataka now, to be facing Sania and Manisha tomorrow for the gold, but great work by them to ensure a silver for the state.

On the men's side, Tamil Nadu men came up big against Maharashtra .. Vijay Kannan beat Ajay Ramaswamy, the singles champ at the Punjab NG last time, in straight sets .. Vinod Sridhar beat Sandeep Kirtane, 62 36 63 .. I have not seen the scores of the AP-DLI semifinals yet.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Dec 16 ..

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.