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Mahak Jain reserves her best for Zeel Desai in final


Second seed Mahak Jain did her confidence a world of good as she beat top seed Zeel Desai 7-6(6), 6-3 in the girls final of the ITF grade-2 junior tennis tournament at the DLTA Complex here on Saturday.

By beating an opponent to whom she had lost the final at the same venue last year in the same event, the small-built but stout-hearted Mahak emphasised the improvement she had made. And that did her team, led by coach Sajid Lodi, proud.

At 15, Mahak showed commendable maturity of temperament and the will to play each point on merit, as she bounced back from being down 0-4 to record a memorable triumph.

The first set was the key to the contest of high intensity and Mahak survived a setpoint in the tie-break to edge ahead.

After winning five games on the trot from being 0-4, Mahak did drop serve in the 11th game, but broke back to force the tie-break.

Zeel was a bit unlucky as she got an overrule in the third point on the ninth game in the first set, when she should have been ahead 30-15. The point was replayed and she eventually dropped serve as the match tended to slip away from her firm grasp.

It had to be conceded that there were moments when Mahak was also not happy with some calls, but overall the umpire was quite sharp in matching the fierce strokes of the two players, both of whom would be competing in the Australian Open junior event soon in Melbourne.

In the second set, Mahak broke serve in the fifth and seventh games, but failed to serve out the match in the eighth. Zeel failed to convert three gamepoints in the ninth game as Mahak forced the errors to clinch the contest in about two hours.

It was the second grade-2 singles title for Mahak following the one in Japan. She had won the grade-3 title in Chandigarh last week. She had also finished runner-up in doubles with Yasmina Karimjanova of Uzbekistan. The additional points should help Mahak get closer to the top-50 from her current career-best rank of 62.

By winning some touch matches along the way, including the one over Axana Mareen of Belgium in the quarterfinals from being down 1-4 in the decider, Mahak had demonstrated a certain quality in her game that should take her far.

Even though Zeel was the favourite, and had beaten Mahak every time, there was no guarantee as coach Todd Clark had pointed out even before the final that Mahak played ‘’very solid’’.

On her part, Mahak was content to say that she had hoped to win. She was thrilled to execute an impressive performance that should give a lot of confidence to girls who feel that they don’t have the height to play better.

In the boys final, top seed Uisung Park of Korea bounced back after a lethargic start to beat the tall and strongly-built Len Schouten of the Netherlands 3-6, 6-1, 6-0. Park had played only the doubles last week and won the title in Chandigarh. He was easily the best this week with his all-round game as he emerged victorious in both the singles and doubles.

The results (finals):

Boys: Uisung Park (Kor) bt Len Schouten (Ned) 3-6, 6-1, 6-0.

Girls: Mahak Jain bt Zeel Desai 7-6(6), 6-3.


Sriram Balaji outplays eighth seed in Bangkok Challenger


Qualifier Sriram Balaji asserted his strong game with a 6-4, 6-0 victory over eighth seed Vaclavv Safranek of the Czech Republic in the first round of the $50,000 men’s Challenger tennis tournament in Bangkok on Tuesday.

In the pre-quarterfinals, Balaji, who has already assured himself of nine ATP points including three from the qualifying event, will play Jurgen Zopp of Estonia.

In the $75,000 Challenger in Australia, however, Vijay Sundar Prashanth missed a matchpoint and let Sam Groth escape to victory at 6-7(1), 7-6(8), 6-3 in the first round. He collected $780 and there was no ATP point.

Vijay had already made the doubles quarterfinals in partnership with Corentin Moutet of France and will face third seeds Andre Begemann and Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany.

The results:

$75,000 Challenger men, Canberra, Australia
Singles (first round): Sam Groth (Aus) bt Vijay Sundar Prashanth 6-7(1), 7-6(8), 6-3.

$50,000 Challenger men, Bangkok, Thailand
Singles (first round): Sriram Balaji bt Vaclavv Safranek (Cze) 6-4, 6-0.

$15,000 ITF women, Martinique, France
Singles (first round): Alice Rame (Fra) bt Kyra Shroff 6-1, 7-5.


Sriram Balaji qualifies for Bangkok Challenger


Seventh seed Sriram Balaji fought his way through three rounds of the qualifying event in the $50,000 ATP men’s Challenger tennis tournament in Bangkok.

In doubles, however, Balaji in partnership with Li Zhe of China was beaten 10-3 in the super tie-break in the pre-quarterfinals by Egor Gerasimov of Belarus and Aslan Karatsev of Russia.

Vijay Sundar Prashanth made the doubles quarterfinals of the $75,000 Challenger in Australia in partnership with Corentin Moutet of France.

The results:

$50,000 Challenger men, Bangkok, Thailand

Qualifying singles (third and final round): Sriram Balaji bt Sun
Fajing (Chn) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4; Second round: Sriram Balaji bt Pruchya
Isarow (Tha) 7-5, 5-7, 7-6(5); Hong Seong-Chan (Kor) bt Sidharth Rawat 6-4, 6-0; First round: Sriram Balaji bt Worairin Kumthonkittikul (Tha) 6-1, 6-3; Kittipong Wachiramanowong (Tha) bt Sasi Kumar Mukund 4-6, 6-3, 6-3; Sidharth Rawat bt Chanon Phunsawat (Tha) 6-3, 6-1.

Doubles (pre-quarterfinals): Egor Gerasimov (Blr) & Aslan Karatsev
(Rus) bt Li Zhe (Chn) & Sriram Balaji 6-4, 6-7(0), 10-3.

$75,000 Challenger men, Canberra, Australia
Doubles (pre-quarterfinals): Corentin Moutet (Fra) & Vijay Sundar
Prashanth bt Thomas Fancutt & James Frawley (Aus) 6-3, 7-5.


Mahak Jain wins ITF junior title in Chandigarh


Mahak Jain jumped to a smart start for the season as she won the girls title in the ITF grade-3 junior tennis tournament at the CLTA Stadium on Sunday.

The 15-year-old Mahak, seeded No.1 beat the fourth seed Axana Mareen of Belgium after recovering from a slow start, 1-6, 6-2, 6-2

After rain had washed out play on Saturday, Mahak was perhaps relatively rusty at the start. After having won the grade-2 title in Japan in October, it was another morale-booster for the small-built Mahak, ranked 70 in the world.

In the boys final, however, Dhruv Sunish could not capitalise on winning the first set in the tie-break and was beaten 6-7(2), 6-1, 6-3 by Jack Draper of Britain.

Mahak will play the next grade-2 tournament in Delhi, in which she had finished runner-up to Zeel Desai last year. She is, in fact, waiting for the visa to go to the Australian Open and get a taste of Grand Slam competition.

The results (finals):

Boys: Jack Draper (GBR) bt Dhruv Sunish 6-7(2), 6-1, 6-3.

Girls: Mahak Jain bt Axana Mareen (Bel) 1-6, 6-2, 6-2.


Siddhant Banthia, Dhruv Sunish, Mahak Jain and Rhea Verma make semifinals of ITF juniors


Top seed Siddhant Banthia stayed on course as he beat eighth Tonkla Mulada of Thailand 6-2, 7-5 in the boys quarterfinals of the ITF grade-3 junior tennis tournament at the CLTA Complex on Thursday.

In the semifinals, Siddhant will be challenged by third seed Jack Draper of Britain.

Dhruv Sunish also continued to prove strong for his opponents as he outplayed fifth Seed Dostanbek Tashbulatov of Kazakhstan 6-2, 6-2. He will play Sergey Fomin of Uzbekistan who pipped Sacchitt Sharma in the third set tie-break.

In the girls section, top seed Mahak Jain and unseeded Rhea Verma made the semifinals. Mahak will play third seed Thasaporn Naklo of Thailand while Rhea will clash against fourth seed Axana Mareen of Belgium.

In doubles, only Vasisht Cheruku could make the final from among Indian players in both the boys and girls section put together, as he in partnership with Jack Draper beat second seeds Siddhant Banthia and Parikshit Somani in straight sets.

The results:

Boys (quarterfinals): Siddhant Banthia bt Tonkla Mulada (Tha) 6-2,
7-5; Jack Draper (GBR) bt Roko Savin (Cro) 6-2, 6-2; Sergey Fomin (Uzb) bt Sacchitt Sharma 6-3, 6-7(4), 7-6(5); Dhruv Sunish bt Dostanbek Tashbulatov (Kaz) 6-2, 6-2.

Doubles (semifinals): Ulsung Park (Kor) & Hua-Chen Yu (Tpe) bt Calvin Golmei & Rishabh Sharda 6-1, 6-3; Vasisht Cheruku & Jack Draper (GBR) bt Siddhant Banthia & Parikshit Somani 6-2, 6-4.

Girls (quarterfinals): Mahak Jain bt Vaidehi Chaudhari 6-0, 6-0;
Thasaporn Naklo (Tha) bt Tanisha Kashyap 6-1, 6-1; Axana Mareen (Bel) bt Akanksha Bhan 6-3, 6-1; Rhea Verma bt Shivani Amineni 6-3, 7-6(5).

Doubles (semifinals): Esher Adeshina & Gemma Heath (GBR) bt Harsha Sai Challa & Sabhyata Nihalani 6-4, 6-3; Kuan Yi Lee (Tpe) & Mananchaya Sawangkaew (Tha) bt Shivani Amineni & Vaidehi Chaudhari 6-3, 6-3.


Dhruv Sunish in quarterfinals of the ITF juniors


Dhruv Sunish beat Freddie Grant of Britain 6-4, 6-2 in the boys pre-quarterfinals of the ITF grade-3 junior tennis tournament at the CLTA Complex on Wednesday.

Dhruv, who had beaten the second seed in the first round, was joined in the quarterfinals by top seed Siddhant Banthia and Sacchitt Sharma among the Indian players.

In the girls section, Shivani Amineni beat fifth seed Kuan Yi Lee of Chinese Taipei 6-1, 6-3 to set up a quarterfinal against compatriot Rhea Verma. Top seed Mahak Jain, Vaidehi Chaudhari, Tanisha Kashyap, Akanksha Bhan were the other Indian girls to progress into the quarterfinals.

The results:

Boys (pre-quarterfinals): Siddhant Banthia bt Nikit Reddy 6-0, 6-1;
Tonkla (Tha) bt Abhimanyu Vannnem Reddy 3-6, 6-4, 6-4; Jack Draper (GBR) bt Vasisht Cheruku 6-3, 6-2; Roko Savin (Cro) bt Arthur Craig Pantino (Phi) 6-2, 6-4; Sergey Fomin (Uzb) bt Parikshit Somani 5-7, 6-2, 6-4; SAcchitt Sharma bt Siddharth Thakran 6-3, 5-7, 6-2; Dostanbek Tashbulatov (Kaz) bt Alex Solanki 4-6, 6-2, 6-2; Dhruv Sunish bt Freddie Grant (GBR) 6-4, 6-2.

Doubles (quarterfinals): Ulsung Park (Kor) & Hua-Chen Yu (Te) bt Megh Bhargav atel & Alex solanki 6-1, 7-5; Calvin Golmei & Rishabh Sharda bt Freddie Grant (GBR) & Roko Savin (Cro) 4-6, 7-5, 10-5; Jack Draper (GBR) & Vasisht Cheruku bt Sergey Fomin (Uzb) & Dostanbek Tashbulatov (Kaz) 3-6, 6-1, 12-10; Siddhant Banthia & Parikshit Somani bt Rithvik Choudary Bollipalli & Shashank Theertha 6-2, 6-2.

Girls (pre-quarterfinals): Mahak Jain bt Aesha Patel 6-0, 6-0; Vaidehi Chaudhari bt Sabhyata Nihalani 6-4, 6-3; Thasaporn Naklo (Tha) bt Victoria Kalaitzis (Bel) 6-2, 6-3; Tanisha Kashyap bt Prinkle Singh 7-6(6), 6-4; Akanksha Bhan bt Gemma Heath (GBR) 6-3, 6-2; Axana Mareen (Bel) bt Shivani Manjanna 6-0, 6-0; Shivani Amineni bt Kuan Yi Lee (Tpe) 6-1, 6-3; Rhea Verma bt Mananchaya Sawangkaew (Tha) 6-1, 7-6(4).

Doubles (quarterfinals): Harsha Sai Challa & Sabhyata Nihalani bt Thasaporn Naklo (Tha) & Mihika Yadav 6-2, 0-6, 10-6; Esther Adeshina& Gemma Heath (GBR) bt Yasmina Karimjanova (Uzb) & Axana Mareen (Bel) 7-5, 6-2; Kuan Yi Lee (Tpe) & Mananchaya Awangkaew (Tha) bt Aesha Patel (US) & Aaliya Ebrahim 6-2, 6-2; Shivani Amineni & Vaidehi Chaudhari bt Victoria Kalaitzis (Bel) & Mahak Jain 6-3, 6-3.



The Indian boys had little difficulty in asserting their supremacy as they outplayed Uzbekistan 2-0 in the final of the Asia Junior under-14 Cup at the Khalifa Tennis Complex in Doha on Friday.

Captain of the Indian team Sajid Lodi said that it was a convincing performance by the four-member Indian team throughout the tournament, and the title helped the team win hospitality to witness the ATP Qatar Open next week, featuring some of the best players of the world like Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Tomas Berdych.

The Indian boys did not drop a match in the tournament featuring eight teams including from the host Qatar. India had topped its group, beating Hong Kong, Qatar and Jordan by 3-0 margin. It overwhelmed Sri Lanka 2-0 in the semifinals.

The other had featured Sri Lanka, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar-B.

Aaryan Zaveri and Jaishvin Sidana were the other members of the team, apart from Dev Javia and VM Sandeep who featured in the final.

The Indian teams have been doing well in this tournament and enjoyed watching the Qatar Open ATP event, gaining invaluable experience.

The results (final): India bt Uzbekistan 2-0 (Dev Javia bt Aziz Dadabaev 6-2, 6-1; VM Sandeep bt David Bagrinovskiy 6-3, 6-2).

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