The Britannia Amritraj Trust trainee gains valuable points


SOMDEV DEV VARMAN, creeping silently up the boys' singles draw, doing just enough match-by-match against opponents, who drained off energy going for broke, landed the prize in the International Federation's Mumbai leg of the junior circuit. The steady, no-frills show by the 17-year-old Britannia Amritraj Trust (BAT) trainee fetched him 40 valuable points, apart from boosting his confidence for taking on higher-ranked players in the near future. "I want to carry the lessons learnt after a week in Mumbai, following the Delhi ITF leg victory, into the seniors," said the second seed, after dumping top-seed Karan Rastogi 6-4, 6-1 in the final.

-VIVEK BENDRE Somdev Dev Varman took the boys' singles title.

Somdev Dev Varman took the boys' singles title.

The feeling of having conquered the humid conditions and an assortment of Indian opponents should stand him in good stead. Somdev's toughest singles match was the semifinal against Mumbai's Saurabh Kohli, an entertaining tie in which both matched stroke for stroke before the steadier player won 6-2, 3-6, 6-0. In comparison, the next and the most important match against top seed Karan Rastogi was no sweat, tennis-wise, for the young Indian who harvested points by just keeping the ball in play against an off-colour rival. Both Kohli, seeded seventh, and Rastogi had all the advantages, home court and coach Sandeep Kirtane at hand for advice, but found themselves at the receiving end against the champion who did his own thinking on court, calling up coach Ilyas Hussain in Chennai on alternate days during the Mumbai week.

-VIVEK BENDRE Chen Yanchong, the girls' singles winner.

Chen Yanchong, the girls' singles winner.

Top seed Rastogi's tennis credentials appear impressive, a stint at Nick Bollettieri Academy organised by International Management Group this year being the high point. He trained for five weeks in Florida, was blessed with opportunities to spar with Serena Williams and Monica Seles who had come for U.S. Open preparations, but was frustrated by Somdev's nagging consistency. Ranked 87 in world juniors early 2002, the 154th place in ITF junior list now is a slide for the Mumbai youngster will hope to correct during a busy October schedule in Japan, Hong Kong and Thailand. Eight Indians remained in the fray by the time the singles reached the quarterfinals phase, the Asian players from Thailand, China, South Korea and Malaysia were not good enough to survive two rounds.

Weeraput Doakmaiklee and Natapong Dongkunsub triumphed in the boys' doubles.-VIVEK BENDRE

Heat and humidity, however, were no deterrent for China's Chen Yanchong, the girls' singles and doubles champion. A powerful volleyer and a decent server, she prowled the baseline looking for balls to put away. After disposing off top seed Sanaa Bhambri 6-1, 6-0 for the singles title in merely 50 minutes, the third-seed Chinese girl was back on court an hour later for the doubles final. India's Sanaa Bhambri found herself at the other extreme, on verge of exhaustion following two-hour matches against Kartiki Bhat (quarterfinal) and China's Yue Qing (semifinal).

By the time she faced Chen Yanchong in the final, the Indian could barely lift her arm. The ITF Junior Circuit Mumbai leg was sponsored and organised by the Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association.

The results (Indians unless specified):

Boys' singles final: 2-Somdev Dev Varman bt 1-Karan Rastogi 6-4, 6-1; Semifinals: 2-S. Dev Varman bt 7-Saurabh Kohli 6-2, 3-6, 6-0; 1-K. Rastogi bt 4-Tushar Liberhan 6-3, 6-0.

Doubles final: Natapong Dongkundub/Weeraput Doakmaiklee (Tha) bt Li Jian/Yin Xiu (Chn) 6-3, 6-2; Semifinals: N. Pongkunsub/W.Doakmaiklee (Tha) bt S.Dev Varman/Ranjeet V.M. 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-2; L. Jian/ Y. Xiu (Chn) bt K. Rastogi/ S. Kohli 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-3.

Girls' singles final: 3-Chen Yanchong (Chn) bt 1-Sanaa Bhambri 6-1, 6-0; Semifinals: 3-C. Yanchong (Chn) bt Pichittra Thongdadh (Thailand) 2-6, 7-5, 7-6 (5); 1-S. Bhambri bt Yue Qing (Chn) 5-7, 6-1, 7-5.

Doubles final: Chen Yanchong/Yue Qing (Chn) bt P. Thongdach/Porntip Mulsap (Tha) 6-0, 6-2; Semifinals: Chen Yanchong/Yue Qing (Chn) bt Varanya Vijuksanabooi (Tha)/Wang Na-Yu (Chinese Taipei) 6-1, 6-0; P. Thongdadh/P.Mulsap (Tha) bt Sandra Sashidharan/Lata Assudani 7-6 (7), 6-3.