Tuesday, May 07, 2002
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By G. Viswanath
The city's well equipped and famous tennis facility, adjacent to the famous football pitch at Cooperage, came alive on Monday with some action or the other taking place on all the five courts.
There were a few like the New Delhi leg winner Nitin Kirtane `hitting' with a sparring partner, but there was also an exception in this with South African Ciaran Moore and India's Kamala Kannan going for each other's throats. After slugging it out from the deep for two hours and twenty minutes, the South African showed the door to the Indian, winning 2-6,7-6, 6-2.
An Indian lost a first round battle, but another one for whom the MSLTA property in South Mumbai is a familiar terrain and temporary home, because he is employed as coach by the State's tennis association, won quite comfortably.
Sandeep Kirtane had made recently waves not only in the city, but also in the capital. In Mumbai he lost a three setter to Nitin Kirtane in the Khar Gymkhana Open final and the next week he handed out defeats to National champion Manoj Mahadevan and Vijay Kannan.
Experience held Sandeep in good stead against Vishal Punna. There was a contest of sorts in the first set, but in the second the former dispatched Punna 6-0.
Japan's Hayato Furukawa, the only seeded player in action on the opening day of the tournament proper, ousted another wild card awardee, Rohan Gajjar in straight sets.
It was natural that a great deal of attention was riveted on the absorbing tussle between Moore and Kannan. The Indian held sway in the first set, but the South African crawled back not only to keep his rival on court for a long time, but also subdue him keeping the unforced errors to the minimal.
The three setter was marked by flaws, an example being the last one made by Kannan in the eighth game of the third set. Kannan positioned himself at the centre of the court and met the high ball begging to be hit for a volley winner, but the face of the racket banged it on the middle of the net.
Conditions may not be ideal to play serious tennis with beads of sweat dripping from the face and the shirts becoming wet and heavy. Moore appeared to be irked by a couple of line calls that he regarded as absurd, but in the end stepped out of the arena, a winner.
The remaining thirteen first round singles will be played from Tuesday afternoon. Nitin Kirtane will play Japan's Naoki Arimoto, one of the eight qualifiers.
The other seven who have made it to the 32 man card are Saurabh Kohli, Arun Prakash Rajagopalan, Sichel Roy (Israel), Anant Sitaram, Karan Rastogi, Yasser Arafat and Jaco Mathew
First round: Sandeep Kirtane bt Vishal Punna 7-5, 6-0, Hayato Furukawa (Jpn) bt Rohan Gajjar 6-4, 6-4, Ciaran Moore (RSA) bt Kamala Kannan 2-6. 7-6, 6-2
Qualifying (third round): Sourabh Kohli bt Kedar Tembe 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, Anant Sitaram bt Kedar Shah 6-2, 6-2, Karan Rastogi bt Partha Bhattacharya 7-5, 6-3, Yasser Arafat bt Wrik Ganguly 6-4, 6-2, Arun Prakash Rajagopalan bt Abhishek Tamhane 6-2, 6-1, Sichel Roy (Isr) w/o Serguie Demekhine (Rus), Jaco Mathew bt Nehal Advani 6-2, 3-6, 7-5, Naoki Arimoto (Jpn) bt Ashutosh Singh 6-1, 6-3.
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