Sachin Tendulkar not going to the tri-series is absurd

India's run machine (
Sunday, 01 June 2008 08:02The little maestro holds the hopes and aspirations of a billion Indians on his capable shoulders. He may have not had a scintillating IPL tournament but his absence form any Indian squad is Sach a shame.
‘The fact that Tendulkar is not playing means that India are sure to miss out on two more trophies’

Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, the very name inspires confidence in the dressing room and creates headaches in the opposition camp.

The sporting icon for millions in India and abroad, arguably the most popular Indian after Mahatma Gandhi, is very calm and composed and down to earth.

He lives with an expectation that no other sporting icon has to bear,  be it David Beckham, Tiger Woods, Roger Federer or Ricky Ponting. His successes are celebrated by a billion Indians and his failures sadden a nation.

A small example of this can be found in the IPL, where even away matches draw large crowds – whenever Sachin comes to town he gets the biggest cheers confirming his status as the superstar of  Indian sport.

He has been the perfect role model whose performances on the field do the talking.

Tendulkar’s performance in the IPL and Twenty20 in general have not been great. But does that mean he is out of form, or just that he is not the master blaster that is required in this form of the game? As a huge fan of Sachin, I despair to find that he is not in the squad for the tri-series in Bangladesh nor the Asia Cup.

The reason for his dismissal is obvious – it’s the IPL. Had he been scoring tons he would have been at the top of the teamsheet to guide the team as he did in Australia.

He might also have been a victim of the senior-junior debate as is evident by the fact that both Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid  have been left out despite powerful IPL performances. The fact that Tendulkar is not playing means that India are sure to miss out on two more trophies.

Only Tendulkar could have stopped the Rajasthan Royals juggernaut, Pakistan taking the tri-series and Sri Lanka the Asia Cup.

Soccer 101: School’s In

Two new programs in Delta are designed to allow young elite players to concentrate on the sport they love while staying at home

Elliott Pap , Vancouver Sun

Published: Saturday, May 31, 2008

In their endless quest for more beauty in the beautiful game, the Vancouver Whitecaps are rolling out two new programs to attract elite teenage players in the Lower Mainland.

The Whitecaps’ Delta Prospects Academy and Delta School Academy are both set to begin in September, further enhancing the club’s reach into grassroots soccer.

The aim, of course, is to gather promising players under one schoolhouse roof so they can train together and grow on a daily basis. The Whitecaps already have a residency program in Burnaby for their brightest prospects and the Delta academies will add another layer below.

Vancouver Whitecaps prospects (from left) Rhys Volkanant, Ashley Ankiewicz, Jordan Whitehead, Riley Newport and Harry Lakhan.

Vancouver Whitecaps prospects (from left) Rhys Volkanant, Ashley Ankiewicz, Jordan Whitehead, Riley Newport and Harry Lakhan.

It’s all part of the grand plan to make the Whitecaps a better soccer team and Canada a better soccer nation. (We were 62nd in FIFA’s May 8th rankings.)

“Will these programs help Canada internationally someday?” said Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi. “To answer your question, it’s an emphatic ‘yes!’

“If I go back to when I was coaching the national team, one of the things I said — well, I didn’t say it at the time because it would have sounded like sour grapes so I waited a year — anyway, I said it won’t matter who comes in to coach the team, the bottom line is that coach will be, or won’t be, the benefactor of what the system is doing.

“You could bring in the best coach in the world but he’ll still have at his disposal what the system is producing,” Lenarduzzi continued. “The Canadian Soccer Association has tried to do its best but, really, it’s the advent of the pro clubs. So we’re doing it and Montreal and Toronto FC intend to do it, too.”

The Delta Prospects Academy will run out of North Delta Secondary, where 22 hand-picked Grade 11 and 12 boys will commute to class, become a team, and train daily during school hours under Whitecaps coach Bart Choufour.

The School Academy for Grade 8-10 boys, headquartered at Delview Secondary, will be less restrictive and open to any student wishing to hone his soccer skills.

Identical programs for girls will commence in September 2009.

“We feel these programs eliminate one of the big problems right now in youth development with players being pulled in a lot of different directions,” said Dan Lenarduzzi, Bob’s younger brother and the Whitecaps’ director of youth development. “Instead of going to 20 different sessions a week with different clubs, they’ll be with one club and going to school together.”

Delta’s school board was more than happy to accommodate the Whitecaps. The board is already home to a hockey academy based at South Delta Secondary and it also works closely with major junior hockey’s Vancouver Giants, whose high-school aged players attend classes at South Delta high.

It was an easy fit, said long-time Delta school trustee Dale Saip.

“The district has very successfully run our hockey academy for four years so we have a bit of a model,” said Saip, the Giants’ vice-president of business development in his day job. “We also have the model of Milan Lucic and Gilbert Brule [ex-Giants] and others having very successful academic situations her

Warriors lose captain but make semifinals

Waubonsie Valley junior Rachel Bostick heads in the only goal of the game in the Warriors’ state quarterfinal victory Friday in Naperville.
Ed Lee | Staff Photographer

Warriors lose captain but m

A captain was lost, but Waubonsie Valley’s ship still navigated its way to a state semifinal.

The Warriors fought through the loss to injury of captain and Illinois Gatorade Player of the Year Bri Rodriguez in Friday’s Class AA girls soccer quarterfinals, winning 1-0 over Maine South on a Rachel Bostick goal.

“That goal was for Bri,” Bostick said. “I wanted her to be able to play the next game.”

Waubonsie Valley (24-0-1) plays Normal West (27-0) at 11 a.m. today in a semifinal game. Downers Grove South (21-6) takes on Belleville Althoff (23-3-1) in a 9 a.m. semifinal.

Waubonsie Valley controlled play throughout against Maine South (20-3-4), earning a 23-6 edge overall in shots against a feisty Hawks’ crew at North Central College in Naperville. Waubonsie’s lone goal came in the 51st minute on a Bostick header off a feed from Vanessa DiBernardo.

DiBernardo — who moved from forward to midfielder after Rodriguez left the game with a knee injury in the first half — took a corner kick in the second half that set up Bostick’s goal.

A Maine South defender cleared the corner back to DiBernardo, who calmly settled it and looked up.

“I saw a (defender) coming, so I just tried to get it up to Rachel,” DiBernardo said.

After sending a few head shots wide of frame in the first half, Bostick made her third attempt count in scoring her 13th goal of the season from 8 yards out.

“I was getting a little upset, because I haven’t really scored in a while,” Bostick said. “I was hoping to get one in this game, and I was glad Vanessa was able to get me the ball.”

Maine South’s best chances of the contest came thereafter, with Waubonsie goalkeeper Claire Hanold tipping a shot over the crossbar in the 66th minute, and another Hawks’ shot banging off the crossbar in the 72nd.

“The first shot was a good header, and I was just glad that I got up and got it,” said Hanold, who earned her 20th shutout of the season.

Afterward, Rodriguez was off to the hospital to have her knee checked, and with her status uncertain for today’s play, a Warriors squad ranked third nationally knows what it will take to beat seventh-ranked Normal West.

“This is state, and we need to play like we’re at state,” Hanold said. “We just have to go out and fight for what we want.”

“It’s a lot harder playing without (Rodriguez) because she’s our go-to girl,” DiBernardo said. “I’ll try to play that (midfield) role without her, but it’ll be hard.

“We’ll all have to do our best.”

Without Henin, it feels unjust

PARIS – How dare she? How could she?

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Women have walked out on me, but this was different. For this one, I was prepared to spend the next five years admiring her moves and touch, the way she controlled herself and spiky situations, up against overpowering foes.

She said it was nothing personal. Everybody else was being left behind, too. Such a passion had flamed within her tiny frame that it seemed she must need asbestos clothing.

My romance, from the distance of press box to tennis court, was over abruptly, and the French Open would have to stir up a successor to Justine Henin, who had four championships in her purse, the last three in succession. It will be a mad scramble among at least seven pretenders, headed by the Siberian Siren, Maria Sharapova, the reigning Australian champ, and is to be settled Saturday.

With Henin wandered off, plus Friday’s Fall of the House of Williams (Serena and Venus both leaving unimpressively), it’s almost any woman’s ballgame.

Paris without “Juju,” as her mob of adorers calls Henin, is something like boxing minus Rocky Marciano, the Brockton bruiser, who called it a career in 1956 at the top of his game as Justine was. Rocky, unbeaten, was No. 1 while associating with heavyweights, and so was she, the paperweight surrounded by lofty sluggers. With quickness, guile, heart, and a knockout backhand, Henin more than survived. She was the complete player, using the entire rectangle and every stroke.

At 5 feet 5 inches, 120 pounds, she outpointed the heavies of her profession, but it took such intensive labor to do it that she’d had enough, the only No. 1 ever to flee for good – and break so many hearts in departure, turning 26 today.

Seven majors are hers (two US and an Aussie alongside the French quartet). She will likely stop by Newport, R.I., to be anointed for the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2013.

“The things I wanted to prove, I did it,” she says. “I need to do something else. I’m not tall, not strong, not as much as other players. So I had to fight to prove a little girl, a little woman could make it.

“I don’t need this adrenaline being in front of thousands of people to be happy.”

She’s a lucky athlete if that’s true.

Another champion’s farewell, this on court at Stade Roland Garros, was that of the ebullient Brazilian, Guga Kuerten. Though gimpy hips removed him as a factor some time ago, he took a wild card for the last match of a brilliant career, losing to Paul-Henri Mathieu, respectably, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

He had emerged as an unknown, unseeded, No. 66 to win in 1997, repeating in 2000 (when he was No. 1) and 2001. Built like a mop, he captivated crowds with his easygoing manner, and, like Henin, a staggering one-handed backhand.Continued…

Serbian Jelena Jankovic battled into the second round of the French Open with a 7-6 6-2 win over Romania’s Monica Niculescu.

Serbia's Jelena Jankovic returns the ball to Romania's Monica Niculescu, TENNIS - 0

There were six breaks of serve in a scrappy opening set and, despite taking a 3-0 lead, Jankovic was forced to a decider which she won 7-3 as the clock ticked past the hour.

World number 86 Niculescu, who was making her Roland Garros debut, boldly took her chances, annoying Jankovic with a series of drop shots.

However, the 23-year-old Serb, a semi-finalist on the Paris clay last year, broke in the fifth and seventh games of the second set to wrap it up on her first match point after 92 minutes when Niculescu netted an easy backhand.

Follow LIVE coverage of the entire Roland Garros fortnight on British Eurosport and!

British Eurosport is available in the UK on Sky channel 410 and Virgin Media channel 521, Eurosport 2 is on Sky channel 411 and Virgin Media channel 525

So long, sisters: Venus and Serena Williams both ousted at French Open

Updated Friday, May 30th 2008, 8:33 PM


Venus Williams bows out at Roland Garros along with her sister Serena Friday, leaving no American woman in the fourth round of the French Open for the first time in the Open era.

PARIS – With twilight descending, Venus Williams watched one final shot land out of reach, ending a bad day for her family – and for U.S. tennis.

Williams and her sister Serena were eliminated in third-round matches Friday at the French Open. Serena lost to Katarina Srebotnik 6-4, 6-4, and more than eight hours later Venus was beaten by Flavia Pennetta 7-5, 6-3.

The double defeats meant that for the first time in the Open era, there will be no American woman in the fourth round at Roland Garros. The only U.S. player left is Robby Ginepri on the men’s side.

Winners of 14 Grand Slam titles, the Williams sisters lost to two tour veterans who have never reached a major quarterfinal.

For Serena, missed opportunities came in a flurry. She shanked overheads, hit wild volleys and squandered six break points.

But Venus never really gave herself a chance, losing serve six times and committing 29 unforced errors as Pennetta repeatedly bested her in long rallies.

To beat the older Williams, Pennetta had to beat darkness, and she closed out the victory with a forehand winner at 9:47 p.m. Seeded 26th, Pennetta advanced to the fourth round at Roland Garros for the first time.

Serena’s hasty exit matched her earliest in nine visits to Roland Garros and guarantees a first-time women’s champion. Williams, who won the French Open in 2002, was the lone former champion to enter the draw.

“I missed a lot of easy shots and a lot of key points that I felt like could have turned the match around,” a subdued Serena said. “I wasn’t able to capitalize.”

Three-time defending champion Rafael Nadal played for the fourth consecutive day in the rain-interrupted tournament and defeated Jarkko Nieminen 6-1, 6-3, 6-1 to reach the fourth round. No. 3-seeded Novak Djokovic beat Wayne Odesnik 7-5, 6-4, 6-2.

Top-seeded Maria Sharapova and No. 2 Ana Ivanovic advanced. In the completion of a second-round match halted in the second set Thursday because of darkness, Sharapova beat American Bethanie Mattek 6-2, 3-6, 6-2. Ivanovic reached the fourth round by beating 17-year-old Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 6-1.

No. 3 Jelena Jankovic was leading No. 28 Dominika Cibulkova 7-5, 4-2 when darkness forced their match to be suspended.

Serena Williams, who played the day’s first match on Court Suzanne Lenglen, converted only one of seven break-point chances and was 0-for-5 in the second set. She repeatedly set up points but failed to finish them, losing 14 of 21 at the net.

“There are a lot of things I would try to do different, but you can’t rewind time,” said Williams, who also lost in the third round at Roland Garros in 1999.

There are rumors all-around the Bollywood industry that lover boy Shahid Shahid Kapoor & Vidya BalanKapoor have some connection with bubbly Vidya Balan.

There are rumors all-around the Bollywood industry that lover boy Shahid Shahid Kapoor & Vidya BalanKapoor have some connection with bubbly Vidya Balan.

Despite all the chitchats, Vidya and Shahid said they are just ‘good friends’.

The latest hearsays also suggest that they formed a new connection by agreeing to work in Pankaj Kapoor’s debut directorial venture ‘Kismet Konnection.’

Earlier, cute Shahid and pretty Vidya were spotted on a lunch date.

But they ignored the reports, and Shahid said, “We had just gone out for lunch. I go with other friends too.”

The grand success of ‘Jab We Met’ has put Shahid back on his feet. He is very happy with how his career is going.

“At 27, filmmakers like Vishal Bharadwaj, Yash Chopra, Ken Ghosh, and my dad Pankaj Kapoor are making films with me in the lead, I cannot ask for more,” said Shahid who is looking forward to acting with actresses his age like Deepika Padukone, Sonam, Priyanka Chopra and Katrina.

Vidya also said that they are just ‘good friends.’

“I’m scared of saying anything. We worked together for 60 days in Toronto and I’m fond of Shahid, but he’s just as a friend,” she said.

Lately it has been noted that there are similarities between the Shahid-Vidya jodi and another great filmi pair Shah Rukh Khan and Juhi Chalwa.

About this Vidya said, “I, too, would like to have an onscreen pairing with Shahid like Juhi had with Shah Rukh, and hopefully people will say the same thing about us a few years down the line.”

Incidentally, Juhi has a special appearance as a gypsy in Kismet Konnection.

So who is Shahid’s real soul mate now? Don’t worry, the truth comes out in the coming days.

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Jamie Murray can’t be serious in John McEnroe headband

Jamie Murray can't be serious in John McEnroe headband
John McEnroe in 1980, left, and Jamie Murray, right

Hopefully intent on invoking the Wimbledon champion’s talent, rather than his famously short temper, Murray revisited the eighties at the French Open yesterday.

The 22-year-old brother of world number 12 Andrew Murray, could be seen taming his frizzy hair with a fetching red sweatband as he fought a doubles match.

In his day, McEnroe’s passion for his sport often spilled over into screaming arguments with referees when he felt a call should have gone his way.

Federer, Jankovic advance to French Open 2nd round

Federer, Jankovic advance to French Open 2nd round

PARIS, 05.26.2008


View Larger Photo
Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic blows a kiss to the public after defeating Romania’s Monica Niculescu during their first round match of the French Open tennis tournament, Monday May 26, 2008 at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris. Jankovic won 7-6, 6-2. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)

Roger Federer made a winning return to the French Open, the only Grand Slam title that has eluded him.

The top-ranked Federer beat Sam Querrey of the United States 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 Monday in the first round at Roland Garros, where the 12-time major champion is trying to become only the sixth man to complete a career Grand Slam.

Federer was broken once early in the first set, but he managed to win five times on Querrey’s serve.

“Once I got settled I played a little bit more better,” Federer said. “I was able to create myself a few opportunities against his serve, which was sort of good. … Give me a few days now again to practice, and hopefully I can play a bit better the next match.”

On the women’s side, No. 3 Jelena Jankovic and No. 8 Venus Williams advanced before play was suspended for the day because of rain. Williams joined sister Serena in the second round, but she struggled in the second set before beating Tzipora Obziler of Israel 6-3, 4-6, 6-2.

“It’s nice to have a quick match but it’s nice to have a challenge also,” said Williams, who had eight double-faults. “I’m glad at the end that I figured it out.”

Federer has played well on clay this season, despite having already lost seven times this year _ more than he lost in the entire season in 2004, ’05 and ’06.

He won his only title of the year on clay in Estoril, Portugal, when Nikolay Davydenko retired from the final with a leg injury. Federer then reached the final at the Monte Carlo Masters and the Hamburg Masters, losing both times to Rafael Nadal.

“I’ve played well all clay-court season long,” Federer said. “Didn’t have many hiccups really, and I have plenty of matches. That was my goal as well. By playing Estoril, I was hoping to get that before Paris.”

Nadal, who is undefeated at Roland Garros, has also beaten Federer in the last two French Open finals and in the 2005 semifinals. He was to start his quest for a fourth straight French Open title against Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil, but the rain postponed his match until Tuesday.

Querrey was making his second appearance at the French Open. He also lost in the first round last year.

“He’s an up and coming player who’s got a good serve and big shots,” Federer said.

The third-seeded Jankovic got a little love from the net to help her beat Monica Niculescu 7-6 (3), 6-2.

Leading 4-2 in the first-set tiebreaker, last year’s French Open semifinalist had a drop volley hit the top of the net and roll along the tape before falling into the opposite court.

Jankovic put her hand up as if to say, “Sorry.” The Serb then bent down and kissed the white tape.

In the second set, Jankovic lost her serve after breaking her Romanian opponent in the opening game, then dominated the rest of the match.

The first set was when she had the most trouble, despite jumping out to a 3-0 lead.

“She hit quite good drop shots and I got a little bit confused, because, first of all, I didn’t know her game, I didn’t know how she plays, and I didn’t know what to expect from her,” Jankovic said. “And then I started making some errors and I lost my rhythm a little bit.”

Williams led 4-1 in the second set but Obziler won five straight games to even the match. The Israeli then broke Williams in the opening game of the deciding set, but the eighth-seeded American broke back to level the score at 1-1, and then broke again to take a 3-1 lead.

After trading two more breaks, Williams won twice more on Obziler’s serve.

The 27-year-old Williams, a six-time Grand Slam champion who has never won the French Open, is the oldest woman currently ranked in the top 10. Obziler, at 35, is the oldest woman in the field at Roland Garros.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia, the youngest person in the singles tournament at 16, reached the second round by beating Maria Emilia Salerni of Argentina 6-1, 6-1.

No. 10 Patty Schnyder, No. 12 Agnes Szavay and No. 32 Karin Knapp also advanced, while No. 23 Alona Bondarenko lost to Petra Cetkovska 6-3, 6-0.

Richard Gasquet withdrew from the French Open because of a left knee injury. The eighth-seeded Frenchman pulled out shortly before he was scheduled to play Florent Serra. Santiago Giraldo of Colombia replaced Gasquet in the draw, and lost to Serra 6-4, 6-3, 6-2.

Florian Mayer of Germany also withdrew. Mayer, who will be replaced by Evgeny Korolev of Russia, pulled out because of gastroenteritis. Korolev will now face Fabrice Santoro in the first round.

No. 17 Marco Baghdatis, the 2006 Australian Open runner-up, lost to Simone Bolelli of Italy 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 in the first round of the men’s draw.

“That’s the way it is. That’s tennis,” said Baghdatis, who was returning to the game after more than a month off for personal reasons. “He played better than I did today.”

Tommy Robredo, the 12th-seeded player, rallied to beat 2004 French Open finalist Guillermo Coria 5-7, 6-4, 6-1, 6-4 on center court.

Coria was playing at Roland Garros for the first time in three years. He missed much of the past two seasons with a right shoulder injury and had played in only four tour-level events since the 2006 U.S. Open.

No. 29 Guillermo Canas also lost, falling to Wayne Odesnik of the United States 7-6 (6), 7-6 (3), 7-6 (8), while No. 11 Tomas Berdych, No. 22 Fernando Verdasco and No. 24 Fernando Gonzalez advanced.

‘Like it or not, IPL is a big hit’

Too long it may have been, but any doubts about the importance of the Indian Premier League were smashed when the England and West Indies Cricket Boards this week announced the schedule for England’s tour to the Caribbean next year.

Instead of starting late in March as has been the tradition, the first Test between the two teams will begin on February 4.

The last one-day international takes place on April 3. The 2009 edition of the IPL starts on April 10.

England may vigorously deny that the scheduling was influenced by the IPL, but they’d be stretching the truth. The ECB have been under so much pressure from their players who have watched with envy as South Africans, Pakistanis and Sri Lankans playing in India rake in thousands of dollars.

Kevin Pietersen, who has been vocal about wanting to get into the financial action, can expect to earn in the region of R30-million. “He is such a dynamic player and would be fantastic in the IPL,” said Pietersen’s agent Adam Wheatley.

From a playing and marketing perspective the inaugural IPL season has been a great success. Grounds have been full – even if tickets have been given away in some cases – and there has been a tremendous amount of hype about the competition.

In a recent interview with The Star South Africa’s captain Graeme Smith gushed about the sheer size and volume of marketing attached to the competition. “I saw a stat the other day that said hotel room service is up sixty percent and restaurant attendances are way down.”

Smith, who has starred as an opener for the table-topping Rajasthan Royals franchise, said there has been talk about tinkering with the format ahead of the next season.

“There’s talk about including more internationals, maybe having as many as five or six in a starting XI and having four guys bowl five overs for instance,” said Smith.

“There’s also the length of the competition; will it be as long, or will they shorten it in the future?”

Smith will be at the forefront of Rajasthan’s semifinal challenge on Friday against the Delhi Daredevils in Mumbai. The South African captain was one of the top 10 batsmen during the league phase, with an aggregate of 416 runs that has included three fifties.

He admitted that he’d adopted a more conservative role that allowed youngsters like fellow opener Swapnil Asnodkar and flamboyant all-rounders Yusuf Pathan to play with greater freedom.

“I’ve tried to control the innings more, but still be aggressive, still bat at a decent rate, but not try to play any ridiculous shots,” said Smith.

Against Delhi, Smith will come up against Glenn McGrath, who despite being close to 40, is still a masterful operator with the new ball.

In the other semifinal Albie Morkel will be at the forefront of the Chennai Super Kings’ charge against the Kings XI of Punjab tomorrow. Morkel, acquired by Chennai for $650 00 has fully lived up to his price tag, producing all-round performances of such class and consistency that his employers at Cricket South Africa offered him a national contract this week.

The other South African likely to be in action is Makhaya Ntini who, while inconsistent, remains a threat with the ne