Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The world may have caught football fever, but Indian women's tennis stays healthy in its relentless pursuit of excellence.

It may be tough to draw attention on anything other than the World Cup for the next few weeks. Yet, there is no doubt that the presence of the Bhambri sisters, Ankita and Sanaa, apart from Isha Lakhani, Megha Vakharia and Rushmi Chakravarthi should make it a lively competition in the $10,000 ITF women's tennis tournament to be held here from Monday.

Tara makes a return

The return of Tara Iyer to the professional circuit after more than a year should also be interesting, as the 17-year-old U.S. based girl had shown a lot of promise while reaching the singles final of an ITF group `I' junior event in Philippines against Sania Mirza in 2003. She had also followed up nicely by reaching the quarterfinals of a $25,000 tournament in Mumbai the following season. She starts against Li Shan-Shan of China.

There will be others from China, Thailand, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Singapore to stop the Indians from claiming the titles. In fact, a Chinese had won the singles titles in the last two tournaments held here, but it should be tough to beat all the Indians in the current field.

The seedings: (Indians unless specified): 1. Ankita Bhambri, 2. Isha Lakhani, 3. Rushmi Chakravarthi, 4. Sanaa Bhambri, 5. Megha Vakharia, 6. Ren Jing (Chn), 7. Paarul Goswami, 8. Sandy Gumulya (Ina).

The results: Second and final qualifying round: Vivien Silfany-Tony (Ina) bt Charlotte Machin (GBR) 6-2, 6-1; Lu Jing-Jing (Chn) w.o. Anushri Thammanna; Poojashree Venkatesh bt Inayat Khosla 6-2, 6-1; Shalini Sahoo bt Varsha Shivshankar 6-2, 6-0; Sandri Gangothri bt Esha Sanghvi 7-6(2), 6-1; Vishika Chhetri bt Chirashanthi Rajur 6-0, 6-0; Arthi Duraisamy bt Anupama Rajur 1-6, 6-4, 6-4; Janaki Gunuganti bt Sagarika Phadke 7-5, 2-6, 6-3.

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