April 26, 2017

Alafia Ayeni and Claire Liu Capture USTA National ITF 18s Singles Titles At 50th Adidas Easter Bowl

(April 2, 2017) INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – The No.-8 seeded Alafia Ayeni from San Diego and top-seeded Claire Liu from Thousand Oaks, Calif., captured ITF 18s boys’ and girls’ singles titles on the final day of the 50th Annual Adidas Easter Bowl USTA Junior Spring Nationals played at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

 

The 17-year-old Ayeni overcame a huge mental lapse in the second set, but served big when it counted most in the third to get past 16-year-old Sebastian Korda, the No. 10 seed from Bradenton, Fla., 6-4, 0-6, 7-5.

 

The 16-year-old Liu, who won the girls’ Easter Bowl ITF title in 2015 as a 14-year-old, avenged a loss in the fall to Ellie Douglas, the No. 4 seed from McKinney, Texas, in taking the title, 6-1, 6-2.

 

For the first time this year both winners, in addition to receiving ITF trophies and valuable rankings points, also received USTA gold balls as the premier Easter Bowl 18s division has been upgraded to USTA national championship status.

 

Ayeni planned to fly to Spain for an ITF Grade 1 tournament later Sunday evening, and will surely have a smile on his face crossing the Atlantic after coming back to beat the tough Korda, who held a 3-1 lead and had several break point chances on Ayeni’s serve in the third set.

 

“I knew if he got the break there it would be tough to come back, and I know that Sebby is such a good server,” said Ayeni, whose father was a discus thrower in college from Nigeria. “It was so difficult to break him.”

 

Serving at 3-all, another long deuce game ensued with Ayeni applying the pressure and converting on crucial points to go up 4-3 in the tense match, at times letting loose on serves that registered 133 miles per hour via the radar gun and displayed on the  scoreboard.

 

For the third straight match Korda dropped the first set, and for the third straight time he raced off to the bathroom after each first-set loss to gather himself. “I threw some water on my face and told myself to relax and it always seems to work,” Korda said. “I started making a lot more balls and played better. He was playing amazing at the end.”

 

Ayeni said he let his mind wander after winning the first set, and won just five total points in the second set. “I was just so nervous and I started thinking, ‘OK, I’m one set away from winning the Easter Bowl.’ And it didn’t help I was sitting down for quite a while because of Sebby’s bathroom break. I got cold.

 

Ayeni said his rocket serves in the third set and his experience were the key factors in pulling out the win. “I just kept hitting the serve harder and I felt it gave me just that little advantage that I needed,” he said. “I think I had the experience advantage because I have been in two ITF finals and this was his first. I know that, especially in finals, the match isn’t over till it’s over. I knew it wasn’t over till the last ball was hit.”

 

Korda smiled and said he was happy with his week, and was headed to the golf course to see his two older sister compete on the final day of the LPGA major ANA Inspiration tournament.

 

Liu became the first player – boy or girl – in the 50-year history of the tournament to win two Easter Bowls over a three-year span.

 

“I was pretty nervous,” said Liu, who dropped just one set in the tournament and won her last six sets giving up a total of eight games. “For every match I was nervous, but that’s kind of why I’m here, to deal with my nerves and to continue to play well under pressure, and I think I did that pretty good.”

 

Liu will next play two USTA Pro Circuit $60,000 events, and the Naples Pro Futures $25,000 before heading to Paris for two more pro events and the junior French Open.

 

“My mindsets were different in both (Easter Bowl) tournament finals because when I was younger I was really trying to get into the French,” she said. “This tournament I was just focusing on my game and trying to get better for the pros.”

 

Douglas lost in the final for the second straight year, and has now lost four big ITF-level junior finals without a win. “She played well and it was not my day.” Douglas said. “I had so many unforced errors and she hit so many lines. I don’t know, maybe it’s something about finals I’m just not good at. I didn’t feel nervous, but something was off.”

 

 

Douglas will be in Paris for the French Open and then travel to England and Wimbledon this summer. “I’ve got just go home and get better at closing out tournaments,” she said.

 

Sunday’s Results

Boys’ ITF 18s Singles (Final)

Alafia Ayeni (8) (San Diego, CA) def. Sebastian Korda (10) (Bradenton, FL), 6-4, 0-6, 7-5

Girls’ ITF 18s Singles (Final)

Claire Liu (1) (Thousand Oaks, CA) def. Ellie Douglas (4) (McKinney, TX), 6-1, 6-2

 

Brandon Nakashima picked a pretty good time to play some of the best tennis he’s ever played.

 

The top-seed in the Boys’ 16s division at the 50th Annual Adidas Easter Bowl USTA Junior Spring Nationals being played at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, the 15-year-old Nakashima played nearly flawless tennis in a 6-1, 6-2 finals win over No. 13-seeded Stefan Dostanic of Irvine on Saturday.

 

It was the second gold ball in singles for Nakashima, who attends High Bluff Academy near his home in San Diego, to go along with the two he has in doubles.

 

“It feels amazing,” said Nakashima, who played up in the 18s last week in Carson and lost to Patrick Kypson in the third round. “It was a long week. I played probably the best I’ve played the whole tournament. Stefan is a good player and I had to play my best to beat him. All the pressure was on me being the No. 1 seed in the tournament.”

 

Nakashima, who has been working with famed coach Larry Stefanki for the past two years, said he will play once more in the 16s at the USTA Hardcourt Nationals at Kalamazoo in August before graduating full-time to the 18s.

 

“He just didn’t miss,” said Dostanic, 15, who trains with coaches Chuck Brymer and Chris Lewis at the Woodbridge Country Club in Irvine, Calif. “I played him about a year ago and it was the same result. He doesn’t show any emotion and doesn’t give you much to work with. I’m planning on playing Kalamazoo so maybe I can get my revenge there.”

 

It was the first USTA national ball for Dostanic, who attends Woodbridge High School and plays on the high school team.

 

A New York native now living in Charleston, S.C., Emma Navarro got rid of some early match nerves as the No. 5 seed downed unseeded Fiona Crawley of San Antonio, 7-6 (8), 6-0, to win the Girls’ 16s title. Crawley, who upset the No. 1 seed Briana Crowley in the first round, fought off several match points before falling in the first set.

 

“In the second set I loosened up a little bit and once I got the first two games I took it from there,” said Navarro, who won her first gold ball in singles and trains at LTP Tennis in Charleston with coach Peter Ayers.

 

Crawley’s silver ball will look nice displayed next to the bronze one she won at the USTA Spring Team Nationals last year. Crawley trains at the John Newcombe Tennis Ranch in New Braunfels and attends Alamo Heights High School in San Antonio.

 

“I’ve never done this well at a national tournament,” she said. “I could have never imagined I would have made it this far. I don’t know what is next for me. I was supposed to be playing in a Texas tournament this weekend.”

 

In the Boys’ ITF singles final, 16-year-old Sebastian Korda came back to beat 2015 finalist Sam Riffice, the No. 4 seed from Orlando, Fla., 2-6, 6-4, 6-3. Korda will play in his first ITF final of any kind Sunday against No. 8 seed Alafia Ayeni of San Diego. Ayeni beat No. 6 Patrick Kypson of Greenville, N.C., in the other semifinal, 6-3, 7-5.

 

Two of Korda’s sisters are taking part in the ANA Inspiration LPGA major this week just down the road in Rancho Mirage. The 18-year old Nelly Korda was tied for second place after Friday’s round at Mission Hills Country Club nearly 13 miles away. Jessica Korda is 24 years old and also on the LPGA Tour.

 

“Each day after I play I go over there for a little bit, and then home to rest,” said Korda, whose father Petr and mother Regina Rajchrtová have been going back and forth from the courts to the course.

 

In the Girls’ ITF singles final, top-seed and 2015 champion Claire Liu of Thousand Oaks will take on last year’s finalist Ellie Douglas of McKinney, Texas. Liu had no trouble with No. 3 Whitney Osuigwe of Bradenton, Fla., 6-1, 6-1. Douglas could not convert on nine match points, before No. 2 Johnson of Redondo Beach, Calif., finally double faulted on the 10th match point and Douglas prevailing, 7-6 (3), 6-3.

 

The Boys’ ITF singles final will be played first at 10 a.m., with the girls to follow, not before 11:30 a.m.

 

In addition to live streaming the Easter Bowl again this year, the tournament has a new and improved mobile app, which can be found in both the Apple iTunes store or at Google Play, Search “Easter Bowl” to download the app, The live stream commentating duties are being provided by the popular Southern California tennis commentator Marcus Tennis, Check www,easterbowl,com to watch the live stream and for all Easter Bowl news, results and schedules,

 

Saturday’s Results

Boys’ ITF 18s Singles (Semifinals)

Alafia Ayeni (8) (San Diego, CA) def. Patrick Kypson (6) (Greenville, NC), 6-3, 7-5

Sebastian Korda (10) (Bradenton, FL) def. Sam Riffice (4) (Orlando, FL), 2-6, 6-4, 6-3

Boys’ ITF 18s Doubles (Final)

Oliver Crawford / Patrick Kypson (3) def. Brian Cernoch / Sam Riffice (2), 6-1, 6-4

Girls’ ITF 18s Singles (Semifinals)

Claire Liu (1) (Thousand Oaks, CA) def. Whitney Osuigwe (3) (Bradenton, FL) 6-1, 6-1

Ellie Douglas (4) (McKinney, TX) def. Taylor Johnson (2) (Redondo Beach, CA) 7-6 (3), 6-3

Girls’ ITF 18s Doubles (Final)

Whitney Osuigwe / Caty McNally (1) def. Taylor Johnson / Ann Li (2), 6-3, 7-6 (10)

Boys’ 16 Singles (Final)

Brandon Nakashima (1) (San Diego, CA) def. Stefan Dostanic (13) (Irvine, CA), 6-1, 6-2

Boys’ 16 Singles (Playoff)

Andrew Dale (4) (Leesburg, VA) def. Ryder Jackson (8) (Nicasio, CA) 6-4; 6-2

Girls’ 16 Singles (Final)

Emma Navarro (5) (Charleston, SC) def. Fiona Crawley (San Antonio, TX), 7-6 (8), 6-0

Girls’ 16 Singles (Playoff)

Sedona Gallagher (3) (Henderson, NV) def. Dasha Kourkina (2) (Brooklyn, NY) 6-0, 7-5

 

 

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Owensby Overcomes Seven Match Points To Win Girls’ 14s Title; Play Halted Due To Wind At 50th Adidas Easter Bowl

Owensby Overcomes Seven Match Points To Win Girls’ 14s Title;

Play Halted Due To Wind At 50th Adidas Easter Bowl

(March 30, 2017) INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – Storyline after storyline. There was no shortage of them at the 50th Annual Adidas Easter Bowl USTA Junior National Spring Championships on Thursday at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

 

Consider:

 

  • Around 2:30 p.m., play was halted due to 40 mile an hour wind that swept through the Coachella Valley. At 4 p.m., ITF Referee Martha Gregg emerged to announce to all players, parents and coaches that the air quality was too poor to continue and that play was done for the day.
  • While the ITF boys’ singles had concluded, there were still two ITF girls’ matches that were suspended, including top-seeded Claire Liu dropping the first set 6-4 to Elli Mandlik, and up 3-1 in the second set. The two will take to the courts Friday morning and resume play at 9 a.m.
  • Defending champion and No. 2-seeded Gianni Ross was upset by unseeded Jake Sands, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2, in the Round of 16.
  • USTA national gold and silver balls were handed out in the boys’ and girls’ 14s and 12s division as those divisions were completed before the winds came.
  • Charlotte Owensby of Boca Raton, Fla., fought off seven match points to come back down 2-5 in the third set to win the Girls’ 14s singles final over Gianna Pielet, 6-4, 2-6, 7-5.

 

It was tough to watch the top-seeded Pielet from El Paso, Texas, not able to close out the match, at one point serving and up 5-4, 40-love.

 

“I’ve maybe been down three match points before, but never down that far in games,” Owensby said. “I tried to focus my plan of getting her off the court and that started working and she was making more errors. And that gave me more confidence.”

 

She added: “When she went up 5-4 and 40-love, I definitely thought I was done. Then I just took it one point at a time and just tried to come back. And then at 5-all I just focused on that game and won that game.”

 

Owensby is coached by former WTA world-ranked Top 85 player Yuliya Beygelzimer and recently turned 14. “It feels amazing. I still haven’t processed it that I won the Easter Bowl,” she said after accepting her first USTA national gold ball at her first Easter Bowl.

 

“I had some match points, but just couldn’t close it out,” a distraught Pielet said. “I certainly didn’t play good at all and I think we were both nervous. I can learn from this, for sure. Just to try to play a better match and work on my nerves.”

 

Another player who had a memorable Easter Bowl moment not being able to close out a match was Patrick Kypson, who two years ago held a huge lead over Taylor Fritz only to watch Fritz come back for the win.

 

On Thursday, the No. 6-seeded 17-year-old Kypson posted a solid 6-3, 6-1 win over last week’s Carson ISC champion and tournament No. 9 seed Alexandre Rotsaert, 6-3, 6-1.

 

“I know when he plays well he’s tough to beat, and he always plays me well,” said Kypson, who meets top-seeded Trent Bryde in the quarterfinals on Friday.

 

In the Boys’ 14s final, Alexander Bernard (No. 9 seed, Bonita Springs, Fla.) defeated Aryan Chaudhary (No. 2, Santa Clara, Calif.), 6-4, 6-2.

 

Bernard was set to catch a long flight back to Florida Thursday night, but said he planned to celebrate by perhaps going to McDonalds. “I’ve never had In N Out,” Bernard said. “I should try it.”

 

He added: “I started off making too many mistakes and he was playing good,” said Bernard, 13, who won his first gold ball and trains with Rene Gomez at Gomez Tennis Academy in Naples. “I was just trying to focus on the next point and trying to stay in the rallies.”

 

“This week has been great and I’ve never been here before,” said Chaudhary, who won his first silver ball to go along with a gold in doubles on Wednesday and a copper in a past Winternationals. “I was just looking forward to playing people from around the U.S. It was a great experience for me.”

 

In the Boys’ 12s final, unseeded Kyle Kang of Fullerton, Calif., got the best of fellow unseeded player Nishesh Basavareddy of Carmel, Ind., 6-2, 6-4.

 

“It was fun out there,” said Kang, who just turned 12 recently and is in sixth grade at Hermosa Drive Elementary in Fullerton. “When I started winning it was really fun. I started off down 0-2, but I just focused and was able to hit my shots. My heart was racing on match point.”

 

“He was staying consistent and moving me around,” said Basavareddy, who is 11 and has a singles USTA gold ball from the Winternationals and also won the gold ball in the 12s doubles on Wednesday. “I wasn’t nervous and think my experience helped me.”

 

In the Girls’ 12s final, unseeded Priya Nelson of Sacramento, Calif., downed Eleana Yu of Mason, Ohio, 6-1, 6-3.

 

Nelson won her first USTA national ball of any kind, and a gold one at that. “I wasn’t nervous at all,” she said. “It feels good to be an Easter Bowl champion. I have practice tomorrow and another tournament to get ready for.”

 

Nelson is 11 and is home schooled. She was also given the 12s USTA Sportsmanship award. Martin Damm was awarded the honor in the 14s division.

 

“The nerves got to me,” said Yu, who is 12 and goes to public school (sixth grade) in Mason. “I learned a lot this week and think I can get a lot better after this.”

 

SIGHTINGS AT THE GARDEN: Larry Stefanki, legendary former coach of John McEnroe, Marcelo Rios and Tim Henman, Tommy Tucker, the 82-year-old Mission Hills Country Club “Tennis Pro Emeritus” and Coachella Valley coaching legend, Former world Top 45 WTA player and current USTA National women’s coach Jamea Jackson, John Evert, son of Jimmy Evert and brother of tennis Hall of Famer Chris Evert, Former WTA star and Valley legend Torey Fretz with good friend and famous Welsh singer Iris Williams, a member of the Order of the British Empire, Former UCLA Bruin and noted tennis author Barry Buss, who operates the website: www.tennis.life, former Desert Sun sportswriter and tennis writer Leighton Ginn, covering No. 2 seed Taylor Johnson for his popular blog. Check it out @ginnandtopics on Facebook and Twitter.

 

In addition to live streaming the Easter Bowl again this year, the tournament has a new and improved mobile app, which can be found in both the Apple iTunes store or at Google Play. Search “Easter Bowl” to download the app. The live stream commentating duties are being provided by the popular Southern California tennis commentator Marcus Tennis. Check www.easterbowl.com to watch the live stream and for all Easter Bowl news, results and schedules.

 

Thursday Results

Boys’ ITF 18s Singles (Round of 16)

Jake Sands (Pacific Palisades, CA) def. Gianni Ross (2) (Orlando, FL) 4-6, 6-4, 6-2

Sebastian Korda (10) (Bradenton, FL) def. Oliver Crawford (5) (Spartanburg, SC) 6-2, 6-3

Sam Riffice (4) (Orlando, FL) def. Trey Hilderbrand (San Antonio, TX) 6-2, 6-3

Brian Cernoch (7) (Deerfield Beach, FL) def. William Grant (Boca Raton, FL) 6-2, 6-3

Alafia Ayeni (8) (San Diego, CA) def. Lukas Greif (11) (Evansville, IN) 6-4, 6-2

Patrick Kypson (6) (Greenville, NC) def. Alexandre Rotsaert (9) (Boca Raton, FL) 6-3, 6-1

Trent Bryde (1) (Suwanee, GA) def. Paul Barretto (Tiburon, CA) 7-5, 6-2

Girls’ ITF 18s Singles (Round of 16)

Caty McNally (6) (Cincinnati, OH) def. Alexa Noel (Summit, NJ) 6-2, 6-1

Ann Li (11) (Devon, PA) def. Rachel Lim (Briarcliff Manor, NY) 6-0, 6-1

Whitney Osuigwe (3) (Bradenton, FL) def. Katie Volynets (Walnut Creek, CA) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4

Hurricane Tyra Black (10) (Boca Raton, FL) def. Cali Jankowski (Carlsbad, CA) 6-1, 6-3

Ellie Douglas (4) (McKinney, TX) def. McCartney Kessler (Calhoun, GA) 2-6, 6-3, 6-1

Taylor Johnson (2) (Redondo Beach, CA) def. Vanessa Ong (14) (Oklahoma City, OK) 6-3, 6-2

Elizabeth Mandlik (Boynton Beach, FL) (16) leads Claire Liu (1) (Thousand Oaks, CA) 6-4, 1-3

Hailey Baptiste (Washington D.C.) (5) leads Amanda Meyer (Delray Beach, FL) (12) 6-3, 1-6, 5-0

Boys’ 16 Singles (Quarterfinals)

Ryder Jackson (8) (Nicasio, CA) def. Alex Lee (11) (Oak Brook, IL) 7-5, 7-6(4)

Stefan Dostanic (13) (Irvine, CA) def. Jacob Bullard (Calabasas, CA) 6-4, 4-6, 6-3

Andrew Dale (4) (Leesburg, VA) def. Nathan Arimilli (10) (Austin, TX) 4-6, 7-5, 6-1

Brandon Nakashima (1) (San Diego, CA) def. Leighton Allen (6) (Austin, TX) 6-3, 6-2

Girls’ 16 Singles (Quarterfinal Round)

Fiona Crawley (San Antonio, TX) def. Audrey Boch-Collins (11) (Las Vegas, NV) 6-4, 6-1

Sedona Gallagher (3) (Henderson, NV) def. Ava Hrastar (8) (Duluth, GA) 6-0, 7-5

Emma Navarro (5) (Charleston, SC) def. Jayci Goldsmith (9) (Dripping Springs, TX) 6-1, 6-3

Boys’ 14 Singles (Final Round)

Alexander Bernard (9) (Bonita Springs, FL) def. Aryan Chaudhary (2) (Santa Clara, CA) 6-4, 6-2

Boys’ 14 Singles (Playoff)

Martin Damm (Bradenton, FL) def. Maxwell McKennon (1) (Newport Beach, CA) 6-2, 6-4

Girls’ 14 Singles (Final Round)

Charlotte Owensby (8) (Boca Raton, FL) def. Gianna Pielet (1) (El Paso, TX) 6-4, 2-6, 7-5

Girls’ 14 Singles (Playoff)

Connie Ma (14) (Dublin, CA) def. Kailey Evans (6) (Ennis, TX) Wo (inj)

Boys’ 12 Singles (Final Round)

Kyle Kang (Fullerton, CA) def. Nishesh Basavareddy (Carmel, IN) 6-2, 6-4

Boys’ 12 Singles (Playoff)

Lucas Brown (3) (Plano, TX) def. Cooper Williams (4) (New York, NY) 6-4, 6-2

Girls’ 12 Singles (Final Round)

Priya Nelson (Sacramento, CA) def. Eleana Yu (Mason, OH) 6-1, 6-3

Girls’ 12 Singles (Playoff)

Matilyn Wang (1) (Scottsdale, AZ) def. Violeta Martinez (9) (Port Saint Lucie, FL) 6-3, 6-2

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Defending Champ Gianni Ross Opens With Win In Defense of 2016 Adidas Easter Bowl Title

(March 28, 2017) INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – It’s been 45 years since there’s been a repeat winner in the Boys’ 18s division at the premier junior tennis tournament in the nation. At this week’s 50th Annual Adidas Easter USTA Junior National Spring Championships, Gianni Ross is attempting to be the first to win back-to-back 18s singles titles since 1971-72 when Grey King achieved the feat.

 

On Tuesday, Ross opened play at the prestigious event taking place at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden with a straight-set, 7-5, 6-1, win over Palo Alto’s Conrad Russell on the same main show Court 2 where he beat former doubles partner John McNally last April for the coveted Easter Bowl title.

 

Ross had a wide grin on his face for a few hours after the victory on Tuesday. “This is a fun tournament for me,” he said. “I like everything: conditions, courts, balls. So I’m ready. It felt really dry for me today for some reason. I had to keep putting water on my hands. It was just so dry. Maybe because I was just coming from Carson. It was so gloomy and cold there to the hot and dry here.”

 

Ross played in the Carson International Spring Championships singles final on Sunday falling to Alexandre Rotsaert of Boca Raton, Fla., the No. 9 Easter Bowl ITF seed and another straight-set winner on Tuesday.

 

“I was depressed for a day, but you can’t ask for more than a final,” Ross said. “So I’m happy and I hope I can do just as well here.”

 

Ross was told there had only been one repeat boys’ 18s winner in the 50-year history of the tournament and was asked if he felt pressure. “No,” Ross said emphatically. “I shouldn’t feel pressure. There’s pressure to win every win match. So why should this week be any different.”

 

He said winning the Easter Bowl last year made his name a little more well-known. “Winning last year was great,” said Ross, who suffered an illness that kept him off the court during the summer. “If I could get back and do it twice, that would be amazing. It was important for my last year to win this last year.”

 

To go pro, or enter the collegiate ranks is the pressing question that looms for Ross. “It’s still right there, deciding whether to go to college or turn pro,” he said. “I don’t think about it day by day. I just wake up and play tennis and try to get better. And that’s about it.”

 

Redondo Beach’s Taylor Johnson has never won the Easter Bowl, but after her dominating 6-1, 6-0, first-round win over Chloe Hamlin of Bristol, Tenn., Johnson looks like a definite top contender to win this year’s title.

 

Like Ross, Johnson fell in the Carson ISC final Sunday to a player who is not entered in this week’s tournament, Carson Branstine.

 

“Reaching the final last week gave me a lot of confidence,” said the lefty Johnson, who is coached by tennis legend and Coachella Valley resident Rosie Casals. “Just working with Rosie these past four or five years has helped me so much. I like to serve and volley and she’s really helped me with that.”

 

The 16-year-old Johnson said she stuck to her game plan Tuesday, and hopes to do the same in the second round against Southern California rival Kelly Chen, who she beat in three sets in a nearly four-hour marathon match in the second round at Carson.

 

“I hope it’s not as long as last week’s match but I’ll do whatever it takes to win,” Johnson said. “I was down in all three sets and faced a match point against her in the third set. It was tough, but I was able to pull through.”

 

Last year’s Girls’ ITF finalist Ellie Douglas, the No. 4 seed from McKinney, Texas, beat Jessica Anzo of Temecula, 6-3, 6-0, in her first-round match.

 

Also posting a win in the first round in the Boys’ ITF singles was top-seeded Trent Bryde of Suwanee, Ga., who best Benjamin Gollin of Solana Beach, Calif., 6-1, 7-6 (4).

 

ADIDAS EASTER BOWL SIGHTINGS ON TUESDAY: 1973 Boys’ 18s Easter Bowl champion and renowned Florida coach Nick Saviano; Stanford University men’s tennis coach Paul Goldstein; Former UCLA star Nick Miester; Former world-ranked No. 69 Jesse Levine; Son of legendary Bobby Riggs, Larry Riggs. Continuing on yesterday’s theme of former pro players with sons or daughters in the draw, 40-time ATP doubles winner Martin Damm’s son Martin Jr. of Bradenton, Fla., advanced to the semifinals in the Boys’ 14s. Damm partnered with Leander Paes to win the 2006 US Open, his only Grand Slam title.

 

In addition to live streaming the Easter Bowl again this year, the tournament has a new and improved mobile app, which can be found in both the Apple iTunes store or at Google Play. Search “Easter Bowl” to download the app. The live stream commentating duties are being provided by the popular Southern California tennis commentator Marcus Tennis. Check www.easterbowl.com to watch the live stream and for all Easter Bowl news, results and schedules.

 

By Steve Pratt

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Easter Bowl To Celebrate 50th Anniversary March 25-April 2 At Indian Wells Tennis Garden

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – The Easter Bowl USTA Junior National Spring Championships Presented by Adidas will celebrate its 50th tournament starting tomorrow / March 25-April 2 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

 

Started in 1968 in New York City by Seena Hamilton, the Easter Bowl tournament is currently directed by chairman Lornie Kuhle and has always been a direct “pathway to the pros” for aspiring tennis players as nearly every American who has achieved success on the world’s tennis stage in the Open era has played the Easter Bowl, including current American stars Jack Sock, Stevie Johnson, John Isner, Madison Keys and CiCi Bellis.

 

The 50th annual Easter Bowl has returned as a designated USTA National Championship this year, meaning there will be gold, silver and bronze balls awarded for finalists and the third-place winner in all divisions. The 18s divisions will remain an ITF Level B1 event and closed to only the top U.S. junior players who will play for valuable ITF ranking points.

 

The site of the Easter Bowl is once again the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, home of the recently concluded BNP Paribas Open, and other tennis facilities and country clubs around the Coachella Valley.

 

The event begins Saturday with qualifying in the 12s and 14s divisions and will conclude with the ITF boys’ and girls’ division finals on Sunday, April 2.

 

Top players in the Boys’ ITF division include defending champion Gianni Ross, ranked No. 18 in the ITF Junior world rankings and expected to be seeded No. 2. Trent Bryde of Suwanee, Ga. Bryde, currently ranked No. 11 in the world rankings, played in the Australian Open Juniors main draw in January, and won both the singles and doubles at the Grade A ITF in Brazil in February. He beat fellow American Vasil Kirkov from Tampa., Fla., in the semifinals in three sets. Kirkov is the No. 19-ranked ITF player and comes in as the No. 3 Easter Bowl seed.

 

Bryde lost to eventual ITF champion Ross in the quarterfinals at last year’s Easter Bowl while Kirkov advanced to the semifinals before being taken out by runner-up John McNally. Sam Riffice, 2015 Easter Bowl 16s champion Oliver Crawford, Danny Thomas, Brian Cernoch and Patrick Kypson are other top players.

 

On the girls’ side, last year’s singles finalist Ellie Douglas of McKinney, Texas, returns and will likely be seeded within the top four as her current ITF ranking is No. 28. Taylor Johnson of Redondo Beach, Calif., will be the top-seeded player as she is ranked No. 14 the ITF. Johnson is coached by local Coachella Valley resident Rosie Casals. Carson Branstine from Orange, Calif., is the No. 2-seed and No. 15 in the world. Whitney Osuigwe recently received a WTA world ranking as she made it to the Round of 16 at the Tampa ITF Pro Futures tournament.

 

This Sunday night, Team USA will once again hold its annual awards night in conjunction with the player party, which includes a free meal to all players catered by the Old Spaghetti Factory in Rancho Mirage. The USTA has announced that Mike Gennette, coach of top juniors Claire Liu and Austen Huang, and Henner Nehles, coach of rising American 17-year old Kayla Day, were named as the 2016 Team USA Developmental Coaches of the Year as part of USTA Player Development’s annual Team USA Coaching Awards.

 

Other award winners include Smith Tennis in Indianapolis, recognized as the 2016 Team USA Developmental Program of the Year, while USTA Northern California was named the 2016 Team USA Player Development Section of the Year. Tennis icon Billie Jean King, renowned coach Rick Macci and University of Georgia legend Dan Magill are also being honored with Team USA Legendary Coaching Awards.

 

“This year the Adidas Easter Bowl is celebrating its 50th Anniversary and we are so fortunate to have the Indian Wells Tennis Garden as our host site for this prestigious event and I want to personally thank them,” Easter Bowl chairman Lornie Kuhle said. “The Adidas Easter Bowl is now a U.S. National Championship in all divisions: boys’ and girls’ 12s, 14s, 16, and 18s, making it the only National Championship in the country to host all divisions in one location. At this year’s BNP Paribas Open, nearly every American in the main draw had once played the Easter Bowl proving the Adidas Easter Bowl is truly a pathway to the pros.”

 

Once again this year, the Easter Bowl will allow $10,000 in travel grants that will be awarded evenly in the boys’ and girls’ ITF divisions beginning in the round of 16. The grants will take the form of vouchers for airline travel and hotel expenses. The travel grants will be awarded as follows: Winner and finalist: $750; semifinalist: $500; quarterfinalist: $325; Round of 16: $150.

 

In addition to live streaming the Easter Bowl again this year, Kuhle also announced the tournament’s updated mobile app, which can be found in both the Apple iTunes store or at Google Play. Search “Easter Bowl” to download the app.

 

Check back to www.easterbowl.com to watch the live stream and for all Easter Bowl news, results and schedules.

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Major Renovations at Indian Wells Tennis Garden

2017 BNP PARIBAS OPEN TO SHOWCASE MAJOR RENOVATIONS AT THE INDIAN WELLS TENNIS GARDEN
 
Expanded Stadium Plaza, Renovated Suites & Hospitality Spaces 
and 21 New Restaurants & Concessions Highlight Changes to Stadium 1
 
Wolfgang Puck’s Spago to Overlook Stadium 1 Court, Nobu Expands to Service Player Dining;
Levy Restaurants Partners with Award-Winning Chefs, Regional Institutions and Local Eateries Create a Desert Dining Oasis
(January 11, 2017) INDIAN WELLS, Calif., – The 2017 BNP Paribas Open, to be held March 6-19, will showcase major renovations currently underway at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden (IWTG), designed to enhance the overall fan experience and substantially upgrade Stadium 1. Ranging from a massive expansion of the Stadium Plaza to renovating all the suites and hospitality spaces to adding 21 new restaurants and concessions, the full scale changes are sure to delight fans who attend over the fortnight to watch the best WTA and ATP World Tour players in the world.
  • Stadium Plaza, Suites & Hospitality – A fan favorite and gathering place, The Plaza is now a permanent part of the Stadium and the Superwall is substantially larger (33% wider) allowing it to display up to five matches at one time. All of the suites throughout Stadium 1 will be completely renovated. The existing open air portion of the Concourse level will be covered to allow the suites on the second level to be significantly expanded, and include private restrooms. All of the existing restrooms will be upgraded, and restrooms will be added to the upper bowl, where there were none previously.  Additionally, a new hospitality room, which will be available for events year round and hold up to 200 people, Front Box Club, Satellite Broadcast Studio, fitness center, and club pro shop will also be completed for the 2017 BNP Paribas Open. Other renovations include a brand new media room, two-story office building for tournament management and staff, and additional commissaries to accommodate the new concessions. The Stadium footprint has increased from 200,000 to 300,000 square feet of space to provide an unprecedented fan experience.
  • Wolfgang Puck & Nobu – Wolfgang Puck’s venerable and highly-rated restaurant Spago will be added to the IWTG. The full-service 100-seat restaurant will overlook the court in Stadium 1, giving fans an unprecedented view of the second-largest tennis stadium in the world combined with a first-class dining experience. Puck, a James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award winner and arguably one of the most recognizable chefs in the world, launched his award-winning restaurant Spago 35 years ago in Los Angeles. A six-time recipient of the prestigious Wine Spectator Grand Award and two-time Michelin Star recipient, Spago will be the third restaurant at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden overlooking a court, as both Nobu and Chop House offer that amenity in Stadium 2. In addition, Nobu will also expand to the Player Dining facility giving players quick and easy access to its award-winning cuisine.
  • New Desert Dining Oasis – Venue partner Levy Restaurants will bring 20 more permanent concessions and restaurants to the Stadium ranging from BS Taqueria from Esquire’s 2015 Chef of the Year Ray Garcia, and Dave’s Doghouse, from Michelin-starred chef Josiah Citrin; to Cassell’s, a reinvented classic hamburger stand that has been an LA phenomenon since 1948 and Melissa’s Produce, the Los Angeles-based fresh vegetable-focused offering; to local favorites Piero’s PizzaVino, also featured in Stadium 2 serving traditional Neapolitan style pizza, and Sherman’s Deli, a desert institution for the past 50 years. In addition, a Southern California favorite Wetzel’s Pretzels and Popcornopolis add fun snack food to the mix, Lavazza will bring a selection of specialty coffees, lattes, and cappuccinos, and Golden Road and Shock Top will deliver craft beers, while multiple margarita bars, a juice bar, and an ice cream location will also be added. The restaurants and concessions will be located in various spots and levels throughout Stadium 1, with eight on the Loge level, which previously did not have any food options. Cassell’s and Piero’s will be “inside and outside,” and offer fans access from the concourse as well as the outside of Stadium 1.
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Djokovic dominates Benneteau and Isner Edges Gulbis for BNP Paribas Open Rematch

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

By Kevin Ware

[2] Novak Djokovic defeats Julien Benneteau 6-1 6-3

Benneteau played solid tennis to make it through to the quarters, but the odds were stacked against him in this match-up. With a head-to-head record of 1-5, and that one victory coming back in 2006, chances were slim that he’d be able to mount a sufficient challenge to the current World No. 2.

As expected, the first set was over in just 28 minutes and featured two breaks of the Benneteau serve. This wasn’t surprising with a first serve percentage 54%, and a second serve win percentage is 17%. As his struggles on serve mounted, Benneteau pressed on his groundstrokes, which only made matters worse.

In the end, Benneteau’s 10 winners to 32 unforced errors tell the final tale of this match. He served poorly and, as a result, had to go for too much in his shots against Djokovic. For his part, Djokovic played a clean and straightforward match. He hit 17 winners to 12 unforced errors, won 93% of his first serves, 6 of 8 net approaches, and 4 of 15 break points against the Frenchman.

This was a comprehensive win by all measures. It was also a more consistent performance from Djokovic, who has had issues with keeping his focus after jumping out to early leads.  It was something he touched on in his post-match remarks.

“I felt like I was very focused on the court from the start, and it’s what I was looking for.  First few matches I played good tennis but I had some ups and downs. Today was very stable from the first to the last point.”

When asked about the possibility of playing Isner in the semifinals, his two previous losses to Big John in Masters Series readily came to mind.

“I played John here a few years ago and I remember that match.  7-6 in the third, and also lost to him very close one in Cincinnati last year.”

“It’s very challenging because he doesn’t miss his serve too much, so you have to kind of be able to hold your composure, you know, from the first to the last point and be ready to play three tiebreaks.  That’s all.”

Isner fh

John Isner

[12] John Isner defeats [20] Ernests Gulbis 7-6(4) 7-6(3)

A John Isner win in two tiebreak sets is expected. An Isner win over Ernest Gulbis in two tiebreak sets by pressuring his opponent’s ground game is not. But that’s what happened in their BNP Paribas Open quarterfinal match.

Both players held serve through the first set leading up to the tiebreak. Leading 3-2 in the tiebreaker, Gulbis found himself on the losing end of a protracted rally with Isner. Rattled by the losing exchange, he gave up the next point on his serve after the change of ends. That’s all Isner needed to close out the first set tiebreak 7-4.

Isner surprisingly stumbled at the start of the second set by dropping his first service game at love, giving up the crucial early break. When asked about it after the match, he admitted to a little bit of a “checkout” after winning the first set. “I did.  I didn’t play a great service game at all to start the second set.”

But to his credit, Isner kept his head down and worked to slowly chip away at Gulbis’ game (and confidence) before getting the break back when his Latvian opponent failed miserably to serve out the set at 5-4. After that, a second set tiebreak and eventual win was all but assured.

It was a surprisingly nervy performance from the rising Gulbis: a player with a ton of talent and bravado to match. Isner only hit 13 aces in the match, so he wasn’t aced off the court. He had chances to get into Isner’s service games when he got the ball back in play, but failed to win the key points in rallies.

Isner sensed Gulbis’ issues while also noting how his own game loosened up after dropping that first game. “I had chances to pull back even in that second set prior to that 5-4 game too, but I just stayed with it.”

“Once the second set started to get going, I started to see the ball better and I started to make more progress on his serve.  At the same time, he got ‑ in my opinion, I think he got a little bit looser, as well, started making some more mistakes.”

With this win, Isner is projected to re-renter the Top 10. It also marks his fifth appearance in an ATP Masters Series semifinal.

Men’s Semifinals

[7[ Roger Federer versus [28] Alexandr Dolgopolov
H2H: Federer leads 1-0 (Ret)

[2] Novak Djokovic versus [12] John Isner
H2H: Djokovic leads 4-2

Kevin Ware is in Indian Wells covering theBNP Paribas Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his live updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.  Follow his personal twitter @SFTennisFreak.

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Around the Grounds of the BNP Paribas Open in Photos

[portfolio_slideshow size=large]

(March 10, 2014) INDIAN WELLS – Photographer David Sweet (@DavidSweetPhoto) snapped photos all around the grounds and In the interview room of the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday and Monday for Tennis Panorama News.

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Andy Murray Survives Jiri Vesely in Error-Filled Match

Andy Murray

Andy Murray

(March 10, 2014) INDIAN WELLS – In an error-strewn match, Andy Murray survived No. 77 ranked Jiri Vesely 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-4 on Monday at the BNP Paribas Open.

“Well, the match was a frustrating match.” Said Scot.  “Whether it was the beginning or the end, it was that sort of match where at no stage did either of us play well at the same time.

“You know, I started the match well; he started off the match badly.  He missed a lot of easy shots, and then he started playing consistent, not making errors, and I started missing.

“And, yeah, it was just one of those matches where there wasn’t one period where I thought that, you know, the level of tennis from both of us was high at the same time.

“That can create a lot of breaks and a lot of sort of back and forth swings in the match.

“Yeah.  It wasn’t just the start of the match that was frustrating.  The whole match was.

Playing the 20-year-old Czech for the first time, the fifth seed had 47 of the total 99 errors in the 2 hours and 47 minute match. He was forced to rebound from a break down in each of the last two sets. Both men combined for 32 break points and 14 breaks of serve.

For Vesely who is the youngest in the top 100 of the ATP Tour, he was playing in his first Masters 1000 event.

Jiri Vesely

Jiri Vesely

“I would like to make the game balls that I had in the second and also in the third set, but I was a break up and I was in the second set leading 40‑15 on my serve and the third set I had advantage.

“Maybe if I would use one of these chances maybe I would finish the match.  But, you know, Andy is just a big fighter and he’s guy top 10 which deserves to win.

“So, yeah, just need to take all the positive things from the match and try to keep working hard on myself.

“I was really struggling with myself,” Vesely continued.  “I mean, after I won the first set, which was really exciting for me, and getting the early break in the second set, I just felt really chance to beat this guy until 4‑2 in both sets, second and third, I was playing good without any mistakes.

“But then I always got a little bit tight, and I just felt the chance that I really can beat him.  I think that was maybe the one thing that was painful then in the end.”

“The most important thing today was that I won,” Murray said.  Yeah, I wasn’t happy with the way that I played.

“And, yeah, that’s ‑‑ I mean, it’s kind of days like that where, you know, I could have lost the match and you don’t get an opportunity until Miami to play better or to improve some things.

“Yeah, it’s good to have the chance to play another match here and hopefully put in a better performance.

“It was a very hard match, said Vesely.  “I feel right now physically very tired.  Of course it hurts.”

Murray moves on to play Milos Raonic for a place in the quarterfinals.

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Juan Martin del Potro Withdraws From Indian Wells with Wrist Injury

Del Potro in press

(March 9, 2014) INDIAN WELLS – Sixth-seeded Juan Martin del Potro withdrew from the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday due to ligament damage in his left wrist. Del Potro also pulled out of the Dubai tournament last week with the same injury.

“Well, my situation, it’s the same as Dubai,” said the Argentine.  “The wrist is still bothering me a lot.  I signed up for doubles here to try before singles how I’m feeling, and I played yesterday and I didn’t feel really well.

“I’m not feeling 100%, and I’m not in good conditions to compete and to try and to win the tournament.

“I mean, I always like to feel good and feel the chance to win the tournament, and I’m not feeling that.  The wrist is still bothering me a lot, and my doctors tell me to wait ten more days doing the treatment and do everything possible to play in Miami.

“That’s what is my focus now.  I will have the next ten days for do the same treatment, the same exercises, the same rehabilitation, and try to get in Miami much better than here and see what could happen in that tournament.”

“The problem start in Melbourne,” Del Potro said.  Yeah.  In my first round in Melbourne, yeah.

“And after that match is painful all the time.  I couldn’t spend time without the pain after Melbourne.”

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Li Na and Maria Sharapova Advance While Angelique Kerber Falls at Indian Wells

 

 

Li Na

Li Na

(March 8, 2014) INDIAN WELLS, California – No. 1 seed Li Na beat Chinese countrywoman Zheng Jie 6-1, 7-5, while fourth seed Maria Sharapova began the defense of her title with an easy 6-1, 6-4 victory over Julia Goerges.

Two seeded German women fell – No. 5 seed Angelique Kerber was upset 2-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4 by Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor while Aleksandra Wozniack stopped No. 15 seed Sabine Lisicki 7-5, 1-6, 7-6 (5).

Former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic was a set and a break down before stopping Elina Svitolina.

“I just tried to fight her at every point,” Ivanovic said of the turnaround in the second set. It probably wasn’t the best game I had played. I had lot of unforced errors I tried to stick with it and play each point and not try to think about the errors that I made and just to put pressure on her forehand and that worked well for me. I was very happy to manage to come back.”

In the night session, Sloane Stephens ran off the last nine games in a 6-4, 6-0 win over Ajla Tomljanovic. Advancing easily were No. 8 seed Petra Kvitova, No. 11 Ana Ivanovic and No. 12 Dominika Cibulkova.

For Li Na, this is her second tournament since winning the Australian Open.

“This is the first match after Doha, two weeks, and of course for I cannot be 100 percent for the first match,” Li said. “But I was happy. At least I can learn something from today’s match.”

This also marks the first time that Li has been the top seed in a premier mandatory event.

“The first match always tough, because like I say before, you didn’t know what happen on the court,” Li said.  “All you can do is like to try to do your best.  If you cannot hit good tennis, only one way is running all the shots and to fight every point.”

“First time to be the top seed in a big tournament.  Yeah, at least I’m still in the tournament,” she said smiling.

Li will play Karolina Pliskova next in the third round, who took out No. 28 seed Klara Zakopalova 7-5, 6-2,

“The first matches are always a little bit tricky, especially having not played in a few weeks indoor or outdoor,” Sharapova said.

“Tricky opponent, and she’s capable of playing good tennis.  She hasn’t been as consistent as she probably would have liked recently, but she’s had her results.  She’s beaten top players before, so the first round, that’s never easy, but I thought I did what I had to do.  Certainly improvements that I could make.”

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