2016 Asics Easter Bowl In The Books

2016 Easter BowlPer a release from Steve Pratt, media director for the Asics Easter Bowl . . .

One current and a former USTA Midwest Section player took home the top prize as the big winners on Sunday on the final day at the 49th Annual ASICS Easter Bowl as a longtime former Illinois resident Gianni Ross, and Westerville, Ohio, native Alexandra Sanford both won prestigious ITF singles titles.

In the Boys’ ITF final, the unseeded Ross beat his former doubles partner and friend John McNally, the No. 4-seed, from Cincinnati, 6-4, 7-6 (3). Ross, whose family moved to Florida in September, joins recent boys’ champions Gage Brymer (2013), Marcos Giron (2011) and Bjorn Fratangelo (2010) to win the title as an unseeded player.

In the Girls’ ITF singles final, the No. 8-seeded Sanford took out No. 13 Ellie Douglas of McKinney, Texas, 6-4, 1-6, 6-1. All four players were awarded $750 travel voucher checks by tournament director Lornie Kuhle, who has pioneered the idea with approval from the ITF to pay the players and helping to defray the high cost it takes to travel to junior tournaments like the ASICS Easter Bowl, held for the third consecutive year at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, site of the BNP Paribas Open.

In winning his first ITF singles title, Ross, 17, didn’t show tons of emotion and was humble in accepting the first-place trophy. After taking the first set against McNally, he fell down a break at 5-4 and McNally serving for a set point. But Ross got “lucky” on a drop shot at his feet and then took advantage of a net cord eventually converting the break to swing it to 5-all and the momentum back on his side. On break point, he hit a backhand down the line for a winner. “I was fortunate in that game,” he said. “I had a lucky game.”

McNally, 17, admitted he didn’t serve well, and if he would have converted on the second-set set point, that he would have won the match. “I thought I was going to win today, but that’s how it goes.”

McNally held a 2-0 lead in the tiebreaker but hit several unforced errors to go down 2-5. “And you can’t do that against a player like him,” McNally said.

Ross joined recent former USTA Midwest Section players Chase Buchanan (2008) and Evan King (2009) on the champions list. He said he hopes he can remember this special victory, “Whenever I have any bad moments.”

McNally said he will get ready for the Europe junior Grand Slams and that his junior tournaments are numbered. “I’m looking forward to a really fun summer and hope I can tear it up.”

Sanford, who won the Torey Fretz / Jackie Cooper Sportsmanship Award along with yet another USTA Midwest player, J.J. Wolf of Cincinnati, on Saturday, said accepting that award didn’t stop her from some audible “Come Ons” during the match.

Like Ross, Sanford was not very demonstrative in her actions immediately after the win. “It was more on the inside,” she said. “I felt a lot of emotion out there on the court today, and when I put away that backhand (on the final point), it was just kind of a relief. I was so happy on the inside, but I just didn’t show it.

“To be able to win the Easter Bowl, I’m pretty excited.”

Sanford, 17, thanked her mother and her USTA coach Henner Nehles, who was on hand all week and who she has worked with since the beginning of the year.

She said she lost some focus after winning the tight first set. “I may have relaxed a little bit,” she said. “In the second set I got too comfortable.”

The 15-year-old Douglas said she was hurt by some “dumb errors that cost her early in the third set. “I feel like I had several chances and many, many game points I didn’t convert on,” she said. “My serve was really off today. I just need to go home and get some rest and then practice some more. That’s how tennis goes.”

Douglas added: “I think I played too short and she served out wide very well and it was very consistent. I wish I would have played a little bit better today.”

Playing for the first time as a team, Nathan Ponwith and Jake Van Emburgh topped the unseeded team of Vasil Kirkov and Sebastian Korda, 2-6, 7-5, 12-10. Ponwith, who also won the Carson ISC doubles title last week with Will Blumberg, and Van Emburgh battled back saving match points in the second set down 4-5. The pair led the super tiebreaker 9-6 and then again at 11-10, finally converting on the fifth match point to win the ITF doubles title.

In the another thrilling doubles final on the girls’ side, the unseeded team of Elysia Bolton and Chiara Lommer took out the No. 6-seeded team of Victoria Emma and Sofia Sewing, 4-6, 6-2, 10-8.

Boys’ ITF Singles (Finals)

Gianni ROSS (USA)  def. John MCNALLY (USA) [4] def. 6-4, 7-6 (3)

Boys’ ITF Doubles (Finals)

Nathan PONWITH (USA) / Jake VAN EMBURGH (USA) [6] def. Vasil KIRKOV (USA) / Sebastian KORDA (USA) 2-6, 7-5, [12-10]

Girls’ ITF Singles (Finals)

Alexandra SANFORD (USA) [8] def. Ellie DOUGLAS (USA) [13] 6-4, 1-6, 6-1

Girls’ ITF Doubles (Semifinals)

Elysia BOLTON (USA) / Chiara LOMMER (USA) def. Victoria EMMA (USA) [6] / Sofia SEWING (USA) 4-6, 6-2, 10-8

Other Champions (Click here for all draws)

Boys 12s Singles: Max Fardanesh (NorCal)

Boys 12s Doubles: Eli Gordon (Midwest) /Samuel Landau (SoCal)

Girls 12s Singles: Katrina Scott (SoCal)

Girls 12s Doubles: Carson Tanguilig (Southern)/Elise Wagle (Eastern)

Boys 14s Singles: Alex Lee (Midwest)

Boys 14s Doubles: Joshua Raab (Southern)/Andres Martin (Southern)

Girls 14s Singles: Ava Hrastar (Southern)

Girls 14s Doubles: Fiona Crawley (Texas)/Ava Hrastar (Southern)

Boys 16s Singles: Carson Haskins (Missouri Valley)

Boys 16s Doubles: Trey Hilderbrand (Texas)/Kevin Zhu (Texas)

Girls 16s Singles: Angelica Blake (Florida)

Girls 16s Doubles: Chloe Beck (Southern)/Emma Navarro (Southern)


2 Comments on “2016 Asics Easter Bowl In The Books”

  1. Some very interesting officiating in the Easter Bowl … a couple examples:

    – Player serves an ace on the deuce side. The opponent knows it is an ace and is walking to the ad side for the next point. An official who happened to be wandering around has stopped at the court (was not asked to come to the court) and has been standing there for a couple of point. Official calls a let.

    – Official is on a court at the request of the players. Player hits a winner and the opponent calls it out. Player is incredulous and asks, “Are you sure?” The official, who has a clean look, also asks the opponent, “Are you sure it was out?” Opponent say “yes” and official says, “I couldn’t see it well enough”. Wait … what? You questioned the call but didn’t overrule?

    1. It is frightening that is the quality of officiating at that level of tournament. My child plays a couple of levels below that and the officiating is a joke. It is inconsistent, the officials seldom know even the basic rules, they consistently insert themselves at inappropriate and/or unnecessary times and they really don’t know what to do when they are needed. There is no accountability whatsoever. The USTA and Tournament Directors blithely ignore the entire issue. I have never had a conversation with another parent that thinks otherwise and I have never had another parent not say they would happily pay higher entry fees to have more and especially higher quality officiating.

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