Sons and daughters of former professional tennis players took to the courts and had success as the first day of ITF Boys’ and Girls’ 18s events began on Monday at the 52nd annual Adidas Easter Bowl taking place at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
Mark Mandlik is the son of former Grand Slam champion Hana Mandlikova and the No. 14 seed opened with a 6-4, 6-2 win against John Bernard of Bonita Springs, Fla. Martin Damm’s father who goes by the same name was a top 5 doubles player and won the US Open in 2006. Just 15 years old, No. 3 seeded Damm downed qualifier Presley Thieneman of Indianapolis, 7-6 (5), 6-4.
Mandlik’s twin sister Elli is the No. 2 seed in the Girls’ 18s and opens play on Tuesday against Kelsey Mize of Tulsa, Okla. Also in action in singles and doubles is the Girls’ 18s top-seed in both events Tyra Black.
In addition, former United States Fed Cup captain Mary Jo Fernandez and former world No. 1 Lindsay Davenport had sons playing in the boys’ 14s and 12s, respectively. Fernandez is married to famed sports agent Tony Godsick. Nicholas Godsick, the No. 11 seed from Chagrin Falls, Ohio, advanced to the quarterfinals in the 14s with a 6-2, 7-5 win over Joseph Phillips of Alpharetta, Ga.
Davenport, who is married to former USC All-American Jon Leach, was on hand watching son Jagger Leach, who fell in the first round in the 12s on Saturday before rallying to win two consolation matches.
As former Adidas Easter Bowl champion Frances Tiafoe played a third-round match at the Miami Open on the TV in the players’ lounge, 64 of the best boys and girls players in the nation taking part in the ITF 18s were coming and going in the event billed as the Super Bowl of Junior Tennis.
“Every year at the Easter Bowl, local tennis fans are treated with seeing the next great American junior tennis players,” said tournament director Lornie Kuhle. “Just about every American who we recently saw play at the BNP Paribas Open has played the Easter Bowl. And it’s no different this year.
“The Easter Bowl is the only USTA National Championship where all age divisions 12s, 14s, 16s and 18s are played in one location at one time and that location is the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. This truly is the Pathway to the Pros. These are the stars of tomorrow.”
Playing for the first time ever in California after a winter of indoors tennis in Brooklyn, N.Y., 16-year-old Nadejda Maslova had to come back in her first-round match to advance to the second round.
The top-seeded player in the 16s singles and No. 2 in doubles, Maslova dropped the first set to Makenna Thiel of Piedmont, Calif., 6-2, before rallying to win, 7-5, 6-3, on a warm day with temperatures inching into the high 80s. “It was tough out there,” said Maslova, watched by her father. “The player was really good and I had to find my own way. After the first set I didn’t know what to do so I had to get it together.”
Maslova moved to American from Russia six years ago and plays out of Matchpoint Tennis in Brooklyn and attends public school at James Madison High in Brooklyn where she is a junior. Sporty Henna tattoos up and down her left arm, Maslova said she’s trained in Florida but has “never been to Cali.”
“After I won Winternationals my coach said, ‘Well, you have to go to Easter Bowl next,’ ” she said.
Next up for Maslova will be Krystal Blanch of Florida. Blanch beat Caroline Wernli of Texas in another tight three-set battle, 6-4, 2-6, 6-2.
The Boys’ ITF 18s event began on Monday with a full slate of matches on the schedule. In the biggest upset of the day, unseeded Daniel Milavsky took out the No. 1 seed in the Boys’ 18s with a 7-6 (3), 6-3 win over Eliot Spizzirri, who is ranked No. 23 in ITF world junior rankings, from Greenwich, Conn.
Another future Harvard University player David Lins of Boca Raton, Fla., joined Milavsky in the winner’s circle as he had an upset of his own knocking off No. 5 seeded Dali Blanch, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4. Also exited the tournament early were No. 7 seeded William Grant and No. 8 Adam Neff, beaten by Frank Barnett and Michal Braswell, respectively.
Milavsky is a high school junior from Needham, Mass., who is staying close to home and has verbally committed to play his college at Harvard. “Before the tournament my friend asked me who I would want to play most, and I said Eliot, and that’s the name that came up on the draw,” said Milvasky, who trains at Manchester Athletic Club in Boston. “I’ve never played him before but I’ve seen him around and knows he’s got a big name.”
Milavsky played doubles only at last year’s Easter Bowl, but was relegated to one of the back courts. Asked what he thought about playing on Center Court, Milavsky said he thought it was great. “I’m just living the dream.”
Milvasky possess a huge forehand and serve, but didn’t once glance up at the miles per hour radar speed gun to check how fast he was serving.
Asked how he was able to pull off the big upset, Milvasky said: “I think it was just belief and playing smart and disciplined. It was never thinking I couldn’t do it and having that belief and pushing through and believing.”
Aryan Chaudhary of Santa Clara, Calif., is the No. 1-seeded player in the Boys’ 16s and like Maslova he struggled in his first round against Zachery Foster of San Antonio, taking it, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2.
The Boys’ 14s top-seeded player is Aidan Kim of Milford, Mich., and he advanced to the quarterfinals after his opponent pulled out midway through the second set with an injury. Learner Tien, the No. 15-seed from Irvine, Calif., upset No. 2-seed Yannik Rahman of Miami, 6-2, 7-5. The Girls’ 14s top-seeded player is Stephanie Yakoff of Fort Lee, N.J., and the quarterfinals are next for Yakoff after her 6-2, 6-4 win over Natalia Perez, the No. 9 seed from Guaynabo, P.R.
The Boys’ 12s top-seeded player is Maxwell Exsted, Savage, Minn. He took out No. 15-seed Roman Sancilio of Henrico, Va., 6-3, 6-4, to advance to the quarterfinals to be played Tuesday.
The Girls’ 12s top-seeded player is Thea Latak of Darien, Ill. She will play in the quarterfinal after dropping just one game in her Round of 16 match to Tianmei Wang, the No. 13 seed from San Marino.
Sightings on-site at the Adidas Easter Bowl:
Former World No. 1 Lindsay Davenport (son playing in the 12s), Hall of Famer Hana Mandlikova (daughter and son playing in the 18s), former ATP star Martin Damm (son playing in 18s) Former “Love Connection” host Pat Bullard (son playing in 18s), Famed tennis executive Ray Benton, Dick Vitale’s daughter former Notre Dame player Sherri Krug (daughter in 14s), Sheila McInerney, ASU women’s coach; Peter Smith, USC men’s coach; Peter Wright (Cal men’s coach); Per Nilsson, Pepperdine women’s coach; former Easter Bowl champion Lauren Embree, Pepperdine women’s assistant coach; Howard Joffe, Texas women’s coach; Bruce Berque, Texas men’s assistant coach; Kris Kwinta, USC men’s assistant coach; Benjamin Becker, Michigan men’s assistant coach;
In addition to live streaming the Easter Bowl again this year, the tournament has an improved mobile app, which can be found at Match Tennis App http://www.matchtennisapp.com. Check www.easterbowl.com to watch the live stream and for all Easter Bowl news, results and schedules.