Seventeen-year-old Elli Mandlik hasn’t played a junior tournament in 2019, instead focusing her attention on the ITF professional World Tennis Tour. That will all change next week as Mandlik leads an impressive group of top American junior tennis players entered in the 52nd Annual Adidas Easter Bowl.
The Florida resident Mandlik recently had a nine-match winning streak snapped as she fell in the final of the ITF WTT $15,000 at Arcadia, Calif., after winning the Carson WTT $15,000 event the week before. In the final at Carson, Mandlik beat USC recruit Carson Branstine, also taking out fellow Easter Bowl competitors Hurricane Black and Natasha Subhash along the way.
Mandlik is expected to be the No. 2 seed in the Girls’ 18s ITF event at the Adidas Easter Bowl, the USTA Spring National Championships, which kicks off on Saturday at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in the Coachella Valley, where all eyes were on the recently completed BNP Paribas Open.
Just like last year when Mandlik fell to Gabby Price in the Round of 16 at last year’s Easter Bowl, Mandlik will be cheered on by her mother International Tennis Hall of Famer Hana Mandlikova, the former Grand Slam champion. Mandlik’s brother Mark is also entered in the Boys’ ITF event. Madlikova won the Australian Open in 1980 and 1987, the French Open in 1981 and the US Open singles in 1985, and doubles in 1989. She was a Wimbledon finalist in 1981 in singles (losing to Chris Evert Lloyd) and singles (losing to Martina Navratilova) and doubles in 1986.
Currently ranked among the top 20 junior players in the ITF World Rankings, Elli qualified for the US Open Junior event last year in her Grand Slam debut. She was a finalist at the Eddie Herr in singles and was the doubles champion last November.
At the US Open, Kathy Rinaldi, the USTA national coach for women’s tennis, commented to the New York Times about Elli: “As a youngster, you could see that she had a good feel for the ball, but she was very small,” she said. “Now she’s grown and she’s very athletic. Her feistiness reminds me of Hana.”
A fellow Florida resident like Mandlik, Black is expected to be the top-seeded player and is ranked No. 14 by the ITF. Other top players in the girls’ field include players who have success in the lower divisions over the years. Coming in as the third-seed is 2017 16s singles champion Emma Navarro, who is ranked No. 22 in the ITF world rankings.
Other top 50 players who will likely be seeded at Easter Bowl include Savannah Broadus (No. 34), Lea Ma (No. 37), and Abigail Forbes (No. 50). 2015 Girls’ 12s champion Gabby Price is in the main draw, as is 2017 Girls’ 16s champ Charlotte Owensby and finalist Gianna Pielet.
Other notable players in the 18s entries include 2015 Girls’ 16s singles finalist Subhash, 2016s 12s champion Katrina Scott, last year’s 16s champ Anessa Lee and 2015 finalist Emma Jackson.
The top-seed in the Boys’ ITF 18s will be Eliot Spizzirri, who is ranked No. 23 in world. University of Georgia recruit Tyler Zink will be the No. 2 seed with 15-year-old Martin Damm of IMG Academy seeded No. 3 and ranked No. 30. Damm’s father Martin was a longtime ATP player who once reached as high as No. 5 in the world rankings.
The 18s is an ITF Grade B1 and USTA Level 1 event. It is a closed event meaning only players from the United States are eligible to play. The tournament will include the nation’s top 12-and-under 14s, 16s and 18s players. The 12s and 14s will start play this Saturday, March 23, with the finals taking place on Thursday, March 28. The 16s and 18s begin play on Monday, with the 16s finals on Saturday, March 30, and the 18s finals on Sunday, March 31.
The Adidas Easter Bowl Player Party will take place at IWTG on Sunday, March 24, at the same time as the TEAM USA COACHES RECEPTION, presented by the USTA, honoring some of the best coaches and organizations in the game today. Among the honorees this year will be:
TEAM USA Legendary Coach Award: Jose Higueras
TEAM USA Developmental Coach of the Year: Joseph Gilbert
TEAM USA Developmental Program of the Year: Lakes Tennis Academy in Frisco, Texas
TEAM USA Player Development Section of the Year: USTA Southern California
The iconic junior tournament started by Seena Hamilton in 1968 and now led by Tournament Chairman Lornie Kuhle. Long considered the Super Bowl of junior tennis, the Adidas Easter Bowl’s status has now been raised to a new level by being played at what is arguably the finest tennis facility in the world, the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
No other junior tennis tournament in the United States possesses the same rich history as the Adidas Easter Bowl. The tournament was started in New York City and has been played in Florida, Arizona and California.
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.