Saturday’s Adidas Easter Bowl semifinal opponents Mark Mandlik and Martin Damm both had opening-set wins before letting down to lose the second and then coming back to win in three sets and advancing to the final four in the Boys’ ITF 18s singles division of the USTA Spring National Championships taking place at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
The similarities in the way they won on Friday didn’t stop there for both players, as Mandlik and Damm are coached by their famous tennis parents and are both former training partners at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. The two have never faced each other in a match and both rely on big serves and heavy forehands.
The No. 14 seeded Mandlik got past unseeded Marcus McDaniel of Vacaville, Calif., 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 while the No. 3-seed Damm beat No. 10 Andrew Dale of Leesburg, Va., 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.
Mandlik’s mother Hana Mandlikova won four Grand Slams and is in the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Damm’s father Martin Damm won the US Open doubles title in 2006 and reached as high as No. 5 in the world on the ATP Tour. Both parents Mandlikova and Damm are in the Coachella Valley enjoying their second careers and roles as tennis parents and coaches.
“I had a little mental collapse there in the second set and that let him back in the match and he started playing better,” Damm said.
After relaxing in the players’ lounge watching former Easter Bowl champions Mike and Bob Bryan win their Miami Open doubles semifinal, Mandlik and Damm faced each other in the doubles semifinals later Friday with No. 1 seeds Damm and Toby Kodat beating No. 5 Mandlik and Ronan Jachuck, 7-6 (9), 6-4.
“It’s great to be in the last four at the Easter Bowl, and being at Indian Wells makes it even that much more special,” said the 6-foot-6 ½ Damm, who won the 16s USTA Hardcourt Nationals at Kalamazoo, Mich., last year. “Kalamazoo was one of my first tournaments where I started playing better. I struggled a little last year but winning Kalamazoo really gave me a lot of confidence.”
Mandlik is used to sharing the spotlight with his mother, and twin sister Elli, who is ranked in the top 20 in the world ITF junior rankings but was upset as the No. 2 seed in the second round of the Easter Bowl on Thursday. “We used to be more of rivals and trying to see who would do better,” said Mandlik, who reached the final of the Costa Rica ITF event a few weeks ago and who lost to Drew Baird last year in the second round at the Easter Bowl. “But not as much anymore.”
Damm, who also works with the USTA national coaching staff in Florida, is coached by his dad and former ATP Pro Glenn Weiner, who is now the director of the Elite Program at IMG Academy after coaching Michael Mmoh.
In the other semifinal, No. 13 Jacob Bullard of Calabasas, Calif., will take on qualifier Ronald Hohmann, Oyster Bay, N.Y., who was the only semifinalist not to need a three-setter to advance. Hohmann beat Jachuck of Boca Raton, 7-6 (5), 6-1, while Bullard eliminated No. 9 Blaise Bicknell of Miami, 7-6 (2), 4-6, 6-1.
A 14-year-old seeded No. 14 Robin Montgomery of the Junior Tennis Champions Center has made the Girls’ ITF 18s semifinals and she will face her former JTCC training partner Lea Ma, the No. 5 seed. Ma is currently training with Weiner’s team at IMG. Montgomery beat Fiona Crawley of San Antonio in three sets, 1-6, 7-6 (3), 6-3 while Ma downed No. 13 Emma Jackson of La Grange Park, Ill., 6-3, 6-2. In the other semifinal it will be No. 3 Emma Navarro of Charleston, S.C., facing unseeded newly turned 16-year-old Elizabeth Coleman of Midland, Mich. In the closest match of the day, Coleman outlasted No. 16 Alexandra Yepifanova after losing the first set, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7-4).
Last year’s 14s finalist Samir Banerjee of Basking Ridge, N.J., will have a shot at winning an Easter Bowl title Saturday morning in the 16s final when he faces No. 9 JJ Tracy of the Smith Stearns Tennis Academy out of Hilton Head, S.C. Banerjee beat No. 1 Aryan Chaudhary in a tight battle to start the day, 7-6 (9), 2-6, 6-4.
“Last year I was tired and was still in the doubles, so I really felt it in the third set,” said Banerjee, who lost to Bruno Kuzuhara after winning the first set in last year’s final. “I think that will help me tomorrow having been there before.”
Tracy beat No. 4 Thomas Paulsell of Seattle, 6-2, 6-1.
The Girls’ 16s finals are set at the No. 9 and 10 seeds will battle each other for the USTA Gold Ball on Saturday. No. 10 DJ Bennett of Belleview, Fla., beat No. 12 Daniella Benabraham of New York, 6-2, ,6-4. In the other semifinal, San Jose’s Vivian Ovrootsky (No. 9) took out Gracie Epps Norman, Okla., 6-2, 6-7 (6), 6-4.
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.