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.
- Around 2:30 p.m., play was halted due to 40 miles 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.