Indian Wells, CA
Both top-seeded players on the girls and boys side in the ITF 18s division opened up play with victories at the 51st Adidas Easter Bowl on Tuesday, but took different routes in doing so.
On the girls’ side, top-seeded 15-year-old Alexa Noel battled the swirling winds at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden and beat qualifier Katrina Scott, who is considered one of the best 13-year-old girls in the world, in three sets, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2. On the boys’ side, top-seeded Tristan Boyer, who trains in Scott’s hometown of Woodland Hills, Calif., in the San Fernando Valley 150 miles from the desert, had an easier time downing James Ignatowich, 6-1, 6-3.
Both prodigious players Noel and Scott have big-match experience at the Easter Bowl, as Noel was a finalist in the 14s in 2015, and Scott won the 12s in 2016.
“I think I started off strong, but I played poorly the entire match,” said Noel, of Summit, N.J. “She’s a really good player and it sucks we had to play in the first round because it was a really good match. I’m just looking forward to the next round and playing my style of play and not getting sucked into playing her style.”
Scott has been turning heads with some of her recent results. In January, Scott made it to the final of one of the world’s top junior events, the 14-and-Under Les Petit As. She won the girls’ 16s at the Eddie Herr International Junior Championships at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., last November, and in December advanced to the quarterfinals of the 16s at the Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships in Plantation, Fla., one year after making the finals there in the 12s.
“She’s a great player,” said Scott of Noel, who she has practiced with but never played in a match. “I knew she was a slicer and dicer so I was ready for that. I played a little bit better in the second set but that wind was affecting me.”
Noel said the wind got worse as the match hit the two-hour mark at high as the players split sets. “When the wind was at my back I felt that whenever I accelerated through the ball, it would just fly,” she said, adding. “I know she is a counter-puncher, and I tend to play that way, as well. I started playing too defensive, but in the third set I was able to come up with some big serves and fought my way through it.”
Noel is no stranger to being a top-seed at the Easter Bowl. In the 2015 Easter Bowl 14s final, the top-seeded Noel lost to No. 14 seed Whitney Osuigwe in a third-set tiebreaker after holding two championship points. Osuigwe finished 2017 as the No. 1 girl in the ITF world rankings, and just last week played in main draw of the Miami Open currently being played in Florida.
“That match was crazy and we were both so young,” Noel recalled. “I know I had a horrible attitude in that match. I had two match points and once I didn’t convert I kind of spiraled. It was crazy. We still have matches like that.”
Boyer, 16, said he’s also been working on his on-court demeanor and it’s now one of the strong points of his game.
Boyer received a wild card into the BNP Paribas qualifying event last month, and took the world’s No. 116-ranked player Ruben Bemelmans to a second-set tiebreaker at the same site he played at .
In the Girls’ 16s second round, India Houghton of Tiburon, Calif., had the upset of the day beating 2017 Easter Bowl finalist and top-seeded Gianna Pielet of El Paso, Texas, 6-4, 6-4. Others pulling off upsets included: Victoria Mulville (Hoschton, Ga.) who beat the No. 10 seed; Allura Zamarripa (Saint Helena, Calif.,) who downed the No. 4 seed and Hibah Shaikh (Teaneck, N.J,) who eliminated the No. 7 seed.
Advancing to the Girls’ 14 semifinals to be played morning were No. 1 Reese Brantmeier (Whitewater, Wisc.), No. 7 Sophie Williams (Charleston, S.C.), No. 2 Alexandra Torre (Brentwood, Tenn.) and No. 3 Eleana Yu (Mason, Ohio).
Making it to the Girls’ 12 semifinals were: No. 1 Stephanie Yakoff (Fort Lee, N.J.); No. 8 Elizabeth Dunac (University Park, Md.), No. 3 Brooklyn Olson (Kansas City, Mo.) and No. 2 Clervie Ngounoue (Washington, D.C.).
Seeded players moving on to the Round of 16 in Boys’ 16 included: No. 1 Keshav Chopra (Marietta, Ga.); No. 2 Max McKennon (Newport Beach, Calif.); No. 3 Welsh Hotard (New Orleans, La.); No. 4 Harsh Parikh (Tucson, Ariz.) and No. 5 JJ Tracy (Hilton Head Island, S.C.).
Boys’ 14s semifinalists include: No. 1 Sami Banerjee, (Basking Ridge, N.J.), No. 7 Jiaxi Ma (Alhambra, Calif.), No. 6 Evan Wen (Morristown, N.J.) and No. 10 Bruno Kuzuhara (Coconut Creek, Fla.).
Boys’ 12s semifinalists include: No. 2 Rudy Quan (Roseville, Calif.), No. 15 Meecah Bigun (Phoenix), unseeded Alexander Frusina (Conroe, Texas), and No. 10 Raghav Jangbahadur (Palo Alto, Calif.).
In addition to live streaming the Easter Bowl again this year, the tournament has a new and improved mobile app, which can be found at Match Tennis App http://www.matchtennisapp.com. The live stream commentating duties are being provided by the popular Southern California tennis commentator Marcus Tennis. Check www.easterbowl.com to watch the live stream and for all Easter Bowl news, results and schedules.