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2016 ASICS Easter Bowl begins at Indian Wells Tennis Garden

April 2, 2016 02:00 PM

By Steve Pratt, special to USTA.com

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – When Taylor Fritz faced off against Frances Tiafoe last month in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open, it marked a meeting between the last two ASICS Easter Bowl winners, further proving the annual tournament is the pathway to the pros.

The 2014 ASICS Easter Bowl champion Tiafoe won that match against the current No. 81-ranked player in the world Fritz (pictured above), last year’s winner in the boys’ ITF event.

The 49th Annual ASICS Easter Bowl begins on Saturday with some of the nation’s top boys’ and girls’ 12s, 14s, 16s and 18s players set to compete at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden and other tennis facilities and country clubs around the Coachella Valley.

The tournament is open to American players only and is a USTA Level 1 tournament once again being directed by Lornie Kuhle. The event will conclude with the 18s ITF boys’ and girls’ division finals on Sunday, April 10.

Celebrating 49 years, the ASICS Easter Bowl has a rich history as a proving ground for aspiring junior tennis players on the pathway to professional tennis and college scholarships.

Top players in the boys’ ITF division include: Ulises Blanch of Florida, currently ranked No. 9 in the ITF world junior rankings; Cincinnati’s J.J. Wolf; Nathan Ponwith of Scottsdale, Ariz.; Sam Riffice of Roseville, Calif.; John McNally of Cincinnati; and Liam Caruna of Austin, Texas.

Riffice fell in last year’s ITF boys’ final to Fritz. Ponwith was a semifinalist last year, also losing to Fritz, and was a 2014 finalist.

On the girls’ side, defending champion Claire Liu, 15, of Thousand Oaks, Calif., is back to try to defend her title. Kylie McKenzie (Anthem, Ariz.), Morgan Coppoc (Tulsa, Okla.), Maria Mateas (Braintree, Mass.), Michaela Gordon (Los Altos Hills, Calif.), and Taylor Johnson (Redondo Beach, Calif.) are other top players vying for valuable ITF points.

The USTA 16-and-under event begins Monday and concludes with the finals on Friday.

Top seeded in the boys’ 16s are: Carson Haskins (Ballwin, Mo.), Christian Alshon (Boca Raton, Fla.), Kevin Zhu (Pearland, Texas), Robert Maciag (Sterling, Va.) and Trey Hilderbrand (San Antonio).

Top seeded in the girls’ 16s are: Sedona Gallagher (Henderson, Nev.), Amber Kate O'dell (New Milford, N.J.), Kacie Harvey (Braintree, Mass.), Sydney Jones (Carrollton, Texas) and Meg Anne Kowalski, (La Grange, Ill.)

Top seeded in the boys’ 14s are: Stefan Leustian (Mather, Calif.), Keshav Chopra (Marietta, Ga.), Ryder Jackson (Nicasio, Calif.), Spencer Whitaker (Richmond, Va.) and Andrew Dale (Leesburg, Va.).

Top seeded in the girls’ 14s are: Mae Fmar Canete (Los Angeles), Victoria Hu (Northborough, Mass.), Fiona Crawley (San Antonio), Gianna Pielet (El Paso, Texas), Noel Graham (Saint Johns, Fla.) and Amanda Chan (Pasadena, Calif.).

Top seeded in the boys’ 12s are: Samuel Landau (Los Angeles), Nishesh Basavareddy (Carmel Ind.), Eli Gordon (Highland Park, Ill.) Phillip Deaton (Auburn, Wash.), Noelle Ampong (Downers Grove, Ill.) and Jack Anthrop (Orlando, Fla.).

In the girls’ 12s, the top seeded players are: Nikki Yanez (Sarasota, Fla.), Katrina Scott (Woodland Hills, Calif.), Madison Sieg, (Greenwich, Conn.), Zoe Hammond (Edmund, Okla.) and Robin Montgomery (Washington, D.C.).

The 14s and 12s begin play on Saturday, with the finals scheduled on Wednesday.

On Sunday night, the USTA will hold a coaches' reception, at which coaching legends Dick Gould, Tim Gullikson and Pancho Segura will be honored. In addition, Guy Fritz and Diego Moyano will be named 2015 Team USA Developmental Coaches of the Year, and 4-Star Tennis Academy in Fairfax, Va., will be honored as the 2015 Team USA Developmental Program of the Year. USTA Mid-Atlantic will also receive the inaugural Team USA Player Development Section of the Year distinction.

Live streaming of the ASICS Easter Bowl is available this year, and the tournament is featuring a new mobile app, which can be found in both the Apple iTunes store or at Google Play. Search “Easter Bowl” to download the app.

Visit www.easterbowl.com to watch the live stream and to follow all ASICS Easter Bowl news, results and schedules.