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Brother-sister pair McNallys reach quarterfinals at ASICS Easter Bowl

Caty McNally
April 8, 2016 08:48 AM

By Steve Pratt, special to USTA.com

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – A brother-sister combo from Cincinnati joined a third Cincinnati resident in the ITF quarterfinals, with all winning straight-set matches at the 49th Annual ASICS Easter Bowl, being played this week at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

Seventeen-year-old John McNally, seeded fourth in the boys’ ITF singles, beat unseeded Jake Van Emburgh, 7-5, 6-2, to make the elite eight at one of the biggest junior tournaments in the nation. Meanwhile, John’s 15-year-old sister Caty, the No. 9 seed, handled business by beating unseeded Ann Li, 6-2, 6-2.

Last year, as a 14-year-old wild-card entry, Caty McNally (pictured above) shocked everyone with a second-round upset over the top seed and a world-ranked Top 10 player Usue Arconada.

Both McNallys decided to forgo coming to California for two full weeks, pulling out of the Carson USTA International Spring Championships last week and deciding to focus their attention on the ASICS Easter Bowl.

The rest has paid off, as the pair advanced in their respective divisions in doubles, as well.

John’s doubles partner, No. 2 seed J.J. Wolf, who also hails from Cincinnati, beat unseeded Sangeet Sridhar, 6-2 6-2, to reach the quarterfinals. Seven out of the eight singles quarterfinalists remaining in the boys' draw are seeded, with Gianni Ross the only unseeded player to advance.

After the heat reached 100 degrees on Wednesday, the temperature cooled off on Thursday, as clouds covered the sky and there was a threat of rain for most of the day. Caty said the windy conditions didn’t bother her, even though she didn’t get a chance to play in them last week in Carson.

“I really wasn’t worried about the wind because I’ve played in the wind a million times,” McNally said, adding she still remembers the court she beat Arconada on last year. “I remember most everything about that match. It’s been very positive this year for me, thinking a lot about that.”

Both McNallys will face tough tasks in the quarterfinals on Friday, as John faces last week’s Carson winner Liam Caruana and Katy plays top seed Maria Mateas.

Last year’s finalist, Sam Riffice, beat a familiar foe in Keenan Mayo on Thursday, 6-2, 6-4. Riffice said after the match the two grew up in the same Roseville, Calif., neighborhood. Next up for Riffice, the No. 5 seed, is 2015 ASICS Easter Bowl finalist Nathan Ponwith of Scottsdale, Ariz., in a rematch of a back-draw match Riffice won in three sets in Kalamazoo last year at the 18s National Hardcourts.

Also making both the singles and doubles quarterfinals is last week’s Carson doubles champion Ena Shibahara, who will play for Stella Sampras-Webster at UCLA in the fall. Shibahara, from Palos Verdes Estates, Calif., advanced in doubles with her first-time partner Michaela Gordon. Last week, Shibahara won Carson, playing with Hurricane Tyra Black. Shibahara-Gordon will face the team of Black and McNally on Friday.

When asked to speak with her after match, Shibahara asked if it was about her singles or her doubles, which explains how much she values doubles.

“I come from a family of five, and we were always playing doubles,” she said. “And I love my volleys.”

The 16s doubles champions were crowned Thursday. In the boys' 16s doubles final, the top-seeded Texas pairing of Trey Hilderbrand (San Antonio) and Kevin Zhu (Pearland) defeated the Southern California team of Brandon Nakashima (San Diego) and Jake Sands (Pacific Palisades), 8-2, for the title. The girls' 16s doubles championship went to the Southern team of Chloe Beck (Watkinsville, Ga.) and Emma Navarro (Charleston, S.C.), who won by beating Angelica Blake (Boca Raton, Fla.) and Reilly Tran (Dunn Loring, Va.), 8-5.

The 16s singles finals will take place on Friday at 9 a.m. PT, with top-seeded Carson Haskins of Ballwin, Mo., taking on No. 11 Lukas Greif of Evansville, Ind., in the boys' championship and No. 7 Angelica Blake of Boca Raton, Fla., facing No. 8 Abigail Forbes of Raleigh, N.C., in the girls'.

To keep up with all the ASICS Easter Bowl news, visit www.easterbowl.com, and check out the tournament on Facebook and Twitter.​