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Monday, April 8, 2013

Gale Force Winds Cause Havoc at Easter Bowl

Tree damage near the Sunrise Country Club courts

©Colette Lewis 2013--
Rancho Mirage, CA--

The pool at Sunrise Country Club felt the wind's effects
The first round of the 16s division and the girls ITF B1 began Monday at the Easter Bowl, but the tennis matches played were a secondary consideration after 40 to 50 mile per hour winds resulted in the suspension of play for over an hour at Sunrise Country Club, the host site.

Around 9 a.m., with the first round of boys 16s on the courts at Sunrise, the wind was at its strongest, with dust, palm fronds, folding chairs and even umpire chairs being blown up, down and over.  Once the umpire chairs, which were not being used in these early rounds, toppled, play was called and was not resumed for over an hour.  Other sites around the Coachella Valley had varying delays, with the worst of the winds over by midday, but 20 to 30 mph gusts made it for some cautious tennis.

Top girls 14s seed Claire Liu, last week's International Spring Championships 16s finalist, had little difficulty, defeating Adrienne Vesely 6-2, 6-0, while No. 2 seed in the 16s, ISC 16s champion Ena Shibahara, also advanced in straight sets over Sofia Kenin 6-2, 7-6(5).  Boys 16s No. 1 seed Sameer Kumar earned a 6-2, 6-2 win over Max Liu, and boys 14s No. 1 seed John McNally took out Andre Xiao by the same score, but several other top seeds struggled with the challenging conditions.

Last year's 14s finalist Kyle Seelig, the No. 2 seed in the 16s this year, dropped the first set to Neel Bedekar, but came back for a 5-7, 6-2, 6-0 win. Bedekar's one-handed backhand gave Seelig trouble in the opening set, but he adjusted to the conditions and began anticipating better as the match, which featured several line call disputes and calls for a roving umpire, wore on.

Connor Hance, the No. 2 seed in the boys 14s, had a similar scoreline, defeating Paul Barretto 5-7, 6-1, 6-0.

Top girls 16s seed Francesa Dilorenzo also needed three sets to reach the second round, defeating Raveena Kingsley 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.

While the top seeds in the younger age divisions survived, the No. 3 seed in girls 18s, Dasha Ivanova, did not. Ivanova lost to Keisha Clousing 6-3, 6-4. No. 4 seed Madison Bourguignon fell to Megan McCray 6-4, 6-2. Kimberly Yee, an ISC 18s semifinalist, defeated No. 12 seed Cassandra Vazquez 6-0, 3-6, 6-3, and Peggy Porter downed No. 5 seed Usue Arconada 2-6, 6-4, 6-1. Two other seeded players fell in the first round, with Maddie Pothoff defeating No. 16 seed Alexandria Stiteler 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-2 and Bianca Moldovan topping No. 15 seed Alexandra Morozova 6-3, 6-4.  Top seed Jamie Loeb had a bye.

For some reason the seeding for the Easter Bowl ITF was not based on the rankings from two weeks ago, but instead from the rankings prior to the Banana Bowl, which left Louisa Chirico as the No. 14 seed, rather than the No. 2 seed, which she would have been if the correct ranking date had been used.  Chirico, who played qualifying at last week's WTA Family Circle Cup, winning a round before falling to Mallory Burdette, found the adjustment back to juniors and from Har-Tru to hard courts challenging. Chirico eventually subdued Ayla Aksu 7-5, 6-7(0), 6-3, but admitted to some nerves.

"I definitely started a little bit tight," said Chirico, 16. "I wasn't hitting my shots and playing the way I have been playing. I loosened up a little, but I got a little too comfortable in the second set--I was up 5-3. But in the third set, I kept my focus and played much better."

Chirico lists clay as her favorite surface, and is hoping a good showing at the Easter Bowl will boost her ranking enough to get into the main draw at the French Open juniors.

"I wasn't able to play Carson, but I'm here to get my ranking up, because I do want to play the French for sure," said Chirico, whose only experience on European clay was at last year's Junior Fed Cup, where she went undefeated for the US team that won the championship. "That's my goal after this tournament, because this is the last tournament that counts. That's definitely a factor."

The boys 18s begin play on Tuesday, with Noah Rubin, the top seed, receiving a bye.  Stefan Kozlov, the ISC champion, pulled out today as a precaution, since he returned from an elbow injury earlier this year and has been playing, and winning, a lot of matches in the past few weeks.

Click here for the 18s ITF draws, and here for the 14s and 16s draws.