The Asics Easter Bowl has announced it will be moving again in 2014. After six years at Rancho Las Palmas resort in Rancho Mirage, in 2013 the main tournament site moved to Sunrise Country Club, which is also in Rancho Mirage. In 2014, which will usher in numerous changes to the tournament, the main tournament site will also change, to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
Until last year, when construction precluded it, Indian Wells was used by the Easter Bowl as an early round auxiliary site. It obviously has some huge advantages, with plenty of parking and 29 courts, which were constructed with spectators in mind. I'm sure the players will be thrilled to be competing on the same courts where Maria Sharapova and Rafael Nadal played in the BNP Paribas Open just weeks before. But there are also some drawbacks that can be anticipated from the Orange Bowl, which was held at the home of the Sony Open in Key Biscayne until the Orange Bowl moved to Plantation, Florida in 2011.
With a site built for tens of thousands of spectators, the small number of junior tennis fans can feel isolated and lost. Without an intimate central gathering place, where fans, coaches, players and parents mingle, the excitement of the tournament can dissipate quickly, especially as the tournament winds down. I much prefer Plantation to Key Biscayne for the Orange Bowl; I hope I'll prefer the new Easter Bowl site to the old ones, but it's unquestionably going in the opposite direction.
Other changes for 2014 include a qualifying draw for the ITF Grade B1, which will make the final two days of the International Spring Championships in Carson more interesting, and will probably result in stronger fields. The 12s, 14s, and 16s are no longer USTA gold ball events and the 64-draws will be played in just four days at the tournament's conclusion. This means no staggering of the finals, as has been the case, with the girls and boys 14s and girls 18s on Saturday and the boys and girls 16s and boys 18s on Sunday. The 12s are a new addition to the tournament this year.
Obviously other sites will be used on the first few days of the tournament 's younger divisions, with two singles matches on two of the four days. With doubles and consolation draws, and prohibitions for the 12s and 14s against starting a match after 8 p.m., the scheduling is going to be extremely complicated. Throw in the fact that the four days selected are during the Coachella Music Festival, when hotel rates in the area double if rooms are available at all, and there's no denying the huge challenges faced by the organizers for 2014.
For the complete release, see the Easter Bowl website.
|Manny Diaz, photo courtesy Bill Kallenberg|