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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Holt Survives Marathon Opener in Third Set Tiebreaker, Choy Bounces Johnson at ITF Asics Easter Bowl; 12s and 14s Easter Bowl Finals Set for Wednesday; Paul Wins First ATP Match in Houston

©Colette Lewis 2016--
Indian Wells, California--

The heat was suffocating for the remainder of the Asics Easter Bowl ITF first round action Tuesday, and No. 8 seed Brandon Holt had memories of serious cramping during a recent Brazil tournament to contend with as well. But despite failing to serve out the match twice, the Southern Californian managed to come through his three-hour and 39-minute encounter with qualifier Sam Turchetta 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(3).

"I feel like I'm in pretty good shape, but in Brazil, I full body cramped, so I was, not worried, but curious to see how I would do,"  Holt said of the impact of the desert heat, which reached into the mid-90s. "Luckily we played at 8 o'clock, if we had started now, I would have maybe died, I don't know."

Holt got a break to take a 5-3 lead, but after Turchetta held, Holt couldn't get to match point, winning just one point on his serve.  The 5-all game was a classic, with a total of six deuces. Turchetta saved four break points, but double faulted on the fifth, giving Holt a second chance to serve it out.

This time Holt was broken at love, with two errors to start the game and two winners by Turchetta to end it, so three hours and 30 minutes into the match, a conclusion was finally in sight.

After Holt missed two forehands to start the tiebreaker, he was heard to say "I've missed routine forehands this whole match."  But it was Turchetta that began to unravel, with three straight unforced errors and a missed second serve return giving Holt a 4-2 lead and Turchetta could summon only one more point the rest of the way.

"I think once it got deep in the third, like at 5-all, he got extremely tight," said Holt, the son of slam champion Tracy Austin. "He missed a lot of sitter balls on top of the next that he wouldn't have missed previously, so that actually gave me a little bit of confidence. I felt like I could almost feed off his negativity or disappointment, because he wasn't playing the big moments as well as he could. And I felt confident I'd been in that situation more than him. But all credit to him, he played a really good match, the whole entire time."

Holt said he's not sure why he hasn't felt comfortable in the California events last week and this week but has found a way to win matches in spite of that.

"Maybe coming back from the clay, I'm not fully used to it," said Holt, who turns 18 on Wednesday. "But that being said, I competed really hard; I guess that was all I could do."

Qualifier Sara Choy fell behind 5-0 against No. 6 seed Taylor Johnson, but she too competed hard and ended up posting a 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-2 victory over her fellow 15-year-old.

"When I caught up in the first set, I still had momentum going into the second set," said the diminutive Choy, who is the reigning 16s Winter National champion. "I was feeling pretty confident, even though I lost in the tiebreaker, I knew if I just forgot about what happened in the tiebreaker and treated the new set like a new match, it would be OK for me."

Choy said winning the gold ball in Scottsdale in January changed her outlook on her tennis.

"It caused me to think about tennis differently," said Choy, who trains with Byron Nepomuceno in the Palo Alto area. "It made me see my potential and so coming into this, I'm playing the 18s, so I have nothing to lose, but I still feel I shouldn't go in thinking I have no chance of winning at all. I have Winter Nationals under my belt now, so I can feel qualified to play this tournament."

Choy said playing qualifying both in Carson last week and at Easter Bowl this week was essential to her success.

"There was no way I could have done well without playing the qualies," said Choy. "I need that environment, where I have to really fight for my matches, so if I just came here straight from Palo Alto there'd be no way I'd be ready for this match."

In addition to Johnson, the other seeded girls losing in first round action Tuesday were No. 12 seed Hurricane Tyra Black, who lost to Hanna Chang 7-6(2), 6-3 and No. 11 seed Kelly Chen, who retired with heat illness at 5-4 in the first set in her match with qualifier Nadia Gizdova.

Boys No. 9 seed Oliver Crawford, still obviously not 100% recovered from his foot problems that surfaced it Carson, lost to wild card Danny Thomas 6-1, 7-5 and No. 15 seed Patrick Kypson fell to 2015 16s Easter Bowl finalist Brian Cernoch 6-3, 6-1.

Results, draws and Wednesday's order of play is at the ITF Junior website.  Live streaming of four courts (1,2,7,8) is available through links at the tournament website.

The singles finals are set for the 14s and 12s on Wednesday.

No. 5 seed Andrew Dale will face No. 12 seed Alex Lee in the boys 14s final and No. 13 seed Skyler Grishuk meets No. 12 seed Ava Hrastar for the girls 14s title.

In the 12s, No. 11 seed Max Fardanesh (11) will play top seed 
Samuel Landau for the boys title; the girls 12s championship match will have top seed Nikki Yanez playing against No. 2 seed Katrina Scott.

The first Easter Bowl champions of 2016 were crowned Tuesday evening in the 12s and 14s doubles.  Scores of those four finals are below.  Photos of the doubles finalists and champions will be posted in a slideshow later this month.

Complete draws for the 12s, 14s and 16s are available at the TennisLink site.

Boys' 14 Doubles (Final Round)
Joshua Raab (Woodstock, GA)/Andres Martin (1) (Flowery Branch, GA) def. Stefan Leustian (Mather, CA)/Zachery Lim (2) (Fairfield, CA) 8-4

Girls' 14 Doubles (Final Round)
Fiona Crawley (San Antonio, TX)/Ava Hrastar (1) (Duluth, GA) def. Savannah Broadus (Carrollton, TX)/Kenadee Semenik (Las Vegas, NV) 8-2

Boys' 12 Doubles (Final Round)
Eli Gordon (Highland Park, IL)/Samuel Landau (5) (Los Angeles, CA) def. Andrew Chang (Trophy Club, TX)/Evan Lee (1) (Cos Cob, CT) 9-7

Girls' 12 Doubles (Final Round)
Carson Tanguilig (Alpharetta, GA)/Elise Wagle (Niskayuna, NY) def. Mya Byrd (Norfolk, VA)/Robin Montgomery (1) (Washington, DC) 8-2

Boys' 12 Singles (Semifinal Round)
Max Fardanesh (11) (Albany, CA) def. Noelle Andrey Ampong (5) (Downers Grove, IL) 4-6, 6-2, 10-7
Samuel Landau (1) (Los Angeles, CA) def. Evan Lee (Cos Cob, CT) 5-7, 6-4, 10-5

Girls' 12 Singles (Semifinal Round)
Nikki Yanez (1) (Sarasota, FL) def. Kathryn Treiber (Hinsdale, IL) 6-2, 6-4
Katrina Scott (2) (Woodland Hills, CA) def. Elise Wagle (8) (Niskayuna, NY) 6-3, 4-6, 10-5

Boys' 14 Singles (Semifinal Round)
Andrew Dale (5) (Leesburg, VA) def. Nicholas Garcia (13) (Hollywood, FL) 6-3, 7-5
Alex Lee (12) (Oak Brook, IL) def. Stefan Dostanic (Irvine, CA) 4-6, 6-3, 7-5

Girls' 14 Singles (Semifinal Round)
Skyler Grishuk (13) (Aliso Viejo, CA) def. Camille Kiss (Redlands, CA) 7-6(5), 6-0
Ava Hrastar (12) (Duluth, GA) def. Christine Inah Canete (Los Angeles, CA) 4-6, 6-4, 6-4

I haven't been able to follow the Pro Circuit and Pro events as much as usual since I've been covering junior events every day here in California, but 18-year-old Tommy Paul got a notable win today at the ATP US Men's Clay Court Championships in Houston.  Paul defeated No. 8 seed Paolo Lorenzi of Italy 6-2, 6-3 for his first ATP main draw win. He will play fellow teen Hyeon Chung of Korea in the second round. Paul is featured in the ATP's Last Time segment here.