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Sunday, March 25, 2018

Easter Bowl ITF Qualifying Complete, Main Draw Begins Monday; Coaches Reception, Adidas Party Kick Off Tournament; Collins Advances at Miami Open; Aragone Wins Calabasas Futures

©Colette Lewis 2018--
Indian Wells, CA--

A beautiful day in the desert saw 16 players reach the main draw of the ITF Grade B1 Easter Bowl on the courts of the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, while the evening's highlights included the adidas Jam player's party and the Team USA coaches reception.

Thirteen-year-old Katrina Scott followed up her win over top seed Kylie Collins Saturday with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Jessica Anzo to qualify for her first Grade 1 event.  Also qualifying were Kennedy Bridgforth[2], Elaine Chervinsky[15], Jessi Muljat, Julia Andreach, Jenna Defalco, Maxi Duncan[14] and Marcella Cruz[8].

The top seed in boys qualifying, Milledge Cossu lost to No. 10 seed James Ignatowich 6-3, 6-1. The only unseeded player in qualifying to advance to the main draw was Luke Vandecasteele, although the only Top 8 seed to make it through was No. 7 seed Alex Bancila. Other qualifiers are Ritik Sundaram[11], Roger Chou[15], Spencer Gray[12], Neel Rajesh[14] and Samuel Rubell.

None of the qualifiers will play on Monday, nor will the top seeds, Alexa Noel and Tristan Boyer, who are not among the 46 singles matches scheduled for the first day. No. 2 seed Margaryta Bilokin faces Cali Jankowski and No. 3 seed Caty McNally will take on Jayci Goldsmith. In the boys draw, No. 2 seed Drew Baird will play Mark Mandlik and No. 3 seed Andrew Fenty, a Michigan recruit, will face Cannon Kingsley, who has committed to Ohio State. The Buckeyes defeated the Wolverines today 6-1 in a Top 10 battle in Columbus.

The 16s will begin play on Monday, with the entire first round on the schedule. Keshav Chopra and Gianna Pielet are the top seeds.  In Sunday's second round of the 12s and 14s divisions, one of the Top 2 seeds was eliminated. with Noelle Ampong, No. 2 in the boys 14s, losing to Kurt Miller 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-3.  See the TennisLink site for results and times for Monday's third round.

The ice cream station at the adidas Jam was always busy
The adidas Jam was a huge hit, with the sponsor providing custom-screened T-shirts, adidas apparel, ping pong tables, a DJ, a photo booth, and a food court with made-to-order pizza, tacos and ice cream.  While players and parents were enjoying the Jam, coaches were gathering in the the BNP Paribas Players Lounge for the fifth annual Team USA Coaches Reception.  Kent Kinnear, the USTA's Director of Player ID and Development, introduced the 2017 Team USA Coaching Award winners.

Developmental Program of the Year: the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Maryland

Developmental Coach of the Year: Konstantin Anisimov, Aventura Florida

USTA Player Development Section of the Year: USTA Florida

Team USA Coaching Legends Awards:
Ricardo Acuna
Andy Brandi
Tom Gullikson

Acuna, who is suffering from early onset Alzheimer's disease, could not attend, but his wife Kim gave an emotional acceptance speech about what tennis has meant to him as a coach and a player.  Brandi and Gullikson were both in attendance and after brief speeches, the pair answered questions from the audience about their coaching philosophies, teaching young players, coaching younger coaches, adapting to individual players' strengths, how coaching women and men can require different approaches, grip recommendations and other questions that drew on their decades of experience.

Qualifier Danielle Collins continued her impressive results in March, reaching the round of 16 at the Miami Open with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 win over Donna Vekic of Croatia.  Collins, who also reached the round of 16 at the BNP Paribas Open as a wild card, will face fellow 24-year-old Monica Puig of Puerto Rico Monday. John Isner[14] and Venus Williams[8] were the other Americans advancing on Sunday.

JC Aragone won his first professional title Sunday at the $25,000 Calabasas Futures, beating Marcos Giron 6-2, 6-4 in the final.  For more on the final, see the recap from press aide Steve Pratt below:

J.C. Aragone Beats Marcos Giron in USTA Men’s Pro Tennis
Championships Of Calabasas Singles Final

CALABASAS, Calif., -- J.C. Aragone battled two opponents in the final of the USTA Men’s Pro Tennis Championships of Calabasas.

The 22-year-old pro circuit rookie and University of Virginia graduate beat former NCAA singles champion and hometown hero Marcos Giron, 6-2, 6-4, to win his first professional title, a USTA Pro Circuit $25,000 Pro Futures event that concluded on Sunday at the Calabasas Tennis & Swim Center.

Aragone may be from Southern California, but Yorba Linda in Orange County felt a lot farther than 70 miles away, as Grion’s high school tennis coach joined in with about 150 other enthusiastic supporters and cheered his every move.

Aragone addressed the crowd after the match in an on-court interview with tournament director Jeff Richards. After telling them it was his first pro title, he got a nice ovation, at last. “That was the most clapping I got from you all day,” Aragone said with a smile. “I get it, he’s a good looking guy. But come on already. I’m going to try and come back next year but you guys are going to have to do a little better for me.”

The pro-Giron fans appreciated the high level of tennis exchanged by both players. Aragone, who won three NCAA team titles at Virginia, got an early break in both the first and second sets and played aggressive tennis throughout to take his second win over Giron in the past six weeks as Aragone registered a third-set tiebreaker win over Giron in the San Francisco Challenger.

Giron was kept behind the baseline for most of the match, and couldn’t solve Aragone’s big serve and constant pressure. “J.C. played amazing tennis and kept the pressure on me,” said Giron, the 2014 Calabasas champion. “Just too good today. He qualified for the US Open so we know he can play great tennis.”

He added: “I always love playing here in front of my family and friends and wish I could have won here again. Next time.”

Leading 5-4 and looking to close Giron out on his serve, Aragone tightened up a few times in the 10th game, including serving two double faults on match points. In fact, it wasn’t until the sixth match point that Aragone was finally able to hit a big serve down the T which Giron hit into the bottom of the next to give him his first title.

“I don’t know if you guy realize this, but don’t play Marcos’ running forehand. Ever,” Aragone told the crowd. “I don’t know why I kept going there. It was a tough week having to play two matches a day, both physically and mentally.”

Aragone later said he got nervous on his few match points, but was able to grind it out, even though the crowd was cheering Giron’s every move. “Marcos played unbelievable on the match points,” Ararone said. “I mean, yeah, I threw in two doubles, but he was putting so much pressure on me. I would come up with a huge shot, and he would come up with something bigger. The game plan was to be aggressive. Marcos can be pretty aggressive if you let him.”

He said he wasn’t annoyed by the crowd, just worried it might ultimately make him lose focus. “It’s tough to play an opponent and the entire crowd,” Aragone said. “I was hitting like outrageous sights and just crickets [from the crowd]. I was like, ‘what is going on?’ It’s usually even. It was definitely tough.”

After four straight weeks of tournaments, Aragone said he’s ready to relax. “Where do I go from here? I’m going to rest. I’m going to Miami Beach and going to sit on the beach. And then I start training for the clay court season.”

In the doubles final Sunday, former UC-Berkeley teammates Andre Goransson of Sweden and Florian Lakat of France snapped the seven-match streak of No. 2 seeded Bernardo Saraiva of Portugal and Sam Verbeek of the Netherlands, 6-2, 7-6 (3). Saraiva and Verbeek were coming off a win in last week’s Bakersfield Futures.

Sunday’s Final Singles Score
J.C. Aragone, U.S. (7), def. Marcos Giron, U.S. (4), 6-2, 6-4

Sunday’s Final Doubles Score
Andre Goransson, Sweden / Florian Lakat, France, def. Bernardo Saraiva, Portugal / Sam Verbeek, Netherlands (2), 6-2, 7-6 (3)