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Monday, March 26, 2018

Eight Seeds Fall on Easter Bowl ITF Opening Day; Boys 12s Top Seed Mangiapane Out; Collins Beats Puig to Make Miami Open Quarterfinals

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

Seeds did not fare well on the opening day of the ITF Grade B1 Adidas Easter Bowl championships, with eight of them falling on a sunny and breezy day at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

Charlotte Owensby, who saved seven match points to claim the Easter Bowl title in the 14s last year, received a wild card into the ITF tournament this year and kept her winning streak going with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over No. 4 seed Natasha Subhash.

“I came in knowing there was no pressure because she is obviously the higher ranked player and she is older,” Owensby told Easter Bowl press aide Steve Pratt. “So I knew that she’d be a little nervous. I’ve been training differently recently than I have been in past years, so I knew I was ready and just wanted to start off strong from the beginning.”

Owensby wasn't the only player to pull off an upset on Court 1, with Nikki Redeljik preceding Owensby with a 6-3, 6-4 win over No. 6 seed Peyton Stearns and Jake Sands following Owensby with a 6-3, 6-4 win over No. 6 seed Emilio Nava.

No. 3 seed Andrew Fenty was the highest seed to fall, with the Michigan recruit dropping a 6-3, 6-4 decision to Cannon Kingsley, who has recently made a verbal commitment to Ohio State. 

“I thought I played one of my best matches in a while," said Kingsley, who won the ITF Grade 3 in Costa Rica earlier this month. 
"I got a little bit tight at the end, but it was good overall and I was able to close it out in straight sets.” 

Although Kingsley had never played Fenty before, he was did have some idea what to expect. "I knew his game a little bit," Kinglsey told Pratt. "He has a interesting game, good backhand and a good forehand so I just went into hoping for the best and see what happens, and it was a pretty good result."

No. 5 seed Lea Ma lost to USTA 18s Winter National Champion Fiona Crawley, retiring down 6-3, 3-1.  Boys No. 8 seed Eliot Spizzirri was beaten by Michael Sun 6-2, 6-1 and No. 10 seed Axel Nefve lost to Stefan Leustian 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-1. 

The final match to finish, with the light fading, saw Jacob Bullard take out No. 5 seed Tyler Zink by a 5-7, 7-5, 6-3 score.  Bullard, a 17-year-old from Calabasas California, said he was happy to get the victory in his first ITF Grade 1 event, particularly under the circumstances.

"Mentally it was really tough with the wind today," said the left-hander. "I was almost out of there. He won a tight first set and was up 4-3 in the second and I was serving down 0-40. I just decided to go for it and it really paid off today, I thought."

Zink moves forward to end points at the net often, but Bullard thought that strategy was difficult to sustain given the conditions.

"That style is pretty tiring I think and I started to get more looks," Bullard said. "The wind let his approaches set up a little bit more and I thought I was able to pass him towards the end of the second set and throughout the third. To get a win like that against a player like Tyler, in these conditions, it's really good for my confidence and I think it will help me a lot through the rest of the tournament."

Bullard, who played in the 16s division here last year, has verbally committed to Texas for 2019.

"When I took a visit, I immediately knew that it was the place for me," Bullard said. "It really felt like home there and I felt it was the best balance of school and tennis for me. I think I've been playing the best tennis of my life since I committed there. I've had a great start to 2018 and I'm super excited with everything it has to offer."

The champions of last week's Grade 4 at Newport Beach were on today's schedule, with boys winner Siem Woldeab advancing when Boris Kozlov retired trailing 6-3, 5-0.  Girls champion Elvina Kalieva was not able to continue a Southern California winning streak however, falling to fellow wild card Jaedan Brown 2-6, 7-5, 6-4.

Brown avenged her quarterfinal loss to Kalieva last week in Newport Beach, where cramps sabotaged her opportunity to close out the match in straight sets.

"I was up 7-6, 3-2 when I started to cramp, and she took over from there." said Brown, who lost 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-1. "In this match, I knew that I could win, I just had to stay healthy and hydrated and I knew I could do it."

Even down 6-2, 4-1, Brown said she didn't doubt she could win the match.

"I was still believing in myself," said the 15-year-old, who trains at the Lakeland Tennis Academy in Niles, Michigan. "I knew I had to get on the offensive side more, because she was taking over the points. I was definitely not moving my feet, and I got that changed."

Brown was up 4-1 in the third set, but Kalieva brought it back to 4-4. Brown played flawlessly in the final two games however, holding and breaking, all the while attacking when she got an opportunity. She closed out the match with a deep approach and a perfect forehand volley, a tactic she is trying to incorporate into her game with more regularity.

"My coach at home and the USTA too, that's something they're trying to get me to do more, transition to the net," Brown said. "She's really good at staying in those hard-hitting rallies, so I was trying to show her some different shots."

Brown was excited to get her first Grade 1 win at the site of the BNP Paribas Open.

"It's exciting. I'm just happy to be here," Brown said. "It's really cool playing Indian Wells, it's so pretty."

The remaining 18 singles matches are on Tuesday's schedule, with top seeds Alexa Noel and Tristan Boyer taking the court for the first time. The first round of doubles will follow, with Boyer and Spizzirri the top boys seeds and Caty McNally and Hailey Baptiste the top girls seeds.

The third round of the 12s and 14s were played Monday, with boys 12s No. 1 seed Nicholas Mangiapane dropping his match to No. 10 seed Raghav Jangbahadur by a 7-5, 6-1 score.  Girls 12s top seed Stephanie Yakoff and girls 14s top seed Reese Brantmeier advanced to the quarterfinals, as did boys 14s top seed Samir Banerjee. Complete results are available at the TennisLink site.

2014 and 2016 NCAA singles champion Danielle Collins has reached the Miami Open quarterfinals, defeating Monica Puig of Puerto Rico 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.  Collins, whose ranking will now move into the WTA Top 70, will face No. 8 seed Venus Williams in the quarterfinals. Sloane Stephens[13] defeated No. 3 seed Garbine Muguruza of Spain to advance to the quarterfinals against No. 10 seed Angelique Kerber of Germany.