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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

FILA Easter Bowl 12s and 14s Finals, 16s and 18s Quarterfinals Set for Thursday; Lam Makes Annual Easter Bowl Run, Hamilton Comes Back to Advance in 16s

©Colette Lewis 2023--
Indian Wells CA--

The FILA Easter Bowl has enjoyed great weather since beginning last Saturday, but that ended Wednesday, with the semifinals for the 12s and 14s divisions and the round of 16 for the 16s and 18s divisions played under dramatically different conditions depending on the time of day. 

Clouds, a few raindrops, a mild and sunny hour, then gusty winds and blowing sand were the progression, and when the last singles match finished at 7 p.m., chilly temperatures were also added to the mix.

The boys 12s semifinals were straightforward affairs, with No. 6 seed Jason Eigbedion cruising past No. 3 seed Luca Queriroz 6-1, 6-1 and Stadium 4 and No. 7 seed Advay Singh rolling through No. 4 seed Carter Jauffret 6-0, 6-1.

Camilla Kostik, a No. 9 seed in the girls 12s, continued that trend, defeating No. 7 seed Aarini Bhattacharya 6-1, 6-2, with the most competitive semifinal in the 12s No. 4 seed Raya Kotseva's 6-4, 6-4 win over No. 2 seed Caroline Shao.

The 14s then took over the Stadium courts for their semifinals, with three of the four going the distance.

On Stadium 4, No. 3 seed Ryan Cozad defeated No. 2 seed Liam Alvarez 6-2, 6-2, but his opponent in the final, No. 7 seed Roshan Santhosh had a much tougher path, defeating No. 9 seed Izyan Ahmad 7-5, 3-6, 6-2.

Santhosh plays what looks like a casual game, but when he sees a ball he likes he generates serious pace, particularly on the backhand as Izyan discovered when he had to hit a second serve.

Late in the second set, Santhosh called the trainer for a shoulder injury he had suffered warming up, leaving him unable to hit anything but a second serve. That helped Ahmad stay close at the beginning of the third set, with each of the first five games going to deuce, and all won eventually by the server. In the sixth game, however, Ahmad was broken at love, and that was all Santhosh needed, as he held for 5-2 and converted his second match point with a drop shot winner.

Santhosh knew he had been in a battle.

"He just made a bunch of balls in the court, and he got to a lot shots, made me play most of the points," said the 14-year-old from Thousand Oaks California. "He made me hit a good shot to hit most of the points."

Ahmad figured out that he wasn't having the success he wanted in the long rallies, so he began to play more aggressively midway through the third set.

"All the points that were long went to him," said Santhosh, who trains at the USTA's Player Development West facility in Carson. "I just felt that I had to shorten up the points."

Playing in his second Easter Bowl, Santhosh is having success that he hadn't experienced in previous USTA Level 1s.

"All my other Level 1s I lost like first round," said Santhosh, who did make the third round of the Easter Bowl last year, losing to eventual champion Noah Johnston. "In those others ones I played really tight, but this one I relaxed and played more freely. It's my last 14s, so I just wanted to play my game and try to do the best that I can."

Cozad and Santhosh will be meeting for the first time Thursday.

No. 2 seed Nancy Lee will face No. 5 seed Anita Tu in the girls 14s final, after both prevailed in three sets. Lee defeated unseeded Paige Wygodzki 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, while Tu came from 6-4, 3-0 down to beat  No. 9 seed Aishi Bisht 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 in a 3-hour and 50-minute match on Stadium 6.  Tu defeated Lee in a USTA Level 3 last May 6-2, 7-6(4).

All four singles finals are scheduled for 11:30 am Thursday, with the doubles finals scheduled for 2:30 pm.

The quarterfinals are set for Thursday in the 16s and 18s, and it
is no surprise that unseeded Shannon Lam is still around as the Easter Bowl Championship weekend approaches. 

Lam, the 2021 Easter Bowl 12s champion, reached the quarterfinals of the Easter Bowl ITF last year, and with her 6-4, 6-0 win over No. 3 seed Sari Woo today, the 14-year-old is again contending for a USTA gold ball.

"My mom considers this my lucky tournament," Lam said. "And the past two tournaments I have done really, really well in them. This year I'm on track to hopefully win it again."

Lam wasn't surprised that she was not given a seed.

"I haven't played any USTA tournaments in a while," said Lam, who had not played Woo previously. "The last USTA tournament I played was Clay Courts; I've just been playing ITFs."

Lam said it took her most of the first set to figure out a strategy.

"I think in the beginning I was being a bit too aggressive," Lam said. "A lot of the games she won, I made a lot of unforced errors, so I just started cutting down my pace a little bit, started hitting angles and stuff. We had really long rallies and then she ended up getting impatient and making an unforced error."

Lam, who faces No. 8 seed Esha Velaga in the quarterfinals, is playing her third straight week after competing in the J300s in Indian Wells and San Diego. 

"I just wanted to have more matches," Lam said. "I feel like for my game, it's good to have the competiveness. I feel my technique and everything is fine, but I have to teach myself how to compete better."

Also playing for a third straight week is girls 16s No. 3 seed Alanis Hamilton, who had to make all sorts of adjustments to defeat Allie Bittner 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.

"I've been playing at a different site, so I think adjusting courts has been difficult for me,'' said the 15-year-old, who reached the quarterfinals in the J300s in Indian Wells and San Diego. "It was pretty windy, there was sand all over the place and I was having trouble seeing. But eventually I got used to the courts and kind of problem solved it. She definitely made me work hard for every point."

Hamilton decided to play the 16s for several reasons.

"Well since this is the third week, I wanted to take it a little bit easier. Obviously, that did not happen," Hamilton said. "And also to deal with the pressure of being one of the top seeds, beating people I think I'm supposed to beat, dealing with that pressure. And getting to work on my game, continue building."

The singles quarterfinal matchups for the 16s and 18s are below.

Live streaming for Stadium Court 4 matches is available at EasterBowl.com.

Greyson Casey v. Emon van Loben Sels[7]
Krish Arora[WC] v Mitchell Lee[WC]]
Marko Mesarovic[8] v Alex Fuchs[4]
Cassius Chinlund[5] v Stephan Gershfeld[2]

Sebastian Bielen[WC] v James Weber
Ian Bracks[4] v Jack Kennedy[WC]
Winston Lee[9] v Braeden Gelletich[9]
Cooper Han[9] v Sachiv Kumar

Valerie Glozman[1] v Riley Crowder[9]
Shannon Lam v Esha Velaga[8]
Aspen Schuman[5] v Maddy Zampardo[4]
Capucine Jauffret[7] v Tianmei Wang[2]

Claire Hill[1] v Anna Frey[9]
Kenzie Nguyen v Claire An[8]
Rachel Lee[6] v Alanis Hamilton[3]
Campbell Ricci[9]  v Leena Friedman[2]