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Friday, March 31, 2023

My ITF J300 San Diego Recap; Glozman Aims for Second Straight FILA Easter Bowl Title; Two Californians Meet in Boys 18s Final; 16s Championships Also Set for Saturday

©Colette Lewis 2023--
Indian Wells CA--

I'm in the home stretch of this three-week Southern California junior tennis circuit, but if you haven't had an opportunity to follow my daily coverage of the ITF J300 last week in San Diego, please read about the titles for Kaylan Bigun and Clervie Ngounoue in today's Tennis Recruiting Network article.

The contrast between 18s top seed Valerie Glozman's hometown of Seattle and Indian Wells, the site of the FILA Easter Bowl for the past eight years, may not explain why the 16-year-old is playing for a second consecutive title Saturday, but that's her theory at the moment.

"I guess it's the nice weather," said Glozman, who defeated unseeded Shannon Lam 6-1, 7-5 in the semifinals Friday afternoon on Stadium 4. "It's nice to get out of rainy Seattle."

Now on an 11-match winning streak at the Easter Bowl, Glozman had lost only two games total in the round of 16 and the quarterfinals, but she was prepared for a tough battle with the 14-year-old Lam, who won the Easter Bowl 12s title in 2021.

"I came out a little nervous," Glozman said. "I knew she was a great player; I watched her previous match, and she's really fast and has a lot of variety. I think our styles are pretty similar actually. I knew it was going to be a long match, so I was grateful to scrape out the close games early on, get off to a good start."

Glozman got the battle she was expecting in the second set, with Lam going up a break, which meant little as from 3-2 neither player held serve until Glozman earned a love hold to go up 6-5. Lam had served for the set at 5-4, came back from 0-40 down, but never got to a set point. Although the points were close, the next two games were not, with Glozman claiming the final nine points of the match.

"She made some adjustments in the second set, started to be a lot more aggressive and I kind of backed off a little bit," said Glozman, who reached the final of the USTA National 18s in San Diego last August. "I was glad I was able to find the right balance and scrape out the second set. Three-all was a big game, 4-all as well that I didn't get, so at 5-all I really tried to step it up."

Standing in the way of Glozman's second straight Easter Bowl title is Aspen Schuman, the No. 5 seed, who defeated No. 7 seed Capucine Jauffret 6-1, 6-2.  Schuman and Glozman met in the first round of the ITF J300 two weeks ago, also at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden during the second week of the BNP Paribas Open, with Glozman winning 6-1, 7-6(5).

"That was tough draw, she's a great player," said Schuman, a 15-year-old from Menlo Park California, who qualified for the Indian Wells junior event. "I've known Valerie for a long time and we've been close friends. Playing her in a final is a little better at least."

Schuman, who defeated No. 4 seed Maddy Zampardo 6-4, 6-2 in the quarterfinals, said she is starting to get used to the slow hard courts at Indian Wells, which she doesn't consider her best surface. "It's not exactly good for my game, but I think I've ended up liking them better." 

Schuman said she would like to improve all parts of her game, yet cited several intangibles as a key to her success.

"I think I'm very disciplined, and it shows when I'm playing," Schuman said. "I try to do my best to compete; I think I have good competitive skills."

The boys 18s final will feature two Southern Californians, who are at different stages in their junior tennis careers. No. 7 seed Emon van Loben Sels is a redshirt freshman at UCLA playing the Easter Bowl on his spring break, while No. 5 seed Cassius Chinlund is a high school sophomore who is just beginning to have an impact in 18s.

Van Loben Sels defeated wild card Krish Arora 6-4, 7-5, after seeing his 4-0 second set lead disappear.

"I knew that I was in every game," the 18-year-old from Sacramento said. "I was just a little unlucky on a few big points. I knew I was capable of taking that and I somehow got through it."

Van Loben Sels didn't think he would be eligible for the 2023 Easter Bowl, because he turns 19 in December and if it had continued to be an ITF event, he would be too old. But with the USTA's birth month and year policy, instead of just the birth year  that determines eligibility, he could play this and is planning to play Kalamazoo as well.

Chinlund defeated No. 8 seed Marko Mesarovic 6-4, 6-4 in today's semifinal, crediting his newfound confidence with getting him through to his first USTA Level 1 final.

"My training's completely changed and I'm completely focused in practice 100 percent," said Chinlund who works with 2014 NCAA finalist Alex Sarkissian. "I'm working very hard and that's what makes me comfortable in matches. I've trained so hard to get here, control everything I can and it's made me super easy to perform in matches. I feel much more physical, really fit and feel I'm playing amazing."

Van Loben Sels considers Chinlund a different generation although they are just two years apart in age.

"I've never played him, and I was always like an age-level higher, van Loben Sels said. "But I've known him, seen him play a lot, he's good player. He's gotten a lot better recently, so it will be a fun one."

The 16s finals, which in previous Easter Bowls were held on Saturday, while the 18s were on Sunday, remain in their position on the schedule with the 18s finals moved up to the same day.

No. 3 seed Alanis Hamilton and No. 8 seed Claire An will meet for the girls 16s title, after both came from a set down to reach the final. Hamilton, who has dropped the first set in her last three matches, defeated No. 2 seed Leena Friedman 6-7(1), 6-3, 6-2 on Stadium 4, while An, who has played four three-setters to reach the final, beat No. 9 seed Anna Frey 4-6, 6-4, 5-1.

No. 4 seed Ian Bracks and No. 9 seed Braeden Gelletich will meet for the Boys 16s singles title after Bracks defeated wild card Sebastian Bielen, the 2021 Easter Bowl 12s champion, 6-4, 7-6(3) and Gelletich won the last 11 games in his 6-2, 6-0 win over fellow No. 9 seed Cooper Han.

"I knew he was tired, because he played two or three three-setters this week," said Gelletich, a 16-year-old from New York, who has yet to drop a set in the tournament. "So I kept moving him around, swinging for it, and I just kept making it."

The doubles finals are also set for Saturday, with Hamilton the only player in either division going for a sweep. She and Kayla Chung, the No. 2 seeds, will face the unseeded team of Bella Payne and Elena Zhao in the girls 16s final.

In the boys 16s final, No. 2 seeds Andre Alcantara and Xavier Calvelo will face No. 5 seeds Winston Lee and Aniketh Poruri for the gold balls.

The only top seeds remaining are in the girls 18s, with No. 1 Maddy Zampardo and Susanna Maltby taking on No. 3 seeds Ava Esposito Cogan and Carolina McGinley for the title.

In the boys 18s, the unseeded team of Krish Arora and 2022 Easter Bowl 16s singles champion Parashar Bharadwaj will face No. 2 seeds Kale Mize and Declan Galligan.

Both 18s singles finals will be live streamed at Easterbowl.com. The schedule has the girls 16s and girls 18s finals at 10 a.m., with the boys 16s and 18s final at noon.