It’s a new-look ASICS Easter Bowl in 2014, as the annual junior tennis tournament has plenty of changes in store once play begins this week. The location, format and draw sizes have all changed this year for the 47th annual event. The host site this year is the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, where the nation’s top boys and girls junior tennis players will have a chance to play on the same courts as their favorite pro players did last month at the BNP Paribas Open.
In addition to all the top seeds in each division, several New Yorkers will be headed to Indian Wells in hopes of capturing ASICS Easter Bowl glory. Brooklyn, N.Y.’s Daniel Kerznerman will look to take home the title in the Boys 18s Division. Glen Cove, N.Y.’s Steven Sun will look to challenge for the Boys 14s Division title. From upstate New York, Matthew Gamble from Webster will look to take home the Boys 16 Division title, while Rachel Lim from Briarcliff Manor, N.Y. challenges for the Girls 14s Division. Montebello, N.Y.’s Gabriella Price looks to challenge for the Girls 12s title.
For the first time, the tournament will include the nation’s top 12-and-Under players. The 16s, 14s and 12s Divisions will be a four-day event. Also new this year, there are no wild cards being admitted for the 16s, 14s and 12s Divisions.
“I’m excited about the ASICS Easter Bowl,” said 16-year-old Francis Tiafoe, the top-seeded player in the Boys 18s Division from College Park, Md., who, last December, became the youngest champion in the 67 years of the Metropolia Orange Bowl International Championships. “I’m excited about every tournament I play, but especially this one. It’s been so cold in Maryland and I’ve played the past three months indoors. I just love playing outdoors here and in the sun.”
In the Boys 18s, Tiafoe will face some stiff competition, including Alex Rybakov from Coral Springs, Fla.; Henrik Wiersholm from Kirkland, Wash.; Logan Smith from Carlsbad, Calif.; Jordi Arconada from College Park, Md.; and Taylor Fritz from Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.
In the Girls 18s Division, top players include Sofia Kenin from Pembroke Pines, Fla.; Johnnise Renaud from North Miami, Fla.; CiCi Bellis from Atherton, Fla.; Michaela Gordon from Los Alto Hills, Calif.; Usue Arconada from College Park, Md.; Kaitlyn McCarthy from Cary, N.C.; and Raquel Pedraza from Claremont, Calif.
The top-seed players in the Boys 16 Division include Evan Zhu (Greenbelt, Md.), Zeke Clark (Tulsa, Okla.), William Genesen (Tulsa, Okla.) and Alex Phillips (Peachtree City, Ga.). In the Girls 16s Division, among the top seeds include: Katerina Stewart (Coral Gables, Fla.), Alexandra Sanford (Westerville, Ohio), Bess Waldram (Portland, Ore.), Isabella Lorenzini (Clarendon Hills, Ill.) and Rebecca Weissmann (Loveland, Colo.).
The top-seeded players in the Boys 14s Division are: Keenan Mayo (Roseville, Calif.); Russell Benkaim (Osprey, Fla.); Brandon Nakashima (San Diego, Calif.); and Axel Nefve (Hinsdale, Ill.). In the Girls 14s Division, the top seeds include: Grace Joyce (Newton, Mass.), Shailla Alda (Phoenix), Alyvia Jones (Midland, Mich.) and Taylor Johnson (Redondo Beach, Calif.).
The top-seeded players in the Boys 12s Division are: Harry Yang (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.), Blaise Bicknell (Miami), Spencer Whitaker (Richmond, Va.), Ivan Smith (Chula Vista, Calif.) and Niroop Vallabhaneni (Paradise Valley, Ariz.). In the Girls 12s Division, the top seeds include Gianna Pielet (El Paso, Texas); Victoria Hu (Northborough, Mass.); Cameron Compall (Winnetka, Ill.) and Whitney Osuigwe (Bradenton, Fla.).
The iconic junior tournament was started by Seena Hamilton in 1968 and is now led by Tournament Director Lornie Kuhle.