The Easter Bowl USTA Junior National Spring Championships Presented by Adidas will celebrate its 50th tournament starting tomorrow, Saturday, March 25 and running through Saturday, April 2 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
Started in 1968 in New York City by Seena Hamilton, the Easter Bowl tournament is currently directed by chairman Lornie Kuhle and has always been a direct “pathway to the pros” for aspiring tennis players as nearly every American who has achieved success on the world’s tennis stage in the Open era has played the Easter Bowl, including current American stars Jack Sock, Stevie Johnson, John Isner, Madison Keys and CiCi Bellis.
The 50th annual Easter Bowl has returned as a designated USTA National Championship this year, meaning there will be gold, silver and bronze balls awarded for finalists and the third-place winner in the boys’ and girls’ 12s, 14s and 16s divisions. The 18s divisions will remain an ITF Level B1 event and closed to only the top U.S. junior players who will play for valuable ITF ranking points.
The site of the Easter Bowl is once again the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, home of the recently concluded BNP Paribas Open, and other tennis facilities and country clubs around the Coachella Valley.
The event begins Saturday with qualifying in the 12s and 14s divisions and will conclude with the ITF boys’ and girls’ division finals on Sunday, April 2.
Top players in the Boys’ ITF division include defending champion Gianni Ross, ranked No. 18 in the ITF Junior world rankings and expected to be seeded No. 2. Trent Bryde of Suwanee, Ga. Bryde, currently ranked No. 11 in the world rankings, played in the Australian Open Juniors main draw in January, and won both the singles and doubles at the Grade A ITF in Brazil in February. He beat fellow American Vasil Kirkov from Tampa., Fla., in the semifinals in three sets. Kirkov is the No. 19-ranked ITF player and comes in as the No. 3 Easter Bowl seed.
Bryde lost to eventual ITF champion Ross in the quarterfinals at last year’s Easter Bowl while Kirkov advanced to the semifinals before being taken out by runner-up John McNally. Sam Riffice, 2015 Easter Bowl 16s champion Oliver Crawford, Danny Thomas, Brian Cernoch and Patrick Kypson are other top players.
Gianni Ross captured the Easter Bowl title last year, and will be back to defend his title next week. (Credit photo to Dave Kenas/Easter Bowl)
On the girls’ side, last year’s singles finalist Ellie Douglas of McKinney, Texas, returns and will likely be seeded within the top four as her current ITF ranking is No. 28. Taylor Johnson of Redondo Beach, Calif., will be the top-seeded player as she is ranked No. 14 the ITF. Johnson is coached by local Coachella Valley resident Rosie Casals. Carson Branstine from Orange, Calif., is the No. 2-seed and No. 15 in the world. Whitney Osuigwe recently received a WTA world ranking as she made it to the Round of 16 at the Tampa ITF Pro Futures tournament.
This Sunday night, Team USA will once again hold its annual awards night in conjunction with the player party, which includes a free meal to all players catered by the Old Spaghetti Factory in Rancho Mirage. The USTA has announced that Mike Gennette, coach of top juniors Claire Liu and Austen Huang, and Henner Nehles, coach of rising American 17-year old Kayla Day, were named as the 2016 Team USA Developmental Coaches of the Year as part of USTA Player Development’s annual Team USA Coaching Awards.
Other award winners include Smith Tennis in Indianapolis, recognized as the 2016 Team USA Developmental Program of the Year, while USTA Northern California was named the 2016 Team USA Player Development Section of the Year. Tennis icon Billie Jean King, renowned coach Rick Macci and University of Georgia legend Dan Magill are also being honored with Team USA Legendary Coaching Awards.
“This year the Adidas Easter Bowl is celebrating its 50th Anniversary and we are so fortunate to have the Indian Wells Tennis Garden as our host site for this prestigious event and I want to personally thank them,” Easter Bowl chairman Lornie Kuhle said. “The Adidas Easter Bowl is now a U.S. National Championship in all divisions: boys’ and girls’ 12s, 14s, 16, and 18s, making it the only National Championship in the country to host all divisions in one location. At this year’s BNP Paribas Open, nearly every American in the main draw had once played the Easter Bowl proving the Adidas Easter Bowl is truly a pathway to the pros.”
Once again this year, the Easter Bowl will allow $10,000 in travel grants that will be awarded evenly in the boys’ and girls’ ITF divisions beginning in the round of 16. The grants will take the form of vouchers for airline travel and hotel expenses. The travel grants will be awarded as follows: Winner and finalist: $750; semifinalist: $500; quarterfinalist: $325; Round of 16: $150.
In addition to live streaming the Easter Bowl again this year, Kuhle also announced the tournament’s updated mobile app, which can be found in both the Apple iTunes store or at Google Play. Search “Easter Bowl” to download the app.
To watch the live stream and for all other Easter Bowl news, results and schedules, visit www.easterbowl.com