Hey Tennis Friends!
This year, they shifted the schedule of this event and I was unable to attend the USTA 16s finals, which I have covered in the past. As a result, I am only able to bring you the ITF (18s) portion of the National Spring Championships, known as the ASICS Easter Bowl! Here is my first report, semifinal day for the ITF singles:
Here are the scores for the matches that I featured (seedings in parenthesis):
GIRLS’ 18s SINGLES SEMIFINAL
(2) Katie Swan d. (unseeded) Kylie McKenzie 6-2, 6-3
Swan had turned sixteen on March 24th. She will now play 14-year-old Claire Liu in the final day of action at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Last year, Swan fell in the 18s final to good friend CiCi Bellis while the No. 12-seeded Liu, then just 13 years old, was playing in the final of the 16s and taken out by Katerina Stewart in three tight sets.
The two will meet for the second time in their careers with Swan, originally from Bristol, Great Britain, getting the better of Liu in the first round of the US Open Juniors in early September in their only other meeting.
On this Saturday, Swan was also the winner of the Tory Fretz/Jackie Cooper Sportsmanship award.
BOYS’ 18s SINGLES SEMIFINAL
(1) Taylor Fritz d. (4) Nathan Ponwith 7-6 (5), 6-0
The last time Fritz played rival Ponwith, he fell to him in the 2013 16s at the Kalamazoo USTA Hardcourt National Championships. “I remember we played a lot in the 12s,” said Fritz, who said that the 12s may have been the last time he beat Ponwith. “It used to be I was all forehands and no backhands. I think I have worked on my backhand a lot in the past year and it’s gotten better. That’s what made the difference.”
Fritz, currently the No. 4-ranked junior in the world, has been taken to three sets in his previous two matches before Saturday and has been taking an ice bath after each match.
He said playing a prestigious event like the ASICS Easter Bowl and being so close to home was a no-brainer when he looked at his schedule. “It would be great and so nice to win this title,” he said. “Why not play here? I’m so close to home and I’m getting good matches here. It’s not like I’m getting the same practice at home.”
Fritz will face the other finalist, Sam Riffice, in the final. He beat Riffice 6-2, 6-3 in their last meeting at the Tulsa ITF back in October. “He’s so much better than when I beat him last,” Fritz said, who added the difference in the first set and the second on Saturday was just winning the big points.
At the end of last year, Riffice became just the second junior player since Grigor Dimitrov to win both the Eddie Herr and Junior Orange Bowl 16s tournaments back to back.
GIRLS’ 18s DOUBLES CHAMPIONSHIP
(1) Sonya Kenin / Katie Swan
def. Caroline Dolehide / Ena Shibahara 4-6, 6-4, 10-6
Additional information in this report was provided by the ASICS Easter Bowl PR Press Aide, Steve Pratt.
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– Marcus Tennis