Alex Michelsen, Alexis Blokhina win 2022 Easter Bowl singles titles; Michelsen sweeps boys' 18s
Two weeks after American Taylor Fritz won the BNP Paribas Open men's singles at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, top U.S. juniors Alex Michelsen (17; Aliso Viejo, Calif.) and Alexis Blokhina (17; Plantation, Fla.), won the FILA Easter Bowl Boys’ and Girls’ 18s singles titles at the same famous location on Sunday.
The Easter Bowl, which serves as the USTA National Spring Championships, was played last week in Southern California with singles and doubles competition across the 18s, 16s, 14s and 12s age groups. The spring tournament is the first of five junior USTA National Championship events in 2022 and counts John McEnroe, Tracy Austin, Jennifer Capriati and Andy Roddick among its previous champions.
Michelsen, who is committed to play college tennis at Georgia, became the first player since Donald Young in 2006 to sweep both the singles and doubles in the 18s division.
“Donald Young, really? I guess I’m in pretty good company,” the 6-foot-4 champion said after clinching the title with a 6-2, 6-3 win over No. 2 seed Nishesh Basavareddy (16; Carmel, Ind.).
“If I played like that every time I would be very, very happy... Nothing went wrong out there at all. I served well, the forehand was good, backhand was good, drop shots were good. It was one of those days when everything came together. I needed it because Nishesh has been playing unreal lately. By far it was the best I played all week.”
Seeded No. 8 in the singles draw, Michelsen ended an 18-match winning streak for Basavareddy, a Stanford commit, who entered the Easter Bowl after winning back-to-back ITF junior events in Brazil in February. With the junior ITF ranking points he earned for the title, the California product moves up 52 places to No. 36 in the world rankings — good enough for direct entry into the year's remaining junior Grand Slams, should he maintain that position.
In doubles action, Michelsen teamed up with close friend and fellow Southern Californian Sebastian Gorzny (18; Fountain Valley, Calif.) to win the boys’ 18s title, defeating the second-seeded pair of Aidan Kim (17; Milford, Mich.) and Michael Zheng (18; Montville, N.J.) in the final.
Blokhina, the tournament’s No. 4 seed, needed a third-set tiebreak to defeat No. 3 seed Reese Brantmeier (17; Whitewater, Wis.) for the title. Blokhina, another Stanford commit, won the opening set before North Carolina-bound Brantmeier forced a decider, with Blokhina ultimately prevailing, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(4).
“I’m really thrilled and happy I could capitalize on this moment,” said Blokhina, whose 15-year-old little brother Nathan warmed her up for the match.
She won the title on her fourth match point of the championship match, with Brantmeier escaping a 15-40 hole while serving to stay in the final at 4-5 in the third set. After jumping out to an early lead in the tiebreak, Blokhina was able to close it out with some free hitting.
“I went up 6-3 and I had three points where I could swing a little bit more,” she said of the high-stakes breaker.
Blokhina also reached the girls’ 18s doubles final with partner Sophie Williams (18; McDonough, Ga.), but came up short as they ran into the top-seeded duo of Liv Hovde (16; McKinney, Texas) and Qavia Lopez (16; Delray Beach, Fla.).
Hovde, who was the defending girls’ 18s singles champion, was forced to withdraw from the singles competition following her run to the singles title at last week’s ITF event in San Diego, while the win marked back-to-back Easter Bowl girls’ 18s doubles titles for Lopez.
Unseeded Parashar Bharadwaj (Irvine, Calif.) defeated three consecutive top-five seeds en route to the boys’ 16s singles final, where he defeated fellow unseeded player William Manning (Raleigh, N.C.), 6-2, 6-4. No. 5 seed Valerie Glozman (Bellevue, Wash.) knocked off Sydney Jara (Wenham, Mass.), 6-1, 6-0, to clinch the girls’ 16s singles title.
New in 2022, the Easter Bowl 14s division carried the added prize of a spot in the inaugural Wimbledon 14&U Championships — an invitational event featuring 16 boys and 16 girls competing in the 14-and-under age division, set to take place at the All England Club during the second week of Wimbledon this summer. Unseeded Nicole Okhtenberg (Boca Raton, Fla.) defeated No. 9 seed Avery Nguyen (El Dorado Hills, Calif.) to clinch the girls’ 14s singles title and earn a spot in the Wimbledon event. No. 9 seed Noah Johnston (Anderson, S.C.) knocked off No. 3 seed Evan Sharygin (Newburgh, Ind.) to win the boys’ 14s singles title, but due to ITF age eligibility requirements, will not be eligible to compete at Wimbledon. The highest-finishing eligible boys’ player was Keaton Hance (Torrance, Calif.), who finished fifth.
Michael Antonius (Buffalo, N.Y.) and Baotong Xu (Kirkland, Wash.) rounded out the singles champions, winning the boys’ and girls’ 12s titles, respectively.
Each year, more than 120,000 players compete in USTA junior tournament. Players compete in levels of competition through earned advancement in the 10s, 12s, 14s, 16s and 18s age divisions. USTA junior tournaments help kids take their game as far as they want — high school, college or the pros — or just have fun competing.