Easter Bowl success
for children of former pros
Steve Pratt | March 26, 2019
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – Sons and daughters of former professional tennis players took to the courts and had success, as the first day of the ITF boys’ and girls’ 18s action began on Monday at the 52nd annual Adidas Easter Bowl, taking place at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
Mark Mandlik is the son of former Grand Slam champion Hana Mandlikova, and the No. 14 seed opened with a 6-4, 6-2 win against John Bernard of Bonita Springs, Fla. Martin Damm’s father, who goes by the same name, was a Top-5 doubles player and won the US Open in 2006. Just 15 years old, the No. 3-seeded Damm downed qualifier Presley Thieneman of Indianapolis, 7-6, 6-4.
Mandlik’s twin sister, Elli, is the No. 2 seed in the girls’ 18s draw and opens play on Tuesday against Kelsey Mize of Tulsa, Okla. Also in action in singles and doubles on Tuesday is the girls’ 18s top seed in both events, Hurricane Tyra Black.ADVERTISEMENT
In addition, former U.S. Fed Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez and former world No. 1 Lindsay Davenport had sons playing in the boys’ 14s and 12s, respectively. Fernandez is married to famed sports agent Tony Godsick. Nicholas Godsick, the No. 11 seed from Chagrin Falls, Ohio, advanced to the quarterfinals in the 14s with a 6-2, 7-5 win over Joseph Phillips of Alpharetta, Ga.
Davenport, who is married to former USC All-American Jon Leach, was on hand watching son Jagger Leach, who fell in the first round in the 12s on Saturday before rallying to win two consolation matches.
As former Adidas Easter Bowl champion Frances Tiafoe’s Miami Open third-round match played on the TV in the players’ lounge, 64 of the best boys’ and girls’ players in the nation taking part in the ITF 18s were coming and going in the event billed as the Super Bowl of junior tennis.
“Every year at the Easter Bowl, local tennis fans are treated with seeing the next great American junior tennis players,” said tournament director Lornie Kuhle. “Just about every American who we recently saw play at the BNP Paribas Open has played the Easter Bowl. And it’s no different this year.
“The Easter Bowl is the only USTA National Championship where all age divisions—12s, 14s, 16s and 18s—are played in one location at one time, and that location is the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. This truly is the pathway to the pros. These are the stars of tomorrow.”
Playing for the first time ever in California after a winter of indoor tennis in Brooklyn, N.Y., 16-year-old Nadejda Maslova had to come back in her first-round match to advance to Round 2.
The top-seeded player in the 16s singles draw and No. 2 in doubles, Maslova dropped the first set to Makenna Thiel of Piedmont, Calif., 6-2, before rallying to win the next two, 7-5, 6-3, on a warm day, with temperatures inching into the high 80s.
“It was tough out there,” said Maslova, watched by her father. “The player was really good, and I had to find my own way. After the first set, I didn’t know what to do, so I had to get it together.”
Maslova moved to America from Russia six years ago and plays out of MatchPoint Tennis in Brooklyn. She attends public school at James Madison High in Brooklyn, where she is a junior. Sporting henna tattoos up and down her left arm, Maslova said she’s trained in Florida but has never been to California. “After I won Winter Nationals, my coach said, ‘Well, you have to go to Easter Bowl next,’” she explained.
Next up for Maslova is Krystal Blanch of Florida. Blanch beat Caroline Wernli of Texas in another tight, three-set battle, 6-4, 2-6, 6-2.
The boys’ ITF 18s event began on Monday with a full slate of matches on the schedule. In the biggest upset of the day, unseeded Daniel Milavsky took out the No. 1 seed, with a 7-6, 6-3 win over Eliot Spizzirri of Greenwich, Conn, who is ranked No. 23 in the ITF World Junior Rankings.
Milavsky (pictured above) is a high school junior from Needham, Mass., who has verbally committed to play college tennis at Harvard.
“Before the tournament, my friend asked me who I would want to play most, and I said Eliot, and that’s the name that came up on the draw,” said Milvasky, who trains at Manchester Athletic Club in Boston. “I’ve never played him before, but I’ve seen him around and know he’s got a big name.”
Milavsky played doubles only at last year’s Easter Bowl but was relegated to one of the back courts. On Monday, he scored the result of the day on center court. “I’m just living the dream,” he beamed.
Milvasky possess a huge forehand and serve but didn’t once glance up at the mph radar speed gun to check how fast he was serving.
Asked how he was able to pull off the big upset, Milvasky said: “I think it was just belief and playing smart and disciplined. It was never thinking I couldn’t do it and having that belief and pushing through and believing.”
Another future Harvard University player, David Lins, of Boca Raton, Fla., joined Milavsky in the winner’s circle with an upset of his own. Lins knocked off No. 5 Dali Blanch, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4. Also exiting the tournament early were No. 7-seeded William Grant and No. 8 Adam Neff, beaten by Frank Barnett and Michael Braswell, respectively.
Aryan Chaudhary, of Santa Clara, Calif., is the No. 1 seed in the boys’ 16s draw, and like Maslova, he struggled in his first-round match against Zachery Foster of San Antonio before taking it, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2.
The boys’ 14s top-seeded player is Aidan Kim of Milford, Mich., who advanced to the quarterfinals after his opponent pulled out midway through the second set with an injury. Learner Tien, the No. 15 seed from Irvine, Calif., upset No. 2 Yannik Rahman of Miami, 6-2, 7-5.
The girls’ 14s top seed is Stephanie Yakoff of Fort Lee, N.J. The quarterfinals are next for Yakoff, after her 6-2, 6-4 win over Natalia Perez, the No. 9 seed from Guaynabo, P.R.
The boys’ 12s No. 1 seed is Maxwell Exsted of Savage, Minn. He took out No. 15 Roman Sancilio of Henrico, Va., 6-3, 6-4, to advance to the Tuesday’s quarterfinals.
The girls’ 12s top-seeded player is Thea Latak of Darien, Ill. She will play in the quarterfinals after dropping just one game in her Round-of-16 match to Tianmei Wang, the No. 13 seed from San Marino.
To keep up with all the Adidas Easter Bowl news, visit the official tournament website, and check out the tournament on Facebook and Twitter. Live streaming is available on the official website, and an improved mobile app, Match Tennis App, provides even more ways to follow the action.
Pictured: Daniel Milavsky. Photo credit: David Kenas Photography.