Easter Bowl underway at Indian Wells Tennis Garden

Steve Pratt | March 25, 2019

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – Seventeen-year-old Elli Mandlik hasn’t played a junior tournament in 2019, instead focusing her attention on the professional ITF World Tennis Tour. That will all change this week, as Mandlik (pictured above) leads an impressive group of top American junior tennis players entered in the 52nd annual Adidas Easter Bowl.


The Florida resident Mandlik recently had a nine-match winning streak snapped, as she fell in the final of the ITF W15 event in Arcadia, Calif., after winning the Carson W15 event the week before. In the Carson final, Mandlik beat USC recruit Carson Branstine, and also took out fellow Easter Bowl competitors Hurricane Tyra Black and Natasha Subhash along the way.


Mandlik is the No. 2 seed in the girls’ 18s draw at the Easter Bowl, the USTA Spring National Championships, which kicked off on Monday at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in the Coachella Valley, where all eyes were on the recently completed BNP Paribas Open.


Just like last year, when she fell to Gabby Price in the Easter Bowl Round of 16, Mandlik will be cheered on by her mother, International Tennis Hall of Famer and former Grand Slam champion Hana Mandlikova. Mandlik’s brother, Mark, will compete in the Easter Bowl boy’s 18s competition. Mandlikova won singles titles at the Australian Open in 1980 and 1987, the French Open in 1981 and the US Open in 1985. She was also a Wimbledon singles finalist in 1981 (losing to Chris Evert Lloyd) and 1986 (losing to Martina Navratilova). In doubles play, she won the 1989 US Open and reached the final at the French Open (1984) and Wimbledon (1986).


Currently ranked in the Top 20 of the ITF World Junior Rankings, Elli qualified for the US Open junior event last year to make Grand Slam debut. She was also a 2018 singles finalist at the Eddie Herr International Junior Championship, where she won the doubles title last November.


At the US Open, Kathy Rinaldi, the U.S. Fed Cup captain and a USTA national coach for women’s tennis, commented to the New York Times about Elli: “As a youngster, you could see that she had a good feel for the ball, but she was very small,” she said. “Now she’s grown and she’s very athletic. Her feistiness reminds me of Hana.”


The top seed in the girls’ 18s draw is Black, the world No. 14 junior and a Florida resident like Mandlik. Coming in as the third seed is 2017 16s singles champion Emma Navarro, who is ranked No. 22 in the ITF World Junior Rankings. She is one of many top players who have had success in the younger age divisions in recent years.


Other Top 50 players who are seeded at Easter Bowl include Savannah Broadus (No. 34), Lea Ma (No. 37) and Abigail Forbes (No. 50). Gabby Price, the 2015 girls’ 12s champion, is also in the 18s main draw, along with 2017 girls’ 16s champ Charlotte Owensby and finalist Gianna Pielet. Other notable players in the 18s draw include 2015 girls’ 16s singles finalist Subhash, 2016 12s champion Katrina Scott, last year’s 16s champ Anessa Lee and 2015 16s finalist Emma Jackson.


The top seed in the boys’ 18s is Eliot Spizzirri, who is ranked No. 23 in world. University of Georgia recruit Tyler Zink is the No. 2 seed, with 15-year-old Martin Damm of IMG Academy seeded No. 3. Damm’s father, Martin, was a longtime ATP player who once reached as high as No. 5 in the world rankings.


The Easter Bowl 18s tournament is an ITF Grade B1 and USTA Level 1 event. It is a closed event, meaning only players from the United States are eligible to play. The overall tournament will include the nation’s top 12-and-under, 14s, 16s and 18s players. The 12s and 14s tournaments began play on Saturday, March 23, with the finals set for Thursday, March 28. The 16s and 18s begin play on Monday, with the 16s finals on Saturday, March 30, and the 18s finals on Sunday, March 31.


The iconic junior tournament was started by Seena Hamilton in 1968, and is now led by tournament chairman Lornie Kuhle. Long considered the Super Bowl of junior tennis, the Adidas Easter Bowl’s status has been raised to a new level with the recent move to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.  The tournament was started in New York City and has been played in Florida, Arizona and California.


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 will be available on the official website, and an improved mobile app, Match Tennis App, will provide even more ways to follow the action.

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