Mandlik into last 16 as Easter Bowl field trims
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – Hana Mandlikova is one proud tennis parent.
The International Tennis Hall of Famer and five-time Grand Slam champion, who ruled the top tier of women’s pro tennis in the 1980s, is now a devoted watcher of the game, particularly of her twin 16-year-old children, who are competing this week at the 51st adidas Easter Bowl.
On Wednesday, Mandlikova, originally from the Czech Republic and now residing in Delray Beach, Fla., anxiously looked on as daughter Elli (short for Elizabeth) Mandlik advanced to the round of 16 in the girls’ 18s competition by beating unseeded Sedona Gallagher, 6-2, 6-1.
Elli’s brother, Mark, lost in the first round to the No. 2 seed at his first Easter Bowl earlier in the week. He is currently ranked No. 240 in the ITF World Junior Rankings, while Elli is No. 75.
“I haven’t won two straight rounds for a while and have been struggling with that, so I’m happy,” said the No. 12-seeded Elli (pictured), who faces No. 8 Gabby Price in the round of 16 on Thursday. “Gabby and I are from the same area in Florida and practice together all the time.”
Mandlikova said junior tennis has changed a lot since she was playing at that level in the late 1970s.
“There’s just so much more depth now,” she said, adding that her favorite junior memory was going to Roland Garros as an unknown and advancing through pre-qualifying and qualifying to win the junior French Open title.
“That was the start. Then I started playing pro tournaments. I was 17 or 18 years old.”
Mandlikova won the Australian Open in 1980 and 1987, the French Open in 1981 and the US Open in 1985 to go with a doubles title in New York in 1989. She was also a Wimbledon singles finalist in 1981 (losing to Chris Evert) and 1986 (losing to Martina Navratilova), when she also reached the doubles final.
Both Mandliks said it’s an advantage to have such a well-versed tennis parent in their corner.
“My mom said, ‘Good job,’ after my match,” Elli said. “She’s never upset, unless I don’t try, which never happens. Then she’ll get upset.”
“I don’t feel any extra pressure because she’s my mom,” Mark said. “She helps me and gives me advice.”
Added Elli: “I like it, but it’s like any other mom. If you had her as your mom, you’d think it was the same. It’s not like extra pressure or anything. She knows tennis, so she can tell me stuff. Some parents don’t know what it feels like when you are under pressure on the court. They will just say get through it. But she understands how it feels and gives you good advice and telling you it’s normal and you just have to fight through it.”
Elli was part of the No. 2-seeded doubles team with partner Alexa Noel, which was upset in a second-round match later in the day Wednesday.
“The Easter Bowl is my favorite tournament,” she said. “I just love the courts and the views are so nice."
“I wish they could put us on the Stadium Court for the final,” Elli said, as she looked toward the massive stadium at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. “That’s my goal – to be a pro and play there and at all the Grand Slams.”
Mandlik isn’t the only player in the tournament with a well-known former tennis player as a parent. Former world Top 5 doubles player and US Open champion Martin Damm watched as his son with the same name lost against No. 11-seeded Brandon Nakashima in the boys’ 18s second round. Earlier in the tournament, Andy Roddick’s nephew played in the boys’ 16s draw. In addition, Patrick McEnroe’s daughter played her first Easter Bowl in the girls’ 12s with her proud father looking on. Last year, former Australian Open champion Petr Korda’s son, Sebastian, reached the boys’ 18s singles final.
In the girls' 14 singles semifinals, No. 7 Sophie Williams (Charleston, S.C.) upset top-seeded Renee Brantmeier (Whitewater, Wis.), 6-4, 6-4, and No. 2 Alexandra Torre (Brentwood, Tenn.) was defeated by No. 3 Eleana Yu (Mason, Ohio), 5-7, 7-6 (3), 6-1. It will be a repeat Easter Bowl final appearance for Yu, who advanced to the 12s singles final last year.
Both girls who advanced to the 12s final did so in straight sets, as No. 1 Stephanie Yakoff (Fort Lee, N.J.) downed No. 8 Elizabeth Dunac (University Park, Md.), 6-3, 6-1, and No. 2 Clervie Ngounoue (Washington, D.C.) got past No. 3 Brooklyn Olson (Kansas City, Mo.), 6-3, 6-4.
In the girls' 16 singles, round-of-16 winners included: India Houghton (Belvedere Tiburon, Calif.), Kimbery Hance (Torrance, Calif.), Allura Zamarripa (Saint Helena, Calif.), Hibdah Shaikh (Teaneck, N.J.), No. 8 Chidimma Okpara (Bronxville, N.Y.), No. 3 Karina Miller (Ann Arbor, Mich.), Anna Ross (Mount Pleasant, S.C.) and No. 11 Anessa Lee (San Marino, Calif.).
In the boys' 14s final, No. 1 Sami Banerjee (Basking Ridge, N.J.) will take on No. 10 Bruno Kuzuhara (Coconut Creek, Fla.). Banerjee needed three sets to take out No. 7 Jiaxi Ma (Alhambra, Calif.), 6-3, 5-7, 7-5.
In the boys’ 12s final, it will be an all-USTA NorCal affair, as No. 2 Rudy Quan (Roseville, Calif.) faces No. 10 Raghav Jangbahadur (Palo Alto, Calif.).
Advancing to the boys' 16 singles quarterfinals were: No. 1 Keshav Chopra (Marietta, Ga.), No. 11 Aryan Chaudhary (Santa Clara, Calif.), No. 4 Harsh Parikh (Tucson, Ariz.), Aditya Gupta (Irvine, Calif.), No. 8 Logan Zapp (Fleming Island, Fla.), No. 3 Welsh Hotard (New Orleans, La.), No. 15 Alexander Bernard (Bonita Springs, Fla.) and No. 2 Max McKennon (Newport Beach, Calif.).
To keep up with the latest adidas Easter Bowl news, results, schedules and live streaming, visit the tournament website at www.easterbowl.com, and follow on Facebook, Twitter and the Match Tennis App.
(Photo courtesy of Dave Kenas)