Top seed Juncheng "Jerry" Shang wins 2021 Easter Bowl boys' 18s singles title
Juncheng “Jerry” Shang took the time to say thank you to his good friend and IMG Academy training partner Sebastian Korda for all the time spent on the court together during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 and beyond. But maybe it should be the other way around.
After the top-seeded Shang became just the fourth player in the 53-year history of the Adidas Easter Bowl to win both the 14-and-under and 18s ITF singles title, Shang said he couldn’t be happier for all the success of the 20-year-old Korda, a quarterfinalist at the ATP Masters 1000 Miami Open last week and now ranked No. 65 on the ATP Tour.
“He’s doing well and playing a lot better,” said the 16-year-old lefty Shang, who goes by the name Jerry, of Sebi Korda. “During the pandemic I practiced with him a lot.”
When it was implied that Shang should then get some of the credit for Korda’s rise up the world rankings, Shand smiled and said, “Nah, I was just the guy hitting with him.”
Shang’s 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-2 Easter Bowl victory in the final on Sunday at the Barnes Tennis Center in San Diego earned him his third ITF singles title this year. He did so beating an unheralded player in Ethan Quinn from Fresno, Calif., who was attempting to complete the SoCal back-to-back double after winning the ITF Grade 1 International Open of Southern California last week. The feat was last completed by current American ATP pro Marcos Giron in 2011.
The 2019 boys’ 14s singles champion Shang said during the week he was aware that past No. 1 seeds rarely make it all the way to the victory stand at the Easter Bowl. In fact, Shang became the first top-seeded player to win the boys’ ITF singles title at the Easter Bowl since Taylor Fritz in 2015.
Shang, who plays under the Chinese flag, became the sixth boys’ player to win multiple divisions at the Easter Bowl, and fourth to win the 14s and 18s titles. The feat was accomplished last by Mackenzie McDonald (14s in 2009; 18s in 2012) with the other two Donald Young (14s in 2003; 18s in 2004 and 2006) and John McEnroe (14s in 1973; 18s in 1976).
Shang didn’t get to watch Quinn’s amazing run to the IOSC title, as he was forced to miss the event after receiving a wild card into the qualifying at the Miami Open, where he lost in a third-set tiebreaker to ATP Top-150 player Liam Broady.
Shang was asked about the difference between playing at a pro event, and then dropping back down to the juniors. “It’s not that much different,” said Shang, who was coached all week by his IMG coach Johnny Parks. “Everyone is really similar. Since I’ve been playing with the pros I’m learning to defend, and counter-punching. So my game has gotten a lot more aggressive.”
Besides Korda, Shang also shared practice court time with Miomir Kecmanovic and Denis Shapovalov in Miami.
Shang said his strategy against Quinn and his “rocket” forehand was to keep him on the court and simply outlast him. And it worked. “That was the most important strategy me and my coach talked about is to make him play, because he likes get those free points with a big serve and big forehand. In the second set he started getting negative and I thought I had a chance and I’d be able to break him soon.”
Quinn, afer playing in his first-ever ITF Grade 1 tournaments, will return to his Central California home of Fresno with a rankings jump of more than 500 spots, likely to place in him among the Top 50 junior players in the world. He beat two players over the two weeks in ITF Top 10 in Great Britain’s Jack Pinnington Jones (No. 7) and American and USTA-trained Bruno Kuzuhara (No. 5) in the Easter Bowl semifinals.
Quinn, who last month turned 17, said he wasn’t used to Shang’s “lefty-ness” as he was the first southpaw he had faced in 12 matches. A quarterfinalist at the ITF Grade 4 in Las Vegas, Quinn returns home for his high school junior year spring break after three straight weeks on the road.
“It’s been a lot of tennis for sure,” he said after beating Kuzuhara. “I’m a little bit tired. I proved I can compete with anyone on the other side of the court, it doesn’t matter what their ranking is. If I play my game, I can beat anyone.”
Coached by Tommy Paul’s coach Brad Stine out of his lifelong family club Fig Gardens Swim & Racquet Club in Fresno, Quinn said he will return to his high school tennis team at San Joaquin Memorial having proven he’s one of the elite junior tennis players in the world.
“It’s definitely crazy,” Quinn said. “I was telling a few of my friends this week and last week and they’re just like, ‘It’s hard to believe that you are this good.’ Most of them don’t get to watch me, especially since the pandemic because my club doesn’t let guests in.
“It’s definitely weird. I didn’t think I would be here for the full two weeks.”
Easter Bowl USTA National Spring Championships - Boys’ 18s
San Diego, March 30 – April 4, 2021
Singles: (1) Juncheng Shang (Bradenton, Fla.) d. Ethan Quinn (Fresno, Calif.), 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-2
Doubles: (4) Braden Shick (Greensboro, N.C.) / Colton Smith (Tenino, Wash.) d. (1) Jack Anthrop (Orlando, Fla.) / Shang, 7-5, 6-4
Easter Bowl USTA National Spring Championships - Boys’ 16s
San Diego, March 30 – April 4, 2021
Singles: (9) Alexander Razeghi (Humble, Texas) d. Learner Tien (Irvine, Calif.), 7-5, 6-1
Doubles: Ethan Schiffman (Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.) / Emon van Loben Sels (Sacramento, Calif.) d. David Saye (Charlotte, N.C.) / Eli Stephenson (Louisville, Ky.), 6-7, 6-1, 6-1
Easter Bowl USTA National Spring Championships - Boys’ 14s
San Diego, March 25 – 30, 2021
Singles: (1) Cooper Woestendick (Olathe, Kan.) d. Jimin Jung (Cary, N.C.), 6-3, 1-6, 6-3
Doubles: Maximus Dussault (Stuart, Fla.) / Maxwell Exsted (Savage, Minn.) d. (7) Ian Bracks (Seminole, Okla.) / Woestendick, 6-1, 7-6(5)
Easter Bowl USTA National Spring Championships - Boys’ 12s
San Diego, March 25 – 30, 2021
Singles: (4) Sebastian Bielen (East Norwich, N.Y.) d. (9) Kimi Basamakov (Newbury Park, Calif.), 6-0, 6-2
Doubles: Trenton Kanchanakomtorn (Oklahoma City) / Jack Kennedy (Huntington, N.Y.) d. (1) Colin McPeek (Carmel, Ind.) / Navneet Raghuram (Fenton, Mo.), 6-4, 6-2
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