Top seeds Noel, Boyer
advance at Easter Bowl
Steve Pratt | March 28, 2018
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – The top-seeded players in both the girls' and boys' 18s draws opened play with victories at the 51st adidas Easter Bowl on Tuesday but took different routes in doing so.
On the girls’ side, 15-year-old Alexa Noel battled the swirling winds at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden and beat qualifier Katrina Scott, who is considered one of the best 13-year-old girls in the world, in three sets, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2. In the boys’ draw, Tristan Boyer, who trains in Scott’s hometown of Woodland Hills, Calif., had an easier time, downing James Ignatowich, 6-1, 6-3.
Both prodigious players, Noel and Scott have big-match experience at the Easter Bowl; Noel was a girls' 14s finalist in 2015, and Scott won the girls' 12s in 2016.
“I think I started off strong, but I played poorly over the entire match,” said Noel, of Summit, N.J. ADVERTISEMENT “She’s a really good player, and it sucks we had to play in the first round because it was a really good match. I’m just looking forward to the next round and playing my style of play.”
Scott, despite the loss, has been turning heads with some of her recent results. In January, she made it to the final of one of the world’s top junior events, the 14-and-under Les Petit As. She won the girls’ 16s at the Eddie Herr International Junior Championships at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., last November, and the following month advanced to the quarterfinals of the 16s at the Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships in Plantation, Fla., one year after making the final there in the 12s.
“She’s a great player,” said Scott of Noel, whom she has practiced with but never played in a match. “I knew she was a slicer and dicer, so I was ready for that. I played a little bit better in the second set, but that wind was affecting me.”
Noel said the wind got worse as the 10 a.m. match hit the two-hour mark at high noon and the players split sets.
“When the wind was at my back, I felt that whenever I accelerated through the ball, it would just fly,” she said, adding, “I know she is a counter-puncher, and I tend to play that way, as well. I started playing too defensive, but in the third set, I was able to come up with some big serves and fought my way through it.”
Noel is no stranger to being top dog at the Easter Bowl. In the 2015 Easter Bowl 14s final, the top-seeded Noel lost to No. 14 seed Whitney Osuigwe in a third-set tiebreak after holding two championship points. Osuigwe finished 2017 as the No. 1 girl in the ITF world rankings and just last week played in the main draw of the WTA's Miami Open, currently being played in Florida.
“That match was crazy, and we were both so young,” Noel recalled. “I know I had a horrible attitude in that match. I had two match points, and once I didn’t convert, I kind of spiraled. It was crazy. We still have matches like that.”
Boyer (pictured above), 16, said he’s also been working on his on-court demeanor, and it’s now one of the strong points of his game.
He received a wild card into the BNP Paribas Open qualifying event last month and took the world’s No. 116-ranked player, Ruben Bemelmans, to a second-set tiebreak at the same site where he played on Tuesday.
In the girls’ 16s second round, India Houghton of Tiburon, Calif., had the upset of the day, beating 2017 Easter Bowl finalist and top-seeded Gianna Pielet of El Paso, Texas, 6-4, 6-4. Others pulling off upsets included: Victoria Mulville (Hoschton, Ga.), who beat the No. 10 seed; Allura Zamarripa (Saint Helena, Calif.), who downed the No. 4 seed; and Hibah Shaikh (Teaneck, N.J.), who eliminated the No. 7 seed.
Advancing to the girls' 14s semifinals, to be played on Wednesday morning, were: No. 1 Reese Brantmeier (Whitewater, Wis.), No. 7 Sophie Williams (Charleston, S.C.), No. 2 Alexandra Torre (Brentwood, Tenn.) and No. 3 Eleana Yu (Mason, Ohio).
Making it to the girls' 12s semifinals were: No. 1 Stephanie Yakoff (Fort Lee, N.J.), No. 8 Elizabeth Dunac (University Park, Md.), No. 3 Brooklyn Olson (Kansas City, Mo.) and No. 2 Clervie Ngounoue (Washington, D.C.).
Seeded players moving on to the Round of 16 in the boys' 16s included: No. 1 Keshav Chopra (Marietta, Ga.), No. 2 Max McKennon (Newport Beach, Calif.), No. 3 Welsh Hotard (New Orleans, La.), No. 4 Harsh Parikh (Tucson, Ariz.) and No. 5 JJ Tracy (Hilton Head Island, S.C.).
Boys' 14s semifinalists include: No. 1 Sami Banerjee, (Basking Ridge, N.J.), No. 7 Jiaxi Ma (Alhambra, Calif.), No. 6 Evan Wen (Morristown, N.J.) and No. 10 Bruno Kuzuhara (Coconut Creek, Fla.).
Boys’ 12s semifinalists include: No. 2 Rudy Quan (Roseville, Calif.), No. 15 Meecah Bigun (Phoenix), unseeded Alexander Frusina (Conroe, Texas) and No. 10 Raghav Jangbahadur (Palo Alto, 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)