EASTER BOWL: San Marino’s Lee Wins 16s Girls’ Title

No stranger to being extended to three sets at the 51st Annual Adidas Easter Bowl this week, top-seeded Keshav Chopra did all he could to keep from going the distance in the USTA Spring Nationals Boys’ 16s final played at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on Saturday.

Up a set, but down 5-6 in the second set, Chopra fought back to force a tiebreaker against No. 2-seeded Max McKennon Newport Beach, Calif., recording a 7-5, 7-6 (4) victory for his third straight USTA Super Nationals win as he won both the singles and doubles at the USTA Winternationals in Florida to start the year.

Later in the day, Chopra lost his bid for his fourth straight gold ball this year as he and partner Coy Simon fell to fellow USTA Southern players Welsh Hotard and Benjamin Koch in the Boys’ 16s doubles final, 6-3, 6-3.

Keshav Chopra

Chopra, 16, was taken to three sets three time this week, including the first round, a third-set tiebreaker in the third round and again in the semifinals on Friday. “When he hit that last backhand long to end the match, I was pretty relieved,” said Chopra, who trains at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., and lost in the second round last year at the Easter Bowl.

“It’s pretty surprising,” said Chopra, who lost in the first round last week at the Newport Beach ITF, of winning the title. “I didn’t feel like I was prepared for the ITF, so I wanted to get here early and get used to the courts and get acclimated to the conditions.”

Chopra and McKennon were playing for the first time. McKennon said he got sick on the drive over to the Garden for the 9 a.m. match, but made no excuses afterward.

“I wasn’t feeling nerves, but I had my normal breakfast and felt horrible in the car over here and threw it up in the parking lot. But that’s no excuse. It didn’t affect me that much. He played great. He outplayed me.”

McKennon, 15 who does online school through Laurel Springs, took a medical timeout at the end of the first set and had the trainer massage both hips which were tightening on him.

McKennon is coached by former ATP World Tour pro Carsten Ball, who recalled some past Easter Bowl memories with 40-year Easter Bowl veteran official Marylynn Baker after the match, including playing doubles with Michael Venus, and beating Tim Smyczek. Ball played in the 2005 Easter Bowl 18s final and, like McKennon, was the No. 2 see who fell in the final to current U.S. Davis Cup player Sam Querrey.

Similar to Chopra, Girls’ 16s champion Anessa Lee of San Marino, Calif., also surprised herself in going all the way and earning the coveted USTA gold ball and title. The No. 11-seeded Lee beat unseeded India Houghton of Belvedere Tiburon, Calif., 6-2, 6-3.

Anessa Lee

“I just wanted to live up to my seeding and get to the Round of 16,” said Lee, who was watched by family and friends and her private coach Kal Moranon. “I was down in my first match 4-0 in the first set. I was thinking, ‘God, I’m going to lose in the first round.’ ”

Lee, 16, basked in the glory of her title afterward and said playing with ball kids and having her match live streamed with a commentator is something she could get used to. “This is my first media interview,” she said as she began her post-match press conference. “I don’t know what to say. At first, the ball kids threw me off, but after a few games I got into it.”

Lee said she was looking forward to making the two-hour drive home as she just got her California driving learner’s permit.

Houghton shocked the No. 1-seeded player earlier in the tournament. She said she was nervous at the start of the match, but she settled down winning the first game of the second set and holding a 3-2 lead before Lee stepped on the gas.

“I knew after beating the No. 1 seed I couldn’t get too happy,” she Houghton, who recently turned 16 and trains Tompkins Academy in Northern California. “She played really aggressive. Every time my ball would la little bit short she would really attack it and would hardly miss. I was impressed by that.

Harsh Parikh of Tucson, Ariz., picked up the Boys’ 16s bronze ball with his, 6-4, 7-5, win over Logan Zapp of Fleming Island, Fla.

Twins from Saint Helena, Calif., Maribella and Allura Zamarripa captured the 16s Doubles title as they beat Amanda Chan (Pasadena, Calif.) and Chidimma Okpara (Bronxville, N.Y.), 6-4, 6-4. In the Girls’ 16s third-fourth place match, Hibah Shaikh of Teaneck, N.J. won the bronze with a 6-4, 6-0 victory over Chidimma Okpara of Bronxville, N.Y.

In the Girls’ 18s ITF singles final to start at 10 a.m. Sunday, top-seeded Alexa Noel of Summit, N.J., will take on Katie Volynets of Walnut Creek, Calif. Noel took out 14-year-old No. 8 Gabby Price of Boca Raton, Fla., 6-3, 6-0. In the other semifinal, the No. 15-seeded Volyets outlasted Emma Navarro of Charleston, S.C., 6-2, 5-7, 6-2.

In the Boys’ ITF singles final to follow the girls, unseeded wild-card entry Jenson Brooksby of Carmichael, Calif., will oppose Tristan Boyer, the top-seeded player from Altadena, Calif. Brooksby beat Siem Woldeab of La Mesa, Calif., 6-1, 6-3, while Boyer had to come back to beat Cannon Kingsley of Northport, N.Y., 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.

In the Girls’ ITF Doubles final at 10 a.m., top-seeded Caty McNally and Hailey Baptiste will face Savannah Broadus and Kylie Collins. In the Boys’ ITF Doubles final, also at 10 a.m., No. 2 Trey Hilderbrand and Govind Nanda will oppose the unseeded team of Christian Alshon and Tyler Zink.

 

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