Tien, Deming, Driscoll among those still in the hunt at Easter Bowl

 

A wild card into her hometown WTA tournament in Charleston, S.C., awaiting her next week, Emma Navarro was happy to return to the courts after an eight-week layoff on Tuesday at the 52nd annual Adidas Easter Bowl.

Navarro, 17, the Easter Bowl No. 3-seeded player and ranked No. 22 in the world ITF rankings, posted a 7-6 (1), 6-4 win over 15-year-old Elvina Kalieva in the Girls’ 18s ITF division at the event taking place this week at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

“I played OK but not as good as I wanted to,” Navarro said. “But it’s only the first match of the tournament so I’m just getting used to the feel of the ball.”

Navarro hasn’t played a tournament since January when she won two rounds in singles at the Australian Open Juniors and made the final in doubles.

Navarro will play Tuesday in her first WTA pro tournament as has been granted a wild card in both singles and doubles at the Volvo Car Open played at the Family Circle Tennis Center in her hometown of Charleston, S.C. The event is considered the largest women’s only tournament in North America and is a Premier Level tournament played on green clay with $823,000 in prize money.

“I’ve gone to watch it every year and the atmosphere is amazing,” said Navarro, a high school junior who will play her college tennis at Duke University.

Navarro won the Easter Bowl Girls’ 16s singles two years ago and was a semifinalist in the 18s last year.

“I took a few weeks off and took some time away from tournaments,” Navarro said. “It’s kind of the first break I’ve ever taken. It was nice just to relax and to practice, but definitely excited to be back into a tournament.”

Top-seeded Tyra Black opened her Easter Bowl campaign with an easy win as she got past Malaika Rapolu 6-2, 6-1. Black is currently ranked No. 13 in the world junior rankings.

It was a return trip to Southern California for Boca Raton, Florida’s Black, who in the past few weeks played two ITF World Tennis Tour $15,000 pro events in Carson and Arcadia.

Black has started the year without a coach after being with an academy for a number of years. “It’s going OK,” said Black, who is also seeded No. 1 in doubles this week with partner Lea Ma. “I feel like I’ve learned enough over the years that I should try it on my own.”

Other winners include No 5 seed Ma, and No. 9 Kylie Collins. Unseeded Elizabeth Coleman beat No. 12 seed and 2015 Girls’ 12s Easter Bowl champion Gabby Price in a tight match, 5-7, 6-3, 7-5. Price was the only seed to lose in the first round of the girls’ 18s on Tuesday.

In the Girls’ 16s, top-seeded Nadejda Maslova of Brooklyn, N.Y., moved on, as did Boys’ 16s No. 1 Aryan Chaudhary of Santa Clara, Calif.

The Boys’ 14s singles semifinals are set. Top-seed Aidan Kim (Milford, Mich.) will take on No. 12 Juncheng Shang (Naples, Fla). In the other semifinal it will be No. 3 Lucas Brown (Plano, Texas) against No. 15 Learner Tien (Irvine, Calif.).

In the Girls’ 14s singles semifinals, No. 1 Stephanie Yakoff (Fort Lee, N.J.) will play No. 3 Tsehay Driscoll (La Canada Flintridge, Calif.) and No. 15 Qavia Lopez (Grand Rapids, Mich.) meets No. 2 Ria Bhakta (Saragtoga, Calif.)

In the Boys’ 12s singles semifinals, No. 1 Maxwell Exsted (Savage, Minn.) will meet No. 13 Abhishek Thorat (Lithia, Fla.) and No. 3 Darren Huang (Whitestone, N.Y.) will play No. 2 Cooper Woestendick (Olathe, Kan.).

In the Girls’ 12s singles semifinals, No. 1 Thea Latak (Darien, Ill.) will play No. 4 Emily Deming (Fallbrook, Calif.). In the other semifinal, No. 14 Annika Renganathan (Sammamish, Wash.) takes on unseeded Daniela Borruel (Buena Park, Calif.)

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