A qualifier winning his ninth match in nine days and a repeat Adidas Easter Bowl winner highlighted the final day of action at the 52nd annual Adidas Easter Bowl on Sunday at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
LSU recruit and Ron Hohmann of Oyster Bay, N.Y., became the first qualifier in Easter Bowl history to run through the entire draw and end it with a title as the 17-year-old beat No. 3-seeded Martin Damm, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, to capture the USTA Gold ball in the Boys’ ITF 18-and-under division at the USTA Spring Nationals.
Charleston, S.C., 17-year-old Emma Navarro added a second USTA Gold Ball to her vast collection as she added the singles title to the doubles she won Saturday in taking out 14-year-old No. 14 seeded Robin Montgomery of Washington D.C., 6-0, 7-6 (2), for the Girls’ ITF 18s title. Navarro became the eighth girls in Easter Bowl history to win the Girls’ 16s, then come back to also win the 18s.
Hohmann receives three valuable wild cards into future events, including one into this home-state US Open Juniors in September.
“I didn’t really think if I win, I get this, if I lose I get this,” said Hohmann, who will also get wild cards into an ATP $80,000 Challenger and a ITF World Tennis Tour $25,000 event. “During the match I had no thought about it. Maybe on match point I did. Match point I was thinking about it a little bit.”
In the third set, and receiving serve up 3-2, Damm couldn’t convert on two breaks points as Hohmann found a way to hold for 3-all. Damm said there wasn’t much he could do as Hohmann never stopped hitting out and going for winners.
“Those winners were coming left and right and there is really nothing you could do about that,” said Damm, who won the 16s at the USTA National Hardcourts in Kalamazoo, Mich., last year. “He played a really good match, and I didn’t play my best match. I think he was just playing free. He was making winners from every part of the court. There were so many things I could have done differently but it’s already in the past and there will be other matches and I look forward to my next one on Tuesday [in Carson].”
Damm received the USTA Silver ball and will also get wild cards into a $25,000 and $15,000 ITF pro event.
Hohmann said he wasn’t sure how his body would hold up. He signaled for his coach who joined him on the courts at the end of the second set. “I literally told him I’m so tired and I can’t move and he told me the game plan of what to do and he told me to be consistent and don’t waste your energy on stupid things,” Hohmann said. “I just conserved my energy very well.”
Hohmann was able to handle the 6-foot-6 ½ Damm’s lefty serve when he needed to most. “Every time I broke him I made sure to get the serve in the court, but he has a great serve,” he said. “It was really tough to return.”
After dominating an overwhelmed Montgomery to win the first set at love, Navarro found herself down 2-5 in the second before playing her consistent, steady game to come back and force a tiebreaker. She had won two tiebreakers at 7-1 earlier in the tournament and dominated the final one starting the breaker with an ace.
“I’m trying to figure out why I’m doing so good in tiebreakers,” said Navarro, who has a wild card into singles and doubles on clay at her hometown WTA Premier Level Volvo Car Open this week. “I focus well in tiebreakers and I know it’s high stakes and it’s important and it matters.”
She added: “She wasn’t playing her best in the first set. Down 5-2, it’s easy to think it’s over but me and my coach [Peter Ayers] have really worked on that. Just focus on each point and know that the next point won’t win you the set.”
It’s not the last we will hear from Montgomery, a prodigy who was one of the youngest Easter Bowl finalists in history. “It was my first final of a big tournament,” said Montgomery, who was also honored with the Girls’ 18s Sportsmanship Award. “There are refs everywhere and ball kids. Once again I started slow. She fought back. She’s a great player. It’s an honor to lose to her, to be honest,”
Navarro became the eighth girl to win both the 18s and 16s singles titles at the Easter Bowl. Other to do so: Kyle McPhillips (2011, 10), Megan Bradley (2001, 1999), Melissa Middleton (1997, 96), Stephy Halsell (1994, 93), Andrea Berger (1987, 86) Caroline Stoll (1977, 76), Karen Benson (1970, 68).
“It’s cool to win it in two different age groups,” Navarro said. “I think everything has changed. I’m hitting bigger and heavier now.”
Adidas Easter Bowl Sportsmanship Winners:
Overall Jackie Cooper/Torey Fretz Sportsmanship winner: Kelsey Mize, Tulsa, Okla.
Boys’ 12s: Heath Waters, Alpharetta, Ga.
Girls’ 12s: Natasha Rajaram, Los Altos, Calif.
Boys’ 14s: Leaner Tien, Irvine, Calif.
Girls’ 14s: Tsehay Driscoll, La Canada Flintridge, Calif.
Boys’ 16s: Vivian Ovrootsky, San Jose, Calif.
Girls’ 16s: Thomas Paulsell, Seattle
Boys’ 18s: Mark Mandlik, Delray Beach, Fla.
Girls’ 18s: Robin Montgomery, Washington D.C.