Day 4 Wrap-Up At ASICS Easter Bowl - (04/09/2014)
TOP-SEEDED KENIN SURVIVES UPSET SCARE;
TIAFOE-FRITZ MATCHUP HIGHLIGHTS
FRIDAY’S ACTION AT ASICS EASTER BOWL
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (April 10, 2014) – What a difference a year has made for 15-year-old Sofia Kenin, the ITF Girls’ 18s No. 1 seeded-player in this week’s ASICS Easter Bowl.
As an unseeded player in the Girls’ 16s at this event last year in the first round, Kenin of Pembroke Pines, Fla., lost to Ena Shibahara of Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., in straight sets. On Thursday in one of the best matches of the iconic 47th annual tournament being played at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, Kenin rallied for a 2-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (6) win on a day that saw the temperatures reach into the high 90s.
“I knew it was just a year ago that I lost to her, and a lot has changed,” said Kenin, who is ranked No. 37 in the world ITF rankings. “I just tried to stay with it and she missed a volley at 6-6 (in the third-set tiebreaker) and so I said let’s get this point at 7-6 and close it out quickly.”
Kenin won a three-setter on Wednesday and was watched closely by current UCLA women’s coach Stella Sampras-Webster.
Revenge was also fresh on the mind of Robert Loeb of Hilton Head Island, S.C., who just two weeks ago lost in straight sets to Boys’ 16s ASICS Easter Bowl top-seeded player Evan Zhu of Greenbelt, Md., in Mobile Ala.
But on Thursday, Loeb, like Kenin, was able to reverse things as he pulled out a 6-4, 6-4 win over Zhu. Later in the day, Loeb beat Conrad Russell, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (4) in the second round.
“I wish there were a couple of days more in this tournament and you only had to play one match a day,” said Loeb after beating Zhu.
In another upset on the day, Los Angeles’ unseeded Michael Genender beat Sameer Kumar of Carmel, Ind., 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, in a Round of 16 Boys’ 18s match. Kumar turned an ankle during the third set, which allowed Geneder to take control and win the match. But it wasn’t easy. “I thought he was cramping but he turned his ankle and had to call for the trainer,” he said. “I abandoned my game. It’s tough because you don’t want to miss and you focus on what he’s doing and not on your game.”
Genender advances to the quarterfinals where he’ll face No. 13-seeded Robert Levine on Friday.
“I lost in the first round in Claremont and Carson the past two weeks,” Genender said. “I knew I was close but that I just had to get a few matches under my belt.”
The big matchup everyone has been look forward to on Friday in the Boys’ ITF 18s involves top-seeded Francis Tiafoe of College Park, Md., and No. 7 Taylor Fritz of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. The two square off not before 10:30 a.m. on Stadium Court.
In their last meeting in the finals of the Tulsa ITF event back in October, Tiafoe and Fritz were knotted at 3-all in the first set before Tiafoe reeled off nine straight games to win, 6-3, 6-0.
“I woke up in the morning and I was like, ‘Wow, this isn’t happening today,’ ” Fritz said of that final. “I felt so bad that morning. I played four really good matches before that and I was playing some of my best tennis ever. But I was going to bed a little bit later each night. I wasn’t responsible enough off the court at all and that hurt me.”
He doesn’t mind meeting Tiafoe in a quarterfinal match. “I don’t pay much attention to it,” he said. “It is what it is. If I want to win the tournament I have to beat the best player in the tournament. It doesn’t make any difference if it’s going to be the quarters, the semis or the final.”
Jean Thirouin of Houston was named the winner of Wednesday’s Jackie Cooper-Tory Fretz Sportsmanship Award selected by the tournament staff and presented with a medal and free pair of ASICS shoes. Winners for the week include Nicole Kalhorn and Reilly Olpeka.
Sponsors include: ASICS, Laurel Springs School, Indian Wells Tennis Garden, the Dent Tennis Academy, Tennis Warehouse, TennisPlayer.net Digital Magazine, the tennis website 10sBalls.com, USTA, The Old Spaghetti Factory, SCTA and Mind Matters.