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Oudin captures Easter Bowl girls’ 18s title - (04/13/2008)
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. -- All there was left for Melanie Oudin to do was jump in the pool. After two weeks of amazing tennis without one day off, Oudin did just that, making a big splash in the pool -- just like she has on court.

Unseeded Lauren Embree of Marco Island, Fla., lost to No. 1-seeded Oudin, 6-7 (1), 6-1, 6-3, in the girls' 18s final at the ITF Easter Bowl Junior Spring Nationals Saturday at the Rancho Las Palmas Resort in Rancho Mirage.
Temperatures crept into the mid-90s, and the players were allowed extra time to cool down before the third set. After the match, Oudin jumped in the nearby swimming pool to cool off and celebrate. And how was she going to do that? "I'm going to have ice cream," she said. "I'm really good about not having desserts when I play tournaments, and I've been playing for two weeks."
"I was dying out there after that first set," Embree said. "She likes pace, so my game plan was to mix it up a little. She's also really good on the run, so I was trying not to hit the ball wide. Obviously, she figured it out in the second set."
Oudin felt like she didn't play well in the first set and that unseeded Embree was dictating the points. "I was missing a lot and had to just calm down and be way more patient."
Oudin on the heat: "I think the heat definitely was a factor today. She's definitely more used to it than I am. We actually had snow in Georgia in March."

Oudin will next play a $75,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Dothan, Ala.

Top-seed Rinaldi serves his way to boys' 14s title

Michael Rinaldi of Palm City, Fla., the nephew of former tennis star Kathy Rinaldi, became the new boys' 14 Easter Bowl champion on Saturday after defeating John Richmond, 6-3, 6-2, in the final.

Rinaldi, the No. 1 seed, started the match slow but gained momentum with his big first serve. Tied at 2-2, Rinaldi won three consecutive games before winning the set.

The second set was all Rinaldi, as he went up, 3-0, and never looked back, fisting his hand after match point. "It's feels great to win a tournament of this magnitude," said Rinaldi. "I started bad but settled in and pulled it together for the win."

Rinaldi credited his first serve as the decivise factor in the victory. "I don't think I could have won had it not been for my big first serve."

Richmond, of Pawley's Island, S.C., was pleased with his performance at the Easter Bowl. "Rinaldi played really well and deserved to win," said Richmond. "It would have been nice to beat him, obviously, but I'm pleased with my overall performance at the Easter Bowl."

Vickery upsets No. 1 McPhillips to take girls' 14s title 
The youngest player in the tournament, Sachia Vickery, a 12-year-old from Miramar, Fla., upset No. 1 seed Kyle McPhillips, 6-3, 6-4, to win the girls’ 14s title.
McPhillips has looked liked the strongest player throughout the event, but her first serve let her down Saturday. “My first serve was really off,” she said. “My second serve was fine, but I couldn’t get my first serve in.”
Vickery went up, 4-0, in the second set, but then McPhillips battled back to 4-4. “I played so well in the first set, so smooth,” said Vickery. “Then I started thinking about what I was about to do. Was I going to win the Easter Bowl, or be a finalist? I had to take a minute and think about what I was doing. Was I going to frame the next ball?”
There was one thing for certain from the Easter Bowl crowd who enjoyed the final: This won’t be the last time you hear from Vickery or McPhillips.

Tsay, Lee to meet Sunday in girls' 16s final
Ellen Tsay of Pleasanton, Calif., has several gold balls, but not one from the Easter Bowl, where her best result has been third place. That could change today, when she meets No. 12 seed Sarah Lee from Los Angeles in the girls’ 16s final. Tsay, who beat Jennifer Kellner of Smithtown, N.Y., 6-3, 6-2, has beaten Lee all three times they have played.
She wasn’t interested in watching the end of Lee’s three-set win Saturday, a come-from-behind victory over Mary Anne MacFarlane of Ogden, Utah, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5. “I actually don’t scout,” she said. “I just try and think about what I want to do and go out and do it,” she said.
Lee, who lives in the Larchmont area near Hollywood, is coached by her father and Craig Cignarelli. “I think I’m going to have to be patient and wait for the right shots,” said Lee, who has won a bronze ball before and is seeking her first gold. “I’ve got the bronze, and now I know I have at least a silver. The gold ball would be nice.”

Buchanan to face Llompart  in boys' 18s final
The last time Chase Buchanan of New Albany, Ohio, played his roommate and training partner, things didn’t go so well. Buchanan, who lost to Jarmere Jenkins in the semifinals at Carson, had a better result in Saturday’s semifinal, downing Frank Carleton of Naples, Fla., 6-3, 6-4. Like he did with Jenkins in Carson, Buchanan and Carleton warmed up together before the match.
Buchanan got up early, 5-0, in the first set and then “went to sleep for three games,” before closing Carleton out on his serve. In the second set, Carleton led, 3-1, before Buchanan stormed back to take the match. “I’ve been making a lot of quarters and semis, so it’s great to finally get to the final,” said Buchanan, who will play Alex Llompart of Puerto Rico in the final.
Llompart, who lost in the first round here last year, needed two tiebreakers to down Tennys Sandgren of Gallatin, Tenn., 7-6 (4), 7-6 (2), in his semifinal. He said he considered not coming to this year’s tournament because of his inconsistent play.

Llompart, whose ITF ranking has fallen in the 180s, wants to qualify for the French and Wimbledon juniors. The 200 ITF points awarded to the winner may just be enough to get him there.

No. 2 Thompson, No. 8 Sock advance to boys' 16s championship
The finalists in the boys’ 16s came off the court at the same time and entered the press room at the same time, as well, to be interviewed by the media. But neither player had much of a scouting report on the other, as they have never played each other.
Clay Thompson of Venice, Calif., the No. 2 seed, meets No. 8 Jack Sock, of Lincoln, Neb., in today’s final. “He’s played great all week,” said Sock of Thompson. “It should be a good match.”

Other notes from the 2008 Easter Bowl...

Dennis Ralson in Attendance: Dennis Ralston, one of the greatest American players in the history of junior tennis, was on hand, watching several top players. The former USC All-American said he remembered winning the nationals 18s and 15s and that the junior tennis experience was responsible for launching his professional career.

Blog Central: Lauren Embree, who has been blogging each day for, still hasn’t decided which college she will attend but is considering Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech and UCLA.

Rancho Las Palmas Resort, Rancho Mirage, Calif.

Saturday’s results:

Boys' 14 Singles (Final Round)
Michael Rinaldi (1), Palm City, FL def. John Richmond (5), Pawleys Island, SC 6-3, 6-2

Boys' 14 Singles (Playoff)
Austin Smith, Cumming, GA def. Reo Asami (6) Irvine, CA 6-4, 1-6, 7-6(3)

Girls' 16 Singles (Semifinal Round)
Sarah Lee (12), Los Angeles, CA def. Mary Anne MacFarlane, Ogden, UT 3-6, 6-4, 7-5
Ellen Tsay (2), Pleasanton, CA def. Jennifer Kellner (8), Smithtown, NY 6-3, 6-2

Girls' 14 Singles (Final Round)
Sachia Vickery, Miramar, FL def. Kyle McPhillips (1), Willoughby, OH 6-3, 6-4

Girls' 14 Singles (Playoff)
Ronit Yurovsky (13), New Kensington, PA def. Julie Vrabel (3), Centreville, VA 6-4, 4-6, 6-3

Girls' 18 Doubles (Final Round)
Mallory Burdette, Jackson, Ga. / Sloane Stephens (1), Boca Raton, Fla. def. Shiann Featherston, Rockaway Park, N.Y. / Lauren McHale (2), New Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 6-4, 6-3

Girls' 14 Doubles (Final Round)
Julia Jones, Largo, Fla. / Blair Shankle (3), Comfort, Texas, def. Ashley Dai, Temple City, Calif. / Valerie Thong (4), Alhambra, Calif., 6-3, 6-2

Boys' 14 Doubles (Final Round)
Andrew Korinek,  Mansfield, Texas / Michael Riechmann, Houston, Texas, def. Michael Rinaldi, Palm City, Fla. / Trey Strobel (2), Bradenton, Fla., 6-1, 7-6 (3)

Girls' 16 Doubles (Semifinal Round)
Alexandra Clay, Grayson, Ga. / Whitney Kay (5), Alpharetta, Ga., def. Nikki Sanders, Chino, Calif. / Britney Sanders (7), Chino, Calif., 6-0, 5-7, 6-1
Amelia Herring, Carlsbad, Calif. / Ellen Tsay (6), Pleasanton, Calif., def. Kate Fuller, Suanee, Ga. / Rachael Hart (8), Alpharetta, Ga., 6-7(2), 6-3, 6-1

Boys' 16 Doubles (Semifinal Round)
Warren Hardie, Laguna Niguel, Calif. / Casey MacMaster, Fort Collins, Colo., def. 
Harry Seaborn, North Salem, N.Y. / Michael Zhu (9), Princeton, N.J., 6-3, 6-1
Clay Thompson, Venice, Calif. / Nelson Vick (1), Grafton, Wisc., def.
Marcos Giron, Thousand Oaks, Calif. / Thomas Pham (9), San Diego, 6-3, 6-4

Boys' 18 Doubles (Semifinal Round)
Denis Lin, Thousand Oaks, Calif. / Kyle McMorrow, Thousand Oaks, Calif. def.
Daniel Nguyen, Oxnard, Calif. / JT Sundling, Thousand Oaks, Calif. 6-3, 6-4.
Alex Llompart, Carolina Puerto Rico /Jose Sierra-Short, Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, def. Cameron Ahari, Tucson, Ariz. / Daniel Moss, Malibu, 6-2, 6-2

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