kids win 18's singles titles at the
ASICS Easter Bowl in Indian Wells
by Rich Neher
Southern Californians Taylor Fritz
and Claire Liu capture 18s singles titles on final day of ASICS
Taylor Fritz learned a lot of lessons
on his way to capturing the 48th annual ASICS Easter Bowl ITF
Boys 18s singles title. Most important was that a match
isnt over until its officially over.
The top-seeded Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.,
resident Fritz, who came back from down a set and 0-5 to win
a third-round match on Thursday, continued his high level of
play on the final day of the tournament on Sunday as he beat
No. 12-seeded Sam Riffice, 6-2, 6-3, to claim the title in the
tournament played at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
Fourteen-year-old Claire Liu, the No.
14-seed from Thousand Oaks, Calif., claimed the ITF Girls
18s trophy with an impressive 6-2, 3-6, 6-2, win over Katie Swan,
the No. 2-seed from Wichita, Kan.
Fritz smiled when asked after the match
if he was more determined to win following such an amazing comeback.
Of course, he said. After you have one of those
it makes you more determined to win the whole thing. He
added: Its crazy to think how early in the tournament
that was and I still had so many more matches to go. I just got
better and better each match after that. And it woke me up because
I had never been that far down before and came back.
Just one week ago, Fritz was flying home
from China after making the finals in the ITF Junior Masters.
He was asked what lessons were learned during the week. That
I can play pretty well jet-lagged, he said. I learned
I dont have to always play my best tennis and can still
win. As long as I can just keep fighting and keep my head in
it. Sometime all you need is the heart to win the matches.
Fritz and Riffice played some unbelievably
high-level and entertaining points in front of a nice crowd on
hand on a hot 90-degree day in the desert.
I wanted to dictate more and play
a little more offensively, said Riffice, of Roseville,
Calif. Right off my serve he was pushing me back. Hes
improved a lot since we played last. He wasnt missing many
serves and had a good first-serve percentage.
Fritz added: Sam and I play very
similar. He moves better than I do but we both try to be aggressive.
I was just able to take the first strike before he was and was
a little more aggressive when I had to be.
Fritz, who will likely move up a spot
to No. 3 in the ITF world junior rankings, said he wasnt
sure if he was going to play the USTA Pro Circuit Challenger
in Tallahassee, Fla., on clay April 25-May 2 that he had originally
planned to. He will travel to Spain and Italy for ITF Grade A
junior events, before playing the French Open Juniors where he
will be one of the top seeds.
Fritz said after playing great in China,
his play slumped at the start of the week, but got progressively
better, especially his serve. Everything but the serve
was working good (this week), he said. But today
it was working better than it has so I cant complain.
Liu joins former Thousand Oaks residents
Sam Querrey (2005) and Marcos Giron (2011) to have won 18s titles
at the ASICS Easter Bowl, and became one the youngest to win
the 18s in tournament history.
Liu said she lost focus and her level
of play dipped after a solid first set which she won 6-2. But
she was able to get an early break of serve and take a 3-0 lead
in the third set.
I think I played pretty well,
said Liu. In the first and third set I played better than
I did in the second. I just wasnt there in the second and
had a lot of unforced errors.
She chose several critical points to come
to the net and recorded several put-away volleys. I tried
to come in as much as I could and it seemed to help, she
said, adding, It feels really good to win the Easter Bowl.
Liu said this tournament was important
to her as she is trying to earn enough ITF points to get into
the main draw at the Junior French Open.
Like Fritz, Liu said she got better as
the week went on. After every match I did better,
she said. At the beginning I was nervous and then as I
started to get into it. I just started to play more relaxed as
the tournament went on.
Swan was the winner of the Tory Fretz/Jackie
Cooper Sportsmanship award on Saturday, along with Boys
14s winner Adam Neff.
Swan was playing in her second straight
ITF 18s final, falling to CiCi Bellis one year ago. It
was tough and a battle, Swan said. I didnt
serve as well as I could have. Im disappointed with the
result, but it was great to be in two straight finals.
Sponsors include: ASICS, Laurel Springs
School, Indian Wells Tennis Garden, the Dent Junior Academy,
the tennis website 10sBalls.com, USTA, The Old Spaghetti Factory,
SCTA and Mind Matters Tennis.
To keep up with all the ASICS Easter Bowl
news, visit the website at www.easterbowl.com
and check out the tournament on Facebook (www.facebook.com/EasterBowl)
and Twitter (@asicseasterbowl). For more information on ASICS,
check out: www.ASICSAmerica.com
and follow on Twitter @ASICSAmerica.
Boys' 18 Singles (Final Round)
Taylor Fritz (1) (Rancho Santa Fe, CA)
def. Sam Riffice (14) (Roseville, CA) 6-2, 6-3
Girls' 18 Singles (Semifinal Round)
Claire Liu (12) (Thousand Oaks, CA) def.
Katie Swan (2) (Wichita, KS) 6-2, 3-6, 6-2
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