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EASTER BOWL: Brooksby, Volynets Win Singles Titles

Losing the first set proved to be the proper formula for a pair of USTA Northern California players to upset top-seeded players and win coveted Adidas Easter Bowl titles.

Jenson Brooksby, 17, and Katie Volynets, 16, both took home USTA Gold Balls in dramatic comeback fashion after dropping the first set on Easter Sunday on the final day of play at the 51st Annual USTA Spring Nationals at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

Needing a USTA wild card to get into the tournament, the unseeded Brooksby of Carmichael, Calif., held on to beat top-seeded and ITF world-ranked No. 11 Tristan Boyer of Altadena, Calif., 5-7, 6-4, 6-3, while Volynets of Walnut Creek, Calif., rallied to upset 15-year-old Noel of Summit, N.J., 4-6, 6-3, 6-1.

“It sounds great,” said Brooksby of being called an Easter Bowl champion, also thanking the USTA for giving him his wild card. “It was a lot of hard matches to do it, but it feels amazing.”

After Brooksby fought off a stubborn Boyer to win the second set, the toll of playing his fourth straight three-set match caught up to Boyer, who needed more than the allotted two minutes of rest before the start of the third set.

Boyer got his water, changed his shirt and sat and when chair umpire John Bramlett signaled for play to resume, Boyer remained seated in his chair, finally being assessed a point penalty and the third set began with Brooksby serving leading 15-love.

“I was feeling tired, of course,” Boyer said. “It had been a tough two sets. I had to prepare my drinks and change shirts and I knew I wouldn’t have enough time. I didn’t really care about the point. I knew the break would be worth it to me.”

Boyer said he took a warning on Saturday during the semifinals before starting the third set.

“I knew he was trying to stall and I was just trying to take advantage of that and move him around,” Brooksby said, adding his strategy was to keep Boyer off the baseline and moving side to side.

The extra time didn’t help Boyer, as Brooksby quickly raced out to a 5-0 lead in the third set. But Boyer wouldn’t quit and broke Brooksy for 5-2, and held serve for 5-3 before Brooksby settled himself and was able to pull out the service game and the Easter Bowl title and his second career USTA Gold Ball having won the 12s Hardcourts five years ago.

“I thought I had that,” Brooksby said shaking his head. “He’s a fighter and never gives up and I somehow pulled it out. Kudos to him. He’s a fighter.”

Boyer moves on to the Carson ITF Spring Internationals this week played at StubHub Center, while Brooksby will play the Open division at the storied Ojai Tournament at the end of the month. His next junior tournament will be the USTA Hardcourt Nationals at Kalamazoo where a US Open main-draw wild card goes to the winner.

“For sure, this is an incredible moment,” Brooksby said. “I’m not playing many junior tournaments so I made the most of this one.”

Volynets is also headed to Carson, trying to gain some valuable ITF world-ranking points that could get her into her first French Open and Wimbledon junior tournaments. The US Open Junior quarterfinalist last year, Volynets said that would be a dream come true, just like winning the Easter Bowl.

“I feel glad that I was able to tie up all the things I’ve been working on at the start of the year,” Volynets said. “From past experiences I know she never gives up so I had to keep my focus and just not give up.”

Volynets was watched by her coach Richard Tompkins and Max Taylor from Tompkins Academy.

“I was super nervous in the match, but you live and you learn,” Noel said. “I didn’t come out swinging like I should have and didn’t have the energy and she came out composed, which I couldn’t do. She got the best of me and I wasn’t able to focus on the most important thing, the match itself.”

Down 5-3 in the second set, Noel kept fighting for the break, but was unable to convert on her fourth break-point try. “I kept winning the deuce point to try and get the break and get back on serve, but I kept hitting the same return, and I didn’t adjust,” she said. “And I didn’t change anything in the third.”

In the Girls’ ITF Doubles final, top-seeded Caty McNally and Hailey Baptiste beat Savannah Broadus and Kylie Collins, 6-0, 6-0, in 53 minutes. In the Boys’ ITF Doubles final, No. 2 Trey Hilderbrand and Govind Nanda downed the unseeded team of Christian Alshon and Tyler Zink, 6-3, 3-6, 10-7.

USTA Sportsmanship winners included:

Boys 12s: Max Dussault (Leesburg, Va.); Girls 12s: Ariel Madatali, (St. Louis, Mo.)

Girls 14s: Reece Brantmeier (Whitewater, Wisc.); Boys 14s: Kyle Kang (Fullerton, Calif.)

Girls’ 16s: Karina Miller (Ann Arbor, Mich.); Boys’ 16s: Alex Petroff (Irvine, Calif.)

Girls’ 18s: Katie Volynets (Walnut Creek, Calif.); Boys’ 18s: Drew Baird (Holly Springs, N.C.)


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