Story by Britten Gerrard and Steve Pratt
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. (April 16, 2011) â€“ After coming up short three times, the fourth time turned out to be the charm for Kyle McPhillips.
McPhillips, the No. 13 seed, won the ITF Girlsâ€™ 18s division championship on Saturday with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over No. 9 seed Gabrielle Andrews at the 44th annual Easter Bowl USTA Junior Spring National Championships taking place at Rancho Las Palmas Resort.
Andrews, a Pomona native, had beaten McPhillips in their three previous matches but the Ohio native was able to get the monkey off her back to win her second consecutive Easter Bowl.
â€œUsually the third time is the charm but for me it turned out to be the fourth time,â€ McPhillips said smiling. â€œIâ€™m so relieved right now.â€
McPhillips, who won the girlsâ€™ 16s titles last year in both singles and doubles, was up 5-4 in the second set and faced seven match points on her serve before pulling out the victory in 100-plus heat.
â€œI got a little lucky in that last game it was pretty intense and nerve-racking, McPhillips said. â€œShe did a good job of hitting winners down the line but I did a good job of staying calm. Overall, I thought I served well and kept the ball in play and my focus was there the entire match unlike in the past.â€
Andrews, who won the girlsâ€™ 14s Easter Bowl title last year, was disappointed in the result but spoke highly of McPhillipsâ€™ play. Andrews was trying to be the first player since Zenda Leiss to win a girlsâ€™ 14s title one year and a girlsâ€™ 18s title the next. Leiss did it way back in 1973 and â€™74.
â€œFrom the warm up I could tell she was confident and she didnâ€™t make a lot of unforced errors and was very consistent,â€ Andrews said. â€œShe was just too good today.â€
The tournament was a success for Andrews, who moved up to the 18s at just 14 years of age after finishing 2010 as the No. 1 18s player in the USTA rankings.
â€œI thought I played really well all week and I think it proved I can hang with the 18s,â€ Andrews said. â€œIt was a great accomplishment to the reach the finals at such a prestigious tournament. Iâ€™m looking forward to coming back next year.â€
McPhillips was pleased to win back-to-back titles at the Easter Bowl. It was only the fourth time in Easter Bowl history that a girlsâ€™ 16s champ came back the next year to win a girlsâ€™ 18s title the next as Caroline Stoll (â€™76-77), Andrea Berger (â€™86-87), and Stephy Halsell (â€™93-â€™94) were the only other players to accomplish what McPhillips did on Saturday.
â€œIt means so much just to play here in the Easter Bowl and to win two years in a row is ridiculous,â€ McPhillips said. â€œIâ€™m in heaven.â€
With the victory, McPhillips earned a spot as a wild card in the main draw of the U.S. Open junior tournament.
Also on the girlsâ€™ side, 12-year-old Maria Shishkina won the girlsâ€™ 14s title with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over No. 8 seed Katerina Stewart in a battle between two Florida players.
Shishkina, the No. 5 seed from Bradenton, Fla., was excited to reach the finals after falling in the quarterfinals last year.
â€œI wanted to win so badly after losing last year,â€ said Shishkina, who had lost to Stewart 7-6 (6) in the third in the semifinals of the 14s National Open in Florida. â€œI liked the way I played today. I served much better and was very consistent with my strokes.â€
After the victory, Shishkina said she will begin playing ITF tournaments and compete in the girlsâ€™ 18s next year in the Easter Bowl. Just like Melanie Oudin did after winner her 2008 Easter Bowl 18s singles title, Shiskina jumped in the Las Palmas pool next to the courts.
â€œItâ€™ll be a good challenge for me to face bigger players with fast serves and hard strokes,â€ Shishkina said.
In the boysâ€™ 14s final, Ernesto Escobedo of West Covina, Calif., beat top-seeded Henrik Wiersholm of Kirkland, Wash., 6-4, 6-1.
The game of the match came at 3-1 Escobedo. â€œOnce I won that game I knew it would be over soon,â€ he said.
What does winning the Easter Bowl mean to him? â€œI think it will help me get more sponsors,â€ he said, adding he would like to eat at either the Olive Garden or Macaroni Grill afterwards. â€œThis is a big win for me,â€ said the 14-year-old who is home schooled and who is coached by Ricardo Coronado and Luis Bettes.
Said Wiersholm, obviously distraught after the match: â€œThat was very tough to lose (that game at 3-1). I had my chances too. There was a game I was up 40-love, but I wasnâ€™t able to break his serve.
In the boysâ€™ 18s, Marcos Giron won the for the 17th straight time beating defending 18s champion Bjorn Fratangelo after he was forced to retire due to an ailing shoulder.
â€œI was feeling a little tired and run down earlier this week but I got worked on by the trainer and am starting to feel pretty good now,â€ Giron said.
Asked if he had a miracle beverage that was helping him, Giron said, â€œNo, just Gatorade and water. And one Muscle Milk a day. Itâ€™s been working.â€
His opponent in the final will be No. 7 seeded Mac Styslinger of Birmingham, Ala., who beat 2009 16s Easter Bowl champ Shane Vinsant, 6-0, 7-6 (5).
â€œI donâ€™t know anything about Mac which is kind of strange because all the USTA guys usually know each other,â€ Giron said. â€œI have to take care of my serve and return well. Iâ€™ve never played him. It should be fun.â€
To keep up with all the Easter Bowl news, visit the website at www.easterbowl.com and check out the tournament on Facebook and Twitter (@easterbowl).
Boysâ€™ 18s Singles Semifinals
Mac Styslinger (7) Birmingham, AL def. Shane Vinsant (3) Keller, TX 6-0, 7-6(5)
Marcos Giron Thousand Oaks, CA def. Bjorn Fratangelo (1) Pittsburgh, PA 6-2, 3-0 Ret (inj)
Girsâ€™ 18s Singles Finals
Kyle McPhillips (13) Willoughby, OH def. Gabrielle Andrews (9) Pomona, CA 6-4, 6-4
Boysâ€™ 16s Singles Semifinals
Gage Brymer (8) Irvine, CA def. JC Aragone (17) Yorba Linda, CA 6-2, 6-3
Ronnie Schneider (2) Bloomington, IN def. Gregory Garcia (4) Poway, CA 6-2, 6-4
Girlsâ€™ 16s Singles Semifinals
Caroline Doyle (17) San Francisco, CA def. Spencer Liang (2) Potomac, MD 6-2, 6-1
Kimberly Yee (4) Las Vegas, NV def. Jamie Loeb (1) Ossining, NY 6-7(2), 6-3, 7-5
Boysâ€™ 14s Singles Finals
Ernesto Escobedo (7) West Covina, CA def. Henrik Wiersholm (1) Kirkland, WA 6-4, 6-1
Girlsâ€™ 14 Singles Finals
Maria Shishkina (5) Bradenton, FL def. Katerina Stewart (8) Miami, FL 6-1, 6-4
Boysâ€™ 18s Doubles Semifinals
Mitchell Krueger / Shane Vinsant (2) def. Casey Kay / Hunter Reese 3-6, 6-2, 1-0(5)
Emmett Egger / Mac Styslinger (4) def. Bjorn Fratangelo / Alexios Halebian (1) 5-7, 6-2, 1-0(10)
Girlsâ€™ 18s Doubles Finals
Gabrielle Andrews / Taylor Townsend (8) def. Kyle McPhillips / Chanelle Van Nguyen (4) 2-6, 6-2, 1-0(9)
Boysâ€™ 16s Doubles Finals
Gregory Garcia / Jonathan Poon (9) def. Christopher Vrabel / Anton Zykov 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(2)
Boys’ 16 Doubles (Playoff)
Trey Daniel / Thomas Pura (2) def. Justin Chan / Stefan Menichella (5) 3-6, 6-2, 6-2
Girlsâ€™ 16s Doubles Semifinals
Caroline Doyle / Katrine Steffensen (3) def. Mariana Gould / Gabrielle Smith (9) 7-6(1), 6-2
Olivia Sneed / Madison Westby (9) def. Spencer Liang / Jamie Loeb (1) 6-2, 2-6, 6-1
Boysâ€™ 14s Doubles Finals
Tommy Paul / Henrik Wiersholm (2) def. Ernesto Escobedo / Eduardo Nava (1) 7-6(5), 6-4
Boys’ 14 Doubles (Playoff)
Artemie Amari / Robert Levine (9) def. Augustus Ge / Robert Seby (4) 6-3, 6-4