Event Management: Change Highlights 46th Easter Bowl
Lornie Kuhle, the new tournament chairman of the Asics Easter Bowl Spring National Championships, knew he didn’t have a lot of time to plan the event, but he knew he wanted to make some changes to the 46th edition of the iconic junior tennis tournament.
For one, he welcomed aboard new title sponsor Asics, maker of footwear and apparel, and now racquets (and which counts among its stable of pro players Samantha Stosur, Gael Monfils, Irina Falconi, Steve Johnson and Coco Vandeweghe). The tournament, held in mid-April, also took place at a new venue, the Sunrise Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif., down the road from the old site at Rancho Las Palmas Resort.
“Asics has been wonderful to work with,” Kuhle says. “We look forward to a bright and growing future, partnering with Asics to bring the best of American junior tennis together here at the Asics Easter Bowl.”
“It was an exciting week of great tennis,” says Ryan Broccolo, tennis events manager at Asics, who was on-site for the week. “We were very proud to support this next generation of American talent at the tournament while also showcasing Asics tennis apparel, accessories, footwear and new racquets.”
“The entire Sunrise Country Club community came together to welcome the Easter Bowl,” says Jai Nettimi, head tennis professional at Sunrise. “All the members showed their commitment to the event through their hospitality, support and enthusiasm. We’re looking forward to next year’s tournament.”
Another change this year were the six huge drawboards that Tournament Director Andres Borowiak and his associates, Nick Kuhle and Jeannie Riggs, had constructed and continually updated throughout the tournament for each main draw singles event (boys and girls 18s, 16s and 14s), giving the tournament the feel of a professional event. Finals ceremonies included presentations of awards by past USTA President Franklin Johnson.
This year, a coaching seminar included talks by world-renowned tennis coach Larry Stefanki, who has coached four No. 1 players (John McEnroe, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Marcelo Rios and Andy Roddick), and Peter Smith, one of the most successful college tennis coaches in recent history and coach of the USC Trojan’s men’s team. Smith recently notched his 500th career coaching victory and was named 2012 ITA National Coach of the Year.
A pair of juniors from Irvine, Calif., highlighted the week as UCLA-bound Gage Brymer won the Boys’ 18s ITF Grade 1 event, and 17-year-old Mayo Hibi took the Girls’ 18s, dropping just 14 games in her six matches. Hibi was coached all week by former WTA player Debbie Graham. In the Boys’ 16s final, top-seeded Sameer Kumar of Carmel, Ind., won his second straight USTA Supernational, while Catherine Bellis of Atherton, Calif., claimed the Girls’ title. (Visit easterbowl.com.)
Founded in 1968 by Seena Hamilton, the Easter Bowl was run up until this year by her son, Bryan Fineberg. One tradition that Hamilton began was an hour-long TV show. This year, Kuhle and Borowiak retained three-time Emmy-winning producer Harold Hecht to produce the show, which aired on the Tennis Channel in May. The show’s commentators were USTA First Vice President Katrina Adams and former ATP touring professional Vince Spadea, both former Easter Bowl champions.
Many American tennis greats have played the Easter Bowl over the years, including Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Lindsay Davenport, Jennifer Capriati, Tracy Austin and Andy Roddick. Current Top 100 players who’ve played the Easter Bowl include John Isner, Sam Querrey, Ryan Harrison, Christina McHale, and Sloane Stephens.
This year, more than 650 top junior players from over 40 states participated. Coaches who attended the event included LSU women’s coach Julia Scaringe Sell, Michigan’s men’s coach Bruce Berque, USC women’s coach West Nott, USC men’s coach Peter Smith, and UC-Berkeley Cal women’s coach Amanda Augustus. USTA Director of Coaching Jose Higueras also was there, as were former Wimbledon quarterfinalist Kathy May Fritz, former NCAA women’s singles champion Beth Herr Bellamy and former ATP touring pros David Pate, Tim Mayotte and Eliot Teltscher.
“Once again, the Easter Bowl showcased the future of U.S. tennis,” says Kuhle, who also runs the Childhelp Desert Classic, a USTA $25,000 Women’s Pro Circuit event in February. “And if what we saw is any indication, there will be some very talented players competing at the collegiate and professional levels in the near future.”