Liu Earns Second Easter Bowl ITF Title, Ayeni Breaks Through to Claim Boys Championship
by Colette Lewis
, 19 April 2017
|Share: || || |
As a former champion and top seed, expectations were high for Claire Liu at the adidas Easter Bowl Championships, and she met them, defeating Ellie Douglas 6-1, 6-2 to claim her second title. Boys champion Alafia Ayeni was in unchartered territory once he advanced to the semifinals, but he emerged with his first ITF Grade 1 title, beating Sebastian Korda 6-4, 0-6, 7-5 in a tense and entertaining championship match.
Liu's biggest challenge during the week came in the third round, when No. 16 seed Elli Mandlik
forced Liu to three sets in the third round. Mandlik, the daughter of tennis great Hana Mandlikova, was up 6-4, 1-3 when winds exceeding 50 mph caused play to be postponed until the following day at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden
, home of the BNP Paribas Open.
Liu rebounded for a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 victory, and lost only five games in her quarterfinal and semifinal wins over No. 6 seed Caty McNally and No. 3 seed Whitney Osuigwe.
"The first couple rounds in any tournament are really tough," said the 16-year-old from Thousand Oaks California, playing in her sixth consecutive Easter Bowl. "I think getting through Elli in that really tough match gave me confidence to be more free with my shots and just trust myself, and I think I played a lot better in the last three matches."
In the final, Liu dropped serve to open the match, but then won six straight games, as the fourth-seeded Douglas struggled to find the form she had displayed in her quarterfinal win over No. 10 seed Hurricane Tyra Black and her semifinal win over No. 2 seed Taylor Johnson.
"I was pretty nervous," said Liu, who accepted a wild card into the event after missing the entry deadline. "Every match I was pretty nervous, but that's kind of what I was here for. I wanted to come here to deal with my nerves, be able to keep playing well even though I had pressure, and I think I did pretty well."