The Easter Bowl in 2008 was the 40th anniversary of this storied and unique junior event–and our second consecutive appearance to observe the same.
Last year we covered the Easter Bowl AS a kind of exploratory foray into the study of American junior tennis. The event basically blew me away. I felt I’d discovered an amazing viewing window. The chance to see the best 600 players in America all at the same place at the same time in an environment unlike any junior tournament I’d witnessed.
So I got into it and ended up staying the entire week and writing stories about all six finals–which were mostly amazing competitive matches. In fact, some of them had more drama than many big pro finals I’d witnessed.
We also created a new section o the site, Future Stars, and put up clips of the strokes of about 100 American juniors. We also shared that video with both the USTA and with some of the kids and their coaches. It was surprisingly positive all the way around.
So we decided to go back in 2008–and even became a minor Easter Bowl sponsor. Starting with the boys in this issue (and the girls to follow in June), we are adding another 100 clips of the strokes of American junior players to Future Stars.
As great as the experience was last year, I didn’t want to arrive with the expectation that it all had to happen exactly the same way again and so I consciously adopted a somewhat circumspect attitude.
The main goal was just to film the top American juniors again. To help me, I brought along two Tennisplayer ace videographers, Aaron Martinez and Matt Barrett. But I told them “Hey we can get a hundred or so players on video in 3 days or 4 days and get back to San Francisco by the weekend.”
But damn if the same didn’t happen to me again. Apparently the tournament’s been the same way for 40 years, so why would 2008 be any different? So I let Aaron and Matt head back home after the first three days. But once again I stayed for the duration.
If you are unfamiliar with the history, the Easter Bowl has been played all over the country, New York, Florida, Arizona, and most recently, the California desert near Palm Springs. For many years it was at the Riviera Country Club, but for the last two years the host has Rancho Los Palmas Resort.
If you’ve been around much competitive junior tennis you know that, despite the positive aspects, there can be a palpable toxic atmosphere at many events. Two kids on a back court, two sets of parents squinting through the wind screens. Someone wins and someone loses, sometimes with acrimony and hard feelings, occasionally with some bad line calls. Then everyone immediately piles back in their respective cars and heads home to check the rankings on the internet.
All that is somehow obliterated–or at least impeded–by the atmosphere at Rancho Las Palmas. It’s an old style, world class desert resort. Gorgeous faux Spanish architecture. Wonderful, comfortable rooms. A really nice staff. A golf course that is very, very green.
And I can personally testify, a great spa pool. Plus a great rate if you are there for the event. Then there’s the tennis facility itself with a couple of dozen courts and a wonderful stadium. And an incredible set of satellite locations throughout the desert area.
And in the evenings, well, there was the chance to revisit some our favorite haunts from our stays at Indian Wells. Before Aaron and Matt left we had a big night at Castelli’s, the famed Sinatra-style desert Italian hot spot. And also I got to buy Craig Cignarelli a steak in the bar at Sullivan’s Steakhouse.
But back to the event. You’ve got the boys and the girls in the 14s, 16s and 18s together for the duration–the only coed event of its kind in the country. And yes, as you might imagine, there’s some discernable adolescent chemistry. Slot Gacor