Lauren Embree of Marco Island is the No. 1 seed in the Girls 18s in the Easter Bowl Tournament in Palm Desert, Calif., starting Sunday.
Embree, from Lely, won her first major title at the 2005 Easter Bowl in the Girls 14s. In June of 2008, she won the USTA Girls 18s National Clay Court Championship. The University of Florida recruit has also been a finalist in $10,000 pro circuit events while competing as an amateur.
The tournament is held in Palm Desert, Calif., through April 19. Six hundred and 40 top ranked players from over 40 states are competing in the Boys and Girls 18s, 16s, and 14s, age group in the national championship.
The 18s division has a unique status as both a National Championship and a high-level International Event for Americans only. This status is a result of the USTA’s effort to offset the tumultuous international tournament schedule that finds the USTA top juniors competing around the world for ITF points, often at the expense of not getting a high U.S. ranking. The 14s and 16s will remain a national championship.
Winning a title in the 18s will result in coveted wild cards into pro events, as well as generating ITF points for getting into junior grand slams. Sam Querry won the 18s in 2005, and he is currently ranked in the top 40 in the world.
The Easter Bowl has been a launch pad for just about every American who ever made it into a grand slam, including Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Lindsay Davenport, Andy Roddick, Lisa Raymond, and the Bryan twins.
Check out the tournament’s Web site at www.easterbowl.com and sign up for the tournament’s daily newsletter for the latest in results and schedules.