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Tournament Summary
Asics Easter Bowl ITF Tournament Pioneers Travel Grants

In its nearly fifty years on the United States junior tennis scene, the Easter Bowl has developed a reputation for innovation. A televised highlight show, an educational forum and, more recently, live streaming, the annual Team USA coaching awards, and a new Smartphone app are just a few of the features that have kept the tournament on the cutting edge.

Travel vouchers are the brainchild of Easter Bowl Tournament Director Lornie Kuhle
© Zoo Tennis
This April another initiative emerged for those participating in the International Tennis Federation's Grade B1 event at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden: travel vouchers for boys and girls who reached the round of 16 in their respective 64-player draws.

Providing $10,000 in grants - $150 for reaching the round of 16, $325 for the quarterfinals, $500 for the semifinals and $750 for the finals - is the brainchild of tournament director Lornie Kuhle, who has guided the tournament since taking it over from Seena Hamilton and her son Bryan Fineberg in 2013.

"I've just personally believed that there should be some money at this level of play," said Kuhle, founder of the Bobby Riggs Tennis Club and Museum in Encinitas, Calif. "You've got trainers, umpires, referees, psychologists, every single thing a pro tournament has except one thing, a little bit of money."

"This has been a thought of mine for over five years, but before, we couldn't do something like this. But the rules are changing, and now juniors can take $10,000 in prize money before college. And there's the fact that when you go to Kalamazoo and win Kalamazoo, it's really worth $40,000, because you get a wild card into the US Open."

Yet Kuhle emphasized that the vouchers are not prize money, which the ITF prohibits in the junior tournaments it sanctions. Rather he characterizes the vouchers as per diems, based on how long the player continues to incur the costs of playing in the tournament.

"The winner gets a $750 travel grant and the runner-up gets a $750 travel grant," said Kuhle, who based that amount on the maximum value of a gift the winner of an ITF tournament can receive. "We'll ask them their preferred airline, their preferred hotel and then we'll give them a travel grant for that. That amount is almost symbolic these days, but when I grew up, it was a tremendous amount of money."

One of the grant recipients, boys champion Gianni Ross, believes distributing the money as travel vouchers makes sense, with the concept one he'd like to see catch on.

"Kids might have some prize in mind, like a toy or something, when they are 14 or 16," Ross said. "But now, I'm 17, and I really don't care. I just want the money to pay for all my tickets and everything. It's good to give incentives to tennis, and I would like to see more money in more tournaments."

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Page updated on Monday, March 11, 2019
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