Junior Spotlight – Southern California Tennis News http://southerncaliforniatennis.org Tennis News, Events, Community Activities, Tournaments Sat, 21 Jul 2018 02:17:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.7 Claremont junior exemplifies sportsmanship at Sectionals http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/youth-tennis/settles-sportsmanship/ http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/youth-tennis/settles-sportsmanship/#respond Tue, 26 Jun 2018 16:02:35 +0000 http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/?p=24668 Read more »]]> Sportsmanship can be reflected in many ways, most of them subtle and often unnoticed – a benefit of the doubt, a friendly handshake, an apologetic wave, or even something as simple as punctuality. In the case of Christian Settles, an 18-year old playing in his final junior-level tournament, pure sportsmanship was on display.

Claremont’s Christian Settles

At the 116th SCTA Junior Sectionals in Fountain Valley, Settles notched two wins in the Boys 18s singles qualifying rounds to advance into the main draw. With a loss in the Round of 64, he shifted to the consolation bracket, and in his first match Settles was in full control. Having secured the first set, Settles broke out to a quick lead and commanded the second set at 5-1, on his way to victory and into the next round.

But the young man from Claremont knew that this was his last day on court. A game away from victory, Settles conceded the match.

“I played the match knowing I wasn’t going to be able to play the next round if I won,” Settles recalls. Due to his schedule, he was to leave Sectionals later that night. Earning the victory would mean he would default the following match, but giving up his current match with Temecula’s Donovan Livov would allow Livov to move on and play more tennis.

“He was pretty confused at first,” Settles says of his unsuspecting opponent. “I explained that I was leaving that night and wouldn’t be able to play and I’d rather give him a chance. I wanted to give my opponent a chance to win.”

Livov played 34 more games, winning his second round consolation match convincingly before bowing out in his subsequent match.

Settles, on the other hand, is on the verge of turning 19 years old and was wrapping up his junior tennis career with an impressive act of sportsmanship. He’ll play for Trinity University in San Antonio beginning this fall.

“Ultimately,” Settles says, “I chose to do it because I knew if I was in his position, I would appreciate it.”

Find complete results from Junior Sectionals here.

Check out SCTA’s “Sportsmanship Is…” excerpts at our YouTube page.

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Kang Enters SoCal Sectionals Among Nation’s Elite http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/tennis-spotlights/junior-spotlight/kang-enters-socal-sectionals-among-nations-elite/ http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/tennis-spotlights/junior-spotlight/kang-enters-socal-sectionals-among-nations-elite/#respond Sat, 16 Jun 2018 23:41:19 +0000 http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/?p=24612 Read more »]]> Junior Spotlight: Kyle Kang

Kyle Kang doesn’t have to go far when he needs a little bit of advice when navigating the often tough road of junior tennis.

A 13-year-old ranked among the top 14-year-olds in the Southern California Tennis Association, Fullerton’s Kang has been playing up in the 16s, like he did in the Woody Hunt Memorial Tournament recently played in the South Bay.

There will be early-round defeats – Kang won a round before falling in the second round – but Kang is prepared to pay the price that comes with playing up.

Kang discusses the decision to play up or not with his father David before each tournament. “My dad wanted me to see how I play against some of the other older top players,” Kang said. “So we made the decision to play up.”

An eighth-grader at Parkview School, Kang said he will enter the upcoming 116th Annual SCTA Junior Sectionals in the 16s.

“You can’t be on the defense too much against the bigger players,” he said. “You’ve got to stay offensive and stay really aggressive. My shots weren’t quite big enough to pass and they would keep it deep, so I would miss.”

Kang first started playing tennis at age five and a half, and works with longtime coach Dave Mann at the Fullerton Tennis Center.

Kang has not made the decision if he will travel this summer to the USTA Hardcourt 14s Nationals. He’s never played Hardcourt Nationals, but has traveled to Florida and Tennessee for national-level events.

He didn’t have to travel far for the USTA Spring Nationals at the Easter Bowl in March at Indian Wells where he won a round in the 14s before falling to top-seeded and eventual finalist Samir Banerjee. Kang was honored with the Sportsmanship Award for his quiet demeanor and easy-going attitude.

Just one year earlier, an unseeded Kang came out of nowhere to win the Easter Bowl 12s singles title in straight sets, serving notice that he could play with some of the best players in the nation at his age level.

Kang, who has an older sister and brother who play tennis, played baseball, soccer and swam before deciding to dedicate himself entirely to his tennis. “I like playing team sports, but I like being independent and not worrying about teammates making mistakes and like that it’s only you on the court,” he said. “I think if you play different sports it can help your tennis, like in soccer with your footwork and movement.”

Kang said he was even interested in playing football, but his parents were against it.

Kang wants to be a pro tennis player someday, just like his favorite pro player South Korea’s Chung Hyeon. “I’d like to go to college for one year, then turn pro,” he said. “That’s the ultimate goal.”

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USC-Bound Cayetano Keeps Her Focus On Tennis, School http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/tennis-spotlights/junior-spotlight/usc-bound-cayetano-keeps-her-focus-on-tennis-school/ http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/tennis-spotlights/junior-spotlight/usc-bound-cayetano-keeps-her-focus-on-tennis-school/#respond Wed, 28 Feb 2018 15:35:51 +0000 http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/?p=24119 Read more »]]> Junior Spotlight: Eryn Cayetano

Eryn Cayetano is far from your typical junior tennis player, especially for someone who is considered one of the elite players in the nation.

The USC-bound Cayetano, 16, started 2018 by making the finals of the USTA Winter Nationals falling to Gianna Pielet in the final for her first USTA national ball for a top three finish in the Super National event played at the USTA National Campus in Orlando.

Unlike most of her junior rivals playing at the national level, the high school junior Cayetano is not home-schooled, but instead commutes more than 90 minutes each way from her home in Corona to downtown Long Beach where she attends St. Anthony’s High because school is so important to her, and her family.

“School is a huge priority for me,” said Cayetano, who has a 4.0-plus GPA. “My parents never had to remind me to study. I’ve always just stayed on top of my school work.”

Cayetano’s father is an electrical engineer and her mother a nurse and both work near her Long Beach school.

Cayetano said it was her father Ed, a former high school and college player at Long Beach City College, who started her playing tennis at the age of 7. “I would watch him in the park and he finally asked me to come out and play with him,” said Cayetano, who made it to the quarterfinals in doubles at Winter Nationals with her fellow SCTA junior Amanda Chen. “But we are the only ones in my family who play tennis.”

Cayetano said her success at Winter Nationals to start the year might have surprised some but that anyone who is good enough to play a Super Nationals should be prepared to go all the way. “Honestly I wouldn’t consider it a huge surprise, or something that will get me more noticed,” she said. “Whoever makes it into a tournament like that is elite. It’s both humbling and an honor just to get into the main draw. It just goes to show you all the hard work has paid off.”

Cayetano’s game has improved over the past 12 months because of that hard work. “Ever since I was little I have taken my tennis seriously,” she said. “I’m eating healthier and doing fitness on my own now. I even ask if I can stay on the court for another hour after practice.”

Cayetano took lessons for years with one of her first coaches Dave Nowick, formerly of La Habra Tennis Center who moved to Chandler, Ariz. She currently takes lessons from Jay Leavitt at Peninsula Racquet Club and works out with the First Break Academy and takes lessons from former UCLA star Karue Sell in Carson at StubHub Center.

She credits Rick Buchta her Head Racquet Played I.D. and Peggy Bott from First Break Academy as mentors who she admires in SoCal tennis circles. And the feeling is mutal.

“Everyone admires Eryn’s athleticism, work ethic, and commitment to community service,” said First Break Academy Director Bott. “She won the hearts; certainly the respect, of our youngest multi-sport kids through her patience with them on the tennis court and her competitiveness on the basketball court. Eryn has a beautiful tennis game and we are all so proud of her accomplishments and certainly her pathway is one to emulate.”

First Break Academy encourages multi-sport participation and that’s what Cayetano is all about as she has enjoyed basketball, golf and volleyball competitively over the years. She also calls photography and playing the ukulele two of her favorite hobbies outside of tennis.

Cayetano joins Long Beach’s Salma Ewing as being a fellow future Trojan, and both had memorable Ojai tournaments last year with Ewing winning the Women’s Open singles, and Cayetano advancing to the final of the Girls’ 16s singles. It means both will have their finals picture on the wood frame boards that sit in storied Libbey Park for years to come.

“When I reached the final I was like, ‘Wow!’ I love The Ojai and looking at the boards and seeing all the greats who won there. I was really speechless and happy to make it to the final.”

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Scott To Play Les Petit As In Paris, France http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/tennis-spotlights/junior-spotlight/scott-to-play-les-petit-as-in-paris-france/ http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/tennis-spotlights/junior-spotlight/scott-to-play-les-petit-as-in-paris-france/#respond Fri, 05 Jan 2018 15:39:28 +0000 http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/?p=22874 Read more »]]> JUNIOR SPOTLIGHT: Katrina Scott

There was a familiar Southern California junior player missing from the top finishers at the recently concluded USTA Winternationals Championships. But Katrina Scott had a perfectly good reason for skipping a national tournament.

While the nation’s best were competing for gold, silver and bronze ball trophies, Scott was finishing up training in Southern California before jetting off to Paris, France, on Jan. 6 for the playing of one of the world’s top junior events, the 14-and-Under Les Petit As.

The 13-year-old Woodland Hills resident Scott won a United States playoff back in November to earn a spot at the prestigious tournament.

A former middle school student at A.C. Stelle in Calabasas, Scott said he game has rapidly increased since she has begun home-schooling this fall. “Since I travel a lot I was never in school,” Scott said. “So this was just a better option for me.”

Scott spent the end of November and first of December in Florida and turned heads when she won the girls’ 16s at the Eddie Herr International Junior Championships at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.

In her semifinal match, Scott found herself down 6-0, 4-0 before storming back for the win against Kylie Collins, a 15-year-old from South Carolina. She earned the championship with a convincing 6-2, 6-2 win. She advanced to the quarterfinals of the 16s at the Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships in Plantation, Fla., one year after making the finals there in the 12s.

“I never stop fighting and when I find myself down, I just find another gear. I refuse to lose,” she said.

Scott won her first ITF, a Grade 4 junior event in Corpus Christi in October, beating highly-ranked junior Hailey Baptiste in three sets in the final.

Les Petit As will not be Scott’s first trip to Paris. She spent a week outside of Paris in a tryout for the Patrick Mouratoglou Tennis Academy. “It was so pretty there, flying over Nice and seeing all the sights,” Scott said. “And all the workouts and seeing how they train over there was amazing.”

Scott is coached by former USC player and touring pro Gary Sacks, and takes lessons from David Abelson at Braemar Country Club. A former competitive figure skater for five years, Scott’s first coach was Steve McAvoy of Top Seed Academy. “I went to the park with a friend and played for the first time and just fell in love with it,” Scott said.

Scott is not shy when explaining her goals for 2018, and beyond.

“For 2018 I want to play the US Open, and win it,” she said. “As far as future goals I want to be a pro player and No. 1 in the world.”

— Steve Pratt

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Spencer Winding Down Successful Junior Career http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/tennis-spotlights/junior-spotlight/gavinspencer/ http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/tennis-spotlights/junior-spotlight/gavinspencer/#respond Tue, 17 Oct 2017 16:50:58 +0000 http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/?p=21115 Read more »]]> Junior Spotlight: Gavin Spencer

San Juan Capistrano junior tennis player Gavin Spencer learned a valuable lesson the hard way recently. A tourist location of a recent USTA Level 2 National event had Spencer feeling a little bit too relaxed when he says he should have been more focused on the court.

“Usually the destinations the USTA picks to hold these Nationals, it’s not an issue, but for this one it was,” said Spencer, of the tournament in Honolulu on the island of Oahu. “I lost bad in singles in the first round, but did get fourth in doubles. It wasn’t the time change, I was just unprepared. It’s tough to play a Nationals in Honolulu. It’s differentiating between a vacation and something that takes a lot of work.”

Of course the 18-year-old San Juan Hills High School senior knows there will be many more tournaments ahead and didn’t seem too bothered by the result the day before he was set to return home to the mainland. Spencer knows he has bigger things ahead, like completing his senior season and getting ready to head off to Tucson and the University of Arizona where he has verbally committed to playing his college career next fall.

Spencer will wind down his SCTA junior tournament play with just a few more events, including this weekend’s J.P. Yamasaki Tournament and the SCTA Doubles Sectionals.

“I’m ready to transition into the college level,” Spencer said. “But I always like playing the bigger SCTA tournament and the top local guys, and beating them.”

Spencer recently got a taste of big-time pro-level tennis when he won both the singles and doubles Wild Card Tournament into Hank Lloyd’s Fountain Valley ITF $15,000 Pro Futures Tournament.

“It’s a rare occasion to get into a pro event as a junior, but you really get to see the levels of play,” Spencer said. “It’s great that Hank holds these wild card tournaments.”

While he said he never expects to lose, Spencer knew he’d have a tough battle against a world top 450-ranked ATP player like Benjamin Lock, a former college star in Florida who was the tournament’s No. 2 seed.

“I had him down two-all and break point and had a pretty routine forehand put-away ball that I would normally make but missed it,” said Spencer, who fell to Lock in straight sets in front of friends and family. “You could say it was a turning point in the match.”

Spencer is currently training with Mitch Bridge at Jackson-Bridge Academy out of Los Caballeros.

Spencer is a self-described car geek. “I’m into all things cars and driving,” he said, adding his other hobby is golf.

He said he minds the speed limit of 65 mph on the freeways, and tries not to exceed it, but it’s hard.

“I never get up to faster than 66 mph, or at least that’s what I tell my parents.”

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San Diego Junior wins prestigious USTA sportsmanship award http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/tennis-news/sah-award/ http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/tennis-news/sah-award/#respond Mon, 18 Sep 2017 17:15:34 +0000 http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/?p=13817 Read more »]]>

NEW YORK, NY – September 4: Timothy Sah (l) with USTA President Katrina Adams, USTA Awards Breakfast at Grand Hyatt Ballroom, New York, NY. (Photo by Michael Le Brecht II)

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) has announced Timothy Sah of San Diego as a recipient of this year’s Bill Talbert Junior Sportsmanship Award. The highly prestigious national honor was presented at a ceremony during this year’s U.S. Open in New York.

Sah, 17, is a senior at Torrey Pines High School with a commitment to Stanford University. He has compiled an impressive array of Sportsmanship Awards throughout his junior career, most recently at the 2017 Maze Cup competition between USTA’s Northern and Southern California sections, where Sah was voted the unanimous winner by the opposing NorCal team. He earned similar accolades at the 2014 Boys’ 16s National Clay Court Championships in Florida, the the Youth Tennis San Diego Outstanding Role Model Award in 2016, and the 2016 USTA Southern California Junior Sectionals Sportsmanship Award.

Timothy Sah is described as “a talented player who has been at the top of the junior tennis field for years. While excelling competitively, he is equally notable for his display of sportsmanship… It is exceedingly rare when a player of this caliber reflects this level of humility and respect for his peers, coaches, and those he meets both on and off the court.”

The Bill Talbert Junior Sportsmanship Award, named in honor of the highly regarded former Top 10 player and United States Davis Cup captain, is presented to two junior athletes by the USTA at a ceremony in New York City during the U.S Open Grand Slam event in September. Nominations were submitted from USTA sections nationwide.

We congratulate Timmy on his achievement and thank him for his outstanding representation of Southern California tennis!

Timothy Sah Sportsmanship Awards:

2017 USTA Multicultural Diversity and Inclusion Individual Player Grant for Sectional/National Competition & Training; 2016 Boys’18s National Hard Court Championships (Kalamazoo, MI) Player of the Day Award (Days 5&6); 2014 Boys’ 16s National Clay Court Championships (Delray Beach, FL) Player of the Day Award; 2014 Boys’ 16s National Clay Court Championships (Delray Beach, FL) Sportsmanship Award; 2014 USTA Multicultural Diversity and Inclusion Individual Player Grant for National Competition; 2013 USTA Zonal Championships 14s Sportsmanship Award; 2012 Boys’ 12s National Spring Championships (Delray Beach, FL) Player of the Day Award.

Section Tournament Sportsmanship Awards:

2017 Maze Cup Team Competition, So Cal vs Nor Cal, Sportsmanship winner; 2016 USTA Southern California Junior Sectionals Sportsmanship Award/recognition; 2014 Boys’ 14s Southern California Tennis Association Sportsmanship Award; 2012 Boys’ 14s Pacific Zone Team Championships (Colorado Springs, CO) Sportsmanship Award; 2010 Boys’ 12s Southern California Tennis Association Sportsmanship Award; 2010 Boys’ 12s Pacific Zone Team Championships (Tucson, AZ) Sportsmanship Award.

District/Local Tournament Sportsmanship Awards:

San Diego Junior Player Council; 2016 Outstanding Role Model Award YTSD (Special Achievement); 2015 Youth Tennis San Diego Special Achievement Award; 2013 Youth Tennis San Diego Boys’ 14s Junior Player of the Year; 2010 Boys’ 12s Jean Kremm Youth Tennis San Diego Sportsmanship Award;

Other Awards:

2014 Varsity Tennis (Rookie of the Year, Sportsmanship Award, San Diego Individual CIF doubles Finalist, Scholar-Athlete Award, San Diego All-CIF 1st Team Selection); 2014 The National Society of High School Scholars; 2016 AP Scholar with Honor Award; 2013 President’s Award for Educational Excellence.

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Two Southern California Student-Athletes Receive USTA Foundation Scholarships http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/tennis-news/two-southern-california-student-athletes-receive-usta-foundation-scholarships/ http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/tennis-news/two-southern-california-student-athletes-receive-usta-foundation-scholarships/#respond Tue, 05 Sep 2017 19:10:02 +0000 http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/?p=20595 Read more »]]> Two Southern California high school students were honored recently by the USTA Foundation for outstanding achievement in community service and junior tennis. The USTA Foundation, which is the national charitable division of the USTA, granted a total of 31 scholarship to deserving high school students totaling $300,000 in college scholarships. Congratulations go to Julia Ronney of Patrick Henry High and Eunice Lei of Scripps Ranch High.

Ronney, a recent Patrick Henry High graduate, received a $10,000 USTA Foundation College Education Scholarship for demonstrating excellence in community service, dedication to the sport and participation in USTA junior tennis. She was one of 20 recipients to receive this honor nationwide.

Eunice Lai is a recent graduate of Scripps Ranch High. She received the prestigious Eve Kraft Education & College Scholarship for $2,500 and will attend the UC Santa Barbara this fall.

Ronney’s accomplishments include participating in NJTL programs as a young beginner, and later, a volunteer coach at the NJTL site based out of the Marine Corps Recruiting Depot in San Diego. She played USTA Junior Team Tennis for eight years, and was part of the 14s Advanced squad that won the 2014 JTT National Championship. Additionally, she was named to six USTA Zonals teams and competed in the USTA Girls’ 18s Hardcourt Championships. She received the SCTA’s Most Improved Award for 2017. Ronney will attend the University of Montana this fall .

Lai helped the Falcons reach the 2016 San Diego Section Division II Final. The Eve Kraft is honor is bestowed upon two high school seniors, one male and one female, who have excelled academically, meaningfully served their communities, played tennis in an organized program, and who reside in an economically disadvantaged community. This scholarship is named in memory of Eve Kraft of Princeton, N.J., a tennis pioneer who introduced thousands of young people to tennis, particularly in disadvantaged areas. The 2017 male recipient for this award was Julian Loera of Milwaukee, Wis.

To date, the USTA Foundation has awarded more than $5 million in college scholarships and player incentive awards to more than 1,000 middle school students and high school seniors. The 2018 scholarship application will be open in late December 2017.  For additional information about submitting a scholarship application, please email questions to scholarships@usta.com. More detailed information regarding USTA Foundation Scholarships can be found at http://www.ustafoundation.com/grants_and_scholarships/?intloc=headernav.

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Junior Spotlight: Jacob Bullard http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/tennis-spotlights/junior-spotlight/junior-spotlight-jacob-bullard/ http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/tennis-spotlights/junior-spotlight/junior-spotlight-jacob-bullard/#respond Wed, 16 Aug 2017 16:15:31 +0000 http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/?p=19577 Read more »]]> Jacob Bullard was likely just too tired to muster up any negative displays of emotion or loud outbursts during last month’s USTA Clay Court Nationals.

The 16-year-old Calabasas High junior said he’s been working on his on-court demeanor and it paid off as he was named the USTA’s Sportsmanship Award winner at the prestigious national event.

Comedian Pat Bullard and son Jacob.

“It’s been a long summer and I came home from Kalamazoo just completely exhausted,” said Bullard, who called making the finals of the Clay Court 16s and earning the Sportsmanship award at a national tournament the highlight of his summer. “I thought I maintained my composure pretty good in all my matches. I’m normally pretty intense but I made a big improvement in that area and I think they noticed. This was my first one of these so maybe I’ll start to get more.”

A week after leading the Southern California 16s Intersectional team to fifth place in the nation in Shreveport, La., Bullard came in as the No. 8 seed at the Clay Courts in Florida. “I think I surprised some people at clays making the final because I don’t normally train on clay,” he said. “But I like playing on it and it suits my game. I like the humidity and the heat.”

Following clays, Bullard went up to the 18s and helped SoCal capture the National Team Championships at the University of Illinois. Bullard played No. 5 and won all his matches in singles and two out of three in doubles playing with Palisades’ Jake Sands.

Then it was on to Kalamazoo for the USTA National Hardcourt Championships.

“Looking back, I think I might have played too much,” Bullard reflected. “I’ve never been so tired than I was when I got home.”

Bullard said winning the National Team Championships ranks up there as one of his best tennis moments. “Just playing for great coaches like Trevor [Kronemann] and Grant [Chen] was amazing. It was an honor to be there with them. Everyone on the team was close and we had good chemistry.”

Bullard will begin his junior year at Calabasas High after doing online school last spring semester. “I missed my friends a little bit and I couldn’t motivate myself not having a teacher there,” said Bullard, who attended Chaminade High his freshman year and got to the third round of The Ojai Boys’ CIF event. “I figured it out, but would rather just go to high school.”

Bullard, whose father is the recognizable longtime TV comedian and writer Pat Bullard, a one-time host of the game show Love Connection, said he would like to pursue a possible journalism career, or maybe get into sports broadcasting. “I like English and History,” he said. “Science and Math, not so much.”

Bullard will play the three SoCal USTA Pro Circuit Tournaments in the fall and is looking forward to researching future colleges he would like to play for during his junior year. “I’m looking at TCU, UCLA, USC, Stanford, North Carolina, Duke and Arizona State,” he said. “I’d love to play professional tennis so I want to go somewhere that can give me the best chance and help me do that since that’s always been my dream.”

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San Diego Teen Makes National Debut in USA Junior Tennis http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/tennis-news/san-diego-teen-makes-national-debut-in-usa-junior-tennis/ http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/tennis-news/san-diego-teen-makes-national-debut-in-usa-junior-tennis/#respond Mon, 17 Jul 2017 17:56:29 +0000 http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/?p=16561 Read more »]]> Siem “Sam” Woldeab picked up a tennis racket at age 7 as a fun summer activity. His family lived across the street from the Helix Charter High School tennis courts, so it was an easy choice. After a few lessons, however, he knew tennis was his sport.  Recently, the United States Tennis Association’s Player Development program confirmed that choice as Woldeab was one of eight top U.S. players named to the 2017 USA National Junior Team.

Woldeab, 15, is a sophomore at Helix High and a San Diego standout.  He is ranked No. 2 in both the U.S. and Southern California in the Boys’ 16’s Division.  As a USA National Junior Team member, he will receive training opportunities, coaching, and travel assistance to play select USTA National Championships and ITF junior tournaments this summer.

“I really want to go pro,” said Woldeab, a 6-foot 1-inch teen from La Mesa. “I know it will be hard but I have the drive.”

In 2008, Siem joined clinics led by Coach Lois Szepaniak and Coach Stan Jefferson at the East County Community Tennis Association Junior Programs. He also occasionally played in the site’s NJTL classes and on Junior Team Tennis squads. It was clear this was a life changing opportunity.

Coach Stan Jefferson and Siem Woldeab.

“In the beginning Siem was just like all of the other kids,” Szepaniak said. “After his first season of Junior Team Tennis, he fell in love with the game. He knew this was going to be a big part of his life. You could just see it when he played. He had passion and that made the difference.”

Woldeab is a first generation American born child to immigrant parents from Eritea, East Africa. His father, Tewolde “Ted”, and mother, Semainesh, have worked hard to give Siem and his 13 year-old sister, Winta, the opportunity to play tennis. Ted is a taxi driver on the graveyard shift, and Semainesh is an accountant, who works a traditional a day shift. They are firm believers in the importance of education. During the summers, they tutor their children and prepare them for the next grade level in many core classes. As a result, Woldeab maintains a 4.6 GPA with challenging courses.

“Our plan is never to leave the kids by themselves,” Ted said. “We are there first to keep them out of trouble, and second, to help them get an education with a scholarship.  If it works out they play professional tennis that is a gift.”

Siem plays tennis twice daily with Coach Stan Jefferson at Martin Luther King Park. They meet before school from 6 to 7:30am, and again after school from 4 to 6pm four days a week. The technical support from Jefferson and family help at home has given Siem the confidence to succeed. His current goal is to win the USTA National Boys’ 16’s Hardcourt Championships this summer.

 

“All I did was to create an environment to help him develop into a world class athlete,” said Jefferson, who has coached Siem for 8 years. “This is available to all of the kids in my program but Siem has taken my message to heart. I credit his success to personal drive and inspiration.”

Woldeab’s dedication and commitment is also evident to Helix Charter High Varsity Boys’ Coach Jay Diaz. As a freshman, Woldeab was the Valley League singles champion and the player of the year. He was undefeated in league play.

“If you go to high school it is a responsibility to give back and make your school look good,” Woldeab said. “It’s fun and it helps my team. I am always willing to play when they need me.”

Diaz said Woldeab has a mature tennis game with a level head. He is well-rounded and never tires on the court. He is the quintessential team player with a positive attitude.

“Siem doesn’t stress about anything,” Diaz said. “He is calm and patient. He’s a strategist and thinks three shots down the road. He was blessed with the perfect mindset and the ability to play the game. You can’t teach him, you can only mold him.”

If professional tennis doesn’t work out right away, however, Woldeab has a great back up plan, one that is more aligned with his parent’s goals for him.

“I’d love to go to Stanford University,” said Woldeab. “It would be a dream to play tennis there and get a great education. Then when I’m ready I could become a professional. So I guess it could all work out either way.”

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Junior Salma Ewing Enjoying Success Playing Up In Open Division http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/tennis-news/junior-salma-ewing-enjoying-success-playing-up-in-open-division/ http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/tennis-news/junior-salma-ewing-enjoying-success-playing-up-in-open-division/#comments Tue, 30 May 2017 16:16:26 +0000 http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/?p=13901 Read more »]]> Junior Spotlight: Salma Ewing

Years from now when 16-year-old Salma Ewing looks back on her junior tennis career, the 2017 Ojai Tennis Tournament will be at the top of the list of her great tennis moments.

But it was in the Open division – not the juniors – where Ewing has shined the last two years at the storied event; a place where all aspiring Southern California junior tennis players hope to make it all the way to finals on Sunday at Libbey Park.

A year ago, Long Beach resident Ewing beat former WTA Tour World No. 32-ranked Olga Puchkova in the first round at The Ojai in what she calls her biggest win to date. This year, Ewing used that experience to win the Women’s Open division downing Megan McCray in the singles final.

“I think the experience having played there in front of the big crowds was a huge factor,” said Ewing, adding that The Ojai quickly jumped to the top of the list as one of her favorite tournaments. “It’s just such a neat setting in the park, and everyone there is talking about tennis. The signs are up around town and when you go into Starbucks even the barista asks how you did because everyone knows there’s a tournament going on. To win such a prestigious tournament like Ojai was amazing.”

Salma’s mother Reyana still remembers the date – April 27, 2012 – when the family piled into the car and made the trek from their home in Northern California to visit The Ojai. “Salma was still at the novice level and 11 years old,” she said. “We watched the Girls’ 14s final on the lower courts, and then watched Nicole Gibbs (Stanford) win the individual Pac-12 championships. We watched Sachia Vickery play Amanda Fink in the Women’s Open Singles finals. Stevie Johnson was there, too. Those were good memories. The girls were definitely inspired by that trip. I think it is pretty cool for Salma to go from novice in 2012 to Women’s Open champion just five years later.”

Ewing comes from a tennis family as Reyana played at Georgia State, and her two siblings, older sister Vera and younger sister Mina, also play.

But Ewing didn’t start playing tennis seriously until age 10, instead choosing to compete in track and field and cross country, often times going on training runs with Reyana, who competed in marathons.

“Once she stopped doing marathons and started playing tennis more, we would just go out and hit with her,” said Ewing, who was born in Pasadena and moved to Santa Rosa in Northern California before the family settled back into the Long Beach-area three years ago.

Ewing has done her studies online at Laurel Springs School since she finished seventh grade. That allows her the time to work out at the USTA Training Center – West in Carson under the watchful eye of USTA National Coach Chris Tonz. Later in the day she attends the Southern California Tennis Academy where she hits with director Mitch Bridge, and mostly top junior boys.

“The morning is practice and the afternoon I hit with Mitch,” she said. “There are some great players, and guys that I hit with hit pretty heavy and with spin, so I think that’s been great for me.”

With a junior ITF world ranking around No. 120, Ewing is among the nation’s top high school prospects, and said her two schools of choice are Stanford and USC.

Ewing plans to compete in some USTA Pro Circuit $25,000 events in the coming weeks, traveling to the south to play in places like Sumter, S.C., Auburn, Ala., Baton Rouge, La., and Naples, Fla.

She has already played seven Pro Futures events and has three WTA world ranking points putting her on the rankings computer with a WTA world ranking around 1,200.

Ewing calls herself a casual tennis fan, who only watches the pros on T.V. when her mom has it on. She calls Andy Murray who favorite male player and tabs Serena as her top women’s player.

Ewing’s hobbies outside of tennis include horseback riding, boogey boarding in Huntington Beach and running.

She said she is undecided if she will compete in next month’s SCTA Junior Sectionals, but said with all the travel she has planned in her near future, staying close to home and trying to win yet another prestigious SoCal tournament just like she did at The Ojai, may just be the right call.

– Steve Pratt

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USTA National Names Grant Recipients; Three SoCal Juniors Awarded http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/tennis-news/usta-national-names-grant-recipients-three-socal-juniors-awarded/ http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/tennis-news/usta-national-names-grant-recipients-three-socal-juniors-awarded/#respond Wed, 03 May 2017 18:17:02 +0000 http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/?p=13470 Read more »]]> Three local athletes have been awarded USTA National Diversity & Inclusion Multicultural Grants based on essays submitted by junior players from around the country. The grants help to support the growth of scholar-athletes of ethnic or diverse backgrounds in both academic and athletic endeavors.

Kaylee Kang, a 16-year old from Fullerton, penned an essay as an Asian American Scholar-Athlete. Entitled “Deuces over Doubts,” Kaylee describes the role of tennis in her everyday life, developing from a shy youngster to a self-confident young adult.

“In tennis,” she wrote, “there is little room for self-doubt…. The more I played this sport, the more this undeniable truth is extended to me. I know my strengths and capabilities, and I am no longer afraid to make myself seen.”

Ethan Lopez, a 13-year old from Alhambra, found parallels between himself and the namesake of USTA’s Pancho Gonzalez Scholar-Athlete Grant. Gonzalez, a Mexican-American icon, won two U.S. Championships men’s singles titles and notably brought together fans from all walks of life.

Describing his own qualities of tenacity, courage, and discipline, Ethan is equally proud of his accomplishments in the classroom and on the court. “As a scholar-athlete,” he writes, “it is very important not to be afraid to be challenged in the classroom and on the tennis court.”

Jourdan Wallace, a 16-year old from Pasadena, authored an essay entitled, “Why I Embody the Spirit of Althea.” The grant, which honors the memory, life and achievements of the first African-American Grand Slam champion Althea Gibson, rewards players who exceed expectations both on and off the court.

“I have the courage to play a sport that I not dominated by people of color,” Jourdan begins in her essay. “Willpower propelled (Althea) Gibson through many years of successful and inspirational tennis, because without it success would have (proven) very difficult if not impossible.”

USTA SoCal congratulates all three of our regional winners. Players from 17 sections across the nation submitted essays in various categories, and we are very proud to honor our SoCal scholar-athletes!

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Devon Jack Making An Impact On, Off Court at Brown http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/tennis-spotlights/junior-spotlight/devon-jack-making-an-impact-on-off-court-at-brown/ http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/tennis-spotlights/junior-spotlight/devon-jack-making-an-impact-on-off-court-at-brown/#respond Tue, 04 Apr 2017 16:04:43 +0000 http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/?p=12524 Read more »]]> JUNIOR SPOTLIGHT: Devon Jack

Brown University women’s tennis freshman Devon Jack has already made her impact felt on her team, not only with her play but also her sportsmanship.

In a mid-season match against Yale University recently, the former San Marino High star eked out a two-set tiebreaker win to give the Bears a 3-2 lead in an eventual 4-3 victory.

“My college tennis experience has been going great so far,” Jack said. “I love my team and how close the girls are. It truly feels like a family. My coaches, Paul Wardlaw (head coach) and JC Nunez (assistant coach) work extremely hard to make us not only better tennis players, but better people too. I am incredibly lucky to play for them.”

Back in early February, Jack received the 2017 SCTA Evelyn Houseman Lifetime Junior Sportsmanship Award at the annual banquet at the Los Angeles Tennis Center. The distinguished award is the highest honor a junior player can receive from the SCTA. The honor is given to an individual who, throughout their junior tennis career, has displayed exemplary conduct, outstanding sportsmanship and excellence, honesty and integrity while participating in the programs of the SCTA and the United States Tennis Association. For receiving the award, Jack will be given a lifetime membership to the USTA.

“I believe that sportsmanship means being respectful on and off the court, no matter how much stress or pressure is involved,” said Jack, who was a five-star recruit and ranked No. 27 on Tennis Recruiting’s list of top recruits for the Class of 2016.

Jack is the daughter of Nam and Michael Jack. Her mother graduated from Brown in 1980. Jack is currently focusing her studies on Biology with a minor in Economics.

Jack was a two-time National High School All-American and Rio Hondo League Singles Champion her final two years at San Marino High, with her team winning back-to-back CIF-SS Championships.

“My parents always say, ‘How you deal with adversity defines your character,’ which can be applied to tennis, school, and life,” Jack said. “When faced with adversity, a true sportsman will act with the utmost respect towards their opponent and those around them, as well as hold themselves to the highest standard of self-conduct. I am so incredibly thankful to receive the SCTA Evelyn Houseman Lifetime Sportsmanship Award.  Southern California Junior Tennis will always be my home and it is the best section with the best people!”

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Periera To Lend Quick Hand At UCLA http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/tennis-spotlights/junior-spotlight/periera-to-lend-quick-hand-at-ucla/ http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/tennis-spotlights/junior-spotlight/periera-to-lend-quick-hand-at-ucla/#respond Mon, 20 Mar 2017 23:03:50 +0000 http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/?p=11883 Read more »]]> JUNIOR SPOTLIGHT: Bryce Periera

A champion at major junior events like the Easter Bowl, The Ojai Tournament and the Kalamazoo Boys’ National Hardcourts, Bryce Pereira started off his year by winning an equally prestigious award by being named the SCTA Evelyn Houseman Sportsmanship Award winner at the SCTA Annual Meeting in February.

The San Marino High senior is UCLA-bound, but still has some serious business to complete this high school season as he and partner Connor Lee will defend their Ojai Boys’ CIF doubles title they won last April.

“Last year was just awesome to win Ojai,” said Pereira, who teamed with Lee and played at the 128th Annual Pacific Coast Doubles event in La Jolla recently. “We saw the competitors on the list and didn’t think we could win. We just kept winning close matches, and my dad said just take it one match at a time.”

The pair were seeded No. 5 and beat good friends and top-seeded rivals Keegan Smith and Ivan Thamma of Point Loma in the final.

Just like winning Ojai, Pereira felt a special significance walking away with the hardward at Kalamazoo capturing the Boys’ 16 doubles in 2015 and the coveted USTA National gold ball. Pereira has won three gold balls throughout his career—first at the USTA Winter Nationals in Boys’ 12s doubles (2011), and then Easter Bowl in Boys’ 14s doubles (2013), before Kalamazoo in the 16s.

“It’s pretty special to see all the names of the past winners on the board, including my future college coach Billy Martin,” Pereira said. “It’s so great to have won at Kalalmazoo and playing at Stowe Stadium is amazing. It will be a little bittersweet to end my junior career there this summer.”

But Pereira knows there are bigger and better things to come, including student-athlete life in Westwood. Even though UCLA wasn’t always the clear-cut college choice.

“If you saw me play as a kid I had a USC hat on every time,” he said. “We are pretty close to [coach] Peter Smith and the Smith family, and my dad even taught Colter [Smith’s son] for a while. But I remember getting a call while in Hawaii for National Selections and it was an L.A. number so I picked it up and it was UCLA calling. I knew nothing about UCLA, or anything about the program. But I really felt connected to Coach Martin and Coach Chen.”

Martin knows he’s got a blue-chipper in Pereira, and will especially be valuable in doubles when he starts school in the fall.

“I think Bryce is one of the most talented doubles players we’ve had join us in a long time,” said Martin. “He has unbelievably good hands and I know he’ll be in our doubles lineup from day one.  He’s a great kid from Southern California, and I couldn’t be happier to have him joining us.”

And Pereira couldn’t be happier about the other incoming Bruin freshman that rank as one of the top recruiting classes in the country as Lucas Bellamy, Connor Hance and Keegan Smith will all don the Bruin Blue for the next four years.

“All the guys going in as freshman are like brothers to me and we’ve know each other since we were 6,” Periera said. “It was tough. It was between USC, UCLA and TCU, since Coach Dave Roditi was my coach for a few years at the National Training Center and my sister [Alexis] plays there. When I told both coaches it was the hardest thing I had to do. They were both heartbroken, but I had to do what was best for me and my tennis.”

Periera will start school undeclared but is thinking about business or possibly sports medicine as his field of study.

And Pereira can always fall back on his acting career. Three years ago he had a role in a Wilson commercial with Roger Federer. “He was unreal,” Periera said. “He walked in with no entourage. He was eating ice cream with us and was hitting with us. We thought he’d be off to the side. It was more than five hours and he sat there talking and laughing the whole time.”

As for his free time, Periera said he’s content doing some casual reading, but with sports mental books like “Sacred Hoops” and “The Four Agreements” to help sharpen his complete tennis game.

–Steve Pratt

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So Cal Junior Tennis Adopts New Seeding Methods for 2017 http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/tennis-news/so-cal-junior-tennis-adopts-new-seeding-methods-for-2017/ http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/tennis-news/so-cal-junior-tennis-adopts-new-seeding-methods-for-2017/#respond Fri, 27 Jan 2017 19:43:54 +0000 http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/?p=10846 Read more »]]> The times they are a changin’ in junior tennis seeding for Southern California. With advent of growing resources, the SCTA will be using many factors to determine seeding in Junior Open Tournaments Levels 1 to 4 starting January 2017. This means tournament directors will consider USTA sectional and national rankings, as well as the Universal Tennis Rating (UTR) system. Also, tournaments are offered through the USTA  as well as UTR channels.

To find upcoming USTA junior tournaments in So Cal go to Http://tennislink.usta.com/tournaments/Schedule/Search.aspx.   The next UTR tournament in San Diego is Feb 18 to 20 at Del Norte High. Sign up at http://events.universaltennis.com/tournaments/127/players/.

Trevor Kronemann, the Director of Junior Competition for the SCTA, stated several reasons for this shift.  In 2016,  he sent this information to USTA players in So Cal:

  • The seeding committee reserves the right to consider other factors for players returning from injury, out of section players, players playing out of age division and other unforeseen situations that the seeding committee deems applicable.
  • Seeding the system used to separate the top players in a draw so that they do not meet in the early rounds of a tournament. The top seed is the player that the tournament committee (Tournament Director, Tournament Referee, Director of Junior Tennis, Junior Competition Chair) deems the strongest player in the event. It is not a standing or ranking.

Many may wonder, what is the UTR system? Where does it get information? According to the UTR website, this is the story:

“Universal Tennis Rating (UTR) has now processed more than 4 million tennis match results—less than a year after attaining the 3 million match mark last April. UTR is rapidly becoming a “mainstream” tool throughout the tennis world. The millions of results flow in from more than 200 nations. They reflect the play of over 300,000 athletes and 2,000 college teams. The pace at which results are entering the system indicate UTR’s rapid growth: the database took a little over a year to grow from 2 million to 3 million matches, but the fourth million arrived in less than nine months.

UTR attracts tennis data from all over the world as a consequence of the simplicity, accuracy, pragmatic value, and universality of its rating scale. It gathers results from the ATP, WTA, ITF, ITA (U.S. college tennis), USTA (open, 5.0, and junior levels), Tennis Canada, Great Britain’s Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), Tennis Australia, and Tennis Europe, plus select public and private U.S. high school results.

UTR translates all this data into a common worldwide metric that rates athletes’ level of play on a 16-point scale (from beginners to world-class professionals). UTR precisely and reliably determines individual players’ ratings based on actual match results, without regard for age, gender. or where the matches are played. The score of the match and the rating of the opponent are the only factors that enter the algorithmic calculations.

In the past year, UTR has also added new features, like enabling players to claim their profiles and receive weekly results notifications. College teams, too, can claim their profiles and compare matchups with opponents. In the near future, Universal Tennis will introduce doubles ratings as well.”

For more information on UTR go to https://universaltennis.com/.  For more information on SCTA seeding method changes, please contact Trevor Kronemann via email at  tkronemann@scta.usta.com.

 

 

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Hard Work Paying Off For Carlsbad’s Cali Jankowski http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/tennis-spotlights/junior-spotlight/hard-work-paying-off-for-carlsbads-cali-jankowski/ http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/tennis-spotlights/junior-spotlight/hard-work-paying-off-for-carlsbads-cali-jankowski/#respond Fri, 23 Dec 2016 13:56:16 +0000 http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/?p=9611 Read more »]]> Like the majority of ranked Southern California junior tennis players, Cali Jankowski is well aware of how important practice is to becoming an even better player. And just like a lot of those players, Jankowski is not afraid to admit that practicing hasn’t always been her favorite thing to do, until recently.

“For me it is all about the competition and the tournaments,” said the 16-year-old Carlsbad resident. “I used to not like the practices, but knew it was important for my tennis.”

Jankowski feels like she’s found the right formula to keep her inspired on the practice court. It wasn’t until she started working with Coach Derek Miller, the director of tennis at the Rancho Santa Fe Tennis Club, and in Orange County with Coach Frank Giampaolo, that she found her groove.

“I feel like now that I’ve found a good team around me, I look forward to driving to practice every day,” she said.

Jankowski, who is a junior and studies online at Laurel Springs School, came up big at the recent J.P. Yamasaki Tournament in Anaheim, capturing the Girls’ 18s singles title.

After dropping the first set to Jennifer Kerr in the semifinals, Jankowski came back to beat her 6-0 in the third set. She then downed Jennifer Gadalov in the final, also in three sets.

She started the year winning another big Level 1 in the 16s as she took the Henry Talbert Junior title.

Jankowski knows the SCTA Section results are important, but wants to turn her attention to then national events. She spent 2016 playing some of the area, and nation’s top players as she beat beat Ryan Peus at Fullerton before taking a set off Carson Branstine and falling in a super tiebreaker.

Jankowski played top 14-year-olds in Alexa Noel and Gabby Price at the Easter Bowl, and fell to the nation’s top 14-year-old Katie Volynets in the quarterfinals of the Carson ITF Level 1, taking a set before retiring down in the third because of an injury.

“Yeah, playing these high-level tournaments you really get to see the best of the best,” she said. “And some of these best of the best are from the younger divisions. They are extremely tough to play. You know the age factor is there and it’s subconsciously there that you are older, but some of the younger players are so tough.”

Jankowski will play up in the 18s at the Winter Nationals in Tempe later this month to complete her exceptional year.

An only child, Jankowski came to the sport like so many others. “My dad played in high school and my mom joined a women’s league,” she said. “My dad started feeding me balls when I was younger.”

Jankowski describes her style as “really aggressive” and has been like that from the start. “Now it’s just a matter of harnessing that,” she said. “I’m working on opening up more angles and serving and volleying and utilizing the whole court; moving them around and not giving my opponents anything. That’s what I’ve been working on with my coaches.”

Jankowski said she would like to get her second serve better and her fitness.

She will play for Arizona State University having already verbally committed, although she was recruited by other top Division I schools. “It’s a family school,” she said. “My grandfather was a dean of engineering and I have a cousin that goes there now, and an aunt who went there. All my family lives in Tempe.”

Staying in the Pac-12 means Jankowski will be able to keep playing her favorite tournament, The Ojai. “It’s just amazing how this small town brings out hundreds of people to watch the juniors and college players,” she said. “Ojai is my favorite tournament, and any tournament in the Palm Springs/Indian Wells area.”

Jankowski has set some lofty personal goals for the coming year. “I would love to be seeded at the 18s Hardcourts next year,” she said. “And just keep climbing up the rankings and play some ITF pro events.”

School has always come first, and Jankowski is looking forward to studying sports media with the hopes of someday working for a professional team. “I don’t want to just have a regular office job,” she said. “I want to be involved with something that has to do with sports.”

— Steve Pratt

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Junior Spotlight: Max McKennon http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/tennis-spotlights/junior-spotlight/junior-spotlight-max-mckennon/ http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/tennis-spotlights/junior-spotlight/junior-spotlight-max-mckennon/#respond Sun, 06 Nov 2016 15:36:49 +0000 http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/?p=9345 Read more »]]> Former ATP Touring pro Carsten Ball must feel like he’s looking at a mini version of himself every time he steps onto the court to teach his young student Max McKennon.

The similarities don’t end with the two having been raised in Newport Beach. Ball is a 6-foot-6 lefty with a booming serve who is a teaching professional at Advantage Academy in Irvine. While he’s not finished growing yet having just turned 14-years-old in May, McKennon is tall for his age, and considers his serve a weapon he’s been using in racking up wins on the Southern California Junior Circuit recently.

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Carsten Ball and Max McKennon

“He really is a mini Carson,” said Max’s mother, Donna McKennon. “It’s nice to have another lefty teaching him.”

McKennon’s breakthrough tournament win at the recent Orange County / J.P. Yamasaki Level 2 Closed Junior Tournament played at the Anaheim Tennis Center has made people stand up and take notice of the young McKennon.

Playing up in the 16s, McKennon came back to beat top-seeded Harry Yang, 3-6, 6-4, 6-0, to capture the singles title, and then teamed with Matthew Sah as the top-seeded team to win the doubles crown.

The win in singles wasn’t only remarkable in that McKennon was one of the youngest players in the draw, but how he won it. In his final three matches, he came back to win each after losing the first set.

And all with Ball watching and coaching him through each match.

“I do think I’m a younger version of him,” said McKennon, who was previously coached by Brett Hansen-Dent before he moved to the San Diego area. “It’s been great. We get along so well and he really helped me with the mental side of the game. He tells me what to do and it usually works out.”

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Max McKennon

Donna said she thinks something clicked during the tournament, and that Max has turned a corner in his game. “It was so exciting,” Donna said. “Just seeing him out there and battling and coming through. We were so proud of him.”

McKennon admits that moving up to the 16s was tough as first back in May when he made the decision around his 14th birthday to play 16s on the sectional level, and 14s nationally. The Newport Harbor High freshman is currently ranked in the USTA top 20 nationally with his combined ranking in the 14s.

“Winning the JP Yamasaki was tough,” he said. “I fought pretty hard and got the job done. It was a cool experience since I have never won a singles tournament of that size.”

On playing the 16s, he commented, “at the start it was tough but I’ve acclimated to it, but overall it’s been an easy transition.”

McKennon loves playing for a team, and is looking forward to the Newport Harbor season and playing for Coach Kristen Case, who he has known for a while.

Next up is the SCTA Sectional Doubles (16s), and then a national selection tournament in Irvine (14s). He plans to play a few national 14s events like he did this past summer at the clay courts and hardcourts.

It’s still early to think about college, but McKennon says he thinks he might want to “stay close to home and maybe play for a Pac-12 team” like USC or UCLA.

There is still one thing McKennon hopes to accomplish in 2016, which has been so successful this far. Breaking Coach Ball’s sever. “Nah, I haven’t done that yet,” he said. “He still bangs it at me pretty hard.”

–Steve Pratt

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Junior Spotlight: Andrew Whitehouse http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/tennis-news/junior-spotlight-andrew-whitehouse/ http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/tennis-news/junior-spotlight-andrew-whitehouse/#respond Mon, 29 Aug 2016 07:29:39 +0000 http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/?p=8790 Read more »]]> It’s all a matter of confidence for Andrew Whitehouse of Westlake Village. The 17-year-old recently concluded a successful summer by taking part in one of the most prestigious tournaments in the nation – the USTA Hardcourt 18s Nationals at Kalamazoo, Mich.

Just a few weeks earlier at the USTA National Clay Courts, the Westlake High senior unseeded Whitehouse was given the Boys’ 18s “Player of the Day” Award after a three-hour marathon comeback win.

After dropping the first set against No. 17-seeded Bennett Crane, Whitehouse took the second in a tiebreaker, 11-9, and the third set, 6-4, to advance to the next round.

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“It was the last match of the day and there were some college coaches watching,” Whitehouse said. “I was able to save five or six match points, so it was a pretty exciting match. I think that’s why they gave me the Player of the Day Award and it was nice to be recognized with that.”

For Whitehouse, Kalamazoo represented a return to the surface he’s most familiar with in hardcourts. Whitehouse spent some time in Virginia warming up on clay before the Nationals, and said he played 14 matches on the dirt back east.

The extra time spent on clay gave him the confidence he needed heading into Nationals. “The confidence is there now and I really feel like I belong with the top players,” Whitehouse said. “At some of the other tournaments I look at some of the others top seeds, and I think I’m not going to win. But at Clay Courts I really started to get that confidence that all the top players have.

“I really feel like I can play with anyone out there.”

Along with Westlake High teammates Brandon Lam and Cody Lin, Whitehouse is on one of the state’s top high school teams.

“It’s tough balancing school and tennis,” he said. “But I’m pretty good at balancing both and being able to go to public school.”

Whitehouse said he let his best friend Lin take the lone singles spot in last April’s Ojai CIF event, and he elected to play Men’s Open qualifying, losing in the final round.

Whitehouse said his successful summer playing top national junior events has led to several colleges taking a closer look at him. He’s checking out the schools and programs at Cal Poly-SLO, UC Santa Barbara, and Virginia Tech and has visited each of the campuses on unofficial visits.

“They’re recruiting me pretty hard,” he said, adding he wouldn’t mind attending college back east, as his mother the former Lorene Burkhart played at Marshall University in West Virginia.

Lorene was one of Andrew’s first tennis coaches and she is a teaching pro at the Westlake Athletic Club. She earned her Master’s of Psychology in both School Counseling and Counseling Psychology from Northeastern University in Boston, Mass., following her playing days.

Whitehouse said earning his college degree is important, but he wants to spend equal times on the courts compared to the classroom. “Ever since I stepped on the court at the age of 7 my goal was to play Division I college tennis,” he said.

Whitehouse reflected back on his positive summer. “Kalamazoo was pretty cool,” he said. “And the biggest thing for me was that I wasn’t fearing any player. I was thinking, ‘why can’t I beat these players?’ ”

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Life at UCLA Billy Martin Tennis Camps is Filled with Fun http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/youth-tennis/10-and-under-tennis/life-at-ucla-billy-martin-tennis-camps-is-filled-with-fun/ http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/youth-tennis/10-and-under-tennis/life-at-ucla-billy-martin-tennis-camps-is-filled-with-fun/#comments Fri, 22 Jul 2016 07:38:33 +0000 http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/?p=8302 Read more »]]> Each summer hundreds of kids gather at the UCLA Tennis Center for one very important purpose: to have a blast at the UCLA Billy Martin Tennis Camps. The participants rbrooke with kids close up GREAT 600ange in age from 7 to 18 and their levels are from beginning to high performance. A recent addition includes the USTA’s 10-and-Under Tennis program.
“I’m a believer in progression tennis and using red, orange and green dot balls as teaching tools in my tennis camps,” Martin said. “It allows juniors to start their development with success and it gives them early opportunities to rally on a smaller tennis court.”   
splatt 2 good 600
This year, the camp offered six weeks of outstanding instruction, tournament play, hitting, fundamental training, games and much more. The program has daily and resident options, and in each, the children are supervised by an outstanding staff of accomplished collegiate players. Many have competed for UCLA, USC, UC Irvine, Albright College, UC San Diego, Stanford University, the University of Texas, the University of Georgia, Albright College, Minnesota State University Mankato, Fresno State University, Azusa Pacific University, Claremont McKenna College and Texas Christian University to name a few.egg toss grant 600
“We have a great staff and a lot of them are former campers,” said Coach Grant Chen, the UCLA Assistant Camp Director. “They had a fantastic experience as campers when they were kids, and they want to come back and be part of the staff.”
Brooke RonneRonney Girls 600y, a senior at Albright College, was a camper for over eight years. Some of her fondest childhood memories include playing each summer at the Billy Martin Tennis Camps. Now the No. 1 player for Albright, Ronney is an instructor and teaches summers and holidays at the UCLA based program. In recent years, she taught with older sister, Alexis Ronney, a former counselor and camper.  Alexis was an outstanding player from Minnesota State University Mankato, and taught at Billy Martin Tennis Camps for about five years.
“When I was a camper, I used to admire the counselors and I couldn’t wait to become one,” said Brooke Ronney, who is also certified to teach 10-and-Under Tennis. “I learned a lot from them. Now I can give back and teach the kids what I know and watch them improve. It feels really good to see thebilly martin and Glenn Bassett 600m use their new skills.”
Coach Martin, a U.S. and international junior star, was a freshman at UCLA in 1975. He led the Bruins to their NCAA National Division I Championship that year, and captured the NCAA singles title. He played on the pro tour, and in 1977, was a singles quarterfinalist at Wimbledon. He was also an outstanding doubles player and won many titles, but retired in 1982 due to a hip injury.
Coach Martin’s incredible tennis accomplishments and knowledge of the game created a path to become the UCLA Men’s Assistant Coach for 11 years under former UCLA Men’s Head Coach Glenn Bassett. Coach Martin took over the Head Coach position in 1994. However, Basset and Martin teamed up to lead UCLA tennis camps for 35 Coach Bill and and Coach Bassett 600years. Coach Martin has been solo at the camp helm since 1998.   
Coach Grant Chen, who is also the UCLA Men’s Associate Head Coach, works closely with Coach Martin. Both are instrumental in developing all facets of the UCLA camp program that includes teaching fundamentals, training, fitness, and player performance. In recent years, Coach Martin has included the USTA’s new 10-and-Under Tennis program. 
This summer, Coach Martin’s program offers:
  • Singles & doubles match play and tournament play
  • Movement & conditioning mechanics
  • Teaching aids such as ball machines and backboardsegg toss 600
  • Videotape and instant replay analysis
  • Daily instruction and drills, individually and in small groups
  • Coaching fundamentals: grips, footwork, etc
  • USTA’s 10-and-Under Tennis curriculum and training
  • Fun off-court activities and crafts for campers
“It’s a wide range of hats we all wear as coaches, mentors and instructors,” Chen said. “It’s important to take care of the needs of all of the players at each level. This means we strive to nurture players mentally, physically and emotionally on and off the court. But at the end of the day, we want to make sure they are having fun!” 
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Junior Spotlight: Jacob Brumm http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/tennis-news/junior-spotlight-jacob-brumm/ http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/tennis-news/junior-spotlight-jacob-brumm/#respond Mon, 11 Jul 2016 18:44:57 +0000 http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/?p=8230 Read more »]]> The best player on the best high school tennis team in the nation wouldn’t miss his senior year for anything.

SCTA top-ranked 17-year-old Jacob Brumm recently finished up his junior year at Torrey Pines High in North San Diego County. The team couldn’t be beat in 2016 as they finished undefeated winning the CIF San Diego Section title and both the State and National Championship.

“I love my school and I’m thankful that my parents kept me in public school while a lot of others get pulled out and go to online school,” said Brumm, who was recently awarded the school’s Male Athlete of Year award. “It was for all sports including the big ones like football and baseball and basketball. It was a big deal because we have an enrollment of 6,000.”

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B9317971163Z.1_20150708211818_000_GFTB9V5B4.1-0Just two years ago, the powerhouse tennis school had players like Taylor Fritz, Kalman Boyd and Logan Smith enrolled. “If everyone who could have played would have played, we’d be like a Top 20 NCAA Division I team,” Brumm said.

Brumm captured the Stanford National Open to start the summer after sitting out last year’s event with a broken wrist. He beat Austin Huang from Elk Grove, Calif., in the final.

Brumm is currently preparing for the Clay Court Nationals in Delray Beach, Fla., in mid-July. While tough to find nice Har-Tru clay-court facilities to train at, Brumm has access to two nice clay courts at the Rancho Santa Fe Country Club.

Brumm, who in 2014 won a silver ball by finishing second in the 16s at the Clay Court Nationals, plays all the big Super Nationals and the National Opens on the West Coast, but said his demanding school load (AP classes) doesn’t allow for him to travel to other countries to play ITF events.

“It’s really impossible to do if you are trying to stay in school and attend a top public school,” he said.

Brumm was seeded No. 1 at The Ojai Tournament in April, but fell in the quarterfinals to Cal-Berkeley bound Bjorn Hoffmann.

Brumm has a strong interest in taking his tennis talents to three top NCAA Division I programs and has visited all three, including one on the east coast and two on the west coast. But he won’t reveal the names of the schools just yet.

Brumm’s father Bruce is a dentist, and picked up the game of tennis in his mid-30s. Jacob’s mother, Laurie Goldenson, grew up in Rancho Palos Verdes and took lessons at the Jack Kramer Club when “Tracy Austin and Pete Sampras were there,” according to Jacob.

The family are members of the San Dieguito Tennis Club in Encinitas.

Jacob said he loves doing off-the-court training like going on 10 miles runs. His coaches are currently Robert Yim and Chris Groh.

One of Brumm’s favorite tournaments is the Kalamazoo National Hardcourts in August. Brumm said he expects to be seeded as he is around No. 10 in the national rankings. This is his fourth year competing at The Zoo. “Watch for me, because I’m looking to do big stuff at Kalamazoo,” he said.

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San Diego Junior Player Council Honor Peers at the Junior Tennis Awards http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/tennis-news/san-diego-junior-player-council-honor-peers-at-the-junior-tennis-awards/ http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/tennis-news/san-diego-junior-player-council-honor-peers-at-the-junior-tennis-awards/#respond Tue, 14 Jun 2016 15:52:26 +0000 http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/?p=7790 Read more »]]> The 2016 Junior Player Council presented the Junior Tennis Awards recently at Barnes Tennis Center. The banquet hosted a fun 1970’s theme for approximately 100 with outstanding festivities and fare. Awards were presented to many deserving youth and adult tennis players for their 2015 achievements, including Players of thytsd awards (42)e Year, Most Improved and many Sportsmanship awards.ytsd awards (5)

Sam Hum served as emcee, with support from Adult Advisors Eva Hum and Lori Faierman. Current Junior Player Council members who planned and orchestrated the evening included Ryan Rafferty, Nicole Mossmer, Julia Ronney, Cameron Mofid, Will Molenjamp, Nicole Mossmer, Jennifer Kerr, Chloe Kuo, Alec Manriquez, Matthew Moses, Alexa Meyer, Riley Vickers, Reina Chu, Jack Hogan and Sam Hum. They organized and facilitated the wonderful ceremony attended by approximately 100 people.

The Service to Tennis Award recipients were:

  • Judy Inskeep – The Olive R. Pierce Award for outstanding contribution to the welfare and development of tennis in San Diego. Olive R. Pierce ytsd awards (18)was the wife of Jonathan Pierce, San Diego Tennis Patrons President from 1967 to 1969.
  •  Sam Hum – The Bill Dudash Memorial Award for outstanding service to tennis by a boy or girl. Bill Dudash was a San Diego umpire who enjoyed working with junior players.
  • Ivan Thamma- Sophie Custado Sportsmanship Award for dedication, participation and devotion to tennis. Sophie Custado is the grandmother of the Redondo family, who devoted many hours to junior tennis.
  • Elizabeth Goldsmith and Ryan Hahn – Southwest Trophy Sportsmanship Award presented to a 14-and-under boy and girl.
  • Tasia Mochernak – Margaret Weckerly Sportsmanship Award for a 16-or 18-and-under girl. Margaret Weckerly and her family have been long-standing supporters of junior tennis in San Diego.
  • Nikita Pereverzin– Roland Brock Sportsmanship Award presented to a 16-or 18-and-under boy. Roland Brock was one of the founders of the San Diego Tennis Patrons.
  • Jennifer Kerr- Bob Carrothers Memorial Trophy for outstanding sportsmanship presented to a high school senior at the Harper Ink Tournament. Bob Carrothers was a junior p layer in the 1930’s and 1940’s in San Diego and well-known for his outstanding sportsmanship.ytsd awards (31)
  • Hudson Rivera and Bianca Wong – Jean Kremm Sportsmanship Award presented by the Molden Family to a boy and girl 12-and-under who displayed outstanding sportsmanship. Jean Kremm was YTSD tournament director from 1975 to 1998.

Wilbur Folsom Award for Most Improved Players:

  • 18s- Billy Rowe and Gillian Parker
  • 16s- Ryan Dehmoubed and Julia Haynesytsd awards (29)
  • 14s- Matthew Sah and Sophie Raiszadeh

Junior Players of the Year:

  • 18s- Taylor Fritz and Jessica Failla
  • 16s Ryan Seggerman and Nicole Mossmer
  • 14s- Siem Woldeab and Amy Huang
  • Sarahi Nunez Loauza–  YTSD Sportsmanship Award presented for outstanding sportsmanship displayed by an After School Tennis Participant.
  • Luc Hosy and Themla Sepulveda – Outstanding Role Models for Youth Tennis San Diego.
  • Timothy Sah- Outstanding Role Model Awards YTSD Special Achievement Award presented to recognize special achievement in junior tennis.

The After School Tennis Award recipients were: 

  • Tais Vasquez Lopez-  Chabot Family Leadership Award presented for outstanding sportsmanship by a girl in the After School Tennis Program. Kathy Chabot Willette is a former YTSD President and founded the After School Tennis Program.ytsd awards (27)
  • Noah Engels-  Angel Lopez Sportsmanship Award presented to an outstanding boy in the After School Tennis Program.
  • Jonathon Reynolds and Ileana Cardenas– Belinsky Family Sportsmanship Award presented for outstanding sportsmanship displayed by a boy and a girl in the After School Tennis Program in the South Bay region.

The Junior Player Council is a volunteer service group that also assists with running local tournaments, the Barnes Halloween Carnival, making care packages for the homeless and donating gently used clothing to St. Vincent de Paul Villages.

To download the Barnes Tennis Center Newsletter, go to http://media.wix.com/ugd/b48411_e26fffcbd9b94a9aac538700659d80e3.pdf, and for the YTSD Junior Tennis Yearbook go to http://media.wix.com/ugd/b48411_fa47bd73687a46c1a0b16e7402048f51.pdf. For more info regarding Youth Tennis San Diego and Barnes Tennis Center go to http://www.barnestenniscenter.com/ or call (619) 221-9000.

Special thanks to Barnes Tennis Center and Youth Tennis San Diego for contributing to this article.

 

 

 

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Junior Spotlight: Brandon Holt http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/tennis-news/junior-spotlight-brandon-holt/ http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/tennis-news/junior-spotlight-brandon-holt/#respond Sun, 20 Mar 2016 01:32:00 +0000 http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/?p=6187 Read more »]]> Sportsmanship has always been an important part of Brandon Holt’s game. Although it’s not as effective as a strong passing shot, or as powerful as a consistent slice backhand, it’s something that has helped Holt become one of the nation’s top prospects.

“Growing up, my parents and my grandparents always stressed good sportsmanship and said they won’t remember if you won or lost, but how you acted on the court,” said the 17-year-old Holt, who has won three sportsmanship awards during his career. “And that has always stuck with me.”

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Brandon Holt with mother Tracy Austin at the SCTA Awards Night.

Holt recently was honored by the Southern California Tennis Association with the Evelyn Houseman Sportsmanship Award along with Ena Shibahara at the SCTA Awards Night held at UCLA.

“When I look at kids who are not nice on the court, I don’t want to be like them, Holt added. “I think that I do carry myself with a good attitude on the court.”

Holt, who will play in the upcoming USTA/ITF International Spring Championships in Carson followed by the ASICS Easter Bowl in the desert, was honored with a similar award at the USTA 18s Nationals at Kalamazoo last September.

The return to the SoCal hardcourts will be welcomed by Holt, who has been training on the clay with seven other top USTA players, including Sam Riffice, Patrick Kypson, Oliver Crawford, Gianni Ross, and Zeke Clark. The Team USA juniors recently took part in two big ITF events in Brazil, including the long-standing Banana Bowl where Holt beat the No. 5 seed from Italy before falling in the Round of 16 to the No. 6 seed from Germany, 6-4, 7-6 (5).

Brandon Holt

“I’m working on getting acclimated to the clay,” Holt said. “It’s a lot different and something that doesn’t suit my game, but I’m just trying to hold my own against the best. I have a hard court game, but I like the challenge and I like playing on it.”

He added: “It’s fun at home, but there are so many guys to hit with and you don’t really have to worry about your schedule. There are so many good coaches here and trainers.

The Rolling Hills resident Holt, whose mother is tennis Hall of Famer Tracy Austin, first got people’s attention by winning The Ojai CIF Doubles title as a sophomore two years ago playing for Palos Verdes High. He opted to play singles last year at The Ojai and lost in the semifinals to Bjorn Hoffmann. Holt followed that up with big singles wins in the CIF-Southern Section Individuals, and the SCTA Sectionals.

After a solid Kalamazoo, Holt and future USC teammate Riley Smith made the final at the US Open Junior Championships in doubles.

Because he opted to train in Boca Raton, Fla., with the USTA, Holt has had to continue his school with an independent study program and he will not be able to compete in The Ojai CIF division, or defend his CIF section singles title.

“It was just too hard to keep up with and so many trips,” Holt said. “I’m really going to miss playing for a team, but I’m still planning on going to Ojai to play the pros (Open).”

And of course there is potentially four more years playing The Ojai for the Trojans.

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Junior Spotlight: Riley Smith http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/tennis-spotlights/junior-spotlight/junior-spotlight-riley-smith/ http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/tennis-spotlights/junior-spotlight/junior-spotlight-riley-smith/#respond Mon, 04 Jan 2016 21:37:11 +0000 http://southerncaliforniatennis.org/?p=5350 Read more »]]> One of Riley Smith’s favorite doubles partners happens to be both his father and his future college tennis coach. And he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“It’s fun to play tennis with the man who has taught me everything,” said Riley Smith, who teamed with his father to win the USTA National Father-Son tournament played at the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club the first week of December. “It was a blast and I’m so close to him.”

Brandon Holt-Riley Smith 3

The top-seeded Smiths of Long Beach beat No. 3-seeded Brett and Brian Joelson, 6-4, 6-4, to capture their fourth USTA National gold ball together.

The pair have played together in seven or eight tournaments and won two over the summer. Riley and Peter almost didn’t get a chance to win at La Jolla as it was Colter’s turn to play with dad. But an injury allowed Riley to step in and take the title. “We have to take turns,” said Riley, whose older brother Tanner is a USC student and part of the Trojans’ program. “We have like a rotation thing going.”

Smith is currently a senior at Los Alamitos High School and will team with another one of his favorite doubles partners, Brandon Holt, come September when they both will play for Peter’s USC Trojans. The fact that Peter has led USC to four NCAA team titles in recent years is the reason the decision to play there was such an easy on.

“It was a no-brainer,” Smith, 18, said. “It’s hard to pass up the best opportunity in the nation at USC. I’m just counting down the days till I get to go there with Brandon and play for such a great university.

“It is a dream come true. I always dreamed of going to USC, it’s crazy.”

Smith and Holt made headlines back in September when the pair were given wild cards to play in the U.S. Open Junior event as a doubles team, where they eventually made it all the way to the final.

Smith had one day to prepare his first U.S. Open.

Bradon and Riley Smith

“On a Tuesday my Dad said, ‘Hey, they’re talking and it looks like you’re going to get the wild card for the junior doubles,’ Smith recalled. “And we were like, ‘Oh, really.’ And then at tennis practice he was like, ‘Yeah, you got the wild card. We’re going to fly out tomorrow.’ ”

Smith said the first-round win was special, and the only one that went straight sets. “Then we kind of fell in love with the 10-point tiebreaker,” as the pair went on to win the next three matches after splitting sets.

“We just found our groove,” Smith said. “I guess Brandon and I kind of feed off of each other. He’s more calm. I get a little more pumped up. He was really clutch in the tiebreakers. He returned better than me and I served a little better. It was just a perfect combo.”

Smith’s run at the Open in doubles really helped his singles game. “I play better in doubles because I’m tall and I don’t have to move as much,” he said. “When I got back I was returning amazing and serving amazing.”

Smith will play in the two upcoming USTA Pro Circuit Futures events at USC and in Long Beach. He will play qualifying in singles, and with Holt as a wild card in doubles.

He is looking forward to playing one last year of high school tennis. Last Spring, Smith led Los Alamitos High to a CIF-Southern Section Division I title as they beat Harvard-Westlake in the final, 14-4. In that match, Smith avenged a tough loss against Michael Genender, who beat him in three sets in the semifinals at Ojai.

Smith said his goals for 2016 regarding high school tennis mostly center around his team, but he wants to win Ojai and a CIF individual title.

It’s not all tennis at the Smith household every day. “I went to a bunch of USC football games and like going to the movies, just normal stuff,” Smith said of his interests off the court. “I play some video games with friends. I definitely like to relax when I’m off the court.”

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