San Diego’s Sah and Zhao Capture SCTA Junior Sectional 18s Titles

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif. – Just moments after 16-year-old Timothy Sah completed his goal of winning the 114th Annual SCTA Junior Sectionals in the Boys’ 18s singles division, his mind quickly turned to USTA Nationals events and the rest of his summer plans.

Timothy Sah B18s Winnner

B18s Winner Timothy Sah. Photo by Jill Cox

“I think this will give me a lot of confidence for the rest of the summer,” said the No. 4-seeded Sah, a Torrey Pines High junior who beat his training partner and Sectional winning doubles partner Ryan Seggerman of Coronado, 6-2, 6-2, on the final day of the tournament played at the Los Caballeros Racquet Club. “We’ve been playing each other since the 12s so I knew what to expect. It’s tough to play someone you know so well. I just got into a rhythm and tried to play my game.”

SCTA Manager of Junior Team Tennis Ken Grassel was on hand to watch the two former Junior Team Tennis teammates Sah and Seggerman, who also captured the 18s Sectional doubles title on Saturday. In fact, Grassel had a team autographed photo showing a younger Sah and Seggerman next to each other in their winning 2013 USTA Advanced 14-and-under National Championship team photo.

Sah said he will next turn his focus to doing some training on clay in advance of the USTA National Clay Courts in mid-July in Delray Beach before getting back on the hardcourts where he will play the Kalamazoo Hardcourt Nationals in August.

Sah, who was watched by USC Men’s Tennis Coach Peter Smith once again on Monday, is interested in playing college tennis at USC, UCLA, Stanford or Harvard, but hasn’t yet taken his official visits.

Sah’s Torrey Pines High junior classmate Hannah Zhao had a bit of a tougher time in her girls’ 18s singles final against No. 3-seeded Nicole Mossmer of La Jolla. Zhao took the first set 6-3 and seemed in control leading 5-1 in the second set. That’s when Mossmer turned up the heat and fought back to 5-4 before Zhao closed her out.

G18s winner Hannah Zhao. Photo by Jill Cox

“It feels pretty cool to be on the list of so many great past winners of this event,” Zhao said.

In the boys’ 16s singles final, top-seeded Brandon Nakashima of San Diego beat No. 2 Eric Hahn of Fullerton, 6-2, 7-5. Nakashima, who is just 14 and playing up a division, was watched by his private coach Larry Stefanki, who has coached a who’s-who list of top professionals, including Andy Roddick. Nakashima said he has also been working with noted coaches Robert Yim and Steve Forman.

It was the third Sectional final appearance, in three different divisions, for Nakashima, who won the 10s in 2011, and lost in the 14s final in 2014. Nakashima was named the Player of the Day Monday and was noted for his excellent sportsmanship.

On her 15th birthday, No. 5-seeded Elizabeth Goldsmith of Chula Vista took out Anessa Lee of San Marino, 6-1, 6-1, to win the girls’ 16s Sectional title. “I’m so excited to win my first Sectional title,” said Goldsmith, who said she switched rackets one day before the start of the tournament. “My friend was using the Babolat Pure Drive and said I should try it, so I did. It didn’t affect me much.” Goldsmith is a sophomore at Olympian High and will travel to Utah for 16s Zonals next.

Brandon Nakishima B16 Winner

B16s winner Brandon Nakishima. Photo by Jill Cox.

Last year at his first Sectionals, Julian Noah Steinhausen of Van Nuys didn’t win a match, losing in the first round of the main draw, and his first match in the consolation draw. On Monday, Steinhausen continued his Sectional winning ways, beat a tough No. 2-seeded Emilio Nava of Woodland Hills, 6-1, 6-2, in the boys’ 14s final. “It feels good to finally have success at Sectionals,” said Steinhausen, who is home schooled. “Today it was all about serving well and returning well.” Steinhausen will play up for the SCTA 16s Zonal team in Utah next.

In the girls’ 14s final, No. 5-seeded Jennifer Kida of Wilmington said she played “confident, aggressive and comfortable” in posting a 6-4, 6-4 victory over No. 2 Christine Inah Canete of Los Angeles. Kida, 13, recently finished her eighth-grade school year at Dodson Middle School. Kida will travel to Colorado Springs, Colo., to play USTA 14s Zonals next.

In the boys’ 12s final, No. 5-seeded Ryan Morgan of Pasadena dropped the first set against Sean Daryabeigi of Irvine, 1-6, but then rallied to win the match, 6-0, 7-5. Morgan, 12, is an eighth-grader at La Canada High. “I just tried to stay calm and played the bigger points better,” Morgan said. Daryabeigi led 5-3 and was serving for the match, but Morgan stayed steady and made fewer unforced errors than Daryabeigi down the stretch.

In the girls’ 12s final, top-seeded Anne Lutkemeyer of Irvine and No. 2 Tsehay Driscoll of Los Angeles played the longest match of the day with Lutkemeyer coming out on top, 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-3, in a two and a half hour match. “I was a little nervous before the match, but my training really paid off for me in the end,” said Lutkemeyer, who recently turned 12. Lutkemeyer attends Tustin Connect Academy and doesn’t know when her next tournament will be. She will spend time the coming weeks vacationing and visiting friends in Florida. Lutkemeyer was playing in her second Sectional final having lost in the 10s final in 2014.

SCTA Director of Junior Competition Trevor Kronemann said there were more than 1,000 entries in singles and doubles and that 1,525 matches were contested during the eight days of Sectionals, including two in qualifying, making this one of the nation’s largest junior tennis tournaments.

Monday’s Final Results

At Los Caballeros Racquet Club

Boys’ 18s: (4) Timothy Sah, San Diego def. (3) Ryan Seggerman, Coronado, 6-2, 6-2

Consolation: Ben Goldberg def. Andrew Whitehouse, 6-1, 6-3

Girls’ 18s: (5) Hannah Zhao, San Diego, def. (3) Nicole Mossmer, La Jolla, 6-3, 6-4

Consolation: Julia Deming def. Riley McQuaid, 6-3, 6-1

Boys’ 16s: (1) Brandon Nakashima, San Diego, def. (2) Eric Hahn, Fullerton, 6-2, 7-5

Consolation: Robert Baylon def. Andre Saleh, 6-2, 1-0, ret.

Girls’ 16s: (5) Elizabeth Goldsmith, Chula Vista, def. (5) Anessa Lee, San Marino, 6-1, 6-1

Consolation: Skyler Grishuk def. Courtney Swift, 6-2, 6-1

Boys’ 14s: (5) Julian Noah Steinhausen, Van Nuys, def. (2) Emilio Nava, Woodland Hills, 6-1, 6-2

Consolation: Renaud Lefevre def. Jiaxi Ma, 6-2, 6-0

Girls’ 14s: (5) Jennifer Kida, Wilmington, def. (2) Christine Inah Canete, Los Angeles, 6-4, 6-4

Consolation: Jenna DeFalco def. Scout Matthews, 6-0, 6-0

Boys’ 12s: (5) Ryan Morgan, Pasadena, vs. Sean Daryabeigi, Irvine, 1-6, 6-0, 7-5

Consolation: Learner Tien def. Lawee Sherif, 6-1, 6-4

Girls’ 12s:  (1) Anne Lutkemeyer, Irvine, def. (2) Tsehay Driscoll, Los Angeles, 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-3

Consolation: Kaila Barksdale def. Jenna Sabile, 6-4, 6-1

Daily Players of the Day (Sportsmanship) Award:

Day 1: Brando Go and Jessica Walker

Day 2: Hovhannes Khuloyan and Katrina Vayser

Day 3: Koki Takabatake and Cindy Ung

Day 4: Robert Baylon and Seri Nayuki

Day 5: Devon Jack/Kalani Soli and Timothy Sah/Ryan Seggerman

Day 6: Tsehay Driscoll and Brandon Nakashima

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