The USTA Southern California Junior Sectional Championships return to Orange County June 19-23, 2019. Billed as “Southern California’s most competitive junior tennis tournament of the year,” nearly 900 athletes will take part in a tournament that has proven to be a stepping stone for some of the game’s most prolific names, including past competitors Jimmy Connors, Serena Williams, Pete Sampras, Lindsay Davenport, and Michael Chang.
The 117th annual tournament will be held at Los Caballeros Sports Village in Fountain Valley, in addition to various sites in Irvine, Long Beach, Lakewood, Costa Mesa, and Huntington Beach. The event is preceded by a qualifier (June 15-16) for placement in the main draws, which feature five age divisions in singles play and high level doubles action at the 18-year-old level.
Los Caballeros will host Championship Weekend beginning Friday, June 21, featuring all of the decisive championships finals. The tournament has witnessed the emergence of future tennis greats including the legendary Sampras (finalist, 1985), and three-time Grand Slam titlist Davenport (champion, 1986). Venus Williams won the Girls 10s division in 1990, one year ahead of her sister, Serena, who triumphed in 1991. Current ATP pro Steve Johnson is a four-time Sectionals champion, winning at every age division between 12s and 18s.
This year, USTA Southern California has developed the experiential event by adding spectator viewing spaces, increasing the number of umpires, and celebrating past champions while still focused on the competitive play that has produced countless tennis professionals from the Southern California region.
“Our goal this year is to build a tournament atmosphere that reflects the quality of tennis that we see from these athletes,” said Trevor Kronemann, Director of Junior Tennis at USTA Southern California. “All of these players earned a spot in Sectionals, and their experience at the event should reflect their significant achievements in the game.”
Max McKennon of Newport Beach holds the top seeding in the Boys’ 18s division. An Arizona State freshman-to-be in the fall, McKennon is coached by former ATP player Carsten Ball. McKennon is currently ranked just outside the world ITF Junior top 250 and has spent the first part of 2019 playing ITF Grade 3 and 4 events in places like Canada, Mexico and Costa Rica.
In Boys 18s doubles, Kai Brady of Redondo Beach is coming off two huge SoCal doubles titles in the spring, playing with Palos Verdes High’s Sean Holt as the pair captured both The Ojai Boys’ Interscholastic and CIF-Southern Section Individual titles. Brady will attempt to win the Sectionals doubles with partner Nabeel Khan of Rolling Hills Estates.
On the girls’ side, San Marino’s Anessa Lee is top-seeded at the 18s level. Lee won the 2018 Easter Bowl in the Girls’ 16s and won the Rio Hondo League Girls’ Singles title in the fall as a San Marino High School junior. In November, Lee advanced to the finals of the USTA National Indoor Championships in Memphis, Tenn., losing in the championship in a third-set tiebreaker to take home the silver ball.
In Girls’ 18s doubles, Amanda Chan of Pasadena and Britt Pursell of Oceanside will be the top team to beat. Chan is a recent Harvard-Westlake graduate who will play her college tennis at Penn while the recent El Camino High graduate Purcell will play at the University of Denver. Purcell recently made the women’s singles final at the USTA National Open Hard Court Championships in San Diego
The top-seeded player in the Boys’ 16s singles is Griffin Daehnke of San Clemente. In October, Daehnke won his first ITF Junior Circuit title as a qualifier beating four seeds in his five wins in the Grade 5 event in Barbados.
Midori Castillo of Bonita holds down the top spot in the Girls’ 16s. Born in Tijuana, Mexico, the 15-year-old Castillo is coached by Antonio Ramos.
The Boys’ 14s No. 1 seed is Andy Nguyen of Long Beach, with Carla Pacot of Rancho Cucamonga as top-seeded on the Girls’ side after finishing atop Girls’ 12s at last year’s Sectionals. Pacot was also the 14s champion at the 119th Ojai Tennis Tournament earlier this year.
A pair of Wangs headline the 12s as Cayden Wang of Irvine and Tianmei Wang of San Marino will be the top seeds to beat. In the 10s, Andrew Johnson of Rancho Palos Verdes is the top seed while Thea Frodin of Woodland Hills is No. 1 on the girls’ side.
What: USTA Southern California Junior Tennis Sectional Championships
Where: Los Caballeros Sports Village, Fountain Valley Tennis Center, Costa Mesa Tennis Center, The Great Park of Irvine, El Dorado Tennis Center, Lakewood Tennis Center, Marina High School (Huntington Beach)
When: June 19-23, 2019 8am-5pm (est.) daily; Qualifier June 15-16, 2019 8am-5pm (est.) daily