JR SECTIONALS: Top seeds at 18s sweat both wins and uncertainty

The main draw of the 2019 USTA Southern California Junior Sectionals kicked off on Wednesday with a full slate of first round action throughout Orange County. Considered the most competitive junior tournament in SoCal, Sectionals feature the best and brightest talent in the region at odds for bragging rights and the coveted Sectional trophies that once belonged to legendary names like Jimmy Connors, Tracy Austin, Michael Chang, and both Venus and Serena Williams, among so many more.

Play resumes on Thursday at 8am. For a full schedule, click the “Draws” link here.

In today’s action:

Boys 18s
Jake Huarte came to play at Los Caballeros Sports Village Wednesday morning, kicking off the main draw opposite 18s top seed Max McKennon. Huarte, a tournament local from Tustin, advanced from last weekend’s qualifier to slot in against a formidable opponent, and for a while it seemed Huarte was going to steal the spotlight. Pushing McKennon to a first set tiebreak, Huarte couldn’t capitalize but quickly rebounded with a 7-5 second set win to force a deciding third set. By then, McKennon was geared up and ready to battle, ultimately dispatching Huarte 7-6, 5-7, 6-1. He faces Daniel Cheng of Los Angeles on Thursday (9:30am, Los Caballeros). In other action, #9 seed Renaud Lefevre was upset by Redland’s Tyler Davis in three sets.

Girls 18s
What a bizarre turn of events in Girls 18s, as injuries affected two players critical to both 18s singles and doubles brackets. Britt Purcell and Amanda Chan are a formidable doubles tandem, seeded atop the doubles draw which resumes with semifinal action on Friday at Los Caballeros. Purcell, the #5 seed in singles, moved immediately to the second round when Hawthorne’s Nika Masuzawa withdrew due to injury. But Chan also retired with injury in the midst of her first set on Wednesday against Anna Tifrea of Fullerton, leaving many to wonder if the Girls’ doubles favorites will make it to Los Cab on Friday.

Boys 16s
All seeds advanced from the first round in Boys 16s at Fountain Valley Tennis Center on Wednesday. The most intriguing result came from a match between Hayden Rand of Valencia and Irvine’s Sam De Vries. De Vries opened the contest by winning six straight games before Rand made a comeback and evened the match with a 6-3 second set. Turning the tables, Rand returned the bagel to earn a 0-6, 6-3, 6-0 win. He faces #5 Masato Perera on Thursday (9am, Fountain Valley).

Girls 16s
Katelyn Vu of Woodland Hills was an upset winner in round one, but not in the way she’d hoped. The only seeded player not to advance was #5 Julia Failla, who withdrew opposite Vu due to illness. All other seeds advanced in play at Costa Mesa Tennis Center, including top seed Midori Castillo. Castillo dispatched Deja Brown 6-1, 6-0 and will meet Newbury Park’s Emma Sun on Thursday (9:30am, Costa Mesa TC).

 

Boys 14s
Top seed Andy Nguyen (above) wasted little time in advancing to Thursday’s second round, rocking Santa Monica’s Jonathan Soeth, 6-0, 6-0. Nguyen, who opened the year by winning the Henry Talbert Level 1 Championships in January, next meets San Diego’s Franklin Liu. In other action, Yorba Linda’s Mason Bui staged an upset over #5 Dominique Rolland by emerging from two tiebreakers with a 7-6, 7-6 advance.

Girls 14s
Rancho Cucamonga’s Carla Pacot (below) rarely wastes time acclimating to a tournament. For the eighth time this year, Pacot notched a 6-0 set in her first match of the main draw, and on Wednesday she did it twice against Ella Princiotta of Redlands. Pacot, who posted eight ‘bagels’ en route to a Girls 12s title in 2018, advanced in similar fashion without dropping a game over two sets on Wednesday. She plays Kate Fakih of Arcadia on Thursday (10am, El Dorado). Fakih will come in somewhat cold after advancing today on a withdrawal.

Boys 12s
As a #9 seed in 2018, Cayden Wang reached the Round of 16 in Boys 12s. This year, he sits atop the bracket as numero uno, and at Marina High School on Wednesday backed up the position with a 6-0, 6-0 win to open his main draw quest. It marks the fourth time this year Wang has opened a tournament unblemished, eventually winning the title at two of the first three events.

Girls 12s
All seeds advanced with ease at Lakewood Tennis Center on Wednesday, most cruising to victory ahead of second round action. Look for a competitive first game on Thursday between Montebello’s Dana Kunza and #5 Ayanna Shah of San Diego. Both advanced without losing a game, and only one can win the first game of their second round match (11am, Lakewood).

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