FOUNTAIN VALLEY — Joseph Di Giulio has plenty of good memories on the tennis courts at Los Caballeros Racquet & Sports Club.
The Newport Beach resident won singles titles at the Southern California Junior Sectionals in the boys' 10s, 12s and 14s age divisions. He was top-ranked in the nation for a time in the latter two divisions.
Now, Di Giulio is not a young kid, but instead a young man. He stood on the Los Cab courts Saturday in a blue UCLA T-shirt, which makes sense because he'll be playing for the Bruins next year.
But first things first. Another Junior Sectionals title would be nice for Di Giulio in his final year of eligibility for the tournament.
"It'd be nice to get another one in the 18s and add to my, I guess, collection of wins here," Di Giulio said. "I'm looking forward to it. It's a big tournament, and I've been training a lot for it. Hopefully I can do well."
He and partner Logan Smith of Carlsbad got off to a good start in 18s doubles at the 111th annual tournament. The No. 9 seeds easily won a pair of matches Saturday, getting past Christian and Joseph Corse of Murrieta, 6-1, 6-1, before topping German Aragon of Chula Vista and Humberto Lopez of National City, 6-0, 6-2, in a round of 32 match.
Newport Harbor sophomore Reese Stalder was the other Newport-Mesa doubles player to advance to the round of 16, with partner Austin Rapp of Rancho Mirage. Stalder and Rapp, also seeded No. 9 in the block seeding, also had a fairly easy time Saturday. They defeated Keanu Ellen of Calabasas and Chad Gilfenbain of Santa Monica, 6-0, 6-1, before getting past Philippe Rivard and Parker Wilson of Carlsbad, 6-2, 6-2.
The round of 16 will be considerably tougher for both teams. Di Giulio and Smith play No. 4-seeded JC Aragone of Yorba Linda and Gregory Garcia of Poway at 3 p.m. Monday at Los Cab. Stalder and Rapp play No. 6-seeded Taylor Fritz of Rancho Santa Fe and Riley Smith of Long Beach at the same time and venue.
"I plan on doing really well," said Di Giulio, ranked No. 35 nationally in singles in the 18s. "My goal is to win it. We'll see."
He has reason to be confident. Di Giulio said he suffered a toe injury at his last tournament, but he's fine now. He has had doubles success recently with partner Robbie Bellamy, who is the top seed at Junior Sectionals with Henry Craig. Di Giulio and Bellamy reached the semifinals at the prestigious Easter Bowl this spring.
"It's funny because he's going to USC, and I'm going to UCLA, but yeah, I tend to play with him," Di Giulio said.
But Di Giulio also has done well with Smith, with whom he captured the Easter Bowl 16s doubles title last year.
Stalder has also played with Rapp before. They are ranked No. 2 and 4, respectively, in Southern California in boys' 16s doubles. Fritz, who reached the Ojai CIF singles division finals this year as a freshman, is the top-ranked player.
Stalder said he and Rapp played better Saturday than in the past, and the reason was simple.
"Serving," he said. "We got broken once in the first match, and that's it the whole day."
Monday will be tough. There will be a bit of a USC connection in the round of 16 match, as Smith is the son of USC men's tennis coach Peter Smith. Stalder's mother, Diane, was a three-time tennis All-American at USC before competing on the pro tour.
Like Di Giulio, Reese Stalder also has confidence. He said Junior Sectionals is one of his favorite tournaments to play.
"I like this site," he said. "I like the courts, first of all, and there's a lot of stuff going on. It's not like you're in the middle of nowhere."
Other locals fell in doubles action Saturday. No. 9-seeded CdM senior Alec Adamson and partner Adam Levie of San Diego won their first match but lost a round of 32 match to Robert Carter of San Marino and Bryce Pereira of San Gabriel, 6-3, 6-2. Adamson and Levie will be teammates next year at UC Davis.
"[Carter and Pereira] played well," Adamson said. "They made a lot of returns, and they served well. You've got to give them a lot of credit. It was the first time I played with Adam, so we were kind of still getting used to playing with each other, but they just played really well."
Newport Coast resident Max Pham and partner Shane-Austin Cruz of Anaheim also won their first match before falling to No. 5-seeded Drew Dawson and Jake De Vries of Irvine, 6-2, 6-2.
Corona del Mar resident Alastair Hurry and partner Justin Zhang of Irvine lost their round of 64 match to Garrett Mak of Arcadia and Adam Rapoport of West Hills, 6-4, 6-4.