Tennis: Di Giulio wins easily

FOUNTAIN VALLEY — Elimination can come quickly, on the tennis court or on the pitch in soccer.

Newport Beach junior tennis player Austin Di Giulio watched it happen Tuesday morning to his favorite team at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Italy lost to Uruguay, 1-0, and failed to advance past the group stage.

"I was pretty upset," said Di Giulio, who will now throw his full support behind Team USA.. "[Italy] should have won. I don't know how they lost to Costa Rica, and then they let Uruguay score in the 81st minute."

Just after the Azzurri lost, Di Giulio took the court for his first match at the 112th annual Southern California Junior Sectionals tennis tournament. He made sure he stayed in contention for the title, unlike his native country.

No. 5-seeded Di Giulio easily topped Santiago Gomez of Palm Desert, 6-0, 6-1, in a boys' 14 singles round of 64 match at Los Caballeros Racquet & Sports Club.

Di Giulio will play a round of 32 match against Stanley Morris of Santa Monica on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. at Fountain Valley Tennis Center.

The match against Gomez was delayed about an hour from its scheduled 10 a.m. start, as there were not enough courts available. But once it started, Di Giulio, 14, worked quickly.

"I wasn't playing the best I've ever played, but I was just trying to get my game ready for the next round," said Di Giulio, who is schooled through Irvine's Advantage Tennis Academy. "I was trying to play smart, no stupid errors, and I was hitting it pretty good. I could have served better ... I didn't make that many first serves."

Gomez, who had advanced to the main draw through qualifying, actually got into some long rallies. In the first set, he usually played a looping shot up the middle. In the second set, he tried to play with more power, but Di Giulio was prepared for that as well.

Di Giulio's lone hiccup came in the fifth game of the second set, when Gomez broke his serve. But he quickly got back on track to put the match away.

Di Giulio has been playing well this year, winning three straight tournaments that culminated in a title at the prestigious Ojai tournament in late April. Earlier this month, he made the quarterfinals of the Santa Barbara Summer Junior Tournament while playing up in the 16s.

He has never won a title at Junior Sectionals but he came close two years ago, advancing to the 12s title match. Maybe Austin can seek advice from his older brother Joseph, who was the last Newport-Mesa player to win here, capturing the 14s title in 2009. He also won the boys' 12s Junior Sectionals title in 2007.

Joseph, who now plays at UCLA, also is busy in tournament action this week. He's advanced to the round of 16 at a futures tournament in Mexico. And the youngest Di Giulio brother Perry, who is 8, played at Junior Sectionals for the first time, making it to the second round in the 10s.

Austin remains someone to look out for in the main draw, as he looks to extend his run in the 14s.

"I think I'm a contender," he said. "If I can play my game, I think I can win it."

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World