Tennis: Willson, Worsnop keep winning

One has more concrete plans for the upcoming high school girls' tennis season than the other, but the plan on court this week for Newport Beach residents Danielle Willson and Mackenzie Worsnop is simple.

They want to win the girls' 18 doubles title at their hometown tournament, the 25th annual The Tennis Club Junior Tournament, better known as the "War by the Shore."

Willson and Worsnop got a step closer to that goal Wednesday. They defeated Bridgette and Audrey Stewart of Apple Valley, 6-3, 6-0, in a quarterfinal match at The Tennis Club. They'll play top-seeded Zoe and Mary Kaffen of San Juan Capistrano in a semifinal match at 3:30 p.m. Thursday.

"We've known each other for like seven years," Worsnop said. "We're practically sisters. If we just communicate well and play our regular game, we'll be fine."

Willson will be a freshman at Corona del Mar High this fall, and should contribute in singles for the Sea Kings varsity squad. Worsnop, who played for Mater Dei last fall as a freshman and was home-schooled later in the year, said she is considering transferring to CdM as well.

Whatever the case may be, they both clearly have talent. Both players are still alive in the War by the Shore girls' 16 singles draw as well, and each has semifinal matches Thursday. No. 4-seeded Willson will play top-seeded Mary Kaffen at 12:30 p.m. Worsnop, the No. 6 seed, will play unseeded Bianca Pugliese of Redondo Beach, also at 12:30 p.m.

Both girls smiled when asked about possible playing each other in the finals.

"We played a couple of weeks ago and she beat me pretty bad," said Willson, who lost to Worsnop, 6-1, 6-2, in a tournament in May. "But, you know, there's always a second chance."

Worsnop has been hot lately. She ended up winning that tournament, the Match Point Tennis Academy Spring Junior Open Championships. More recently, she made it to the girls' 16s consolation finals at Southern California Junior Sectionals.

Junior Sectionals was also the first place that incoming CdM senior Riley Gerdau and junior Siena Sharf combined as a doubles team. They did so again Thursday at the War by the Shore, but lost to Royo Tomita and Yik Yan Law of Hong Kong, 6-2, 6-1, in a girls' 18 doubles quarterfinal.

Tomita and Law will play No. 2-seeded Jaclyn Gerschultz of Sage Hill School and her partner, Caroline Lockwood, in the semifinals Thursday.

Great players from Hong Kong typically show up at the tournament, and this year is no exception. Last year, Gerdau and CdM graduate Kenzie Purcifull lost in the doubles final here to a different duo from Hong Kong.

"They hit overheads on every single lob I hit," Gerdau said after Thursday's match. "No matter how good the lob was, they would still try to hit the overhead. That frustrated me so much. And then I didn't make a first serve in for the whole match. That was also a factor. And we didn't use our strategy."

She said the strategy was for both players to come to the net on every point.

"Thank God [CdM Coach] Brian [Ricker] wasn't here," Sharf said. "They were just way more consistent than us."

But the match made for good practice for Gerdau and Sharf. The plan is for them to play doubles this fall for the Sea Kings, while Sharf's former teammate, Jasie Dunk, will switch to singles. Purcifull and Dunk were part of a large CdM girls' tennis contingent on hand Thursday to support Gerdau and Sharf, a group that also included Kimmia Naaseh, Robin Caston and Taylor Fogarty.

Gerdau and Sharf again plan to play doubles together next week, at the 21st annual Costa Mesa Summer Junior Classic. Sharf will also play singles there.

"It's going to be really fun," Sharf said of the upcoming high school season. "We're definitely going to have to practice more."

•In other action at the War by the Shore, CdM resident Alexander Reyna remained in contention in boys' 16 singles. Reyna, the No. 2 seed, defeated Brandon Ishihara, 6-2, 6-4, in a quarterfinal match Wednesday. He'll play No. 4-seeded Axel Stern of Tustin in a semifinal match at 2 p.m. Thursday.

The other local still alive in singles is top-seeded Costa Mesa resident Jacob Watkins in the boys' 10s. Watkins defeated Adam Bain of Newport Coast, 6-3, 6-2, in a quarterfinal match Wednesday and will face Curtis Tan of Hong Kong in a semifinal match at 2 p.m. Thursday.

In girls' 16 doubles, Newport Beach residents Paige and Brooke Kenerson have advanced to the semifinals after topping Emma Butler and Nicole Russell of Newport Coast, 6-2, 6-3, in a quarterfinal match. The Kenerson sisters will play Pugliese and Sara Kamine of Redondo Beach in a semifinal match at 3:30 p.m. Thursday.

Newport Coast residents Isabella McKinney and Roxanne Mackenzie have a girls' 14 doubles semifinal match Thursday. In the girls' 12 doubles, Lauren Friedman of Newport Beach and her partner Devyn Marinos of Los Angeles have a semifinal match against Yujing Li and Aike Shi of China at 3:30 p.m. Thursday.

Friedman and her younger brother, Logan, also played singles and doubles at the tournament. They are the children of Danielle Friedman (Scott), who was a CIF singles finalist at CdM in 1987 and went on to a career at the University of Arizona and as a touring professional.

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