Bella Gerken and Kayden Fogarty played doubles together last fall for the Corona del Mar High girls' tennis team.
Back then, as freshmen, they didn't have a set plan of action. But that changed Thursday afternoon at Costa Mesa Tennis Center, where Gerken and Fogarty were teamed up again at the 21st annual Costa Mesa Summer Junior Classic.
"We were just trying out our strategy," Fogarty said.
The plan was for Gerken to stay at the baseline and Fogarty to rush the net. It started working in the second set, but Gerken and Fogarty still fell to Jordyn Boothroyd and Kayti Luu of Irvine, 6-1, 6-3, in a girls' 16 doubles semifinal match.
Three Newport-Mesa locals will play for titles at the tournament Friday. The lone singles finalist is JP Day of Corona del Mar, in the boys' 12s. Day upset No. 3-seeded Cory Pham of Irvine, 7-6, 6-2, in a semifinal match Thursday. He'll play top-seeded Leo Wang of San Marino in the final at 10 a.m. Friday.
Lauren Friedman of Newport Beach, who won a girls' 12s doubles title last week at the "War by the Shore," is again a finalist at Costa Mesa. Friedman and partner Milana Molnar of Ladera Ranch defeated Megan Cuan of Yorba Linda and Sarah Sandoval of Mexico, 6-3, 6-1, in a semifinal match. They'll play top-seeded Cami Brown of Irvine and Kaytlin Taylor of Huntington Beach in the final at 1:30 p.m. Friday.
Danielle Willson, who will be a freshman at CdM, has advanced to the girls' 16 doubles title match with partner Katherine Nguyen of Fountain Valley. They earned a default semifinal victory and will face Boothroyd and Luu in the title match, at 1 p.m. Friday. All matches are at Costa Mesa Tennis Center.
Gerken and Fogarty were up against tough, older players in their semifinal match. Boothroyd will be a junior at Woodbridge High, and Luu will be a senior at University. But, after they quickly lost the first set, Gerken and Fogarty battled back as two of their CdM teammates, incoming seniors Riley Gerdau and Kayden's older sister Taylor, watched the action.
Gerken and Fogarty held a 3-2 lead in the second set, before Boothroyd held serve to even the score. Gerken then had her serve broken in a marathon game that featured four deuces and several game points.
"That happens to me a lot, actually," Gerken said. "We always lose our deuces, too. We lost every one. That's pretty common for us."
Luu held her serve in a deuce game to make it 5-3, then Fogarty's serve was broken in yet another deuce game to end the match.
Still, it was good experience for Gerken and Fogarty, who hope to make CdM's varsity squad this year. Tryouts are later in August.
"It's great practice," Gerken said. "You can really grasp the feel for the season."
Other locals fell Thursday at the Costa Mesa Summer Junior Classic. Top-seeded Alex Reyna of Corona del Mar lost to No. 6-seeded Joshua Yoo of Irvine, 7-5, 6-1, in a boys' 16 singles quarterfinal match. And Costa Mesa resident Jacob Holiday fell to Santiago Ruiz-Velasco Hermida of Queretaro, Mexico, 6-1, 6-1, in another 16s quarterfinal match.
Kenan Torlic, who will be a junior at Sage Hill School, fell in a boys' 16 doubles semifinal match with partner Evan Nguyen of Huntington Beach.
Torlic and Nguyen, the No. 2 seeds, lost to Leo Hibi of Irvine and Jacob Lee of Yorba Linda, 6-4, 7-6.