TEMPLE CITY — Lucas Chmielewski arrived at Live Oak Park on Wednesday prepared to learn and compete.
Just a freshman on the La Cañada High boys’ tennis team, Chmielewski didn’t appear nervous while pitted against some of the top players in the Rio Hondo League Tournament.
“I’m coming in and just soaking everything up,” said Chmielewski, who won both of his matches to advance to the semifinals at 1 p.m. Thursday at the same venue. “I don’t really care if I win or lose because I’m just a freshman.
“It’s an amazing tournament and I’ve never experienced anything like this before. It’s an awesome experience and it’s all fun.”
Chmielewski, who helped the Spartans finish second in league behind San Marino, opened up with an 8-1 victory against Jesse Chen of South Pasadena. He then registered an 8-4 win against Jason Wang of San Marino and will meet Daniel Gealer of San Marino.
The Spartans also received some more good news, as senior singles player Ryan Lee marched on to the semifinals, as well.
Lee started off with an 8-0 win against Mark Gunderman of Monrovia before picking up an 8-2 victory against Brian Wei of Temple City. Lee will meet San Marino’s Charles Deng in a semifinal contest.
“I knew I had to come in and just be relaxed,” Lee said. “Sometimes I tense up during a match.
“I tried to get a rhythm going in the first round. I started to get aggressive and felt good with my shots. In the second round, I think I just played better overall and got locked in.”
The final will take place following the final-four competitions.
Veteran La Cañada Coach Will Moravec said Chmielewski and Lee handled themselves well.
“Lucas is a real good player and he did some good things out there despite battling through a shoulder problem,” Moravec said. “He did a lot of good things.
“Ryan went out there and served a lot better than he did a week ago. Hopefully, we will get some good results [Thursday].”
Several other Spartans participated in Wednesday’s event.
In doubles, Woojin Jung and Chris Walch began with an 8-4 win against David Brackbill and Michael Chang of Temple City. The duo then suffered an 8-2 defeat to San Marino’s Robert Carter and Ryan Cheng. Justin Lee and Griffin Van Amringe of La Cañada notched an 8-3 first-round win against Derek Wong and Owen Emerson of South Pasadena. They then fell, 8-0, to Derek Cheng and Nicolas Splichal of San Marino in a second-round match. La Cañada’s Pat Finnigan and Nick Malone won their first-round match by default against South Pasadena and then were eliminated in the second round following an 8-0 defeat to Timothy Doung and Connor Lee of San Marino.
La Cañada singles player Chris Madsen suffered an 8-2 loss to Temple City’s Raymond Wu in the first round.
“We pretty much did what we expected,” Moravec said. “There were not really any surprises.
“We come back tomorrow and see what Lucas and Ryan can do.”
Follow Charles Rich on Twitter: @TCNCharlesRich.