Since opening in 1963, Carson High has had its share of Los Angeles City championships and well-known athletes, but the school has never come to the fore in individual sports such as tennis.
Anthony Cortez is giving notice that things may be changing. The junior reached last week's City individual championship and won the first set before eventually falling to three-time City champ Giora Payes of Fairfax. That the self-taught Cortez made it to the finals and was competitive against a highly rated opponent makes Cortez and Carson hopeful of winning its first tennis title next year.
The 5-7 junior, ranked 11th on the West Coast in the 16-year-old age group, is amazing, never took lessons until this year. Carson Coach Jan Waggoner said, "His father started him when he was 8 and just took him around to tournaments."
Cortez is basically a base liner but has expanded his game lately. "He's taking lessons so his shots are becoming more varied," Waggoner said.
Cortez faced Payes earlier this year at the Ojai Tournament and won the first set before losing the match. Last week in the City finals at the Racquet Centre in Studio City, Cortez won the first set, 6-4, before the more experienced Payes took control of the match, winning the last two sets, 6-2, 6-2.
But Cortez has established himself as the one to beat next year, and has already been offered several college scholarships--an honor usually reserved for football and basketball players at Carson.
"This was a very important tournament to him in terms of college," Waggoner said. "He really needed to establish himself this year."