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Rising Horak Takes Fall in Semifinal

TIMES STAFF WRITER

What goes up must come down.

Helena Horak, after rising to new heights, fell hard Saturday in the semifinals of the Southern California Junior Sectional tennis championships.

Horak, of Westlake Village, an unseeded player competing in the 16-and-under division, was defeated by unseeded Katey Becker of Orange, 6-2, 6-2, at Los Caballeros Sports Village.

Horak, 16, had only recently broken into the top 20 of her division after hovering near No. 25 for two years.

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She was 18th entering this tournament, which also serves as a qualifier for the U.S. Tennis Assn. national junior championships later this summer.

By reaching the semifinals, Horak will probably get a top-10 ranking and a trip to the nationals in San Diego.

“I’ve had a really good tournament to this point,” she said. “I’m really glad I got this far.”

But Becker slammed the door on Horak, breaking her serve at the opening of each set.

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Becker, who upset second-seeded Kari Olsen in the second round, overwhelmed Horak with a serve-and-volley attack. The 5-foot-11 Horak was usually on the run as Becker consistently hit the ball into the corners.

“I knew she was tall and had a powerful serve,” Becker said. “If I got a short ball, I either went to her weaker side or [to] the open side of the court.”

Needless to say, Becker got a lot of short balls.

She broke Horak’s serve five times in the match, three times in the second set. Horak could break Becker only once.

Five local players reached today’s finals, and top-seeded Geoffrey Chizever of Tarzana won the boys’ 10 title Saturday by beating No. 2 Yuichi Uda, 6-2, 6-0.

Third-seeded Dylan Mann of Canoga Park and Joseph Gilbert will face No. 2 Bryan Golledge and Sam Adam Webster in the boys’ 18 doubles final. No. 1 Darian Chappell of Camarillo and Jonni Seymour will play Allison Arvizu and Natalie Exon in the girls’ 18 doubles final.

No. 1 Nicholas Weiss of Calabasas will meet No. 2 Ryan Redondo after his 6-2, 6-0 semifinal victory over Drew Hoskins. No. 1 Jieun Jacobs of Valencia will play No. 3 Luana Magnani after her 7-5, 6-4 semifinal victory over Caylan Leslie in girls’ 14s.

Third-seeded Stephen Amritraj of Calabasas beat No. 2 Aaron Yovan, 7-5, 6-1, to reach the boys’ 12s final against No. 5 Doug Stewart of Malibu.

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