Never ask tennis players what they did on their summer vacations.
Many never get them.
"The summer's definitely the busiest time," said Andrew Lieu, a junior at Thousand Oaks High."Everyone's focused on tennis, and qualifying for nationals and going there and doing well are the most important things for every player."
First on the summer schedule is the U.S. Tennis Assn. Southern California sectional tournament June 23-July 1 at Los Caballeros Racquet and Sports Club in Fountain Valley.
Samantha Hammond, a former La Reina standout, is among the top players in the girls' 18 division. The tournament has 1,600 players in five age divisions.
Joining Hammond in the division is former Agoura standout Brooke Borisoff, Lori Stern of Cate, Monica Wiesener of Calabasas and Erica Sauer of Rio Mesa.
Freshman Iris Ichim of Beverly Hills High and senior Kim-Ahn Nguyen of Saddleback High will be the top two seeded players.
"I think it's going to be tough," Hammond said. "I know a lot of girls are going to be playing up, and I think people start to take things a little more seriously."
Hammond recently won the girls' 18 division of the Anaheim designated tournament and was selected the most improved girls' junior player of the year by the SCTA.
"I haven't played a lot of tennis this year, but I've still been practicing," Borisoff said. "I just want to play as many matches as I can."
The girls' 16 division includes Amanda Fink of Calabasas and top entrants in the girls' 14 competition include Jessica Nguyen of Chatsworth, Mykala Hedberg of Oxnard, Sarah Fansler of Thousand Oaks and Kristen McVitty of Woodland Hills.
The boys' 18 division includes Lieu and Justin Montgomery of Oxnard.
UCLA sophomore Travis Rettenmaier of Camarillo and Ryan Redondo, formerly of Ojai, also are expected to play in the boys' 18, although they first have to play in qualifying rounds because of lack of participation in USTA tournaments this year.
"Once you get into the main draw, everyone's a good player," Lieu said. "But I feel pretty confident."
So is City Section singles champion Nima Roshan, The Times' 2001 Valley-Ventura County boys' player of the year.
Roshan, a junior at Granada Hills, is looking to improve on a third-round loss in the sectional last year with a better showing in the boys' 16.
"I feel like I'm obviously a lot better player than I was last year," Roshan said.
Roshan is teaming with Chatsworth's Jason Nguyen, the 2000 City singles runner-up and Jessica Nguyen's older brother, in the boys' 18 doubles.
"We've never played in tournaments together, but we've known each other for a while now," Roshan said. "We're just giving it a shot. We're not expecting too much."
Camarillo sophomore Jason Mossembekker, Gary Sacks of Calabasas and Jamil Al-Agba of Camarillo are joining Roshan in the boys' 16 singles.
Samuel Tadevosian of Glendale, ranked No. 2 in Southern California in the boys' 14, Calvin Chan of Northridge and Sam Querrey of Thousand Oaks are among the top players in the division.
Some of the region's best players, such as Phil Sheng of Thousand Oaks, Prakash Amritraj of Encino, Stephen Amritraj of Calabasas, Robert Yim of Glendale and Lester Cook of Sherman Oaks are skipping the sectional.
Some of them are concentrating on International Tennis Federation tournaments abroad, resting, recovering from injuries or not playing at all.
Many who are staying idle already qualified automatically for top national tournaments because they are ranked among the top 60 players in the nation.
The summer slate picks up steam in July with the USTA Zone Team Championships and the Super National Clay Court Championships.
The zone championships for boys' and girls' 16 are July 28-Aug. 2 in Austin, Texas and Salt Lake City, respectively. For boys' and girls' 14it's July 8-12 in Delrey, Fla., and for boys' and girls' 12, it's July 21-26 in Tucson. The USTA Super National Hardcourt Championships are in August.