SEAL BEACH — Maybe the most positive and yet frustrating aspect for Burroughs High junior Garrett Auproux was that the singles player had his chances at Saturday's CIF Southern Section Boys' Individual Tennis championships.
Auproux entered his semifinal match seeded fourth and knocked on the door of a potential upset before falling to top-seeded junior Gage Brymer of Irvine University, 7-5, 6-3, at the Seal Beach Tennis Center.
"This is not my first time playing Gage, I think I've already played him like eight times in my junior career," Auproux said. "I beat him a couple of times before and I knew I could today, but I knew it was going to be tough."
After a hard-fought 7-5 victory in the first set, Brymer appeared poised for a rout in the second set as he led, 3-0, and after having surrendered the opening point in each game, rallied to win each without surrendering an additional point.
While Brymer's momentum was momentarily stunted by Auproux's victory in the fourth game, Brymer scored four straight points in the next game in going up, 4-1.
Brymer's fast and clinical nature in the fifth game appeared to sap Auproux (47-4), who was approached by Indians Coach Roy Bernhardt during the break.
"The interesting thing is, I walked over to him after it was 4-1 and said, 'Hey, the fat lady isn't singing,'" Bernhardt said. "That's when he looked over at me and said, 'I'm not quitting.'"
True to his word, Auproux won the sixth game — which marked the only time in the match that the junior broke Brymer's serve — thanks to help from a CIF official, who overruled a shot by Auproux that was called out of play by Brymer and turned a tie at 15 into a 30-0 advantage for the Pacific League champion.
Auproux followed that victory with a win the seventh game that pulled him within, 4-3.
"I think when the official changed the call, it kind of got in his head," Auproux said. "I know he got an ace on the next point, but I think he was still thinking about it."
The mini two-game rally marked Auproux's last stand as Brymer bounced back with wins in the next two games in claiming the set, 6-3, and ending the 1 hour 50 minute match.
"Garrett is one of the tough guys. When I look at the draws and I see Gage is playing him, I think 'Oh no,'" University Coach John Kessler said. "He played him hard — here and at Ojai. Every time he plays him, Garrett just has a good game for Gage."
The juniors were locked in a back-and-forth first set, highlighted by Auproux's victory in the second game, in which both players combined to hold advantage nine times out of deuce before Auproux secured the win.
Each player traded games as the score remained tied at 5, when Brymer raced out to a 40-0 advantage in the 11th game.
Auproux scored the next two points to pull within 40-30, but surrendered the game on a soft back-handed shot from Brymer that just floated over the net.
Brymer's victory propelled him to a sweep in the next game, which gave him the first set, 7-5.
"It's disappointing to lose, but this was a great experience," Auproux said. "If I want to face a tough challenge, I could always go to outside tournaments whenever, but CIF is special because it's a tournament you're only allowed to participate in for four years and I'm grateful to have done well."