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Fountain Valley’s David Duong a finalist at War by the Shore tennis tournament

Fountain Valley's David Duon plays in the War by the Shore junior tennis tournament.
Fountain Valley’s David Duong runs down a forehand in his semifinal match during the War by the Shore junior tennis tournament at Laguna Niguel Racquet Club on Monday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Even before Monday’s semifinal match at the War by the Shore junior tennis tournament began, Prashanth Brindavan knew that his son shouldn’t underestimate his opponent.

His son, Parashar Bharadwaj of Irvine, was the No. 2 seed in the boys’ 16 singles draw. The boy across the net, David Duong of Fountain Valley, was unseeded.

Brindavan shrugged that off before watching the teenagers face off on court No. 9 at Laguna Niguel Racquet Club.

“David has always been a fighter,” he said.

Two-plus hours later, Duong proved him right. The left-hander gutted out a 3-6, 6-3 and 10-7 in the super-tiebreaker victory to move him into the final of the Level 3 tournament.

Duong ended up in second place after losing 6-1, 6-2 to top-seeded Steve Nguyen of Anaheim in the final Monday night.

It was a tough end to a solid tournament for the 14-year-old, who is a freshman at Pacific Coast High School, a home-school hybrid school in Tustin. He said he trains at public tennis courts in Fountain Valley and does not attend an academy.

Duong was the only local junior tennis player to make the semifinals of the Level 3 War by the Shore tournament, which used to be played at the Tennis Club Newport Beach until recent years. He said he wasn’t seeded because his Universal Tennis Rating is about a 9.4, not as high as the seeded players in the tournament.

“I played pretty well,” Duong said. “I had a good win in the second round [over No. 5-seeded Grant Gallagher of Irvine] and I continued beating people who have supposedly higher ratings than me. But in the final, I think I probably just got too exhausted. I didn’t have anything left.”

Fountain Valley's David Duong rips a serve in his semifinal match during the War by the Shore junior tennis tournament.
Fountain Valley’s David Duong rips a serve in his semifinal match at the War by the Shore junior tennis tournament.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

The tournament was one of the first prestigious tournaments to return during the novel coronavirus pandemic. For social distancing reasons, the Match Tennis app’s Virtual Tournament Desk was used to check-in instead of a physical tournament desk.

Orange County Soccer Club did not allow a shot on goal against the San Diego Loyal on Saturday night at home, but the hosts only came away with a draw in the scoreless contest.

Duong is happy to get back to work. He said this is the third tournament he’s played in about the past month, joining Level 4 tournaments in Irvine and Anaheim.

“For the first four months [of quarantine], I actually had some relief,” he said. “Tournaments are pretty stressful. I was having a good time, but then I started missing tournaments. It’s fun competing, getting deep into tournaments and playing a lot of matches against my peers. I practice to play tournaments. If I just practiced all day, it would be really boring.”

He shrugged off losing the first set of the semifinal 6-3 to Bharadwaj, which was his first set loss of the tournament. Duong still stormed to a 3-1 lead in the second set and won it, forcing the decisive super-tiebreaker.

“I just have a mindset to try to win one more game,” Duong said. “Even when he was destroying me in the first set, I just tried to hang in there. I was like, ‘If you’re going to beat me, you’re going to have to hit winners left and right.’ My mindset was just not to miss and keep the ball in the court. If I get a ball I can hit, just go for it.”

Bharadwaj was able to rack up winners at times against the scrappy Duong, who nevertheless ultimately proved to be the steadier player. He never trailed in the super-tiebreaker, winning three straight points for a 9-5 lead. Duong was able to convert his third match point.

Duong next plans to play at the Esme Pearson Level 3 tournament in San Diego on Friday.

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