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Jessica MacCallum, Rebecca Lynn advance to finals at Junior Sectionals tennis tournament

Laguna Beach High freshman  Jessica MacCallum is shown practicing at the Racquet Club of Irvine on Tuesday.
Laguna Beach High freshman girls’ tennis player Jessica MacCallum, shown practicing at the Racquet Club of Irvine on Tuesday, has advanced to her first Junior Sectionals singles title match.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

The 118th annual United States Tennis Assn. Southern California Junior Sectionals tournament was one of the biggest on the calendar for 2020.

But calendars in 2020 have had to be written in pencil, not pen.

The prestigious Level 1 tournament was postponed from June to November during the coronavirus pandemic. It was set to be completed last weekend at Barnes Tennis Center in San Diego, but championship matches in each age division were rained out on Sunday.

Still, Laguna Beach’s Jessica MacCallum and Newport Beach’s Rebecca Lynn have had impressive runs to the final and earned a shot to take home the championship hardware.

No. 5-seeded MacCallum advanced to the girls’ 16 singles final, where she will play No. 2 Emily Deming of Fallbrook. Top-seeded Lynn will face No. 5 Isabella Chhiv of Irvine in the girls’ 18 singles final.

Both championship matches are now set for Nov. 20 in Palm Springs, before the start of the Final Eight tournament that takes place in the desert that weekend.

MacCallum, a 14-year-old freshman at Laguna Beach High, advanced to her first Junior Sectionals final in singles, though she won it in doubles two years ago with partner Lexie Flores of Riverside.

“I’m a perfectionist, so when things aren’t perfect, I tend to get frustrated,” MacCallum said. “But I’ve tried to just keep calm and let my opponents kind of beat themselves up. You have to be your own best friend on the court. I’ve been a lot more positive lately, and I think that’s one of the things that really helped me in this tournament.”

MacCallum’s has yet to drop a set in the tournament. Her run included a 6-3, 6-2 win over top-seeded Lucinda Gatsiounis of Studio City in the semifinals.

Jessica MacCallum focuses on a forehand during practice at the Racquet Club of Irvine on Tuesday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

“I went into the match not really having any expectations,” she said. “I mean, she was favored in the draw and I wasn’t expected to win anything. I was just going out wanting to play a good match. I didn’t want to give her an easy run into the finals.”

Lynn, 16, is a high school junior in a hybrid study program split between Fusion Academy of Huntington Beach and online school through Laurel Springs. Similarly to MacCallum, she has breezed through her draw without dropping a set.

Lynn beat Mika Ikemori of Huntington Beach, 6-1, 6-1, in the girls’ 18s semifinals. She credited improvements in her footwork and serve over the last couple of years with helping her take her game to the next level.

“I love competing every point, working as hard as I can to just get to the next level and keep improving,” Lynn said. “I was able to play some great girls [in this tournament]. It’s great to be back in competition again; I really missed it. I’ve been feeling good lately and I’m really excited to keep competing.”

Rebecca Lynn, shown competing at the Southern California Junior Sectionals in 2017, has reached the girls' 18s title match.
Rebecca Lynn, shown competing at the Southern California Junior Sectionals in 2017, has reached the girls’ 18s championship match this year.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Before COVID-19 hit, Lynn said she was playing International Tennis Foundation tournaments around the world. However, she has stayed closer to home lately.

“My parents don’t really want me to travel right now, so I’ve been training and competing in these local tournaments,” she said. “It’s a really great setup. It’s so awesome that I live in Southern California, I’m really fortunate.”

David Duong of Fountain Valley was the other local player to advance to at least the semifinals of a Junior Sectionals draw. Duong, the No. 3 seed in the boys’ 14s, lost to No. 2-seeded Mason Bui of Yorba Linda 6-2, 7-5 in the semifinals.

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