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SoCal Pro Tennis Circuit in full swing, headed to Fountain Valley

Irvine's Gage Brymer, a former University High standout, is playing on the USTA Southern California Pro Circuit this summer.
Irvine’s Gage Brymer, a former University High and UCLA standout, is playing on the USTA Southern California Pro Circuit this summer.
(Lexie Wanninger)

Professional tennis events in Southern California have been shrinking, not growing, in recent years.

But the newly formed United States Tennis Assn. SoCal Pro Circuit can provide a respite for fans looking for some action.

The six-event USTA/ITF circuit started in San Diego earlier this month, with events at Rancho Santa Fe Tennis Club and University of San Diego. An event at Barnes Tennis Center concludes this weekend, before the circuit heads north.

A tournament at the Jack Kramer Club in Palos Verdes starts on June 27, and the circuit comes to Fountain Valley from July 4 through 10 with an event at Los Caballeros Sports Village. The circuit concludes the following week at Lakewood Tennis Center.

Each event features both men’s and women’s draws, pre-qualifiers and $15,000 in prize money. The circuit is ideal for someone like Irvine’s Gage Brymer, now 27.

The former University High and UCLA standout is currently inside the top 500 players in the world, at No. 482. His career-high ranking is No. 444 in March 2020 — just at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

Brymer won a $15K tournament in Tunesia just before the event in Rancho Santa Fe began. He made the final of the Rancho Santa Fe event, too, before losing to August Holmgren of Denmark.

Learner Tien of Irvine, 16, enjoys playing on the USTA Southern California Pro Circuit.
(Lexie Wanninger)

“It’s nice to know that I’m moving in the right direction after feeling stagnant for a little bit,” he said. “Ultimately, I just want to see improvements in my game, which I have in the past six months but definitely in the past month or so. I feel like it’s really coming together on court, which is a nice feeling.

“Just having events in the States is great. I definitely enjoy traveling ... but it’s nice playing in the States, but it’s usually spread out. To have six [events] in Southern California is a gift, really nice. It’s nice to be playing in my backyard, but also to be playing in a string of events in one place.”

Brymer lost in the first round of this week’s event to another Irvine native, though Learner Tien is his junior by more than a decade. Even at 16, the left-handed Tien is the top-ranked 18-and-under boy in the country. He just began playing in Futures tournaments this year.

Tien beat Brymer 6-4, 7-5 in a hard-fought match Wednesday — the first time the two had ever played against each other — before losing in the second round.

Tien’s future includes playing in Wimbledon juniors this summer, his first time playing in a Junior Grand Slam.

“I was supposed to play the French Open, but I got COVID the week prior and wasn’t able to go,” he said.

Though heading to Wimbledon will likely cause him to miss a couple of the SoCal Pro Circuit events, including Fountain Valley, he definitely enjoys having tournaments close to home.

“It’s nice to be able to stay in your own home, drive to whatever club or site it’s being played at,” Tien said. “It’s really convenient.”

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