Local athlete plays beyond her years

Sydney Van Alphen stepped it up and nearly came away with the grand prize recently in Laguna Niguel.

Van Alphen, who had recently turned 11 and was a student at Top of the World School in Laguna Beach, entered the Laguna Niguel Girls' 14s Open Tennis Tournament in mid-June and came away with a second-place finish at the Laguna Niguel Racquet Club.

In the division final, Van Alphen lost to the tournament's No. 1-seed Megan McCray.

To reach the final, Van Alphen, who was not ranked in the 14s division, defeated both the No. 2 and No. 4 seeds.

It was the first time Van Alphen had competed in a 14s tournament. She said she lost a first-round match in her first attempt playing up a division.

"I was really happy to get second-place in the 14s," said Van Alphen, who has two years left in the girls' 12s division. "It was a good tournament and it had a lot of good players."

Van Alphen left Wednesday for Europe, where she will train for five weeks in Holland and France. She was invited to train there by Chris Vermeeren, the global director for Tennis Nike, her father, Marc Van Alphen, said.

"I'm really excited to be going there because it's only my second time going to Europe," she said. "I get to train with some of the top boys and girls in Europe. It will be fun ,but a lot of hard work, too."

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