Sage player at work

NEWPORT BEACH — The high school boys' tennis season is some eight months away, but Andrew Kurzweil has already started making preparations.

Kurzweil will be a senior at Sage Hill School, and he still feels the pain of losing in a super-tiebreaker to Rowland this past May in the CIF Southern Section Division IV semifinals.

"It's making all of us work harder," Kurzweil said. "We're moving up to Division III next year and I'm going to be a senior. I want a CIF ring before I leave, so I'm just going to play a lot of tournaments and work hard. Some other guys on the team are doing the same, and hopefully we can get it done."

Winning boys' 18 singles matches at these tournaments is a great bonus as well, and that's what Kurzweil did Tuesday morning at The Tennis Club Newport Beach. He knocked off recent Corona de Mar High grad Pierce Stemler, 6-3, 6-1, in the round of 32 at the 21st annual The Tennis Club Junior Tournament.

However, No. 8-seeded Parker Glore of Marina High beat Kurzweil, 6-3, 6-2, in the round of 16 Tuesday night.

Kurzweil has been a doubles standout for the Lightning. Two years ago, he and Andrew Yun were the Academy League doubles MVPs, and the past two years it was Kurzweil and Alex Manolakas who captured the league doubles title.

Kurzweil said this tournament, better known as the "War by the Shore," is only his third singles tournament of his career. But he wants to work hard, and he said Lightning teammates Manolakas, Sean Batten and Robbe Simon are doing the same this summer.

"Just trying to get guys playing," he said, stopping to smile. "I'll be a captain next year, so I've got to make sure everyone's pulling their weight."

He did against Stemler, who was very frustrated in the first set. Stemler, who also typically played doubles for CdM, was on the wrong end of a 5-0 score. Despite a flurry of unforced errors, he rallied to 5-3 before Kurzweil got a key break of serve to take the set.

"I knew if I didn't break that game, then he'd probably have the set and then the match," Kurzweil said. "I just put everything into that game, went for some shots and just grinded it out. Once I had that, I knew I had [the match], because even if we had gone to three [sets] I was in better shape."

The second set was easier for Kurzweil, who won the last five games of the match with his steady style.

At one point, Stemler questioned a shot that Kurzweil had called just wide, but Kurzweil stayed firm.

"I haven't cheated you all match," he told Stemler. "I'm not going to cheat you now."

No cheating involved from Kurzweil, just solid tactics. Stemler, still frustrated after the match, didn't want to stay around long as he exited The Tennis Club.

"I made him play my game and hit at my speed, as opposed to me going for winners," Kurzweil said. "I made him hit a bunch of approach shots. Being a doubles player, I love it when my opponent's at the net, because I have so many options. I think I made him go for a little bit more than he wanted to and made him hit two or three winners, as opposed to one. I think that made the difference. He's a very good player."

Kurzweil is also playing doubles in the tournament with Batten.

They play Stemler and another recent CdM grad, Matt Fisher, in their first boys' 18 doubles match today at 3:30 p.m.

Fisher and Stemler are the No. 2-seeded team.

"He'll probably be out for some revenge," Kurzweil said. "I've got to be ready."

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