NEWPORT BEACH — Shane Korber had a plane to catch, and it looked like he might not make it Friday morning.
Korber, who will be a senior at Corona del Mar High, was in quite a battle with Cerritos' Ganesh Alagappan in the boys' 18s singles final at the 21st annual The Tennis Club Junior Tournament. The way it was going, it looked like his 12:40 p.m. flight out of John Wayne Airport – to the clay court nationals in Florida, which begin today – might have been in doubt.
The match against Alagappan started at 9 a.m. sharp, and the first game lasted 22 minutes before Korber held serve. Eventually, though, Korber made sure he had plenty of time to pass security and hop on a plane.
He won his second straight 18s singles title at the "War by the Shore," beating Alagappan, 6-3, 6-2.
"I love this tournament," Korber said. "It's good to go out with a win, now that I'm 18. Every tournament that I play now is my last tournament, annually. I'm actually on quite the winning streak in SoCal tourneys. I won the Laguna Niguel tournament last month."
The other local singles finalist, Corona del Mar resident Alastair Hurry, fell in the boys' 14s final to Patricio Zarazua of Mexico, 6-4, 6-0.
It was quite warm at the Tennis Club even mid-morning, when Korber's match started. But the No. 2 seed refused to wilt. He broke Alagappan's serve to take a 4-2 lead in the opening set. Alagappan broke back, but then Korber returned the favor yet again for a 5-3 lead and an opportunity to serve out the set, which he did.
Korber took a 3-0 lead in the second set. Alagappan, who had beaten top-seeded CdM graduate Ryan Peyton in the quarterfinals, had fewer answers as the match went on. As Korber's father, Tim, looked on, he said that his son needed to "squash the bug" and finish off the match when he had the opportunity.
Shane Korber did just that. Both players agreed that his stamina was the difference.
"No one expected me to beat Ryan but I played pretty well," said the unseeded Alagappan, who will be a senior at Cerritos High. "Shane just outplayed me today … It just came down to stamina, and he had more of it. The second set, my legs were pretty much done."
Korber had never played Alagappan before, but that improved stamina came up big. He's been going twice a week this summer to Wardance training center in Irvine.
"He really focuses on lower body and agility," said Korber of his sessions with his trainer, Matt Orlando.
But really, it's Korber's whole game that's coming more into focus.
"I feel like the breakthrough that I've been waiting for, for a couple months now, is starting to happen," Korber said. "I used to be able to get to this place sometimes, but now I'm able to get to it consistently and just play well almost all the time."
Hurry fell in the boys' 14s singles final to Zarazua, of Mexico. They had played before two years ago in the 12s final at the Costa Mesa Summer Junior Classic, also won by Zarazua.
Hurry, a Corona del Mar resident, will be a freshman at St. Margaret's this fall. He said he plans to play for the Tartans as well. But on Friday, he said he couldn't hold a 3-1 lead in the first set before Zarazua stepped up his game.
"I was up 30-love at 3-1," Hurry said. "I definitely had my chances. Two years ago, at Costa Mesa, I lost even worse … He's just really consistent. He doesn't give you one ball to attack."
But it was still a successful tournament for Hurry. He was seeded No. 5 but beat top-seeded Cameron McDonald of Palm Desert, 6-1, 7-6, in the semifinals. That avenged a loss to McDonald last month.
"I had a good tournament," he said. "I'm happy with the tournament."