Zillman on path to final

COSTA MESA — Maybe James Zillman got a little ahead of himself when he approached the scorecard mounted at the end of one the net's poles. He flipped it in his favor before he even swung his racquet in the second set.

Anthony Lee informed Zillman he was not up two games. Zillman went back and switched it to zeros.

The 14-year-old kid from Costa Mesa did not really need to change the score. Zillman won the first two games and was on his way to prevailing, 6-2, 6-1, on Wednesday to advance to the quarterfinals of the 18th annual Costa Mesa Summer Junior Classic.

The boys' 16 singles match at the Costa Mesa Tennis Center went relatively smooth for Zillman. The second-seeded player figured he would breeze through it.

Apparently, Lee gave Zillman some trouble.

"It was hard," said Zillman after throwing on a hooded sweater to keep warm.

"I like to face people I've never faced before."

Zillman believed he was meeting a player he played last month at the 108th annual Southern California Junior Sectional Championships in Fountain Valley.

He walked toward the official table and reported his result before checking out the board with all of the brackets. The name Zillman expected to see was not up.

Zillman is not playing Cesar Vazquez of Mexico today in the quarterfinals at noon.

"I'm kind of relieved," said Zillman, who saw that Vazquez lost due to default in the round of 16 against Ryan Mariano.

Vazquez was a no-show. A woman writing the names and scores on the board said a handful of international players in the tournament decided to skip Wednesday's matches.

That was good news to Zillman. He has Mariano next, instead of Vazquez, whom Zillman said he battled at the Southern California Junior Sectional Championships before winning in three sets.

Zillman is familiar with Mariano.

"I faced his brother [before]," said Zillman, referring to Kevin Mariano, who reached the quarterfinals in the top of the bracket. "I believe [Ryan's] brother is better."

The matchup bodes well for Zillman's chance to advance to the semifinals. He said this is the first time he has competed in this tournament.

No one has challenged Zillman so far. He has only lost four games in his first two matches combined.

Zillman is tough to beat. He is consistent and he covers the court well.

The goal for Zillman is to claim the title. The favorite is Kevin Pham. Zillman said he has split his last two matches against Pham in recent years.

The two might meet on the high school level, with Pham being from Irvine. Zillman said he is deciding on whether to attend Corona del Mar High or Costa Mesa as an incoming freshman.

"I might go to Corona del Mar," Zillman said before giving his reason against playing for Costa Mesa, the school near his house. "Better tennis."

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