COSTA MESA — Austin Di Giulio is the type of 10-year-old who is not afraid of the big boys. The kid from Newport Beach plays them and usually beats them on the tennis court.
Di Giulio went through four older players to reach the final of the boys' singles 14s division at the 18th annual Costa Mesa Junior Classic Friday.
The last player in the way proved to be too much for Di Giulio to get past. He met a Canadian, who was not only four years older, but almost a foot taller.
Harrison Scott used his size to overpower the 4-foot-10 Di Giulio and claim the title with a 6-2, 6-0 victory at the Costa Mesa Tennis Center. Di Giulio left the court with his head held high.
Di Giulio entered the tournament unseeded, so many did not expect him to make a run at the championship. The runner-up finish shows he is on the right path.
"Once the physical disadvantage goes away, once he gets some size after going through puberty, then he'll be fine," said Bij Noroozi, Di Giulio's coach.
"I expected him to win the tournament. That's the only reason that he's playing at this, to win."
Di Giulio fell short of winning his second Costa Mesa Junior Classic championship. The other time he won the event was three years ago, when he was 7 and competing in the boys' 10s division.
Di Giulio still received a silver trophy for his valiant effort against Scott. Di Giulio said the only difference from the last trophy he earned here was the player was serving.
The difference between Scott and Di Giulio was how hard Scott hit the ball. Di Giulio saw Scott play twice during the tournament and believed the two would meet in the finale.
When the match started, Di Giulio actually took the first game.
"He started off not playing too well," Di Giulio said. "He was just missing everything."
Scott regrouped after going down, 2-1. He ripped five straight game victories and grabbed the momentum.
At this point, Noroozi noticed a change in Di Giulio's mood.
"He got a little deflated out there. He felt dominated," Noroozi said.
"[I] just tell him to make sure that he keeps fighting, keeps his mind focused on his long-term goals."
The future looks bright for Di Giulio, who plans to rest after a grueling tournament.
Playing five singles matches and two doubles matches in five days is no easy feat. Paul Di Giulio said he planned to take his son to watch the L.A. Open next week.
The little one deserves it. He played the final at 9 a.m. after being at the Costa Mesa Tennis Center for close to 10 hours on Thursday.
"The kid's damn near 15," Paul said with a smile while referring to Scott. "I thought [my son] played a very good match.
"When you're almost , you better be hitting the ball hard. What else can you do when the guy's got a foot on you?"