Willson will keep battling

NEWPORT BEACH — Danielle Willson still has the scar under her eye from where she was accidentally hit with a tennis racquet years ago.

Some kids might have wanted to stop playing after a traumatic experience like that, coming when tennis was relatively new. Willson still knew tennis was her sport.

"A couple of years ago my mom signed me up for a camp at Newport Beach Tennis Club," said Willson, now 11. "I got hit in the eye with a racquet, and the director gave me a private lesson for free. I kept taking private lessons from him and I liked it."

The Newport Beach resident just wished she could have played better in the girls' 12s quarterfinal match at the 22nd annual The Tennis Club junior tournament Wednesday. The No. 3-seeded Willson fell to her friend, Emily Read of Huntington Beach, 6-4, 6-1, in a quarterfinal match at the tournament also known as the War by the Shore.

"I missed a lot of shots," Willson said. "It's hard to play against your friends."

Willson, who has recently come back from a left wrist injury, knows that one of the good things about junior tennis is there's always another tournament. She plays in a semifinal match at the Chapman tournament Saturday in Orange. Next week, she's playing singles — and doubles with Read — at the Costa Mesa Summer Junior Classic. Her mother, Carol, said it's the first time Danielle will be playing doubles in a tournament.

Tennis does not run in the family, though it's an athletic one. Danielle's older sister, Ali, is passionate about ballet. Her older brother, Sean, plays hockey and golf.

As for Danielle, she's entering the sixth grade at Mariners Christian. One of her goals is to make it onto the Corona del Mar High girls' team when she reaches high school.

She'll keep battling on the court.

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