COSTA MESA — James Zillman had to adjust his schedule twice for two tennis matches in a 24-hour span. He did not have much of an issue with moving the matches.
While the times changed, his goal did not at the 19th annual Costa Mesa Summer Junior Classic. The left-handed player planned to reach his second straight boys' 16 singles final.
The top-seeded Zillman had to fight his way into the finale at the Costa Mesa Tennis Center. The Costa Mesa resident rallied to beat Eric Tseng, 6-4, 6-4, in the semifinals on Thursday.
The comeback effort gave Zillman a shot at claiming back-to-back tournaments for the first time. Zillman is on a roll since winning the War by the Shore at The Tennis Club Newport Beach last week.
Zillman faces sixth-seeded Jake Hoeger of Redondo Beach on Friday at 11 a.m. Hoeger advanced to the title match after Corona del Mar's Henry Gordon, the No. 3 seed, retired due to an injury.
The one advantage Zillman held over Tseng was that he only played once on Thursday. Tseng played twice, in the quarterfinals in the afternoon and semifinals in the evening.
The double-duty took a toll on Tseng late in each set.
Zillman took advantage of a tired Tseng, an incoming sophomore at University High. Zillman came back from a 4-3 deficit in the first set and then roared back when he was down, 4-1, in the second set.
The way in which Zillman rallied impressed his father, Justin, who is also Zillman's coach. Dad was able to make the match after Tseng asked for it to start two hours later because of his afternoon match with Teague Hamilton.
Tseng took care of business in the quarterfinals against Hamilton, winning 6-4, 6-2 and getting revenge on the Laguna Beach High player, who knocked out Tseng in the semifinals of the War by the Shore. The victory set up a third meeting between Tseng and Zillman.
The two faced each other when they were younger and each time Zillman prevailed. The latest match appeared to be there for the taking for Tseng.
Tseng should have probably stuck to the 3:30 start. Whenever Justin makes his son's matches, Zillman said he feels better about himself.
Zillman gained confidence every time Tseng was the first to win four games in a set. Once Zillman took control, Tseng had no answers.
"He just hits everything back deep and it's pretty hard to get [on] the offensive," Tseng said.
"Toward the end, I was getting a bit tired."
Zillman looked like the fresh player on the court. Playing twice on Wednesday seemed to help him out.
The reason for Zillman's two matches the day before was because he accommodated Ted Berkowitz of Connecticut. Zillman said his quarterfinal opponent was leaving town, so instead of playing the match on Thursday, Zillman agreed to take the court after the round of 16 on Wednesday.
Zillman did not have to agree to face Berkowitz on Wednesday. He was going to advance to the semifinals as Berkowitz planned to withdraw.
The extra match allowed Zillman to work on his game. He has one match left to look forward to and this one is set in stone.
Other matches involving locals:
In boys' 14 singles quarterfinals action, Newport Beach's Bjorn Hoffmann lost to Arizona's Nathan Niemiec, 2-6, 7-6, 6-1.
Third-seeded Kalika Slevcove, a recent CdM graduate, was upset in the girls' 18 singles quarterfinals by Laguna Beach's Tiffany Cheng, 6-2, 6-2.
In girls' 14 doubles, Newport Beach's duo of Samantha Ludes and Sabrina Sanchez were swept by Alyssa Grijalva and Kalani Soli, 6-0, 6-0, in the semifinals.
Newport Beach's Alexandra Barkouras and her teammate Juliet Sussman lost in the semis to San Clemente's Natalie Nasongkhla and Stephanie Neilson.