Alec Adamson showed up at Corona del Mar High two years ago in August wanting to try out for its strong boys' tennis program.
The first match of the season was six months away.
Adamson wanted to get a hold of Coach Brian Ricker that early. When he did, he told him about himself.
He had just moved into the area from Hinsdale, Ill., a suburb of Chicago. As a sophomore Adamson had never played tennis as a freshman at his first high school, Hinsdale Central. A stress fracture in his right shoulder sidelined him for 10 months.
Ricker wasn't sure what to think of Adamson's chances of making the team. He usually has an idea what the team's makeup will be well before the spring season starts.
At the time, Ricker was in girls' season mode as the team began play in the fall. He still made time for Adamson, inviting him out to see him in action with a racquet.
"Rankings don't lie," said Ricker, who first checked to see where Adamson stood in the United States Tennis Assn. Midwest-Chicago rankings. "He was No. 75 in the 14s in that region."
Adamson was now in a new region, a much more competitive one. In Southern California, players, for the most part, don't have to worry about snow. They check those conditions when they're snowboarding.
Adamson looked forward to not having to battle the weather. He grew up outside Chicago. The humidity in the summer forced him to change regularly. The snow in the winter forced him to play indoors.
Here, near the beach, he could work on his game and compete outside all year round. Ricker gave him a shot to play with the Sea Kings after hitting with Adamson.
After one season, Adamson has turned into one of the Sea Kings' top singles players.
Adamson first had to get rid of all the trick shots.
"He would sit on the baseline and just play defense," Ricker said. "It works, but he's not going to beat the best doing that. He had to learn to hit through the ball, get to the net and finish."
Adamson is charging the net more often now and the Sea Kings (12-2, 4-1 in Pacific Coast League) are benefiting as they're No. 2 in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 poll.
Since last season, Adamson has grown five inches and stands at 6-foot-2. Ricker jokes that Adamson looked like he weighed less than 100 pounds last season because he was so skinny. He has gained weight, getting to 145.
Confidence is something else Adamson has gained since last year, when he played mostly doubles. Adamson is now out there by himself for almost every set. He's winning most of the battles as he has a 31-6 record.
"He used to have two opponents, the guy on the other side of the net and the one inside his brain," Ricker said.
Ricker said Adamson can get vocal on the court and it can affect his performance. That tends to happen with young singles players, who cannot check their emotions.
Adamson is no longer the kid with freshmen Chaz Downing and Henry Gordon, and sophomore Carson Williams around. Adamson is the oldest of the four singles players CdM rotates every match.
In one match, Adamson will be in the lineup at No. 1. The following match, he's at No. 3.
Adamson played those two spots last week and won his sets. Two wins came against Troy's Carl Hernandez and Northwood's Julian Ruffin, who were No. 13 and No. 32, respectively, in the USTA Southern California 18s rankings.
Adamson handed Hernandez, who is bound for UC Irvine, a 6-4 setback, his first loss during his senior year. And against Ruffin, Adamson won, 6-1, avenging an earlier loss to Ruffin.
"He has improved so much since he first came to CdM," Ricker said. "It was hard to tell how good he was [when he arrived].
"He's been a big help."
Born: Aug. 30, 1994
Hometown: Hinsdale, Ill.
Weight: 145 pounds
Sport: Boys' tennis
Coach: Brian Ricker
Favorite food: Spaghetti with meatballs
Favorite movie: "The Italian Job"
Favorite athletic moment: "Playing for CdM for the first time."
Week in review: Adamson defeated Troy's Carl Hernandez and Northwood's Julian Ruffin, who were No. 13 and No. 32, respectively, in the USTA Southern California 18s rankings, in separate sets.