Sea Kings primed for All-American boys' tennis invitational

The Corona del Mar All-American Invitational boys' tennis tournament has not been particularly kind to the hosts in recent years.

CdM has not won the prestigious tournament since finishing off the last of three consecutive titles in 2004. The Sea Kings have lost in the tournament quarterfinals for six straight years.

But they come into this year's tournament, the 14th annual event, optimistic about their chances.

Corona del Mar is the No. 3 seed. It faces Carmichael Jesuit High in the first round of the 16-team tournament on Friday at 11 a.m. at CdM.

Should the Sea Kings win, they would play either Santa Barbara or La Jolla in the quarterfinals at 3:30 p.m. Friday, at The Tennis Club Newport Beach.

Brian Ricker, who was the boys' head coach at CdM for four years and remains the girls' head coach, certainly is optimistic.

"This is the best lineup CdM has had for the All-American Tournament in many, many years," Ricker said Wednesday.

CdM boasts top singles players like UC Davis-bound senior Alec Adamson, sophomore Chaz Downing and freshman Bjorn Hoffmann. They also are all adept at doubles, which is key in the tournament format. Teams play five sets of singles and three sets of doubles in each match.

"I think it's a good format for us," CdM Coach Jamie Gresh said. "It's similar to the La Jolla tournament, which was six singles and three doubles. I feel like those interchangeable parts come in handy when you have these tournaments [in which] you can use guys for both singles and doubles. As a coach, it's good to have extra guys that you can pop in. And there's a lot of parity. There are guys who are very close in ability, so it's just who's playing a little bit better that day."

Paul Kacik is one person who won't be playing for the Sea Kings this weekend. The senior lefty doubles specialist, who is going to the University of Alabama next year, said he has to go to Alabama for a test.

Tim Mang, the longtime CdM boys' head coach who is the All-American Tournament director, said he anticipates the Sea Kings could have a tough quarterfinal matchup against La Jolla. CdM beat La Jolla, 9-0, on its way to winning the La Jolla Country Day tournament earlier this month, but Mang said La Jolla was missing two top singles players.

University is the top-seeded team. Defending champion Atherton Menlo School is seeded No. 2, and San Jose Bellarmine Prep is seeded No. 4.

The tournament semifinals are scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at The Tennis Club. The championship match follows at 3 p.m., at Palisades Tennis Club.

"It's going to be a good final again," Mang said.

Last year the tournament was shortened to one day due to rain, and Menlo edged University, 5-4, in the final. But forecasts for this weekend are for mostly sunny skies.

As usual, the tournament has a national feel, as six teams from outside the state of California are entered. They include Beacon School and Horace Mann School of New York, Salpointe Catholic and Brophy Jesuit Prep of Arizona, Potomac School of Virginia and Gilman School of Maryland.

Mang said that Gilman School, along with Calabasas Viewpoint School, are first-time entrants.

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