CORONA DEL MAR — Think you had an eventful Tuesday afternoon? According to the United States Tennis Assn. 18s rankings, Corona del Mar High senior Alec Adamson spent his afternoon playing tennis against three of the top 50 junior players in the country.
University High seniors Gage Brymer (ranked No. 13, headed to UCLA), Stefan Menichella (No. 46, Pepperdine) and Tyler Lu (No. 27, Yale) handed the UC Davis-bound Adamson his first three dual match losses of the season.
Yet, as University Coach John Kessler watched Adamson battle Lu in the final set of the day, he couldn’t help but be impressed.
“The kid is out here in the third set, after losing two close sets to two of the top kids in the country, and he’s giving 100%,” Kessler said. “What more can you ask from any person? It’s just unbelievably inspiring. I mean, you’ve got to love the kid ... and he’s so gung-ho, team-oriented, positive. He’s awesome. I’ve had the pleasure of watching him grow for [three] years, and he’s evolved. He’s just become a great person and a great player, in his game and just the way he handles himself. You can’t say enough about him. I don’t know how you can be an Alec detractor; that’s just not possible. It’s crazy.”
What also continues to be crazy is the amount of talent Kessler’s Trojans possess. They again showed CdM that talent in the Pacific Coast League opener for both teams at CdM.
University, top-ranked in CIF Southern Section Division 1, romped over No. 2 CdM, 15-3. Kessler said it was the 71st straight dual match victory for the Trojans, the three-time defending Division 1 champions who won the CdM National All-American Tournament on Saturday.
University (6-0) has not lost a dual match in nearly four years, since falling to Thousand Oaks in the 2009 Division 1 final.
Yet, as is his nature, Kessler was also extremely gracious in victory over the rival Sea Kings (6-1). University and CdM appear to be big favorites to meet in the Division 1 final for the second straight year.
“That should be the CIF final,” Kessler said. “They’re a great team. They looked very good today. Every one of their doubles played well, their singles played well. We’ve played no team that’s this good.”
Brymer, who has won the CIF Individuals singles and the Ojai CIF singles titles each of the last two years, engaged in a thrilling opening set against Adamson. Adamson held a service break lead at 4-2, but Brymer claimed the last four games for a 6-4 victory.
It wasn’t so much that Adamson’s level dropped, but Brymer raised his level that much more. He held off two break points in the final game, serving out the set in front of a large and energetic crowd.
Brymer’s comeback was important for the Trojans, as it give University a 5-1 lead after the first round.
Menichella edged Adamson, 6-4, and Lu topped him, 6-3. Freshman Bjorn Hoffmann and sophomore Ryan Andrews also battled for CdM, but University swept in singles. Brymer (No. 4), Lu (17) and Menichella (19) also are all ranked among the top 20 seniors in the country by tennisrecruiting.net. Adamson ranks No. 59 on that list.
“At the end of this day, he’s physically and emotionally spent,” CdM Coach Jamie Gresh said of Adamson. “I know three losses wasn’t what he was looking forward to. I think he had other things in mind. I respect him as a competitor.
“A true test of a strong No. 1 is how they compete not at the first ball of the day, but at the last ball of the day. I think his effort and intensity was the same at the first ball and the last ball of the day. As a leader, that’s what I look forward to, and that’s why Alec is one of my captains.”
CdM won all three of its sets in doubles. The teams of Carson Williams and Chaz Downing, Josh Kliger and Pedro Fernandez, as well as Andrew Nguyen and Paul Kacik, each beat Uni’s No. 2 doubles team. Kessler changed the team around in each round.
Uni’s No. 1 team of Drew Dawson and Konrad Kozlowski, as well as the No. 3 team of Eric Tseng and Arash Hafezi, both swept, although several of the sets were close.
“I think we competed at our highest level today, in terms of effort and intensity,” Gresh said. “There were some close sets, for sure. I just feel like our guys played really well today. It’s OK to lose to Uni playing well ... I think we kind of played up to their level, so it’s definitely positive strides forward.”
The Sea Kings and Trojans match up for the second time in league on April 11 at University. CdM continues league play on Thursday at Northwood, ranked No. 8 in Division 1.