Boys' Tennis: Adamson having big year for CdM

Respect is something that has to be earned on the tennis court.

Anyone who was at the Corona del Mar High boys' tennis home match against University on March 19 had to come away with respect for CdM senior Alec Adamson.

When Adamson came to CdM before his sophomore year, he was a 5-foot-7 kid who was content to play defense. Planted on the baseline, he would scrap, hoping his opponent would either miss a shot or get frustrated.

Adamson stood on the tennis court that day last month as a 6-foot-4 young man, one who was able to dictate tempo against one of the top high school tennis players in the country. He battled UCLA-bound University senior Gage Brymer to the end, holding a 4-2 lead before Brymer's late rally for the win. Then, Adamson had a short break before he had to do battle with two other Division 1-bound players, Stefan Menichella (Pepperdine) and Tyler Lu (Yale).

Each went down as losses in the book for Adamson. They're the only ones of the season for the Daily Pilot Athlete of the Week, as he is now 46-3.

Adamson is also headed D1, to UC Davis. And his confidence has never been higher, even when going against a player like Brymer, the two-time defending Ojai and CIF Individuals singles champion who also won the prestigious Easter Bowl last weekend.

There really aren't any moral victories. Adamson believes he can win every time he takes the court.

"You always want to play the best players in high school tennis," Adamson said. "I always want to try to raise my game against the best. I was just trying to come out and play my game ... It was a tough loss, but I thought I competed well."

In a way, it is unfair. Talk about Adamson, and you almost have to talk about that school that is just less than five miles away, University, the three-time defending CIF Southern Section Division 1 champion. But Adamson traveled to the Trojans' home court last week, and he put together a sort of redemptive performance.

He swept at No. 1 singles against Menichella (6-2), University junior Drew Dawson (6-1) and freshman Jae Min (6-0). Sure, the Sea Kings again lost the Pacific Coast League match, 13-5. But people were talking about Adamson's performance, for sure.

He was the first CdM player to sweep University in singles since Fabian Matthews, a 2008 graduate who went on to enjoy a four-year career at UC Irvine. CdM Coach Jamie Gresh is surely glad to have a player like Adamson in his first year at the helm.

"He holds a very high percentage of the time, and he's in every return game because he's smart," Gresh said. "He's able to cover the court really well and absorb a lot of the pace of some of these better guys. I feel like he's matured as a player. He's very mentally tough and he never beats himself. He plays really smart, tactical tennis."

Adamson's growth has given him a bump in the rankings as well, all the way up to No. 13 in Southern California in the 18s. The players he beat at University are not pushovers; two are ranked higher than Adamson. Menichella is ranked No. 9 in the 18s, with Dawson at No. 11. Min is No. 40 in the 16s.

University Coach John Kessler said he was not surprised that Adamson would raise his game after what happened in the first meeting. In fact, it was in that first meeting that Kessler admired Adamson's fight.

"He's just become a great person and a great player, in his game and just the way he handles himself," Kessler said at the time. "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."

Adamson's success might seem surprising, but the team captain put in the work in the offseason, training at KG Elite in Irvine with his private coach Kareem Gobran. Even during the high school season, he works hard on his fitness. Mondays and Wednesdays are speed days on the track. Tuesdays and Thursdays are strength conditioning days in the gym.

"I definitely have improved since last year," Adamson said. "I've been working hard on my forehand and serve, in the offseason and in the summer. It's really helped in tournaments as well. Overall, I think I'm just faster on the court and able to stay out there and play with anybody. I know my game is good enough to compete with anybody, so I've just got to go out there and stay focused and I have a chance to win."

Brymer will be the favorite at Ojai next weekend, where he's won the past two years. But Adamson will be one of the contenders, as well. He looks to improve on his showing from a year ago, when he lost a tough round of 16 match.

The CIF playoffs are not far away, either. CdM appears to be strong enough to meet University in the Division 1 final for the second straight year. That's certainly Adamson's goal; he lists playing in that match last year as his favorite athletic moment. Every high school player loves making the trip up to The Claremont Club.

An added bonus this year could be the Southern California regional tournament, which takes place the week after CIF, also at The Claremont Club. The Southern Section will take eight teams into the inaugural 16-team tournament that will also feature squads from the Los Angeles, San Diego and Central sections.

"It's just a cool experience, playing in Claremont," Adamson said. "It's pretty fun."

CdM is thriving with Adamson leading the way. He is one of just three senior starters, joining Andrew Nguyen and Paul Kacik. And, though he continues to be a dedicated tournament player, it is clear that Adamson enjoys the team aspect as well.

"Being a senior, you have to lead by example for the younger freshmen and sophomores," he said. "Being at No. 1 singles, after you play their best player, you've got to tell [your teammates] how to beat them and just try to give them advice. It's not really that much pressure. I know a lot of the guys from tournaments, so it's just going out there and trying to get the wins and help our team do well."

Twitter: @mjszabo

Alec Adamson

Born: Aug. 30, 1994

Hometown: Hinsdale, Ill.

Height: 6-foot-4

Weight: 165 pounds

Year: Senior

Sport: Tennis

Coach: Jamie Gresh

Favorite food: Chicken Parmesan

Favorite movie: "The Italian Job"

Favorite athletic moment: Helping CdM reach the CIF Southern Section Division 1 championship match last year.

Week in review: Adamson went 6-0 at No. 1 singles, including a sweep at top-ranked league rival University on April 11.

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