COSTA MESA — Annie Radeva has never been in this position before, in the main draw at the Southern California Junior Sectional Championships.
In past years the Costa Mesa resident has always lost in qualifying. This year, her Southern California girls' 16s ranking is high enough that she earned an automatic berth in the main draw.
But she is not necessarily just happy to be there.
Radeva won her opening main draw match Friday at Costa Mesa Tennis Center, 6-1, 6-4, over Valeria Corral of San Diego. Her confidence appears to be at an all-time high.
"Three-and-a-half years ago, we started with my coach [Nenad Toroman], and he just completely started over on my game," Radeva said. "It took a while to get down the perfect strokes that he wants, and that I want also. I feel like I'm putting it all together, and my game's never been better."
Radeva, who just completed her sophomore year at Newport Harbor High, will play Kalani Soli of Carson in the round of 32 at noon Saturday, back at Costa Mesa Tennis Center. A win there, and she'd have a round of 16 match at 5 p.m.
That match could be against No. 6-seeded Sydney Van Alphen of Laguna Beach. Radeva lost to Van Alphen last week in the final of the Laguna Niguel Junior Open, 6-1, 6-0.
"I want to play her again," Radeva said. "I want to beat her obviously, but even if I don't, I can at least improve. I know I can play a better match than I played last time."
Radeva played well against Corral, winning the first set fairly easily. But she was down 3-1 in the second set before rallying for the victory. There were plenty of breaks of serve in the set, but Radeva earned the last one to take a 5-4 lead. She was then able to serve the match out.
"She definitely started playing better," Radeva said. "I just tried to stay focused. I knew I had to bring it at least back to 3-all, if I had any chance of not losing the set. I never want to go to a third set. I'd rather just get it done."
Radeva, who played for the Newport Harbor tennis team as a freshman, left the team prior to her sophomore year. She said she doesn't plan to return to high school tennis this fall for her junior year.
She has been getting it done in the girls' 16s rankings. A year ago, she was ranked No. 91 in Southern California, and now she's at No. 39. And, since she just turned 16 last month, she has roughly a year left in the division to get her ranking even higher.
"I want to try to get to top 20, at least, so we'll see if I can do that this summer," she said.
Now there's another first Radeva would love.
In other action Friday at Junior Sectionals, four locals advanced in boys' 16s. No. 3-seeded Chaz Downing defeated Jackson Kogan of Pacific Palisades, 6-1, 6-4, while No. 6-seeded Reese Stalder beat Brandon Michaels of Pacific Palisades, 6-0, 6-0. No. 8-seeded Max Pham beat Victor Cheng of Santa Monica, 6-3, 6-1, and Bjorn Hoffmann topped Peter Trhac of San Diego, 6-2, 6-3. Downing, Stalder, Pham and Hoffmann each have round of 32 matches Saturday at Fountain Valley Tennis Center, and possibly round of 16 matches.
No. 7-seeded Jenna Moustafa of Newport Coast topped Emilee Duong of Placentia, 6-1, 6-2, in a girls' 14s round of 32 match. Moustafa plays No. 9-seeded Martina Bocchi of Beverly Hills in the round of 16 on Saturday at 8:30 a.m. at Los Cab.
No. 6-seeded Alec Adamson, who graduated from Corona del Mar High on Thursday, defeated Petar Jivkov of Santa Barbara, 6-3, 6-1, in a boys' 18s round of 64 match. Adamson plays Justin Chanthalangsy of San Marcos in a round of 32 match at 12:15 p.m. Saturday at Los Cab.
Newport Beach's Austin Di Giulio lost to No. 5-seeded Ryan Seggerman of Coronado, 6-4, 6-4, in a boys' 14s round of 32 match.