FOUNTAIN VALLEY — After graduating from Newport Harbor High on Thursday, Samantha Stalder had a fun time at grad night festivities.
Stalder said she was out until 3 a.m. Friday morning. Just more than nine hours later, she had her first girls' 18 singles main draw match at the Southern California Junior Sectional Championships.
"I slept until 10:15 or so [Friday morning]," Stalder said. "It probably wasn't the smartest idea, but I really wanted to go to my grad night."
Stalder still had the henna tattoo on her left hand to prove how much fun she had. Her decision made sense. There's only one high school grad night. There will be more tennis matches for Stalder, who is attending Bowdoin College in Maine and will play on the team there.
In terms of Junior Sectionals, though, Stalder has no more matches left. She fell to Raquel Pedraza of Claremont, 6-2, 6-1, in the round of 64 of Friday at Los Caballeros Racquet & Sports Club.
The match was closer than the score would suggest. But Pedraza, a big server, won more of the big points.
"There were so many close games, and I just feel like I should have won more of them," Stalder said. "I feel like I set up the point well, but I just couldn't execute on the last shot."
Pedraza opened a 5-0 lead in the first set, before Stalder then won consecutive games. Pedraza then took an extended bathroom break, which didn't sit too well with Stalder. After Pedraza came back, she broke Stalder's serve to win the first set.
"I don't know exactly what that was about," Stalder said. "I was gaining momentum, and that's the moment that she chose to go to the bathroom, and she took a long time. I don't know if that was something shady, but that made me kind of mad, actually. I wasn't happy with that. She knew that I was gaining momentum and I felt good, and then she took forever."
Stalder had break points in the first game of the second set, but she couldn't convert them. She again fell behind 5-0, before holding serve in a deuce game. By then, though, the match was nearly over.
Pedraza moves on to play No. 9-seeded Jessica Perez of Laguna Niguel in the round of 32 on Saturday. Stalder, ranked No. 51 in Southern California in the 18s, said she looks to play more women's tournaments over the summer
"It's a bit surreal, being done with high school, but I'm so excited for college," she said.