Moustafa on the move

FOUNTAIN VALLEY — Jenna Moustafa likes to take charge on the tennis court.

The 14-year-old from Newport Coast forces the action, looking for chances to come to the net so she can volley.

In terms of her education, Moustafa also is taking charge. The "from Newport Coast" part won't be true for too much longer.

Moustafa plans to move to Los Angeles, she said Saturday after she was edged by Carson Branstine of Orange, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2, in a Southern California Junior Sectionals girls' 14 singles quarterfinal match at Los Caballeros Racquet & Sports Club.

She will be leaving Corona del Mar, where she has attended middle school, to go to high school at North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake.

"I've always been focused more on academics than tennis, but tennis has also been a huge part of my life," Moustafa said. "I don't know. Harvard-Westlake's a great school; I know a couple of people that go there. I know that it's going to help me with my academics. I'm excited to go there, but at the same time, I'm sad about leaving Newport Coast, because I've grown up there all my life … I just wanted to be better prepared for when I go to college."

Moustafa has been a talented local junior player for a while now. Recently she started playing in the 16s, which she said affected her seeding at Junior Sectionals, where she was No. 7 in the 14s. Moustafa is still ranked No. 18 in Southern California in the 14s, and No. 66 in the 16s.

Branstine, who is 12 years old, is the No. 2 seed. She is ranked No. 1 in SoCal in the 12s and No. 7 in the 14s.

The two players practice together, Moustafa said. And they certainly played a competitive match, one which lasted more than two hours.

The games were close in the first set, but Branstine pulled away. But it was Moustafa who took charge in the second set.

"I feel like I didn't need to make that many adjustments in the second set," Moustafa said. "I just knew that my main shots weren't working for me, so I just needed to move my feet more and get set more on the ball. Hitting the swinging volley is my big shot, so I just knew that I needed to set up the point better so I could hit that shot."

But Branstine, who has won 14s tournaments in Fullerton, Long Beach, Anaheim and Santa Barbara this year, was able to recover. After Moustafa held serve to open the third set, Branstine reeled off five straight games.

"She definitely upped her game," said Moustafa, who beat No. 9-seeded Martina Bocchi of Beverly Hills, 7-6, 6-1, in a round of 16 match earlier Saturday. "I started getting some cramps in my thighs, so I couldn't move as well as I was in the first two sets. I felt like that definitely helped her, but she was definitely playing better in that third set than in the second set."

Moustafa saved two match points to again hold serve, bringing the third-set score to 5-2, but Branstine was able to serve it out. That came to the delight of her mother, Carol, who said Carson is cousins with Freddie Freeman, the first baseman for the Atlanta Braves.

"She likes playing baseball, too," Carol said of her daughter.

Moustafa's mother, Mona, was also there sitting courtside to support her daughter.

"She comes to every one of my matches," Jenna Moustafa said. "She doesn't really play that much, but she knows my game and what I need to do."

For the next four years, Harvard-Westlake fits in with what Jenna Moustafa needs to do.

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