Kratzer, Radeva, Hoffmann in finals

COSTA MESA — It's not difficult to spot Ashley Kratzer on the tennis court.

The Newport Beach resident wears a pink outfit, with pink shoes and pink nail polish. Even the bottom of her ponytail is colored pink.

Kratzer, 14, said she does it to support breast cancer awareness and research.

"If I ever make it big, that's going to be my signature, with breast cancer signs all over it," she said. "I just want to be different; I want to change it up. Nobody's ever done something with colors and stuff, so I just want to do something different, especially since I'm left-handed so I'm already different."

Different isn't always a bad thing. Kratzer, the No. 2 seed in the 18s, has been playing well this week at the Costa Mesa Summer Junior Classic.

She advanced to the 18s championship match Thursday, following a 4-6, 6-3, 11-9 (super-tiebreaker) semifinal win over Kalani Soli of Carson. Kratzer will play Erin Freeman of Downey in the title match at 9 a.m. Friday at Costa Mesa Tennis Center.

Two other locals also advanced to the singles title match in their respective divisions. Top-seeded Annie Radeva, who will be a junior at Newport Harbor High and was the girls' 16s finalist last year, is back in the title match after defeating No. 3-seeded Kristina Breisacher of Rancho Santa Margarita, 6-2, 6-4. Radeva plays No. 4-seeded Shuchin Lin of Irvine in the championship match at 10 a.m. Friday.

Corona del Mar High sophomore-to-be Bjorn Hoffmann is in the boys' 16s title match. The top-seeded Hoffmann was leading his semifinal match, 6-3, 1-0, when opponent Brian Husin of Hong Kong had to retire. Hoffmann plays in the title match at 10 a.m. Friday, against No. 2-seeded Kyle McCann of Rossmoor.

Four doubles teams featuring locals also are in their respective division's championship match. Max McKennon of Newport Beach and partner Caleb Wilkins of Long Beach are in the boys' 12 doubles final at noon Friday, and Newport Coast resident Max Pham and Sage Hill sophomore-to-be Kenan Torlic are in the boys' 16 doubles final at 1 p.m.

On the girls' side, CdM junior-to-be Riley Gerdau and sophomore-to-be Siena Sharf are in the girls' 16 doubles championship match, also at 1 p.m. And Newport Beach resident Nicole Knickerbocker and partner Shweta Kumar of Irvine, the No. 2 seeds, are in the girls' 14 doubles title match at noon.

Kratzer, who is home-schooled, has been living in Newport Beach for about a year. Previously, she was training in Florida for several years. After splitting sets with Soli, she fell behind 5-2 in the super-tiebreaker, but she was able to rally.

"She did not like the high backhand, and my favorite shot is to hit a high, heavy ball and then try to go to the net," Kratzer said. "I knew if I played it short, I would lose the match, so my biggest goal was just to play it deep and high and try to come to the net if I could."

Kratzer's parents, Mike and Stacey, were there to cheer her on. Mike said Ashley will be playing in pre-qualifying at a pro tournament, the Southern California Open in Carlsbad, this weekend.

Ashley's older brother Tanner, who is 18, is turning pro as a golfer next week when he competes in the Long Beach Open.

"It gives me motivation," said Ashley Kratzer, ranked No. 30 in Southern California in girls' 14s. "If he can do it, then I can possibly do it."

Radeva is trying to do something that she has never done before, win a title at her home tournament. She's one match away after defeating Breisacher in the semis. Her Newport Harbor classmate Claudia Davis, who just made the varsity tennis team Thursday, was there to support Radeva during the match.

Yet, Radeva knows there are still things to work on. After breezing through the first set, she was up 5-2 in the second set. But Breisacher won the next two games.

"I can't close out matches for my life, and I always lose the first game of every set," Radeva said. "I just have to stay focused and not really think about winning, as much as just keep playing my game and not get distracted. If I just play my game, unless the girl is an unbelievable player, there's no way they can handle my pace. I just have to do that during the whole match, not have these ups and downs.

That being said, Radeva likes her chances in the championship match.

"It feels good that my hard work is paying off," she said. "I'm glad I can be in the finals again, and hopefully this time I can win it."

Hoffmann has not dropped a set on his way through the bracket. He played a somewhat hobbled opponent Thursday in Husin, who was suffering with an elbow injury. Husin served underhand during the match.

Hoffmann said it was a weird match, but he is also happy to be in the finals.

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