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Tennis Notebook: Brymer Leads Trojans Into Postseason

Sophomore winner of Ojai Valley Tournament and Pacific Coast League singles titles hopes to lead University to yet another CIF Southern Section Division 1 team title.

His shots come off his racquet faster than those of others. His shots have more spin than those of others. His shots are the ones that have the crowds going, “Ohhh!”

Gage Brymer is the real deal.

Brymer, a sophomore at University High, has just wrapped up an incredibly impressive week of tennis. The young man’s star is on the rise.

Last Saturday Gage won the singles championship of the 111th Ojai Valley Tennis Junior Tournament, defeating San Marino's Jonny Wang, 6-2, 6-4, in the finals. The Ojai is one of the most prestigious tennis tournaments in the country and features the best of the best from Southern California.

“All throughout [Ojai] I played really well. I was able to play steady in the semifinals and finals,” Gage said. But what separates Brymer from the pack was his next statement, “Some kids get real high and low throughout a tournament, but I just keep it steady.”

Tennis is a demanding sport, especially mentally. Just look at the professionals. John McEnroe, Andy Roddick and others have been known to break a racquet or two on occasion. Keeping one's cool, however, is what can take a great player to that next level.

Brymer’s week continued with the Pacific Coast League finals at University High School, where he defended his singles title. He defeated Patrick Lipscomb of Woodbridge in the semifinals and his teammate, Stefan Menichella, in the finals.

As the two semifinal matches were being played on adjacent courts, the demeanor of each of the athletes could easily be compared. After bad shots or miscues, three players let out audible groans or shouts or shot looks of disbelief at their coaches.

Not Brymer, though. Perhaps it's because he rarely makes a mistake, but more likely, given his body language and the way he carries himself durinig a match, he is simply an unflappable young man.

“I don’t know if I do anything that great,” said Brymer, known for his modesty. “I just try to play real solid. People say I have a strong forehand. I just try to take advantage of opportunities.”

Brymer is having a great time playing for a very special University squad.

“We have so many great players here at University," Brymer said. "But, really, it’s the quality of the guys. We have great team unity.”

As a sophomore the future is bright for Brymer. Front and center on his radar is the defense of the Trojans team title, followed by the section's individual tournament, in which he reached the Round of 16 last year.

During the summer, Brymer will continue playing junior tennis as he works his way through the USTA Southern California Sectional tournaments in hopes of playing in August at the USTA National Championships in Kalamazoo, Michigan. 

Top Picks for Top Trojan

Here are a few of Gage Brymer's favorite things...

Favorite professional tennis player: Raphael Nadal

Favorite movie: Guy Ritchie films.  "Snatch," "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" and "RocknRolla."

Favorite band:  Arcade Fire

Favorite place to eat:  Anywhere Italian

Usurping University Will be Tough Task

What will it take to beat these guys? 

Seriously, with the CIF Southern Section playoffs beginning next week, any team lined up to face the University High Trojans are going to need all the help they can get. Suggestions, anyone?

The Trojans' top-seeded squad is undefeated this season (38-0), including a first-place finish at the All-American Tournament in March and a Pacific Coast League title.

“Maybe if we had 10 more starters, we could have a shot,” said Eric Keith, who is in his eighth season as coach at Northwood and gets to face the Trojans twice in league play. “University is just too deep."

That’s the word that keeps coming up in when discussion turns to University tennis:  depth.

“We have great players on our team,” Keith said.  “But even our best players have difficult times with their No. 3s.”

Unfortunately for the Timberwolves, they know this depth through first-hand experience. In a match agains University earlier in the season, the Trojans sat out their top three singles players and top doubles team and still won the match 12-6. And Northwood was no slouch, spending most of the season ranked among the top 10 Division 1 teams.

While the Trojans' No. 1 team was winning the All-American Tournament in Newport Beach, their No. 2  team was at Dana Hills High, taking third place in the Southern California Coastal Tournament.

“University has had a lot of great teams in the past,” Trojans coach John Kessler said. “But this might be the best of all-time. It’s our depth.  It’s crazy.  Right on down to our 25th guy, we just have great players.”

While "depth" is the buzz word surrounding the Trojans' program, Corona del Mar senior Zach Haber, who plays doubles, might have hit upon the quality that teams will need to possess if they hope to compete with University: perseverance.

“It will take a lot to beat them,” Haber said. “We will have to put together a really strong effort and persevere.”

Haber, who will be studying at Penn State this fall, is holding out some hope.  “If we play them again in the playoffs, I think we will have a chance, Woodbridge lost close, 10-8, this season, so I think a team could do it.”

Well, we'll see. Playoff pairings will be posted on www.cifss.org beginning at 11 a.m. on Monday.

 Oh Me, Oh My, Ojai!

South County tennis players made a very strong showing at Ojai Valley this year.

Gage Brymer, as previously noted was the star of the 64-seed tournament by winning the singles title of the Junior Tournament with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Brandon Schlack in the championship match.

On his way to the finals, Brymer defeated El Toro's Gannon Daynes in the round of 16 in a tightly contested match, 7-6 (3), 7-5.

“Gannon played very well and fought very hard,” El Toro coach Karen Amos said.

Before running into the machine that is Brymer, Gannon made easy work of his first two opponents by beating Jacob Johnson (6-4, 6-2) and Zac McEntee (6-0, 6-0).

In another case of local players facing off against one another, Santa Margarita junior Matthew Breisacher advanced to the second round only to lose to Corona del Mar senior Shane Korber, 6-0, 6-1.

Korber, who is headed to Georgetown this fall and playing in his final Junior Tournament at Ojai, made it his best showing by reaching the Round of 16. There, he fell to Tyler Pham, 6-4, 6-2.

“Korber was very sick throughout the event,” Corona del Mar coach Brian Ricker said. “Under the circumstances, he had a good showing.”

Laguna Beach senior Jake Michaels and Dana Hills senior Trevor Dell made surprising first-round exits.

On the doubles side of the draw, University senior Kona Luu teamed with sophomore Stefan Menichella and advanced to the semifinals, where their run ended in a three-set match to the team from Palos Verdes Peninsula, Horea Porutiu and Shuhei Shibahara, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4.

Corona del Mar seniors Ismean Aboubakare and Carter Wheatley won their first two matches, 6-4, 6-1 and 7-6 (3), 6-3, before losing, 6-3, 6-2, in the Round of 16.

“It was a very good weekend for CdM,” Ricker said.

Santa Margarita seniors Jameson Lee and Henry Stiepel won their first match of the weekend 2-6, 6-3, 6-1, but the tough three setter foreshadowed the difficulty the duo faced in the second round, where they lost in two tough sets 7-5, 7-6 (5).

League Finals Results

TRINITY LEAGUE

Singles semifinals:

Justin Agbayani (Mater Dei) d. Ales. Modry (Santa Margarita), 5-7, 6-4, 6-0

Tanner Smith (Servite) d. Nic Picarelli (Mater Dei), 6-2, 6-0

 Singles final:

Agbayani d. Smith, 3-6, 6-3, 6-1

 The singles side of the draw played out as expected as No. 1 seed Justin Agbayani met and defeated No. 2 seed Tanner Smith at the Anaheim Tennis Center on Wednesday.

Doubles semifinals:

Jameson Lee/Henry Stiepel (Santa Margarita) d. Hauser/Nguyen (Mater Dei), 6-1, 6-4

Dennis Fee/Zach McEntee (Servite) d. Parker Reuter/Joey Zaret (Mater Dei), 6-7 (5), 6-2, 7-5

Doubles final:

Lee/Stiepel d. Fee/McEntee, 6-3, 7-6 (5)

Jameson Lee and Henry Stiepel continued their fabulous senior seasons with a Trinity League title.   The duo was featured earlier this season on Patch which can be seen

SEA VIEW LEAGUE

Singles final:

Gannon Daynes (El Toro) d. Jayson Amos (El Toro), 6-2, 6-2

Doubles final:

Ahdiv Nathan and Daniel Choy (Tesoro) were the winners.

The all-El Toro final was great news for Chargers coach Karen Amos, not only because it was two of her athletes but because one is her son.  The future is bright for the Chargers as Daynes is a junior and Amos is only a sophomore. A profile of Daynes was presented earlier this year by Patch and can be found

SOUTH COAST LEAGUE

Singles Semifinals:

Chase Masciorini (Dana Hills) d. Kevin Mariano (San Clemente), 4-6, 6-3, 6-3

Trevor Dell (Dana Hills) d. Brandon Pohl (Capistrano Valley), 6-1, 6-2

Dell d. Masciorini, 6-0, 6-2

Trevor Dell, after an unexpected early exit at Ojai, rebounded and was able to win his fourth consecutive South Coast League title.

Doubles semifinals:

Chris Bloom/Matt Labarre (Dana Hills) d. Parker Glenn/Matt Grennburg (San Clemente), 6-2, 6-4

Donnie Howran/Ryan Mariano (San Clemente) d. Grant Alston/ Jack Alston

Doubles final:

Howran/Mariano d. Bloom/Labarre, 2-6, 6-2, 6-4.

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE

Singles semifinals:

Gage Brymer (University) d. Patrick Lipscomb (Woodbridge), 6-2, 6-2

Stefan Menichella (University) d. Shane Korber (Corona del Mar), 7-6 (1), 6-1

Singles final:

Brymer d. Menichella, 8-5

Shane Korber's individual season comes to an end after his semifinal loss to Stefan Menichella.  In the first set, Korber had Menichella on the ropes with a 6-5 lead and the game at 30-30, but Menichella fought back and hit excellent passing shots to force a tiebreak.  The fast start by Menichella in the tiebreak, going up 4-0, was simply too big of a hole to fight out of for Korber.

Doubles semifinals:

Kona Luu/Drew Dawson (University) d. Su/Tseng (University)

Ryo Shimizu/Tyler Lu (University) d. B. Zandt/ Devries 6-4, 6-4

Doubles final:

Luu/Dawson d. Shimizu/Lu

ORANGE COAST LEAGUE

Singles semifinals:

Jake Michaels (Laguna Beach) d. Adams (school unknown), 6-1, 6-0

Teague Hamilton (Laguna Beach) d. Benito Romeo (Laguna Beach), 6-1, 7-5

Singles finals:

Michaels d. Hamilton, 6-3, 6-1

Doubles semifinals

Taylor Davidson/Nick Le (Laguna Beach) d. Owen Weber/Austin Loomis (Laguna Beach), 6-2, 7-5

Hutton McKenna/Morgan Lebby (Laguna Beach) d. Le/Quinonez (school unknown), 6-2, 6-0

Doubles final:

McKenna/Lebby d. Davidson/Le, 6-1, 6-2

The Breakers swept the Orange Coast individual tournament in both singles and doubles.   The performance is even more impressive when you consider that Laguna Beach also took third place in each draw as well. 

Playoff Schedule and Dates

Monday, May 9-Wednesday, May 11 – Leagues’ individual qualifying tournaments

Monday, May 9 – Team playoff pairings posted on www.cifss.org beginning at 11 a.m. Division 1 – Pacific Coast, South Coast, Sunset, Trinity; Division 2 – Sea View; Division 3 – Academy; Division 4 – Garden Grove, Orange Coast.

Tuesday, May 10 – Southern Section team playoffs, wild-card round

Wednesday, May 11 – Southern Section team playoffs, first round

Friday, May 13 – Southern Section team playoffs, second round

Sometime early in week of May 16, assignments will be made for Southern Section individual competition.

Tuesday, May 17 – Southern Section team playoffs, quarterfinals

Friday, May 20 – Individual sectionals at five different locations, including The Tennis Club Newport Beach and Corona del Mar HS

Tuesday, May 24 – Southern Section team playoffs, semifinals

Thursday, May 26 – Southern Section Individual 32s at Whittier Narrows Tennis Center, South El Monte, 1 p.m.

Friday, May 27 – Southern Section Individual 16s and quarterfinals at Seal Beach Tennis Center, 11:30 a.m.

Saturday, May 28 – Southern Section Individual semifinals and finals at Seal Beach Tennis Center, 11:30 a.m.

Wednesday, June 1 – Southern Section team playoffs, finals at The Claremont Club, beginning at 10 a.m.

Matt Garvey's "Tennis Notebook" appears weekly on all Orange County Patch sites.

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