A steady rain fell upon Mission Viejo Thursday morning, upsetting play for 40 minutes at the Seventeen Magazine Tennis Tournament of Champions.
That seemed to set the stage for a day that was filled with upsets, as the tournament moved into its third and quarterfinal rounds at the Marguerite Recreation Center.
The most stunning upset came in the quarterfinals of the 16-and-under division, as unseeded CeCe Cahill of Illinois eliminated top-seeded Jessica Emmons in an emotional, two-hour match, 6-0, 3-6, 6-4.
"I never hit the ball so hard in my life," Cahill said. "My arm is hurting."
After splitting the first two sets, Emmons took a 3-0 advantage in the final set and appeared on her way to winning the match. But Cahill then rallied to win six of the next seven games for the victory, including a lengthy decisive game which she won on her fifth match point.
"I wasn't nervous at all," Cahill said, "but when it got to match point, I got nervous. I was giving her shots to put away. I was relieved when I finally got that last point."
Also among the upset victims were two of California's three representatives at the event, as Palos Verdes Estates' Lucinda Gurney and Iwalani McCalla of Los Altos were eliminated.
Just before Cahill's win, No. 6-seeded Sandra Birch of New York defeated Gurney, Tennis Magazine's co-Player of 1984, 6-2, 5-7, 6-0, in another quarterfinal match of the 16s.
"I didn't play well at all," Gurney said. "I wasn't really concentrating. I should've been more intense . . . I wasn't surprised or anything, I just missed."
Birch believed she played well, but admitted that Gurney wasn't at her best.
"I was a little surprised." she said. "She would either make her shots or miss it. She had an off-day."
In the 14s, unseeded Linda Harvey of Illinois beat third-seeded McCalla in the third round, 6-1, 6-2.
"She played really well," McCalla said. "She was hitting her baseline shots with a lot of topspin, and didn't know how to handle it. I tried everything--slice, topspin, but it didn't work . . . I knew she was tough, but I didn't know how tough."
The other surprise came in the 18s, where another top seed was eliminated.
No. 2 seed Tami Whitlinger withdrew before the start of the tournament, and No. 4 Halle Cioffi was beaten Wednesday. That left New Jersey's Nicole Arendt as the top remaining competitor to challenge top-seeded Cammy MacGregor.
But Arendt, the third seed, lost to Jennifer Fuchs from New York in a very physical quarterfinal match, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.
Meanwhile, Palos Verdes' MacGregor defeated No. 5 seed Sharon Fletcher to advance to today's semifinals.