In the opinions of his opponents, Peter Sampras, a sophomore tennis player from Palos Verdes High School, can be beaten.
He has a weak side, they say. Push him back to the baseline, keep him off the net. But, whatever you do, don't give him a nice, high lob.
That's what Rob Grant of Corona heard about Sampras, who was 53-0 before their quarterfinal match at the Southern Section Individual Championships Friday at Edison High School.
"You have to send it to his weaker side," said Grant's coach, Jose Nino. "You keep him running and you'll get him. Believe me."
Grant seemed to believe it, and for a short time had Sampras scrambling with soft topspins and line-skimming corner shots. But Grant never established a lead and lost, 6-3, 6-3.
Sampras advances to today's semifinals at the Balboa Bay Racquet Club in Newport Beach where he will play third-seeded Bill Behrens of Rolling Hills at 10:30.
Behrens, third-seeded in the tournament, beat Willy Quest of Long Beach Wilson, 4-6, 7-6, 6-2.
If Sampras beats Behrens, he could meet what might be his toughest competition this season, Mike Briggs, the tournament's top-seeded player from Corona del Mar, in the afternoon's final. Briggs defeated Andrew Sheppert of San Marino, 6-3, 6-4, in his quarterfinal match and faces Bill Miller of Santa Barbara in the semifinals.
"Behrens could be a good match, but Pete's sort of geared himself to play Briggs all season," said John Fullerton, Palos Verdes coach. "And I think Briggs would say the same about Pete."
Asked how he might direct the next opponent to play Sampras, Fullerton said, jokingly, "I'd probably tell him to cheat. There might not be another way."
In doubles, Willi Dann and Pete Bohan of University upset third-seeded Steve Arnott and David Moore of Edison, 1-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7-4).
Dann and Bohan will meet No. 2 Stan Sanders and Ned Grover of Dana Hills in the semifinals. Top-seeded doubles team Brent Peus and Dan Medvene of Santa Barbara defeated Jamie Atcha and Blake Denison, 6-1, 6-2, to advance to a semifinal match against Brad Magers and Grant Hughes of Laguna Beach.