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With Top-Seeded Players Out, Others Step Into the Limelight


OJAI — The first day of the boys' interscholastic singles division at the Ojai Valley Tennis Championships wasn't so much about who played, but who didn't.

The draw's top-seeded player, Canyon's Eric Lin, bowed out earlier in the week because of elbow and shoulder injuries he developed at the Easter Bowl Tournament two weeks ago in Miami. Loara's Cameron Lindee, who became top-seeded when Lin withdrew, wasn't hurt and would have loved to play. But Lindee was forced to default his Thursday morning match because he was not accompanied by either his high school coach or another official from his school district.

Lindee, who has signed a letter of intent to play at UC Irvine, said he spent most of Wednesday night on the phone trying to arrange for another official to represent him.

"Administrators from my school wouldn't let another coach (from another district) be liable for me," said Lindee, who has not lost a high school match this season.

Lindee said he has been pointing toward Ojai all season.

"It's not as big as some tournaments, but it's more prestigious," said Lindee, who lost in the round of 16 last year to the eventual champion, Heath Montgomery of Santa Barbara. "What makes it special is all the billboards, the college coaches watching you and the whole town turns out.

"I was looking forward to it and I was pretty confident, especially this year."

Said CIF official Bill Clark of the top two seeded players being out of the tournament: "That's a disappointment. Lin and Lindee . . . There were some matches people wanted to see."

Of the Orange County people who played in the boys' interscholastic singles, four advanced into today's round of 16: Jason DeVera of Villa Park, Eddie Weiss of Fountain Valley, Johnny France of El Toro and David Robbins of Sunny Hills.

DeVera was close to joining his friend Lindee on the sideline when he trailed 6-1, 5-1 to Sandy Gentile of Temple City. But DeVera came back to force a tiebreaker and then won it, 7-5. The 80-degree heat was too much for Gentile, who could not come out for the third set and defaulted.

Weiss limped to an easy second-round victory over Jed Weinstein of Corona del Mar, 6-2, 6-0. Weiss recently jammed his toe into a door and missed two weeks of tennis.

"I thought I broke it," said Weiss, who returned to action last week. "I couldn't walk."

But Thursday, Weiss played nearly perfect tennis for an hour.

"I knew he was hurt," Weinstein said. "I was trying to run him, but he did a pretty good job of staying off it."

In the first set, Weiss drilled winners from the baseline. Then when Weinstein got aggressive in the second set, Weiss hit so many cross-court backhand passing shots, he had Weinstein talking to himself.

"How many times is this going to happen?" Weinstein asked himself.

Only a couple more times before the match ended, and Weiss, who is headed to UC Santa Barbara on a tennis scholarship, could rest his throbbing toe.

On the next court, University's Jason Myers battled Palos Verdes Peninsula's Kyle Spencer, seeded among the top four in the tournament, before losing, 6-3, 6-3.

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