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Chung Hoping He Can Double Up

Tennis: Sunny Hills senior has chance to win Southern Section individual and team titles.


FULLERTON — Chris Chung is not the greatest in the long line of talented Sunny Hills tennis players, but he is the latest.

And Chung has the opportunity to do something none of his predecessors accomplished--win a Southern Section individual title and a team title. Jim Hobson (1963) and Paul Bernstein (1977) won individual singles titles, but never won team titles. Kevin Kim, Joseph Gilbert, John Han and Dave Robbins won team titles in the 1990s, but not individual titles.

The chances of Chung completing the rare double appeared remote when the season began. But entering the final week of the high school season, Chung is still on track to win a team and individual title. Sunny Hills needs two more victories, including one today against visiting Santa Barbara, to win the Division II team championship. He has reached the round of 16 in the section individuals without dropping a set.

"I've been looking forward to the CIF tournament all year, especially the team tournament," Chung said. "Tennis is not really a team sport, so getting to play with and for a team is a lot of fun. In team play, your teammates are counting on you. I like that kind of pressure."

Chung likes the pressure so much he has come out of his shell this season to become the team leader. Sunny Hills Coach Steve White named Chung the team captain before the season.

"Coach White can only do so much," Chung said. "Once we're out there on the court, it's up to the players. I try to bring out the best in all my teammates."

Chung's best has been pretty good over the last two seasons. Last year, he went 49-2 in singles, losing only to San Marino's Andrew Park. Chung is 27-3 this season with losses to San Marino's Park and John Paul Fruttero and Woodbridge's David Lingman. Last month, Chung reached the quarterfinals at Ojai before losing to Santa Barbara's Sam Adam Webster in three sets.

The Ojai loss in late April might have turned Chung's season around.

"Some parts of my game let me down that day," Chung said. "I rely heavily on my serve and I only served about three out of every 10 first serves in. That loss made me refocus. I haven't been in the best shape this year because I haven't been playing many tournaments. I've been pretty lazy. I was dead in the third set of that match. I shouldn't have been that tired. I only played three sets of tennis."

The tough loss to Webster brought out a side of Chung that is rarely seen.

"I don't think I've ever been that frustrated," Chung said. "I showed my frustration too much. My behavior was uncharacteristic."

Coincidentally, Chung will face Webster today when the Lancers meet Santa Barbara at Sunny Hills Racquet Club. He says he will be much more prepared.

"I've been cross-training--playing basketball with my friends and doing a little running," he said.

Chung might be doing a lot of running the next three days. He'll play three sets today against Santa Barbara and then he could play as many as four three-set matches on Friday and Saturday in the section individuals at SeaCliff Country Club in Huntington Beach.

Last year at SeaCliff, Chung lost in the round of 16 after playing a not so memorable three sets against Foothill's Joost Hol.

"I did something really stupid," he said. "We split our first two sets. Then there was a fire that delayed the match a half hour. I went inside in the air conditioned clubhouse and didn't put on any warmups. I didn't warm up before we started playing again and I strained a groin muscle. It's not an excuse, but it didn't help me.

"Hopefully this year, I'll play two good days of tennis. If we win our team match [today], I'll be a lot more confident."

After this weekend, Chung will turn his attention to graduation and college. Chung said he expects to sign a letter of intent soon with California or UC Irvine.

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