Anyone who watched Laguna Beach senior Aaron Talarico storm past his first three opponents on his way to the finals of the Southern Section Individual boys' tennis championships last weekend, probably would have a hard time believing Talarico hasn't accepted a college scholarship to play tennis. But that's the case.
Talarico, who lost to top-seeded Andrew Park of San Marino, 6-1, 6-2, in the title match at SeaCliff Tennis Club in Huntington Beach, will play at Notre Dame next season without any financial aid. Talarico had scholarships offers from other schools, including a full-ride from Hawaii, but he turned them down for Notre Dame, a top-20 tennis school.
"I'm still happy with the choice I made, but I'm a little sorry I didn't get any money," he said.
Because he didn't begin playing tennis seriously until about three years ago, Talarico didn't have a complete game or a decent national ranking until this year. Last year, he was ranked 195th nationally. Talarico might end this season ranked in the top 50. In Saturday's semifinals, he upset Beverly Hills' Jose Lieberman, a top-15 player who is getting a full scholarship to Miami.
Talarico visited the South Bend campus while he was playing in a national junior tournament this winter. He said the Notre Dame tennis coach promised him a scholarship for his sophomore year and beyond if he made the team as a freshman.
"I wanted to go to a school with a really good program," he said. "I wanted there to be a couple of guys who were better than me so I could improve. I didn't want to be the best guy on the team as a freshman. Plus, the education part is great at Notre Dame. Having a degree from there with all the connections is a nice thing to have."
Orange County remains a hotbed for club sports, as was evident at the Southern California Volleyball Assn. girls under-18 championships last weekend at Cal State Dominguez Hills in Carson.
Three of the four final teams were from the county and they featured many local standouts.
Orange County Volleyball Club Nike of Newport Beach won the two-day tournament, sweeping unranked Long Beach Ichiban Nike in the best-of-three final. Ichiban advanced to the finals by upsetting the Saddleback Volleyball Club of Irvine, which was without setter Jennifer Carey (Newport Harbor), who injured an ankle earlier in the day. OCVBC, which won nine matches in a 38-hour period, advanced by sweeping its semifinal against the Laguna Beach Volleyball Club.
OCVBC included seniors Jami Bari (Dana Hills), Liz Belloni (Laguna Beach), Kate Dwyer (Laguna Beach), Jordana Havriluk (Corona del Mar), Lindsay Phillips (Marina), Melissa Plass (Fountain Valley) and Laura Wells (Newport Harbor), juniors Danielle Bauer (Foothill) and Chanda McLeod (Marina) and sophomore April Ross (Newport Harbor).
Edison's Kellie Brennan, despite a compressed disk in her back, capped an outstanding high school career with a third-place finish at last week's Southern Section Division I diving finals at Heritage Park in Irvine.
Last season, Brennan finished second to Division I record-holder Erica Sorgi of Capistrano Valley, who did not compete this year because she enrolled at a private school that did not have swimming or diving teams.
Brennan, who will attend USC, was also a four-time Sunset League diving champion and holds the league record for most points scored in a single competition.
Brennan's father, Larry, is a former diver and Edison's diving coach. Her younger sister, freshman Allison Brennan, finished seventh in the Division I finals last week.
Jessamyn Miller of Mater Dei was counting the days to the Southern Section Division I swimming finals. A senior, she was hoping her third attempt against Irvine's Amanda Beard would be the charm. The last two times they met in section finals, Miller finished second to her Olympian competitor in the 100-yard breaststroke.
Miller had been swimming well until suffering a shoulder injury at Senior Nationals in late April. She was still able to qualify to compete against Beard in the section finals at Long Beach Belmont Plaza.
Miller took second in 1:04.68, the second fastest time in the county.
Beard was once again the champion.
Miller is expected to undergo shoulder surgery this week.
Staff writers Erik Hamilton and Martin Henderson contributed to this report.