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HIGH SCHOOL BOYS' TENNIS

Tournament Has National Implications

March 07, 2000|DAVE McKIBBEN

For 30 years, Tim Mang has dreamed of hosting a tennis tournament that matched the best high school boys' teams in the country. Next Thursday, Mang's dream becomes a reality .

That's when opening ceremonies begin for the National High School Tennis All-American tournament. Play begins the following day, March 17, at five sites in the Newport Beach area and ends March 18 at 6 p.m. with the finals at the Palisades Club.

Mang, whose Corona del Mar Sea Kings are seeded second in the 16-team field, said the response he is getting from coaches tells him there was overwhelming interest in a national high school tennis event.

"You can tell that everybody is excited about the chance to play in this tournament," Mang said. "That feels great."

Mang began planning his tournament last August, a few months after he resigned as coach of the Corona del Mar girls' team. His passion for staging a national tournament stems from his belief that high school tennis has never received enough recognition.

"High school tennis has never had anything like this because nobody has wanted to put in the time to do it," Mang said. "It takes dealing with a lot of different states and organizations. It's not easy."

But Mang's task was made easier because of some built-in advantages.

"We have a strong program, people love to come to Newport Beach and our pros here let us use their courts," Mang said. "To bring out the best players, you have to play at the best clubs."

Although mid-March is the heart of college tennis season, Mang is hoping some college coaches will come to his tournament.

"We'd like to give some publicity to kids that wouldn't normally have a chance to earn Division I scholarships," he said.

Not everything has gone smoothly for Mang. He wanted representation from every region of the country, but several states prohibit schools from traveling more than 500 miles to compete in athletic events.

"That eliminated most of the Midwest," Mang said. "I'm hoping some of these states change their laws so we can have a better tournament in the coming years."

The dates for this year's tournament conflicted with an interstate event in Texas. Next year, the tournament will be held a week later to accommodate Texas and some New England schools. As he gets more participation from out-of-state schools, Mang will cut back on California teams. This year, California schools represent half of the draw.

Only one of those teams--Corona del Mar--is from Orange County. Part of that is because it's a down year in the county.

"We invited the schools based on strength of program," Mang said. "All of the schools here have either won a division, district or state championship."

Mang considered inviting Pacific Coast League rival University, but decided not to because the Trojans' coaching situation was unsettled until recently. The top-ranked out-of-state teams are third-seeded Englewood (Colo.) Cherry Creek and fourth-seeded Miami Dr. Michael Krop.

Corona del Mar opens with Woodberry Forest of Virginia at 10:30 a.m. next Friday at Palisades. Other out-of-state schools are Chesire Academy of Connecticut, Lynchburg (Va.) E.C. Glass, Riverdale (N.Y.) Horace Mann and Phoenix Brophy Prep.

Matches won't run as long as typical high school matches. The format will be similar to that of college tennis. Six singles and three doubles matches will be played using eight-game pro sets. A total of nine points are available per match.

For ticket information, call 1-888-ETM-TIXS. Tickets can be purchased at ETM kiosks at Pavilions and Vons. Admission is free to students and faculty.

If you have an item or idea for the boys' tennis report, you can fax us at (714) 966-5663 or e-mail us at david.mckibben@latimes.com

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