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Nguyen Feels at Home Playing for Chatsworth

Tennis: After banishment from El Camino Real for using false address, sophomore thrives for Chancellors.

May 25, 2000|LAUREN PETERSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WOODLAND HILLS — Jason Nguyen has found there's no place like his home school.

Nguyen, a sophomore at Chatsworth High, attended El Camino Real for the first few weeks as a freshman last year, intending to join friends on the boys' tennis team.

A Chatsworth resident, Nguyen said he used a false address to enroll at El Camino Real. But the illegal maneuver was discovered, and City Section officials sent Nguyen to Chatsworth, his neighborhood school.

The incident made Nguyen ineligible to play tennis last season.

"That was bad," Nguyen said. "I shouldn't have done that. It was a pretty big deal last year, but it's turned out OK."

Nguyen, 16, has done better than OK for Chatsworth this season. As the Chancellors' No. 1 player, he is 23-1 and will play in the semifinals of the City Section singles tournament Friday at the Warner Center Tennis Club.

The top-seeded player in the 32-player draw, Nguyen advanced by virtue of two victories Wednesday. He beat Matthew Jones of Dorsey, 6-2, 6-2, in the round of 16, and defeated eighth-seeded Giancarlo Cava of University, 6-1, 6-2, in the quarterfinals.

He defeated Fred Fabia of Eagle Rock , 6-0, 6-0, in the first round on Monday.

"I'm playing pretty well right now," Nguyen said. "I think I've got a pretty good chance to win it."

To do so, he will have to go through one of the friends he hoped to join at El Camino Real.

Nguyen plays No. 7-seeded Matt Jonesin a semifinal.

"I'm looking forward to a long match," Nguyen said. "I feel like his game matches up with mine pretty well. If I can get a lead on him, I think I'll win. But if it's close, it just depends on who hits their shots that day. It could be anybody's match."

In the other semifinal is another of Nguyen's pals at El Camino Real, junior No. 1 player James Magsino. The eighth-seeded Magsino upset second-seeded Norman Tam of Belmont in the quarterfinals, 6-4, 7-5. Tam was the tournament runner-up last season.

Magsino will play Reyniere Roxas of Carson, who eliminated Danny Nguyen of El Camino Reaql, 6-1, 7-5, in the quarterfinals.

Jason Nguyen, Magsino, Jones and Nima Roshan of Granada Hills are tutored by private coach Craig Cignarelli each week.

"We're all good friends," said Nguyen, whose only loss this season has come against Magsino in a West Valley League match.

The match will mark the first official meeting between Nguyen and Jones.

"We practice together all the time," Jones said. "He's a really solid player."

Jones, also 23-1 with only a loss to Roshan in a West Valley League match, helped El Camino Real to the City Section team title two weeks ago. He believes the Conquistadores might have had similar success last season had Nguyen been allowed to continue at the school.

"We would have had an unbelievable team," Jones said.

Chatsworthstruggled to a 6-9 record this season despite Nguyen's presence. But the Chancellors came to rely heavily on their top player.

"He was a blessing," Chatsworth Coach James Araujo said. "A lot of coaches have to worry about where they're going to get four points. I only had to worry about three. He's had a great season."

Nguyen would like to cap it with the City singles title, won while representing Chatsworth.

"I like the people on my team and I like my school," he said.

"It's just a matter of working hard. I feel like I'm playing great and everything's kind of fallen into place."

Jones of El Camino Real advanced to the semifinals with a 6-2, 6-2 quarterfinal victory over Roshan and a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Josh Opos of Grant in the round of 16.

Magsino defeated J.R. Ortiz of University, 6-1, 6-1, in the round of 16.

Brian Mintz and Eric Weiss, Steve Choi and Anand Murthy, and Mike Edelson and Ananya Sreepathi of Granada Hills lost in the quarterfinals of doubles play.

Shawn Flynn and Nick Kogan of El Camino Real also were beaten.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

TENNIS PLAYOFFS

Southern Section

Semifinals

(3:15 p.m. matches)

Division I

Corona del Mar vs. Harvard-Westlake

at Studio City Golf and Tennis

Division III

Irvine Woodbridge vs. Westlake at North

Ranch CC in Westlake Village, 3:15 p.m.

Division IV

San Marino at Calabasas, 3:15 p.m.

Division V

Crespi vs. Pasadena Poly

at Caltech, 3:15 p.m.

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