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Singles Final Has Familiar Look to It


WOODLAND HILLS — Jason Nguyen and James Magsino have a score to settle. But you wouldn't know it by talking to them. After winning their semifinal matches of the City Section individual tournament Friday at the Warner Center Tennis Club, neither showed the slightest trace of contempt--only respect.

And well they should. They practice with each other almost every day, they share the same private coach, travel to national tournaments together and have been doubles partners for two years. But because Nguyen attends Chatsworth High and Magsino goes to El Camino Real, friendship will be put on hold for a few hours when they meet in the finals Wednesday.

Nguyen, seeded first in the 32-player draw, defeated Matt Jones of El Camino Real, 6-2, 6-3. Magsino, seeded sixth, beat unseeded Reyniere Roxas of Carson, 6-4, 6-4.

"I really want to play James because he's the only guy I've lost to all year," said Nguyen, who won 23 of 24 matches this season. "He won the team title and he's had a much better year than me, tournament-wise, so hopefully I can win this for my team."

Nguyen and Magsino split their matches in West Valley League play. Magsino's only other loss was to Granada Hills' top player, Nima Roshan. Both are ranked among the Top 20 players in Southern California in the boys' 16s by the United States Tennis Assn.

"I think the key against Jason is that I can't make too many mistakes," said Magsino, who helped lead El Camino Real to its first City Championship three weeks ago. "I'll have to be aggressive and come to the net when I can because I won't be able to beat him from the baseline."

Though Nguyen and Jones have practiced together on numerous occasions, they had never played each other before Friday. There was no feeling out process as both players banged from the baseline from the first point. But Nguyen was a little sharper and a little smarter. He broke Jones to open each set and ended the match with a clean ace.

Neither Nguyen nor Magsino has lost a set in the tournament. Jones, who has played both, predicted a close match.

"I think it'll come down to whoever is playing better that day," Jones said. "Jason stays on the baseline while James can play serve-and-volley or stay back. It'll be a really close match--like this one should've been."

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