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GIRLS' TENNIS

Claremont Hosts Individuals Too

November 21, 2000|DAVE McKIBBEN

Orange County doesn't have exclusive rights to the Southern Section girls' individual tennis tournament. It just seems that way. For the last 12 years, the tournament has rotated between the Racquet Club of Irvine, Lindborg Racquet Club in Huntington Beach and the Balboa Bay Club Racquet Club in Newport Beach.

But this year, the two-day tournament (Nov. 30-Dec. 1) is being moved well across the county line to the Claremont Club, which has also hosted the girls' team championships for years.

How did Orange County lose the tournament? Actually, it was never given a chance to keep it.

The Balboa Bay Club, which hosted last year's tournament, informed the section office in September that it wasn't interested in staging the event this year. Bob Ogle, the club's general manager, said he wasn't pleased with the behavior of one of the players' parents.

"It's something we don't need at a private club," said Ogle, who added the club might be interested in hosting the event in the future.

Paul Castillo, the new section commissioner in charge of girls' tennis, immediately began looking for another site. The first facility he called, the Claremont Club, agreed to host.

"Because of our relationship with the Claremont Club, we went right to them," Castillo said. "They have an excellent reputation and it's an excellent location. We didn't look at it as a county issue. We were looking for an excellent facility to put on matches."

But a few local clubs might disagree with the choice, especially considering half the competitors in the singles draw play for Orange County schools.

Chris Ganz, the head pro at Lindborg, said his club would have been interested in getting the tournament back had it known the event would be leaving the county. Mike Nelson, director of tennis at Ridgeline Club in Orange, said his facility would be a perfect site for the tournament.

"The viewing here is great on every court, the front courts seat 250 and we have five center courts," said Nelson, whose daughter Lindsey, a freshman at Villa Park, qualified for this year's tournament.

Although Ridgeline has never hosted the section individuals, it annually holds one of the largest junior tournaments in Southern California--the J.P. Yamasaki.

"We would love to entertain the possibility of having that tournament here," Mike Nelson said. "That kind of tournament perpetuates club tennis. Our owner [Dave Freimann] knows junior players are the future of tennis. We are going to pursue it next year."

Castillo said it's possible that Orange County players could return home next year.

"We're not opposed to looking at different locations each year," he said. "We found out late this year and the Claremont Club was a good solution for us."

SIZING UP THE FIELD

Though the section does not release the 16-player draw for the individual tournament until the day of the event, there's a pretty strong possibility that the top four seeded players will be from Orange County.

Susanna Lingman of Woodbridge, who is undefeated this season and ranked 11th in the Southern California girls' 18s, is a good bet to be seeded first or second. Villa Park's Nelson, ranked first in the girls' 16s, will probably be seeded among the top four.

Brittany Reitz of Corona del Mar could also get a top-four seeding. She is 16th in the girls' 18s rankings. Canyon freshman Tracy Lin, who lost only one dual set all year and is ranked first in the 14s, has an outside shot to be seeded.

Other county players entered are Aya Sakoda of Troy, Kady Pooler of Dana Hills, Elizabeth Exon of Woodbridge and Joanna Kao of Sunny Hills.

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

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