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Sheng's Quest for Another Title Ends Early With Doubles Defeat

April 28, 2001|LAUREN PETERSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

OJAI — Playing doubles in the Ojai tennis tournament didn't work out as well as Philip Sheng and Andrew Petersen of Thousand Oaks High hoped.

Sheng, boys' high school singles champion at Ojai last year, and Petersen looked strong in defeating Antonio Kim and Philip Lorenzano of Burbank, 6-0, 6-2, in a first-round match.

But Brannon McNeel and Robert Sabo of Palm Springs eliminated Sheng and Petersen, 0-6, 6-4, 6-2, in a second-round match Thursday at Libbey Park.

The mixed results were similar to those Sheng recorded in challenger and futures tournaments last summer, convincing him to return to Thousand Oaks for the last semester of his senior year and play college tennis.

Sheng, who was on schedule to graduate early, considered turning pro out of high school and spent the summer testing the waters.

He also considered playing for Duke and enrolling in January, but that didn't pan out either.

"I guess it was tougher than I thought it would be," Sheng said of the competition he faced last summer. "But it made me realize I have a lot of things to work on."

Despite his early exit at Ojai, the Stanford-bound Sheng said he enjoyed playing doubles.

"I've been playing a lot more doubles lately, just because it's a great way to work on all your shots," he said.

Sheng decided against defending his Ojai singles title when teammate Andrew Lieu expressed an interest in playing singles. Tournament rules limit high schools to one entry in singles and doubles.

Sheng possesses a big serve and forehand, but he is working to establish a more consistent volley. His prowess in doubles is often overlooked because he is more recognized for his singles play.

Sheng and K.C. Corkery of Mira Costa High advanced to the semifinals of the Easter Bowl tournament last week in Palm Springs.

"I think he's starting to play a lot of both doubles and singles," said Thousand Oaks Coach Dave Assorson. "A lot of [pro] tour players are starting to do both on a regular basis and I think he's trying to get on that boat a little.

"Plus, he's played so much singles in his life that I think it's just a nice change for him to have a partner out there."

Especially when that partner is Petersen, a close friend.

Sheng and Petersen have known each other since they were children and bantered easily throughout their two matches.

"I'm mostly out here for fun," Sheng said.

Petersen enjoyed the experience as well.

"I don't play in tournaments, so it's nice to do this and have a pretty decent partner," he said with a grin.

In matches for Thousand Oaks (10-5, 9-2 in the Marmonte League), Sheng plays No. 1 singles and Petersen plays at No. 3, behind Lieu.

*

Stephen Amritraj, a Crespi High junior, was the only player from the region to advance to today's semifinals of the boys' high school singles.

Amritraj defeated Malcolm Scatliffe of San Gorgonio, 6-7 (9), 6-4, 6-4, in the quarterfinals Friday at Thacher School.

He plays Aaron Yovan of Irvine University High at 8 a.m. today, with the winner advancing to the championship match at 2 p.m. at Libbey Park.

Yovan outlasted Andrew Lieu of Thousand Oaks, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.

Scatliffe pulled within 4-3 in the third set after Amritraj was assessed a penalty point because a tournament official ruled Amritraj's father, Anand, a former Davis Cup player for India, was coaching his son from the sideline.

Although Lieu lost in the quarterfinals, the junior posted one of the biggest upsets on a day the division's No. 1 and No. 2 players were eliminated.

Jeffrey Melnick of Venice won by injury default over top-seeded K.C. Corkery of Mira Costa, the defending Southern Section champion.

Lieu defeated No. 2-seeded Rylan Rizza of Peninsula, 6-1, 3-6, 7-5.

Mykala Hedberg of Oxnard advanced to the semifinals in the girls' 14-and-under division with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Ashley Williams of Irvine. She will face Jenny Sperry of Sacramento this morning.

Monica Wiesener, The Times' 2000 Valley/Ventura County girls' player of the year, reached the semifinals with a 3-6, 6-4, 6-0 victory over Amberly Tentee of Dana Point. She will meet top-seeded Kim Nguyen of Orange.

Lori Stern of Ojai and Nina Yaftali of Westlake Village, the top-seeded players in girls' 16s, also advanced to semifinals.

Glendale residents Samuel Tadevosian and Sergy Vagramian will meet in a boys' 14 semifinal.

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