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In the Spotlight

Snyder is poised for success in Southern Section events

May 29, 2003|Lauren Peterson | Times Staff Writer

Before, there was always someone else, either on the court with him or in the limelight instead of him.

Now, it's Garrett Snyder's turn, and this week, he takes center stage for the Corona del Mar boys' tennis team.

"I look at it as an opportunity," Snyder said. "I'm just going out there and trying my best. I really want to win and have fun doing it."

Playing at No. 1 singles, Snyder will lead top-seeded Corona del Mar (22-0) into the semifinals of the Southern Section Division I team playoffs today against Rolling Hills Estates Peninsula (20-3).

In the section individual tournament, Snyder, a senior, has won doubles titles with different partners each of the last two seasons, but he will go it alone in the singles competition for the first time Friday and Saturday at SeaCliff Tennis Club in Huntington Beach.

Snyder, one of 10 players who has won two section doubles titles -- no one has won three -- will attempt to become the second person to win a doubles and singles title since records began being kept in 1922. Bob Underwood of Los Angeles High accomplished the feat in 1934, though current rules forbid players from competing in two divisions in the same tournament.

"A lot of people told me I should play doubles, but I want a new challenge," Snyder said. "In singles, you're by yourself, there's no one to bring up or lean on. It's all up to you."

So far, he has done well on his own.

After settling for the No. 2 singles spot in the Sea Kings' lineup last year behind former standout Cameron Ball, Snyder is 57-0 in round-robin sets this year.

His only losses have come in head-to-head matches against Fullerton Troy's Jeffrey Das in a third-set tiebreaker in the Ojai tournament's CIF Interscholastic division semifinals, to Cupertino Monta Vista's Ken Kao in the Corona del Mar All-American tournament championship match, and to Irvine University's Jack Li in the Pacific Coast League tournament title match two weeks ago.

Snyder had beaten Li, a frequent hitting partner, twice this season before dropping the league final. Neither would be surprised if they met again this weekend.

"That might happen," Li said. "Garrett's a really smart player. He mixes it up well and he's very confident in what he does."

Snyder has had less tournament competition recently than many of his peers because he turned 19 in April, making him ineligible for junior tournaments. The lack of play affected his seeding and draw position at Ojai, but, based on his semifinal showing there, he should be among the top players in the section competition.

"He's played all the top guys and he plays them pretty even," Corona del Mar Coach Tim Mang said.

Snyder, an avid body surfer during the summer, has otherwise been devoted to tennis since age 10.

He began a twice-a-week weight-training routine six months ago to improve his strength, has signed a letter of intent to attend Texas and is counted on by the Sea Kings for his leadership.

Snyder earned the coach's award at Corona del Mar as a sophomore and junior.

"He's the player the other guys look to," Mang said. "He's a good kid with a positive attitude."

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