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OJAI TENNIS

Querrey, Mlynarik to Meet in the Final

April 30, 2006|Lauren Peterson | Times Staff Writer

The nearly constant stream of whispered platitudes, applause and encouragement showered on Sam Querrey barely kept pace with the rising young star's repertoire of prodigious serves and well-placed shots.

The 18-year-old Querrey manhandled Noah Newman, a 28-year-old former UCLA player, in a 6-2, 6-4 semifinal victory Saturday in the men's open division of the 106th Ojai Valley tennis tournament at Libbey Park.

In the process, top-seeded Querrey treated about 250 fans to a look at the potential future of U.S. men's tennis.

"I'm confident, I'm playing well, and things are going great," said Querrey, a Thousand Oaks High senior who recently has been practicing with U.S. Davis Cup team members.

A rocket serve and monstrous forehand are complemented by an array of low, heavy ground strokes from all over the court. Despite his 6-foot-6 frame, he has a soft touch that allows him to hit drop shots and moves around the court surprisingly well.

Ranked No. 369 in the world and showing he might be ready to compete regularly on the professional level, Querrey has committed to USC.

Newman, who played at UCLA in 1998 and 1999 and has been working as a private tennis coach in Los Angeles the last few years, isn't sure Querrey should do it.

"He's the real deal. He seems like he's too good to be in college," Newman said. "There's nobody else out there like him. He's just a special talent. I could see him going all the way, winning some Grand Slams someday."

Querrey gets another chance to show his talent at 12:30 p.m. today when he faces third-seeded Zbynek Mlynarik for the championship. Mlynarik defeated second-seeded Brian Wilson, 6-1, 6-4.

West Torrance junior Jason Jung, a semifinalist last year in the boys' interscholastic division, won the title with a 7-6 (5), 6-1 victory over Arroyo Grande sophomore Andre Dome.

Dome got to the final by coming from behind to upset North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake sophomore Ryan Thacher, 1-6, 6-4, 6-3, in the semifinals.

The girls' 18-and-under singles title was won by Gail Brodsky, a Brooklyn, N.Y., resident attending Weil Tennis Academy in Ojai.

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