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Thaxter out in semis

CdM sophomore-to-be loses to top seed. Stalder will play for doubles title Friday at War by the Shore.

July 14, 2011|By Matt Szabo,

NEWPORT BEACH — Just two years ago, Lauren Thaxter was ranked No. 1 in Northern California in girls' 14s singles by the United States Tennis Assn.

Since moving from Fresno to Newport Beach last year, tournaments have taken a back seat.

"Academics are definitely No. 1, for me at least," said Thaxter, who will be a sophomore at Corona del Mar High. "This summer was just when I started to play tournaments again."

Fewer tournaments means fewer rankings points, so Thaxter was unseeded in the 22nd annual The Tennis Club junior tournament. But she got further than she thought she would, all the way to a girls' 16s semifinal Thursday before losing to top-seeded Alexis Valenzuela of West Covina, 6-3, 6-2.


Thaxter, who had a combined singles and doubles record of 37-10 for CdM last fall, said she's excited for her sophomore year. She's been making up for lost time in terms of the junior tournaments. Thaxter said Thursday was her sixth straight day of matches; she plays Newport Harbor's Kate Knight in the quarterfinals of the Tennis For All Junior Open on Saturday in La Cañada.

Thaxter did meet her match in Valenzuela at the tournament also known as the War by the Shore for a reason.

"I definitely had an off-day," Thaxter said. "My ground strokes were really inconsistent and off-timing, but she's an amazing player. She hits great shots, so it's hard to hit your normal rhythm."

The first set was 3-3 before Valenzuela won the final three games. Thaxter broke Valenzuela's serve to open the second set, but couldn't capitalize.

Thaxter said she's been working with a new personal coach, Iain Russell, a professional at The Tennis Club Newport Beach. With a new coach and a lighter tournament schedule, she isn't surprised she's been inconsistent. But she knows she will make progress.

"It's going good," Thaxter said. "When you first get a new coach, you learn new things all at once. All my strokes are new right now, and I'm just learning them again. Today I was inconsistent, and you have to start off like that before you start gaining your consistency again.

"It's like a one step back, two steps forward kind of process."


Samantha Stalder, who will be a junior at Newport Harbor, will play for a doubles title Friday. Stalder and partner Brooke Briseno of Mission Viejo defeated Ellie Johnson of Upland and Alyssa Penner of Alta Loma, 6-1, 6-3, in a girls' 18s doubles semifinal.

The championship match is Friday at 2 p.m.


Recent Corona del Mar High graduate Kalika Slevcove lost in a girls' 18s singles semifinal to Chloe Pham of Irvine, 6-1, 6-3.

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