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Zillman finds groove

Junior Tennis

Costa Mesa resident wins second straight title after 6-3, 7-5 win over Hoeger for boys' 16s title in Costa Mesa Summer Classic.

July 22, 2011|By Steve Virgen, steve.virgen@latimes.com
(Kevin Chang / Daily…)

COSTA MESA — James Zillman had every right to dance in the afternoon heat Friday at the Costa Mesa Tennis Center.

He had just won back-to-back tournament titles for the first time. But Zillman, 15, walked off the court and posed for a photo with his boys' 16s singles trophy. And, then he went off to dance.

That's how he celebrated winning a Costa Mesa Summer Classic Junior championship. He left Costa Mesa for Los Angeles, where he participated in Camp Hollywood with his father and tennis coach, Justin. Camp Hollywood features swing dancing. Zillman and his dad went to Lindy Hop. The steps require a partner. Zillman didn't need one at Costa Mesa Tennis Center. His footwork was fancy enough to dazzle Hoeger.

The top-seeded Zillman consistently hit harder than sixth-seeded Hoeger, and he came up with clutch winners to stave any type of momentum the 15-year-old from Redondo Beach could muster.

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"He was just more clutch on the big points," said Hoeger, an incoming junior at Peninsula High, where his father, Mike, is the head coach. "I was just kind of impatient on some of the points. He really made me work for it when I had my chances. He never really missed a shot. He outplayed me today."

Zillman, who won the War by the Shore tournament in Newport Beach last week, built a 3-0 lead to open the match against Hoeger. Zillman said he did his best to keep Hoeger away from the net because that's when he found winners.

Hoeger, pronounced hay-gur, won two straight games to get back in the first set, but Zillman came right back with two wins of his own. Hoeger then held serve, but Zillman also held serve to grab the first set and set the stage for an exciting second set.

Zillman appeared to be in control serving with a 4-3 lead in the second set. But he committed three straight errors that left him grunting with anger. He bounced back to battle with Hoeger to a sixth deuce. But Zillman hit a ball into the net and then double faulted, as Hoeger tied the match, 4-4.

Zillman tried to calm himself, and so did his father, but he hit the ball with rage.

"That hurt me a little bit," said Zillman, ranked No. 37 in Southern California by the United States Tennis Assn. "It's not good when I'm mad."

Somehow, Zillman tempered his emotions and won three of the next four games. It wasn't easy. Hoeger, who is ranked No. 74 in Southern California, was seeking his second straight tournament title. Last week he won the 15th annual Jack Kramer Junior Tournament in Northridge.

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