Di Giulio, Pham in semis


Locals don't drop a set, advancing to Sunday's semifinals in boys' 12s and 14s, respectively, at Junior Sectionals.

June 23, 2012|By Matt Szabo

FOUNTAIN VALLEY — For the second time at the Southern California Junior Sectionals, Newport Beach resident Austin Di Giulio is into the semifinals in his age division.

Di Giulio advanced to the singles semifinals in boys' 10s three years ago before losing. Now he's into the semis in boys' 12s after Saturday's 6-1, 6-1 victory over Evan Shamlian of Los Angeles at Los Caballeros Racquet & Sports Club.

It is a noteworthy accomplishment to make it to the second Sunday at the largest annual junior tennis tournament in the country. Di Giulio, the No. 5 seed, said he is still not satisfied. Not yet.


"It feels good, but I'm not done yet," said Di Giulio, who plays No. 3-seeded Brandon Nakashima of San Diego in the semifinals at 2 p.m. Sunday at Los Cab. "I still have to focus on the next two rounds. I can't get excited yet."

A couple of hours later Saturday afternoon, Newport Coast resident Max Pham expressed a similar sentiment. He is the other local still alive in the main draw. Pham, the No. 2 seed in the 14s, edged No. 8-seeded Hady Habib of Irvine, 7-6 (7-2), 7-5, in a quarterfinal match at Los Cab.

Pham plays Isaiah Strode of El Cajon in a semifinal match at 2 p.m. Sunday. It is also Pham's second time into the semis at Junior Sectionals. He lost in that round two years ago in the 12s and ended up fourth.

"It's not done until my last point is finished," said Pham, who also beat Sangeet Sridhar of Simi Valley, 6-3, 6-1, in a round of 16 match earlier Saturday. "It feels good, but I still have more to accomplish."

Championship matches are scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday at Los Cab. Third-place matches follow at 1 p.m.

In boys' 16s, Chaz Downing of CdM defeated Alexander Loh of Thousand Oaks, 6-0, 6-1, before losing to Ethan Lopez of Oxnard, 6-1, 7-5, in the quarterfinals. Downing will play in a quarterfinal playoff beginning Sunday, when he plays Fabian Schaefer of Ventura in a fifth-place semifinal at 1 p.m. at Fountain Valley Tennis Center.

Di Giulio's quarterfinal win over Shamlian was more difficult than the score might indicate. They had several long games, but Di Giulio found ways to stay on top.

"I think he wasn't as confident as me, and I think I was getting in his head a little," said Di Giulio, who defeated Shamlian for the third time in three meetings. "He was showing some emotion, like throwing his racquet, and I was staying more patient."

Especially in the first set, Shamlian kept trying drop shots. Eventually, Di Giulio started tracking them down.

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