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Hoffmann breaks through

Tennis

Unseeded CdM player makes Junior Sectional quarterfinals after beating teammate Downing. Pham, Stalder also in boys' 16 quarters.

June 22, 2013|By Matt Szabo

FOUNTAIN VALLEY — Bjorn Hoffmann describes the 111th annual Southern California Junior Sectional Championships as "the best tournament I've had in my life."

Not only was Hoffmann unseeded in the boys' 16s, but he had to go through qualifying just to make it to the main draw.

Now Hoffmann, who just finished his freshman year at Corona del Mar High, is in the quarterfinals.

He pulled off two upsets Saturday at Fountain Valley Tennis Center. The last one was over his CdM teammate, No. 3-seeded Chaz Downing. Hoffmann led Downing, 6-4, 3-6, 5-2, when Downing had to retire due to cramping in a round of 16 match.

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It will be an all-local quarterfinal, as Hoffmann plays No. 8-seeded Newport Coast resident Max Pham in the boys' 16 quarterfinals at 10:30 a.m. Sunday.

"Oh my God, I'm so stoked," said Hoffmann, who defeated No. 9-seeded Max Liu of San Diego, 7-5, 6-3, in a round of 32 match earlier Saturday. "I'm so excited to be in the quarters now. To qualify, then take out someone in the main draw, then beat two seeds including Chaz, that's phenomenal for me. It's definitely the best tennis I've been playing.

"My match previous to this one definitely helped. It was a lot of long points, so I had to grind a lot of points out. I thought with that, I got a lot of rhythm coming into this one. I've just been practicing hard with my dad and my coach, and it's all paying off."

Hoffmann has been working hard, both at CdM and with his father, Carsten. That's not a bad coach to have. Carsten Hoffmann, who played at UC Irvine, remains a very high-level doubles player. He has been ranked No. 1 in the nation and represented the United States at the ITF Seniors World Team Championships, held in March in Antalya, Turkey.

Bjorn was steady against his CdM teammate, Downing, breaking his serve late in the first set for the early lead. The match was cordial but still competitive; Downing called for an umpire early in the second set after disagreeing with a line call.

"It's kind of a shame when two teammates have to fight about calls and get an ump," Hoffmann said. "I just had to kind of put that aside and not worry about it so much. We didn't have any problems after that."

But Downing started cramping up midway through the third set. He called a medical timeout, but was soon unable to continue.

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