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Tough loss for Stalder

Newport Harbor junior and partner lose third-set lead, fall in semis to top seeds at Junior Sectional doubles tournament.

November 09, 2013|By Matt Szabo

FOUNTAIN VALLEY — One year later, everything appeared the same for Reese Stalder at the 111th annual Southern California Junior Sectional Doubles Championships.

Stalder, a junior at Newport Harbor High, won the boys' 16s title as the No. 5 seed last year. Along the way, he and partner Billy Rowe of Coronado beat top-seeded Taylor Fritz of Rancho Santa Fe and Riley Smith of Long Beach in a tight three-set semifinal match.

Fast forward a year, and the two teams met again Saturday, this time in an 18s semifinal. After Stalder and Rowe broke Fritz's serve to begin the third set, a repeat seemed likely.

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But Fritz and Smith flipped the script.

They rallied for a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 victory at Los Caballeros Racquet & Sports Club.

Other locals also couldn't make the finals Saturday. No. 2-seeded Newport Coast resident Max Pham and partner Brandon Lam of Westlake Village were upset by No. 9 Gui Gomes and Jay Min of Irvine, 6-3, 6-7 (3-7), 10-3 in a boys' 16 doubles quarterfinal match. And Newport Beach resident Max McKennon and partner J.J. Henderson of Palm Desert, the No. 4 seeds, fell to top-seeded Stefan Dostanic of Irvine and Zachary Svajda of San Diego, 6-1, 4-0 (retired), in a boys' 12 doubles semifinal match.

CdM resident Alexander Reyna and partner Alfonso Blancafort-Corona, the No. 9 seeds, fell to No. 3-seeded Cody Lin of Thousand Oaks and Kento Perera of Santa Barbara, 6-2, 6-2, in a boys' 14 doubles quarterfinal match.

The way Stalder and Rowe exited made it a tough loss to take.

"We kind of played a little looser, I guess, toward the end of the third [set]," Stalder said. "They played better toward the end ... It happens."

Stalder said that in the match last year, Fritz and Smith were up a break in the third set. This time, they returned the favor.

Stalder and Rowe had three break points on Smith's serve at 0-2 in the third set, but were unable to break. Eventually Smith and Fritz, who is ranked No. 4 in the nation in the boys' 16s singles and No. 1 in Southern California in doubles, came alive.

They were able to break Rowe's serve to level the match at 4-4 in the third set. After Fritz held easily, it was up to Stalder to serve to stay in the match.

At 30-all, a fairly routine volley by Rowe sailed long. On the first match point, Stalder double-faulted.

"It happens," Stalder said. "I had only double-faulted once [in the match], but I just clipped the tape."

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