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Locals compete at 'The Ojai'

Tennis

CdM's Kliger and Williams look to win CIF doubles division at prestigious tournament, but path not easy.

April 23, 2014|By Matt Szabo
(Don Leach, Daily…)

After Josh Kliger and Carson Williams lost in the CIF doubles division quarterfinals last year at the Ojai Tennis Tournament, Corona del Mar High Coach Jamie Gresh gave them a goal.

The goal was simple enough: Return to the tournament next year and win the whole thing.

The time has come for Kliger and Williams, CdM's senior captains, to see if they can accomplish that goal. The 114th annual version of the prestigious tournament starts Thursday.

Kliger and Williams are the lone Newport-Mesa doubles team competing. Newport Harbor junior Reese Stalder and CdM sophomore Bjorn Hoffmann are competing in the CIF singles division, as is Fairmont Prep sophomore Max Pham, a Newport Coast resident.

Kliger has missed more than a month of matches with a left knee injury. He began hitting again last week and returned to match action Tuesday, sweeping with Williams in CdM's Pacific Coast League win over Woodbridge. Kliger and Williams, seeded eighth, open their Ojai tournament Thursday at 11 a.m. at The Thacher School against a team from Vista Murrieta

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"Carson and Josh have some good expectations, because they've done it before," Gresh said. "It's definitely the pinnacle of the season for the three guys that go [from each school] … I think these guys realize how much there is at stake, and how much there is to prove."

Should they win their opener, Kliger and Williams would play a team from Cerritos or Redlands in the round of 32 at 3:30 p.m. Thursday. Win their first three matches, and Kliger and Williams would likely tangle with top-seeded Drew Dawson and Arash Hafezi of league rival University on Friday afternoon in the quarterfinals.

The Notre Dame-bound Dawson is going for his third CIF doubles division win at "The Ojai," with three different partners. He won it with Stefan Menichella two years ago, and with Tyler Lu last year. Dawson would be the first player to win the tournament with three different partners, and the first to win three times overall since Charles Rogers of Los Angeles High in 1907-09.

"I think Drew's ready for it," University Coach John Kessler said. "He's a big player. The All-American Tournament, he loves that tournament. He's been on that All-American team for all four years … he's a big-time player."

Still, Kessler said he would prefer not having to face league rival CdM along the way.

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