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University's Brymer repeats as CIF-SS champion
SEAL BEACH – For one of the first times Gage Brymer can remember, nothing was working. Not his drop shot, his power shot, his aggressive shot, nothing. And, for the first time this season, the reigning CIF-SS singles champion visibly was irate.
Worst yet for him, Victor Brown of Alta Loma wasn't even gunning for his championship. Rather, he was working Brymer for a spot in the semifinals.
"Victor was relentless," Brymer said of Brown, whom he eventually topped, 7-5, 7-6, on Friday at the CIF-SS Boys Tennis Individual Championships.
After thwarting Brown's upset bid, University's standout junior returned Saturday and topped Burroughs of Burbank's Garrett Auproux, 7-5, 6-3, in the semifinals and Santa Monica's Cristobal Rivera, 6-4, 6-3, in the championship round to claim his second consecutive CIF-SS singles crown at Seal Beach Tennis Center.
"This was one of my goals at the beginning of the year," Brymer said. "It's very, very cool. Ever since I won it last year, I'd thought about coming back. I knew I had to play my best all year to get back here though."
Brymer, who earlier this season became the fourth singles player in the 112-year history of the Ojai Valley Tennis Tournament to win back-to-back titles, became just the ninth player since 1925 to win consecutive CIF-SS singles championships and the first since Orange's Steve Johnson did it in 2006 and 2007.
"Every match I play is really tough, and that's one of the reasons I keep getting better," he said. "It's great to get tough competition, even when you want your opponent to crumble sometimes. You just have to fight through it.
"Each player I played this weekend gave me a run for my money and, thankfully, all my hard work paid off."
Brymer also had a somewhat uncomfortable moment off the court. After winning the title, a young tennis player handed him a ball after the trophy presentation and shyly asked for an autograph.
"It's a little, I don't want to say embarrassing, but something like that," Brymer said. "I don't see myself like that, doing stuff the pros do, but it's pretty cool. I just have to stay level-headed, know what got me here and work as hard as I can, if not harder."
In the doubles bracket, Palm Desert's Jack Felich and Austin Rapp defeated Corona del Mar's Alex Murray and Henry Gordon in the semifinals, 6-3, 6-4, before edging University's Drew Dawson and Ryo Shimizu, 7-5, 2-6, 6-2, in the finals.
"All you can do is let this help motivate you for Wednesday and everything that follows," Dawson said. "After a loss like this, if you don't want to work harder, something is wrong with you."
University and Corona del Mar will meet Wednesday in the CIF-SS Division 1 team championship match at Claremont Club at 11 a.m.