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Smith, Hoffmann in semifinals at Ojai Tournament

STAFF WRITER

Four local athletes will have the opportunity today to play their way into the history books of one of the most prestigious high school tennis tournaments in the country.

Two singles players – Los Alamitos’ Riley Smith and Corona del Mar’s Bjorn Hoffmann – and University’s doubles tandem of Konrad Kozlowski and Amirardalan Safi all advanced to the semifinals of the 115th Ojai Tournament with victories Friday, putting themselves in contention for the championship hardware that will be awarded today at Ojai’s Libbey Park.

“These guys have been playing some great tennis,” Los Alamitos coach Jordan Bridge said Friday. “It’s been a real pleasure to watch.”

Smith and Hoffmann make up half of the four remaining singles players, and the Kozlowski-Safi duo is the only doubles pair from Orange County to reach the semifinals.

The county’s two singles players won’t play one another in the semifinals, but they’ll both see familiar opponents to start the day.

Smith will play top-seeded Michael Genender of Harvard-Westlake of Studio City in one semifinal, while Hoffmann will face Brandon Holt of Palos Verdes. Both matches have 8 a.m. starts.

“(Riley) played him (Genender) at the All-American Tournament, and Michael won in a tiebreaker,” Bridge said. “Riley’s energized for it. He loves being in the area. He’s loving the energy and he’s hyped up.”

Smith topped Fullerton’s Eddie Gutierrez, 6-2, 6-4, in the quarterfinals to advance to the final four, where he’ll play last year’s Ojai runner-up.

Hoffmann will see a defending Ojai champion in Holt. The junior won the doubles championship last year, and he is hoping to follow that up with a singles title.

“(Hoffmann) beat Brandon in a set in earlier this year, 6-3,” CdM coach Jamie Gresh said. “March 4 was a long time ago though. Brandon is playing really good, but so is Bjorn. It’ll come down to who plays the bigger points better and smarter.”

On the doubles side, Kozlowski and Safi are trying to become the fourth consecutive University tandem to reach the doubles championship.

Finals for doubles are scheduled for noon at Libbey Park, and the singles final will follow at 2 p.m.

Contact the writer: kconnolly@ocregister.com


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