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Stalder, Gutierrez set up showdown in semifinals
SEAL BEACH — Orange County players ran the gauntlet in Friday’s CIF-SS Individual Tennis Championships at Seal Beach Tennis Center.
In the singles, No. 1 seed Reese Stalder of Newport Harbor had to battle for a victory in the quarterfinals and Eddie Gutierrez of Fullerton upset the No. 4 seed in the Round of 16 before blasting through quarterfinals.
Stalder and Gutierrez will meet Saturday in the semifinals.
In doubles, third-seeded Vatsal Bajpai and Kyle McCann of Los Alamitos swept through its two matches to remain the lone county doubles team to reach the semifinals.
Stadler swept his match in the Round of 16, 6-2, 6-2, and matched up with a familiar foe, Ryan Marker of Palm Desert, in the quarters.
“I know Ryan,” Stalder said. “I usually like to play with pace, but he feeds into pace.”
The pace was torrid as Stalder and Marker played to tiebreakers in the first two sets.
Stalder took the first set in a long tiebreaker, 7-6 (7), but won the second tiebreaker with ease, 7-6 (3).
Gutierrez took his Round of 16 match with No. 4 seed Connor Hance of Peninsula as Hance retired. Gutierrez won the first set, 6-3, and was up, 2-0, when Hance retired.
“I felt that my forehand was on, seriously,” Gutierrez said. “I was finding those openings with the forehand.”
Gutierrez pushed forward with long power shots in the quarters to win, 6-3, 6-2, and advance to the semifinals.
Corona del Mar’s Bjorn Hoffman and Marina’s Max Cancilla also won in the Round of 16, but fell in the quarters.
The doubles matches featured the only two all-county matchups of the day.
Max Boice and Ricky Kurtz of Santa Margarita defeated Nathan Nguyen and Kevin Wong of Northwood, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, in the Round of 16, and Bajpai-McCann beat Ryan Dugan and Jordan Geis of Santa Margartia in the quarterfinals, 6-1, 6-1.
“Solid cleanup on our end,” McCann said. “We played consistent.”
Scott Nguyen and Lyndon Bui of Canyon also won in the Round of 16, but lost in the quarters along with Boice-Kurtz.