Newport Harbor's Stalder loses in CIF-SS final


SEAL BEACH – Reese Stalder of Newport Harbor continued to dominate singles competition through the semifinal round of the CIF-SS Individual Tennis Championships, sweeping fellow Orange County player Eddie Gutierrez of Fullerton, 6-3, 6-4, on Saturday at Seal Beach Tennis Center.

Stalder remained unbeaten until he fell, 6-4, 6-7 (7), 6-1, to Brandon Holt of Palos Verdes in the final later that afternoon.

Not only had Stalder not lost a match before the final, he hadn’t even dropped a set. So working from behind after losing the first set to Holt was uncharted territory for the TCU-bound senior.

However, he kept close in the second set.

Stalder was down to match point at 5-4 in the second set and again during the tiebreaker, but was able to save both to force the decisive third set.

“Reese did a phenomenal job getting back in the second set and getting the opportunity to take (Holt) to a third,” Newport Harbor coach Kristen Case said. “To hold mentally tough, be present, not think ahead and be tough as nails in those situations speaks to his experience.”

Despite his efforts, Stalder struggled in the third set. He quickly fell behind, 3-0, before eventually losing, 6-1.

“I kept fighting in the second set, and some points went my way. But I just forgot to show up in the third set,” Stalder said. “I knew it would be a tough one.”

Vatsal Bajpai and Kyle McCann of Los Alamitos didn’t fare much better in doubles competition.

After sweeping their opponents in the second and quarterfinal rounds Friday, the pair was swept, 7-5, 7-6 (4), in the semifinals by Bryce Pereira and Derek Chen of San Marino.

Bajpai and McCann were the lone county representatives remaining in the doubles competition.

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