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SAM GANGWER, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Riley Smith of Los Alamitos returns a shot during his 6-1, 6-1 victory over Mark Peneff of Calabasas. Smith also beat Chaminade's Jacob Bullard, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, on Friday.

Smith, Hoffmann advance to tennis semifinals

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

SEAL BEACH – Top-seeded Riley Smith of Los Alamitos survived a quarterfinal test, and Corona del Mar’s Bjorn Hoffmann controlled his matches to set up an all-Orange County singles semifinal in the CIF-SS Boys Individual Tennis Championships at Seal Beach Tennis Center on Friday.

Smith blazed through his opening match Mark Peneff of Calabasas, 6-1, 6-1, but had to battle to get past Chaminade’s Jacob Bullard, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, in the quarterfinals.

Bullard used his quickness and Smith just missed some shots as Bullard controlled the first set. In the second set, Smith found his spots and employed his power shots.

“I thought I started really slow and kind of out of it. I was hoping he would give it to me,” Smith said. “Midway through the second set, it just clicked. I had to go out there and impose my game on him.”

Then came a feverish third set that saw both sides break serve twice and Smith rallied from a 5-4 deficit to take the set and the match.

Hoffmann lost the first point in each set in his opening match against Conner Rapp of Palm Desert, but broke back for 2-1 leads in each for the win, 6-3, 6-2.

Hoffmann was broken again to start his quarterfinal match against San Marino’s Ryan Cheng, but quickly rebounded to take the first set, 6-4. Hoffmann rode the wave through the second set with a sweep, 6-0.

“The beginning was a little bit shaky, because we’re both serving pretty well,” Hoffmann said.” It was just a lot of holding. Once I got that break back, I knew what I needed to do and thought I executed my game well.”

Smith and Hoffmann, friends and training partners, will meet in Saturday’s semifinal.

“We always do battle,” Hoffmann said. “It’s always a long match. It’s always a little exhausting playing Riley because you’re always trying to figure out how to break him.”

Marina’s Max Cancilla and Fairmont Prep’s Max Pham each won two-set openers but fell in the quarterfinals.

Cancilla lost in two sets, but Pham had a lengthy three-set match with the second-seeded Conor Hance of Peninsula.

Pham won a seven-point tiebreaker in the second set but couldn’t corral momentum after suffering a bloody nose in the third set and lost, 6-3, 6-7 (7), 7-5.

In the doubles, Orange County sent six entries in the round of 16 and all of them lost. Five teams lost in straight sets with only Canyon’s Lyndon Bui and Scott Nguyen winning a set. The Canyon pair won its first set easily, 6-1, but fell in a four-point tiebreaker in the second set and lost the third set, 6-1.


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