FOUNTAIN VALLEY — As two high school freshmen, much may not be expected of Corona del Mar High's Henry Gordon and Newport Harbor's Reese Stalder in the boys' 18 doubles division of the 110th Annual Southern California Junior Sectional tennis tournament.
As two good friends who happen to both be good doubles players, too, maybe Gordon and Stalder will take people by surprise.
By the end of the summer, though, only one of them will still be living in Newport-Mesa.
"When I was back in the 14s, they sent me a letter wanting me to go to the academy," said Gordon, who went 52-13 in singles and doubles this year for CdM and advanced with teammate Alex Murray to the CIF Individuals doubles semifinals. "I wanted to play a year of high school tennis. I wasn't planning on going to that academy until maybe near the end of the [high school] season. I went there and checked it out, and I really enjoyed it. It's just a really good opportunity; I had to take advantage of it.
"After school gets out on June 21, I'm going to be staying at [Stalder's] house for a couple of weeks while we play national tournaments. We're just going to be traveling all over the country for national tournaments. I expect to get [to Texas] in August."
Making it to the round of 16 at junior sectionals was also not easy for Gordon and Stalder. They somehow found a way, beating No. 9-seeded Derek Klein and Cristobal Rivera, 6-4, 4-6 and 10-8 in a super-tiebreaker at Los Caballeros Racquet and Sports Club. Earlier Saturday, they topped Gregory Lyon and Oliver Welsh, 6-0, 6-4.
Two CdM players also made the round of 16 in doubles. Alec Adamson and Carson Williams edged Taylor Fritz and Riley Smith, 6-1, 6-7 (6-8), and 13-11 in a super-tiebreaker to advance. Earlier, Adamson and Williams got past Jhon Joseph Acosta and Kenneth Simmons, 6-2, 6-1.
Each local team will play in the round of 16 Thursday afternoon, back at Los Cab. They'll be joined there by No. 9-seeded Newport Beach resident Joseph Di Giulio and his partner George Goldhoff, who also advanced.
"It feels awesome," Stalder said. "Hopefully we can keep it going, keep playing well."
Gordon and Stalder continually battled back. In their first match, they rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the second set. In their second match, they were down, 4-0, in the first set before taking six straight games off the older high school seniors.
"We came out sluggish, but we started to get more pumped and get our footwork together," Gordon said. "We wanted to show them that we weren't going to let them just run right over us, show them that we were going to fight."
After losing the second set, the super-tiebreaker was back and forth. Gordon and Stalder were down, 7-5, before rallying to win it on Stalder's nice volley. Stalder typically has quick hands at the net.
"It almost comes natural," he said. "Both of my parents played, so I kind of have it in my blood."
Adamson and Williams easily won the first set of their round of 32 match, but their opponents, Fritz and Smith, stepped up. The second set was on serve the whole way, but Adamson and Williams lost the tiebreaker.
"It could have went either way," Adamson said. "I knew that if we just hang in there, we'll have our shot. We waited for our opportunity and we got it, finally, in the super-tiebreaker."
The CdM duo converted on their third match point on Adamson's overhead slam. They also saved a match point in the super-tiebreaker.
Adamson and Williams, who won his opening boys' 18 singles match Saturday, both have round of 128 singles matches on Sunday.