Southern California Sectionals Wrapup
by Rhiannon Potkey, 29 June 2012
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FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif. - Ashley Dai has been trying to embrace the less stress approach to tennis.
Girls' 18s Champion Ashley Dai
© Doug Wrege, TennisRecruiting.net
Having already secured her scholarship to North Carolina
, Dai has been savoring her final few junior events before embarking for college.
The unencumbered outlook worked wonders at the 110th annual Southern California Junior Sectional Championships last week.
The fourth-seeded Dai, a Temple City native, defeated top-seeded Alyza Benotto of Los Angeles 6-4, 6-0 to capture the Girls 18s singles title at Los Caballeros Racquet and Sports Club.
"The past few tournaments I've played I've really been thinking about just enjoying myself and having fun out there. It has helped me really loosen up and play my game," Dai said. "Naturally everybody wants to win, but I really just wanted to enjoy my last Sectionals and not put the whole focus on just winning."
The Boys 18s singles final pitted two unseeded opponents, and they waged a lengthy battle that lasted nearly four hours.
Before capturing the title with a dramatic 6-7 (1), 7-6 (8), 7-5 victory over West Covina's Ernesto Escobedo
, Robbie Bellamy
had never even made it past the third round at Sectionals.
"I don't even think it's really sunk in yet that I won," said Bellamy, a Pacific Palisades resident. "It is still kind of crazy because I didn't really have the highest of expectations. But I just started playing well."
In the final against Escobedo, Bellamy saved two match points in the second set tiebreaker.
"Sometimes I lose focus after I lose the first set or something, but I stayed in this one pretty well," Bellamy said. "I didn't really have any spikes during the match. I stayed pretty consistent."
Bellamy's comeback capped a Sectionals tournament that included 1,860 total entries in 12 divisions played at nine sites across the Orange County area.