NEWPORT BEACH — The Corona del Mar High boys' tennis team is young this year, with just two senior starters.
One could say the Sea Kings grew so much in a couple of hours Friday afternoon at The Tennis Club.
Junior Alec Adamson, freshman Henry Gordon and freshman Chaz Downing were playing side-by-side on three singles courts at the Corona del Mar All-American Invitational Tournament. The opponents were three seniors from No. 3-seeded Torrey Pines.
Only Downing was able to win, as the more experienced Falcons won two of the three close sets. Torrey Pines eventually won the quarterfinal match as well, 5-3. It was the sixth straight year that host CdM, which was unseeded, has lost in the quarterfinals of the prestigious tournament.
Few of the previous losses have felt as rewarding.
"Our team's really deep this year, a lot deeper than last year," Adamson said. "I think we're able to compete more in every single match. Even though they're one of the best teams from San Diego, we're right there with that team. It shows us that we're also a really good team. It gives us a lot of confidence, going forward."
CdM showed it, coming back to defeat Rancho Bernardo, 6-2, in a fifth-place semifinal at CdM later Friday. The Sea Kings' fifth-place match against La Jolla was originally set to be played Friday night under the lights, but it's now scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday at CdM, weather permitting.
Rain is expected Saturday, so nearly all of the normally two-day tournament was completed Friday. Top-seeded defending champion University played second-seeded Menlo in the championship match late Friday night.
CdM had a bit of an advantage against Torrey Pines, as it was playing its first match of the day. Torrey Pines had to beat Santa Barbara, 8-0, in its first-round match earlier in the day at Costa Mesa Tennis Center.
The Sea Kings were right there in the quarterfinal, up, 2-1, in the format of five singles sets followed by three doubles sets. Sophomore Carson Williams defeated the Falcons' Calman Boyd, 6-4. Then Downing came from behind to edge Torrey Pines senior Adam Levie, 7-5.
But Torrey Pines senior J.P. Boyd won five straight games against Adamson for a 6-3 victory. And Torrey Pines senior Jacob Johnson rallied from a 4-1 deficit against Gordon to claim a 7-5 win.
It was still a good battle from Adamson, ranked No. 39 in Southern California in the 18s. Boyd is ranked No. 6.
"I just tried to wait for the right opportunity to attack him and get to the net on him," Adamson said. "I just tried to stay calm and do my best. I had a few chances to make it closer, but I still thought I played a good match."
Down, 3-2, entering the three doubles matches, CdM still had a chance. But only Adamson and Williams were able to win in doubles.
"We played really well today," CdM Coach Brian Ricker said. "The next couple of years, we're going to look good for this tournament. It's hard to win with 14-year-olds playing 18-year-olds. It's a big difference. I think they played great for freshmen. They grew up as the matches went on."
CdM came back strong against Rancho Bernardo. CdM won four of five singles sets, including victories by Gordon, Williams, Downing and senior Alex Murray. The pairings of Adamson and Williams (6-3), as well as Downing and sophomore Josh Kliger (6-4), each won doubles sets.
Sage Hill, making its first appearance in the 16-team event, finished 15th. The Lightning fell to Santa Barbara, 7-1, and Jesuit, 4-4 but losing on games. They then defeated Providence Day School of Charlotte, N.C., 5-3, in the 15th-place match.
Sage senior Robbe Simon won all four of his singles sets and was named all-tournament. Simon and senior Alex Manolakas won three of four sets at No. 1 doubles. Sophomore Eric Magliarditi and senior Denis Cirit each won tight singles sets in the final match to help the Lightning.
"We knew this was such a tough tournament," Sage Coach A.G. Longoria said. "Our goal was to not finish last, so we achieved our goal."