Masato Perera
Masato Perera sets up for a two-fisted backhand return during his quarterfinals win over Steve Nguyen of Canyon/Anaheim. (Jarrod Bradley photo)

Masato Perera of San Marcos scored two impressive victories Wednesday and advanced to the semifinals of the CIF-Southern Section Boys Individual Tennis Tourrnament at the Seal Beach Tennis Center.

Perera is seeded No. 2 in the tournament, the highest seed for a San Marcos player in program history. He will play Kane Kelley of Chaminade in the semifinals on Thursday.

Kelley advanced by outlasting Carpinteria’s Austin Stone in a marathon quarterfinal match, 7-6 (4), 4-6, 10-6. Stone won a play-in match over Ryan Huynh of Bolsa Grande, 6-2, 6-1, and defeated No. 3 seed Alan Ton of Fountain Valley, 7-6 (3), 1-0, retired.

Luke Williams of Bishop Digo won a first-round match over Grant Gallagher of Sage Hill, 7-5, 6-3,  and dropped a 6-2, 6-1 decision against AJ Moore of Portola in the second round.

Perera started competition in the Round of 16 and defeated James MacDonald of Brentwood, 6-1, 6-0. He then beat Steve Nguyen of Canyon/Anaheim in the quarterfinals, 6-2, 6-1.

“Masato continued his stellar play today,” said San Marcos coach Jarrod Bradley. “His backhand was exceptional and he was able to set up a ton of volley winners off both sides.”

The semifinals are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. and the final later in the day.

Top-seeded seed Alex Michelson of Aliso Niguel won his two matches on Wednesday to set up a possible rematch of the USTA San Diego Sectional Final from three weeks ago, where Perera won 7-5, 6-2.

Perera, who recently won the Boys 18s title at a USTA Level 1 tournament in Indianapolis, will be recognized as one of 40 National All Americans. He will receive the prestigious honor at the Newport Beach Yacht Club on Thursday evening. 

Austin stone

Austin Stone of Carpinteria serves against Kane Kelley during their quarterfinal match (Charles Bryant photo)

In Stone’s match against Ton, the Fountain Valley player was not feeling 100% and ultimately retired with Stone ahead 7-6 (3), 1-0. 

“You could see the talent this player had but he just could not sustain any energy mentally or physically,” said Carpinteria coach Charles Bryant. “He looked ill even in the warmups but did his best to compete.”

Stone’s quarterfinal match against Kelley was an epic battle that lasted almost three hours.

“It would see-saw back and forth, and it was as close as you could get,” said Bryant. “Austin played his best match of the day and was a point or two from tipping the scales in his favor.  The mental focus from both players was not unlike you see from the pros on television.  Each point was well crafted, thought out and executed.  The serving was top notch, the groundstrokes had great depth and were within inches of the baseline.

“The match went on so long that, unfortunately, nobody was left at the club to witness it, and sadly they missed the best match of the day.

“I cannot be more proud of Austin’s efforts today,” Bryant continued.  “He truly was a Warrior out on the court and showed just how much he has improved over the year mentally, physically and technically.  A special shout out to his mom, Stephanie, and Bart Hillock at the Santa Barbara Polo and Racquet Club who have been working him hard this past year.  It definitely has paid off.”

Williams finished a memorable senior year at Bishop Diego. He qualified for CIF postseason competition in tennis and track & field.

“It has been a difficult season for all through this very challenging time. Luke has shown perseverance and patience through it all,” said coach Natlee Hapeman. “He has been a great mentor to his fellow teammates and shows outstanding sportsmanship each time he steps on the court.  He is a lead-by-example kind of mentor.  It has been a pleasure knowing Luke and the best to him in the next phase of his life.”

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Barry Punzal, Sports Editor

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