The Men’s Open singles draw had its 32-player draw reduced to the elite eight on Thursday. Top seed Deiton Baughman, a 19-year-old Carson, Calif. resident ranked No. 325 in the world and playing the USTA Pro Circuit tour, breezed through to the quarterfinals with straight-set victories over Jens Sweaney (Los Angeles) and Henry Ji (Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.), yielding only seven games in the process. Twelve-time Open finalist (including 2015) and seven-time Open Division singles winner Lester Cook defeated Connor Hudson (Golden, Colo.), 6-2, 7-5, but lost to Laurens Verboven, of Los Angeles, 6-3, 6-2, in the second round. No. 2 seed and former UCLA tennis product Clay Thompson (Venice, Calif.) cruised into the quarterfinals, defeating Ojai resident Alexey Nesterov, 6-2, 6-3, in the second round.
An intriguing part of this year’s Men’s Open singles and doubles draws is the infusion of some of the country’s best teenage talent that resides in Southern California. USC-bound high school seniors Brandon Holt (Palos Verdes HS) and Riley Smith (Los Alamitos HS), coming off of their finals appearance in the 2015 U.S. Open Juniors as an unseeded wild-card entry, chose to forego The Ojai’s CIF Boys’ competition in search of the best singles and doubles competition The Ojai has to offer. As the luck of the singles draw turned out, Holt – the son of two-time U.S. Open singles champion Tracy Austin — and Smith, son of USC coach Peter Smith, ran into each other after winning their first-round matches and Holt downed Smith, 6-3, 6-3, to advance to Friday’s 9:30 a.m. quarterfinal meeting at the Ojai Valley Inn with third-seeded Eric Johnson, of San Jose.
The Open doubles draw (bracket of 16) commences at 12:30 p.m. Friday at the Ojai Valley Inn. Holt and Smith are among the top two seeds but, interestingly, with different partners for the tournament. Holt and Thompson are top-seeded and Smith and Baughman are the No. 2 seed. Meanwhile, defending men’s Open doubles champions Quinn Borchard (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) and Calle Hansen (Newbury Park, Calif.) are third-seeded and open up their title defense against Joe Dorn and Warren Wood, who teamed at NCAA Division III collegiate powerhouse Claremont-Mudd-Scripps College and finished as The Ojai’s Men’s Division III West doubles runners-up in 2015.
The 16-player Women’s Open singles draw gets underway at 8 a.m. Friday at the Ojai Valley Inn and showcases former University of Florida All-American Lauren Embree (Marco Island, Fla.) as the top seed. She plays Kristina Smith (Laguna Niguel, Calif.) in the first round. Defending champion Ena Shibahara (Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.) returns as the No. 4 seed and opens her title defense against Annette Goulak (Oak Park, Calif.) at 11 a.m.
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