IRVINE — Hours passed Thursday afternoon, but Corona del Mar High senior Alec Adamson and University senior Tyler Lu kept playing.
The players had disagreements on calls early in the second set, requiring both teams' head coaches to serve as line judges for the rest of the match, but Adamson and Lu kept playing.
Lu started cramping up late in the second set, but Adamson and Lu kept playing.
The Pacific Coast League individual singles semifinal at Beckman High lasted for more than three hours. But in the end, No. 3-seeded Adamson earned a breakthrough 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 victory over No. 2 Lu.
Only the top two from each league in singles and doubles advance to the CIF Individuals tournament, which begins May 23. So even though Adamson fell to University senior Gage Brymer, 8-4, in the singles title match, he was more than happy with his day.
It will be the first trip to CIF Individuals for the UC Davis-bound Adamson. He's the first CdM singles player to advance out of the brutal league finals since Fabian Matthews in 2008.
"I was feeling really good coming off Ojai," said Adamson, who made a run to the CIF division semifinals there last weekend. "I wanted to kind of redeem myself. I thought I just had to go out there and play well, and I've got a chance whenever I'm doing that. I know Tyler's a good player, but if I'm on my 'A' game, then I can have chances to win. I just stayed really focused and tried to go out there and play well. In the end, everything worked out, so it was good."
Other CdM players lost in the semifinals. Josh Kliger and Carson Williams fell to Stefan Menichella and Drew Dawson of University, the eventual doubles champions, 6-1, 6-4. CdM freshman Pedro Fernandez, who had upset No. 4-seeded Kenny Gea of Irvine in the quarterfinals, fell to Brymer, 6-2, 6-1, in the other singles semifinal.
Adamson will be CdM's lone representative at CIF Individuals. But he earned it with his performance, staying on court for about five hours during the two matches Friday. He said it was his first-ever singles victory over Lu, who is bound for Yale and is ranked No. 5 in Southern California in the boys' 18s. Adamson is No. 10 in Southern California.
Adamson agreed that beating Lu would qualify as a breakthrough performance.
"It feels really good," he said. "Ever since sophomore year, I always wanted to get to CIF Individuals. It was always a goal of mine. This year, I knew I had a good chance. I just had to go out there and beat some good players, but I played well. I was really happy to be able to get there."
After Adamson won the opening set, 6-3, both players struggled in the second set. It ended with seven straight breaks of serve, which wasn't really surprising to Lu.
"The ball we use in tournaments is the Wilson U.S. Open," Lu said. "They fuzz up a lot after a couple of games, and they barely move. If the ball's all fuzzed up and doesn't move, it's kind of hard to serve."
Lu was noticeably cramping after the second set. But he battled gamely against Adamson, going for more on his shots. He got to 5-5 in the third set before his serve was broken, and Adamson was able to serve for the match.
Lu, to his credit, did not use his cramping as an excuse after the match.
"He played well," Lu said. "Today he played better than me, so that's pretty much all there is to it … We're at the level where anybody can beat anybody, honestly. Once you pass a certain threshold, it doesn't matter if you're ranked 10, 20, it doesn't matter if you're ranked 70. On any given day, you can lose."
CdM Coach Jamie Gresh said he was happy with his team's overall performance at the tournament, with two singles players and a doubles team in the semifinals.
Now the Sea Kings prepare for the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs, which start Wednesday. Brackets will be released Monday. Three-time defending CIF champion University and CdM will be favored to meet in the finals at The Claremont Club, like they did last year.
"The whole team's playing really well," Adamson said. "We've just got to keep the intensity high, and hopefully we can get back to Claremont, like last year. That's the goal right now."
Brymer, headed for UCLA, captured his third straight PCL singles title. Good things have come in threes this year for Brymer, who won Ojai for the third straight time last weekend. He'll try for his third straight CIF Individuals singles title as well.
As for Adamson, he said he's playing in a tournament in Anaheim on Saturday. Gresh just laughed when his top player told him the news.
"Good luck," Gresh said. "Get some sleep."
Adamson can sleep well knowing that he's finally made CIF Individuals.