COSTA MESA — It would be fair to say Bjorn Hoffmann has been making big strides in tennis this summer.
He had to make it through qualifying at the Southern California Junior Sectionals, yet he reached the boys' 16s quarterfinals. Earlier this month, he also made the finals of a regional tournament in Irvine.
One place Hoffmann is not seen as an underdog is at the Costa Mesa Summer Junior Classic, where he is the top seed in the boys' 16s.
The Corona del Mar High sophomore-to-be showed why on Wednesday against Kenan Torlic of Irvine, who will be a sophomore at Sage Hill. Hoffmann beat Torlic, 6-2, 6-2, advancing to the boys' 16s quarterfinals at Costa Mesa Tennis Center.
Hoffmann will play Brendan Barr of Fountain Valley in a tournament quarterfinal at 12:30 p.m. Thursday.
"It puts a little bit more pressure on me, because I'm expected to do well," Hoffmann said of being the top-seeded player. "But I don't know, it's an honor to be top seed. It's nice, I like it, but it puts a little bit more pressure on me."
Hoffmann, ranked No. 35 in Southern California in the 16s, did well against Torlic. He was up just 3-2 in the first set, but won three straight games to take the set. He went up 4-1 in the second set and finished the match off.
Torlic was aggressive, hitting big shots and serve-and-volleying at times.
"When it got close, he came up with some really big shots in some games," Hoffmann said. "Even when I felt like I was controlling the point and working the point, he would still come up with really big shots. It was kind of tough, but I just had to fight through that."
Torlic viewed the match as good experience as well. He played mostly doubles for the Lightning last year, but could play singles next spring.
"I knew he was a good player," Torlic said of playing Hoffmann. "It was just me trying my best to see how many games I could get off of him, and try to get the win ... His kick serves bounced really high, and I'd hit them really late, so I guess that's something I've got to work on for next season. But also, he's a more experienced player, so I think that had something to do with it too. He just made better shots, more shots when it counted."
Hoffmann, who was an instrumental part of CdM reaching the CIF Southern Section Division 1 title match for the second straight year, should have a good test in Baar. If he wins, he'd play either No. 6-seeded Chase Lipscomb of Woodbridge High, or Brian Husin of Hong Kong, in the semifinals at 4:30 p.m.
Hoffmann will keep battling to the end.
"I've improved so much over this past month or two," he said. "It gives me a lot of experience that I needed, and just gives me a lot of confidence."Copyright © 2015, CT Now