Four Irvine Men’s Players Feeling Quite At Home In SoCal Pro Series At Racquet Club Of Irvine

Learner Tien (photo: Jon Mulvey/USTA SoCal)

IRVINE, June 29, 2023 (by Steve Pratt)

A pair of seeded players, one unseeded and a wild card all from Irvine moved into the second round at this week’s SoCal Pro Series event taking part at the Racquet Club of Irvine. The quartet will play Round of 16 matches Thursday as the ITF World Tour $15,000 men’s and women’s event continues.

Last week’s SoCal Pro Series men’s champion at the Kramer Club and this week’s top-seeded Omni Kumar beat Australia’s Derek Pham, 6-2, 6-3, and No. 5 former UCLA American Gage Brymer ousted Alexander Kotzen, 6-2, 6-4. Kumar, who recently moved an hour’s drive south to Murrieta, grew up in Irvine and still trains there with the Tier 1 Performance group while Brymer is an Irvine native and also still lives and trains nearby.

Another player who calls Irvine home – USC’s 17-year-old Learner Tien – also won in straight sets as he downed qualifier and fellow 17-year-old and rising high school senior from Thousand Oaks Rudy Quan, 6-3, 6-4. Tien is considered one of the top junior players in the world as he won the Australian Open doubles title, made the finals in singles Down Under and the semifinals at the French Open. A former Easter Bowl and Eddie Herr junior champion, Quan has verbally committed to USC’s crosstown rival UCLA in the fall of 2024.

The fourth Irvine player – recent high school graduate and wild card Avery Tallakson – won the first game against “Race to Indian Wells” points leader Jacob Brumm of Rancho Santa Fe before Brumm was forced to retire due to injury. Tallakson is headed to the University of New Mexico in the fall. Despite only winning a game, Tallakson celebrated winning his first ATP pro rankings point.

In other first-round action, former Stanford player Tristan Boyer took out incoming Cardinal recruit Nico Godsick, 6-3, 7-6 (1), to advance to the second round where he will face Great Britain qualifier Lui Maxted on Thursday.

“Nico’s a great player and good to see he will be moving on to Stanford,” said Boyer, 22, who is ranked No. 500 in the world rankings. “I felt like I was a little more developed from the baseline than him and was able to take control of the first set. In the second we held serve until the breaker and I was able to pull through.”

In April, Boyer came through qualifying, beat former Top 10 American Jack Sock and made the finals of his first ATP Challenger in the Savannah event on clay. “I was injured from the end of 2021 to February of this year, so it’s been pretty frustrating,” said Altadena’s Boyer. “I’ve been training on clay, but now I’m back here and on my familiar hardcourt surface and excited to be playing in the SoCal Pro Series.”

Godsick’s future Stanford teammate – recent high school graduate Hudson Rivera – also was eliminated in the first round, 6-2, 6-3, falling to qualifier and last week’s Kramer Club finalist Quinn Vandecasteele, who won his ninth match to just one defeat playing over the last 10 straight days.

In a battle of qualifiers, Chris Papa downed University of Arizona’s top player from Sweden, Jonas Eriksson Ziverts, 7-5, 6-3. Papa, who lives just 20 miles north of Irvine in Tiger Woods’ hometown of Cypress, played his college tennis at NAIA school San Diego Christian College.

In yet another big SoCal win Wednesday, wild card Max McKennon dominated former Easter Bowl champion Gianni Ross, 6-1, 6-3, to move on.

On the women’s side, UCLA’s Anne Lutkemeyer continued the Irvine theme as she took advantage of her wild card and ousted streaking Taylor Cataldi of Corona, 6-3, 6-3.

The qualifier Cataldi will be a Wisconsin junior in the fall and was 5-1 in SoCal Pro Series events coming into the match having won four qualifying matches the last two weeks.

“I grew up seeing Anna at every SoCal junior tournament we played but amazingly we have never played in singles or doubles,” said Cataldi, who recently turned 20 and lost to NCAA singles champion Fangran Tian last week.

Lutkemeyer’s road doesn’t get easy as she takes on No. 1 seeded Jia-Jing Lu of China on Thursday.

Daily tournament admission and parking is free to the public at all SoCal Pro Series events. The SoCal Pro Series’ remaining tournament dates and locations are:

  • Currently through Sunday – Racquet Club of Irvine, Irvine
  • July 3-9 – Lakewood Tennis Center, Lakewood
  • July 10-16 – Lakewood Tennis Center, Lakewood

To learn more about the SoCal Pro Series, go to: