Carlsbad’s Pareja Continues Upward Ascent Into First SoCal Pro Series Singles Semifinal - USTA Southern California




Julieta Pareja



JUNE 22, 2024

Julieta Pareja
Kimmi Hance and Anne Lutkemeyer

Top: Carlsbad’s Julieta Pareja, 15, is into her first ITF World Tour singles semifinal at Rancho Santa Fe Tennis Club.

Bottom: UCLA teammates and doubles partners Anne-Christine Lutkemeyer and Kimmi Hance will square off in the other singles semifinal.

(Photos – Lexie Wanninger/USTA SoCal)


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The youngest player steadily competing on the 2024 SoCal Pro Series, Julieta Pareja turned 15 four months ago. Weeks after completing her freshman year at Carlsbad’s Seaside Academy, she just may have quite the unique summer vacation story to share with her class when she returns to school later this summer.

Pareja advanced to her first women’s semifinal in professional ITF World Tour/USTA Pro Circuit singles competition on Friday at Rancho Santa Fe Tennis Club after rallying for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 quarterfinal victory over past NCAA Division I All-American Sara Daavettila, a SoCal Pro Series winner two weeks ago and runner-up last weekend.

The Carlsbad resident and main draw wild card meets 18-year-old Australian Lily Fairclough, a USC rising sophomore, in a Saturday semifinal. After defeating a couple of regular pros this week in the 26-year-old Daavettila and 36-year-old Tori Kinard (who began playing ITF professional events before Pareja was even born) in the first round, it’s about time Pareja picks on someone more her own age.

The learning curve is typically a steep one for those just getting their feet wet at the early stages of professional tennis. Whatever the case, be it youthful exuberance or ignorance, Pareja’s displays in the 2024 SoCal Pro Series show her arrow keeps pointing up to new levels.

In the 2024 SoCal Pro Series-opening event at Barnes Tennis Center three weeks ago, Pareja earned a first WTA Tour singles ranking point that comes with a first ITF main draw win. A week later, Pareja reached her first quarterfinal, coming within one game of making the semis. Now in Week 4 of the series, Pareja is playing on the weekend.

Without the SoCal Pro Series, Pareja wouldn’t know where her game stands within the ranks of professionals and NCAA Division I players. All five of her ITF World Tour/USTA Pro Circuit starts on the pro level have taken place on the SoCal Pro Series, including first-round losses in two tournaments last year.

“It’s really nice to be sleeping in my own bed and have good matches and play against top players, so I think it’s a really good opportunity,” Pareja said of the SoCal Pro Series. “It’s possible (for me) to play against good players and have tough matches. because we don’t really have many around home that are such good competition. It prepares me mentally, physically. What I am practicing on court, I feel like it’s paying off in the matches.”

Pareja narrowly missed out on booking her first ITF doubles final appearance with Fallbrook resident Emily Deming, a 17-year-old Georgia recruit, following a 5-7, 6-4, 10-12 (third-set, 10-point tiebreaker) semifinal defeat to ex-Pepperdine standouts Anna and Carolyn Campana, who will face Brea native Brandy Walker and Jessica Alsola, a rising senior at Cal (UC Berkeley), in Saturday’s final.

Saturday’s first women’s singles semifinal (at 11 a.m.) will pit UCLA teammates against each other as Torrance native and rising senior Kimmi Hance, who played as the Bruins’ No. 2 player this past season, will face Irvine resident and rising junior Anne-Christine Lutkemeyer, who featured No. 4 or No. 5 in the UCLA lineup.

In the pair’s Friday quarterfinals, No. 7 seed Hance cruised to a 6-3, 6-3 victory over third-seeded Basak Eraydin, of Turkey, while Lutkemeyer completed her sweep of the Campana sisters in downing Anna Campana, 6-3, 7-5. Lutkemeyer eliminated Anna’s older sister, Carolyn, in Thursday’s second round.

Friends turning to temporary foes, Hance and Lutkemeyer began this week in Rancho Santa Fe as doubles teammates.

On the men’s singles ledger, one Saturday semifinal (11 a.m.) brings together two of the best 18-year-olds in American tennis. Top-seeded Learner Tien, of Irvine, will square off against sixth-seeded Trevor Svajda, of Pacific Beach. Both needed exactly 66 minutes to fend off their quarterfinal challengers on Friday.

Tien (No. 373 ATP ranking) – the winningest player in the SoCal Pro Series’ two year-plus history with three singles titles and two doubles titles; all achieved within the last year – extended his 2024 SoCal Pro Series singles mark to 13-0 after destroying eighth-seeded Rancho Santa Fe resident Jacob Brumm, 6-0, 6-1.

Svajda (No. 671 ATP ranking), who received a wild card to play in what will be his only 2024 SoCal Pro Series event before he leaves for England on Monday in preparation for the Wimbledon (junior boys) Championships (beginning July 6), breezed by Japan’s Leo Vithoontien, 6-3, 6-1.

Having just completed his freshman season at SMU, Svajda will also compete for his first ITF/USTA Pro Circuit doubles crown on Saturday after he and partner Adam Neff knocked off Australians Mitchell and Patrick Harper, 7-6 (5), 6-4, in a Friday semifinal. Their finals opposition is Aussie Joshua Charlton and American Patrick Maloney, 7-6 (4), 6-3 semifinal winners over Ohio State teammates Jack Anthrop and Bryce Nakashima, the San Diegan and younger brother of ATP Tour pro Brandon Nakashima.

Svajda is hoping a third matchup against Tien in the past year will be the charm. In November at a $25,000 Futures event in Austin, Tex., Svajda dropped a second-round meeting to Tien via a third-set, 10-point tiebreaker.

The more stinging defeat came in the singles final of the USTA Boys’ 18 National Championships last August in Kalamazoo, Mich. As the winner, Tien received a main draw wild card into the 2023 US Open. As the runner-up, Svajda was awarded a berth into US Open qualifying.

Jokingly asked this week if he owes Tien a bit of payback, Svajda chuckled and softly said, “Yeah.” Though he knows that’s easier said than done, and he knows better than to give Tien any extra motivation.

Both Southern California teens are preparing to return to the USTA Boys’ 18 National Championships in six weeks for a final go-round, with their sights set on a return trip to Flushing Meadows. The Kalamazoo event is a tie that binds the Tien and Svajda family names.

Tien will attempt to become the first player to win that tournament three consecutive years. Svajda’s older brother, Zach (No. 127 ATP ranking), won the Kalamazoo tournament two years in a row prior to Tien’s arrival there.

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