Trinity Classical Academy’s Dustin Kua may have been competing in the CIF-Southern Section Boys Individual Tennis Round of 16 on Friday, but his match was measured in more mental strength rather than strength of game.
Against Los Alamitos’ Colter Smith, Kua tested his mind in a hot, three-hour match that ended in a 3-0 loss at Seal Beach Tennis Center in Seal Beach.
“When matches get down to past that two-hour mark, it’s not even about tennis anymore,” Kua said. It’s about how you handle the fatigue. Both players were pretty tired to the point to whoever had the stronger mentality would take it at the end.”
Although he lost, Kua battled to set scores of 3-6, 6-4, 5-7 against Smith, who is the son of USC tennis coach Peter Smith.
Smith brought endless energy, shouting “Fight on, Trojans” after every point.
“He was just fierce with the groundstrokes,” Kua said. “He was relentless. If I gave him any chances, he would just take it and I think he was playing pretty well today.”
After the match, Peter approached Kua and congratulated him, adding that he was excited to see him play at the college level with Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
“Even though I lost I was happy he was able to watch the match,” Kua said. “It was a good match overall. It was a really fair and clean match.”
Kua received a bye in the Round of 32 and said his serving, an element of his game he’s been strengthening all season, kept him from crumbling under Smith’s pressure. He’s also a veteran of the CIF-SS tournament, making the Round of 16 for the past three years.
Outside of this year’s CIF-SS playoffs, Kua has been simultaneously playing in the Woody Hunt South Bay Junior Tournament, which he’ll be competing in the semifinals of tomorrow morning. The multi-tasking has proven beneficial.
“It’s always new. No circumstance is the same,” said Kua. “You’re going to play different people. Everyone has different styles, so playing a bunch of tournaments is really good.”
In September, Kua will head to Cal Poly SLO to start his college tennis career. It’ll be his first experience playing team tennis after competing independently for the past four years of his prep career.
“I’m real excited, but at the same time, I’m kind of scared because I’m going to be a freshman coming in,” he said. “I’ll pay my dues and I’m not, like, as strong as the sophomore, juniors or seniors, so I think it’s a good challenge and I’m just going to take it one step at a time.”