CdM tennis senior Niels Hoffmann earns silver ball at Winter Nationals

Niels Hoffmann took a few months off from tennis after winning the CIF Southern Section Individuals boys’ singles title last spring.

Hoffmann, now a senior at Corona del Mar High, needed time to heal his elbow. He didn’t get back into tournaments until November.

Heading into 2024, though, he feels like he’s back where he needs to be.

Hoffmann has the silver ball to prove it.

He finished second in boys’ 18 singles at the United States Tennis Assn. Winter Nationals in Orlando, Fla. on Wednesday. Hoffmann fell to Saahith Jayaraman in straight sets, 6-2, 6-4, in the title match.

But the final defeat could not put a damper on a week of standout tennis for the USC commit, who earned his first prestigious ball in singles by finishing top-three at a national Level 1 tournament.

CdM senior Niels Hoffmann finished second in boys' 18 singles at the USTA Winter Nationals on Wednesday.

CdM senior Niels Hoffmann finished second in boys’ 18 singles at the USTA Winter Nationals on Wednesday.

(Courtesy of Biljana Longman )

“It’s the best that any of us have done in the family, including [older brother] Bjorn,” Niels Hoffmann said in a phone interview. “My parents [Biljana and Carsten] played college tennis as well [at UC Irvine], so this is super-exciting. With every win, I just kind of play a little bit better. This is my first couple of tournaments back from injury, so it’s just rebuilding that confidence.”

Additionally, Hoffmann won the sportsmanship award at Winter Nationals for the second straight year.

Seeded No. 17 in the 128-player draw, Hoffmann’s run to the final included five straight-set win. His only match to go the full three sets came in the round of 32, when he outlasted Cody Benton, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2.

In addition to his CIF Individuals title, Hoffmann shared Southern California National High School Tennis All-American MVP honors last spring and was a finalist at the prestigious Ojai tournament, helping the Sea Kings reach the CIF Southern Section Open Division and SoCal Regional finals.

CdM senior Niels Hoffmann, right, won the sportsmanship award for the second straight year.

CdM senior Niels Hoffmann, right, won the sportsmanship award for the second straight year.

(Courtesy of Biljana Longman)

Now his hard work put into rehab has paid dividends.

“There’s times when competing that I feel really back in my old skin,” Hoffmann said. “It feels really familiar, something that I hadn’t felt in some time. It’s all experience, right? The more matches I play, the more I feel like I fit in.”

Hoffmann was joined in Florida by his CdM teammate, senior Jack Cross, as well as Cross’ grandparents Larry and Nancy Collins. His mother, Biljana Longman, said their support also helped her son’s success.

She added that Niels’ road to recovery included physical therapy and acupuncture, while continuing to train at the gym with his strength and conditioning coach, Matt Harris.

Hoffmann improved on a sixth-place finish at Winter Nationals last year.

“Niels played with a lot of heart this week,” Longman said in a text message. “He is incredibly passionate about the game and wanted to prove to himself he was ready to do well. It takes a lot to win six matches in a row at the national level to get to the finals. Glad he was able to experience this.”

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