CLAREMONT — There is no longer a zero in the column numbering the total CIF Southern Section championships in girls’ sports for Glendale High.
The Nitros girls’ tennis team forever ended that drought Friday afternoon.
Second-seeded Glendale High rode a strong second-round effort and took down a lower-division giant in the process in defeating fourth-seeded Rancho Mirage, 10-8, in the CIF Southern Section Division IV championship at the Claremont Club.
The title is the first for Glendale as a school since boys’ water polo took home the Division V championship in 2013. The Pacific League fourth-place Nitros (17-6) also snapped a 44-match unbeaten streak by De Anza League champion Rancho Mirage (22-1-1), last season’s Division V titlist, which hadn’t lost since 2015.
“It’s overwhelming,” Glendale first-year coach Tom Gossard said. “This win tells you what’s possible when you put the will and the skill together. When the whole team is pulling on the rope in the same direction, this can happen.
“It took six months to put this together, but the girls did it.”
Glendale finished 6-3 in doubles play and 4-5 in singles play in the winning effort.
“The thing for us was just treating this like any other match,” Glendale’s Janet Louie said. “We played like it was the regular season.”
Where Glendale created separation with Rancho Mirage was toward the beginning of the second round.
Rancho Mirage led, 3-2, before Glendale evened the match at 3 after one round when Nitros No. 1 singles player Celine Khachiki defeated Rancho Mirage’s No. 1 Tatiana Harvey 7-6 (7-4) in a thrilling first set.
The victory kick-started a 4-0 run that gave Glendale a 6-3 advantage after a victory from the Nitros doubles’ team of Emi and Momo Guzman over Rancho Mirage’s Zoe Kolytiris and Karla Munoz, 6-1.
Glendale eventually won the second round, 5-1, and took an 8-4 advantage into final six sets of action.
Rancho Mirage stayed alive by winning two of the next three sets to climb within 9-6 with only three singles sets remaining.
Though the Rattlers took the lead in two of the final three singles sets, there was no worry on Glendale’s side.
Freshman Khachiki, who lost 6-2 in the second round to Rancho Mirage senior Kyla Eaton, was in control in her third set versus Eliana Harvey.
Khachiki secured her team its long-awaited crown via a 6-0 win over Eliana Harvey in Khachiki’s final action, which gave Glendale a clinching 10th point.
“I had to come back after the loss,” said Khachiki, who finished 2-1. “When you lose, you have to come back and I wanted to win that one.”
Kristen Lee added a 6-1 victory in singles play, while reserve Farah Eskender picked up a 6-2 victory.
On the double side, the Guzman duo finished 2-1 with 6-1 and 6-0 wins, Nicole Avakian and Michelle Yoylan went 2-1 with 6-4 and 6-1 wins and No. 3 Elen Ghazaryan and Moira Mailed also finished 2-1 with 6-4 and 6-2 triumphs.
When asked what was behind the resuscitation of a Glendale High program that finished sixth in the Pacific League last season and hadn’t been to the postseason since 2014, one player didn’t hesitate in giving her opinion.
“We finally got a coach,” Momo Guzman said.
By winning a division championship, Glendale can apply for an at-large berth to the CIF State Southern California Regional Tennis Tournament back at Claremont, beginning on Friday, Nov. 17.
Glendale’s championship squad included Ani Azarian, Anna Sarookhanian, Kiana Gueco, Maria Hovakimyan, Tanja Mikaeljan and Nataly Najaraya. Gossard was assisted by Carol Choy.