It’s no secret the Western State Conference has enjoyed paramount success lately, as two women’s tennis teams have won state championships each of the last two seasons.
It’s something that Glendale Community College women’s tennis Coach Bob Donaghy is mindful off since he’s seen plenty of Santa Monica City College and Ventura first-hand. Ventura won the state title last season after Santa Monica accomplished the feat in 2011.
While Donaghy expects those programs to be at or near the top of conference again this season, he’s eager to find out if the Vaqueros have the right mix to record a second straight top-three finish in conference.
It will be a new beginning for the Vaqueros.
“We had six players from last year’s squad transfer,” said Donaghy, whose team will begin its season with a nonconference home match against Riverside Community College at 2 p.m. Thursday. “They all did good, which is why we had success.
“We know it will be a very tough conference again and that’s the way it should be. We are happy to play in a conference like this. I don’t know if it will be a rebuilding year, but we will see how things pan out.”
The Vaqueros, who went 5-7, 4-4 in conference last season, saw their No. 1 doubles team of Sevana Zargarian and Samantha Sismundo transfer. The tandem, which advanced to the semifinals of the Southern California Regionals last season and once starred at Glendale High, now compete at Cal State Los Angeles.
Donaghy, who took over the program from Terry Coblentz following the 2009 season, will field an eight-player squad looking to return the Vaqueros to the playoffs for the first time since 1999.
Among them will be sophomores Sofia Tavitian, Nerissa Fnu, Alexandra Amor and Stephanie Isidro. They will be joined by freshmen Seda Hakopian, Ashley Sumidio, Amanda Dring and Sydney Farzadkish, a Crescenta Valley High graduate. Tavitian will be the lone returner.
“I think we will be a little deeper compared to last year, but we might not be as strong near the top of the lineup,” said Donaghy, who went 230-161 as the college's men's coach from 1978-2002 and led the Vaqueros to a pair of conference championships. “They all have an excellent work ethic and that’s something we first look at when we are recruiting.
“We don’t put any pressure on the numbers part of the game. We just wanted to see increments of improvement.”
Glendale will participate in seven nonconference matches before beginning conference action against host Bakersfield on Feb. 19. The Vaqueros will play host to Ventura on Feb. 26 and travel to Ventura on March 19.
The Vaqueros will close out the regular season April 2 with a conference road match against Santa Barbara City.
The conference championship will be held April 5-6 and April 12 in Ventura. The Ojai Invitational will take place April 25-28.