In virtually no time, Michael Akopians and Arin Meserkhani became a smash hit on the court.
Akopians and Arin Meserkhani began the season for the Glendale High boys' tennis team playing doubles and singles, respectively. Prior to the Pacific League tournament, Glendale Coach Bob Davidson made a major alteration to the fabric of the Nitros' lineup by pairing the two.
It led to Akopians and Meserkhani winning the league tournament and advancing to the CIF Individuals Tournament on Thursday at Whittier Narrows Tennis Center in South El Monte.
"I paired them together because I was looking for the best chance to give somebody an opportunity to win league," Davidson said. "I felt like they would be the best combination to maybe make that happen.
"They practiced together as doubles partners maybe one or twice during the regular season. They looked strong throughout the league tournament. Mike is very strong at the net and Arin is the same on the base line. The key will be being able to hold serve. I feel like that's a big part of playing doubles. If you can do that, then you will always be competitive."
Akopians and Meserkhani, who captured the league championship for the first time by defeating the No. 1 seeded team of Arcadia's Kevin Yang and Ken Nakamine, 6-3, 6-3, on May 7 at Pasadena High, will be joined by Flintridge Prep singles player Cartier Juan as locals representing their respective teams on Thursday. Check-in time is 8:30 a.m. and, as is customary, players learn of their draws shortly thereafter. Should they advance to the round of 32, it will take place on June 5 at Whittier Narrows.
Akopians and Meserkhani will be the first Glendale doubles team to take part in the tournament since Elliot Kim and Jeff Asano in 2010.
Juan finished 36-3 overall and 16-2 in the Prep League, which has CIF Individual entries based on record rather than a tournament.
Flintridge Prep Coach Hratchia Sargsyan said Juan, a sophomore, handled himself well facing stiff tests from league opponents.
"He went up against some great players in our league and finished the season up strong," Sargsyan said. "This will be a good experience for him.
"He's got as good a chance as anybody else. We'll see how well he can do."
Hoover standout singles player Emile Ohanyan, who finished runner-up in the Pacific League after falling to top-seeded Sawyer Patterson of Burroughs, was originally set to also participate. Hoover Coach Julie Hoppe said Ohanyan, a student a Clark Magnet School, will be taking his final examinations Thursday and opted to withdraw from the event.
The Cal State Northridge University-bound Ohanyan, who participated in the event last season, finished 34-2 in league.
"Emile made the decision that he couldn't juggle playing tennis and academics," Hoppe said. "He came in as a freshman and will leave Hoover as one of the program's best players."
The round of 16 and quarterfinals will be held June 6 at Seal Beach Tennis Center. The semifinals and final will occur June 7 at the same venue.
Follow Charles Rich on Twitter: @TCNCharlesRich.