Chatsworth Digs Deep, Beats Taft for Title : High school tennis: After two earlier losses to Toreadors, Chancellors take advantage of round-robin format that rewards team depth.


The third time proved to be the charm for the Chatsworth High boys' tennis team at the City Section championships Monday at The Racquet Centre at Studio City.

In its third meeting against Taft this season, the Chancellors used their depth to beat the Toreadors, 19 1/2-10, in the final. It was Chatsworth's second title in three years.

In the 3-A final, Marshall defeated Van Nuys, 18 1/2-11, to win its third consecutive title.

The Chancellors (12-2) were led by No. 1 singles player Rafael Huerta, who lost just three games while winning all four sets. His toughest match was against Taft's No. 1 singles player Dvir Levy. Huerta won, 6-2, but Levy took his other three sets.

Huerta, a native of Mexicali, Mexico, led Chatsworth to the 1991 City team title, when it also defeated Taft. Also, Huerta is the defending City singles' champion.

For Huerta, winning the title this season was a bit of a surprise.

"At the beginning (of the season), I thought we weren't going to make it (to the final)," Huerta said.

Chatsworth ended the West Valley League season in a three-way tie for first place with Taft and El Camino Real with 4-2 records.

The key for Chatsworth in winning its third meeting against Taft this season was its greater depth, which becomes factor in the round-robin format of team playoffs. During regular season, each player plays best-of-three sets against one opposing player of his own level. In playoffs, however, teams rotate through the lineup, playing one set against each player on the opposing team.

Chatsworth's No. 3 and No. 4 singles players, Jeff Labovitch and Jeff Heidner, each won sets at their own level and at one level higher.

Chatsworth (12-2) dominated the singles in the 4-A final, winning 12 of a possible 16 sets.

"The difference today was their singles ladder," said Marvin Jones, Taft Coach. "Their singles ladder steamrolled our singles ladder."

The match was especially intense because Chatsworth and Taft are league rivals.

"I didn't know what to expect," said Steve Berk, first-year Chatsworth coach. "I didn't know how they were going to react under pressure."

Now that Berk knows this, he is looking forward to next year.

Taft (11-4) lost after reaching the final for the third consecutive year, a big disappointment for the Toreadors' seven seniors.

In the 3-A final, Van Nuys was overpowered from the start. "They were just too good." said Jim Buck, Van Nuys coach. "I would like to see them play Chatsworth."

Marshall (16-0) dominated in singles, winning 11 sets.

Van Nuys (13-3) was especially stumped by Arthur Tombakian, Marshall's No. 1 singles player who has led Marshall during its three-year dynasty. Tombakian has not lost a set in the past two years.

Won Hur, Van Nuys' No. 1 singles player, gave Tombakian a game but lost, 6-3. Van Nuys won just three games against Tombakian in his remaining three sets.

Van Nuys had hope before the match because Marshall was without its No. 2 singles player, Manuel Gil-Goodman, who was recently declared academically ineligible. Sebastian Albelais moved up to No. 2 singles and Thomas Chun to No. 3. But Marshall did have Greg Gasparian, recently recovered from a broken leg.

The changes to Marshall's lineup, however, did little to help Van Nuys, which lost two sets to Gasparian and two to Chun.

But Buck, who has coached Van Nuys for 20 years and was appearing in his first final, was satisfied.

"We're not known as a tennis school, and to get this far was fine," Buck said.

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