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Erasing bad memories

Jeff Tully

Chris Lee has had something on his mind constantly for almost a year.

The memory of Valencia athletes climbing the fences around the

Burbank Tennis Center following the Vikings’ victory against the

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Bulldogs last season is deeply etched in the minds of Lee and his

teammates.

The Bulldogs have also not been able to erase the bad memory of

losing the Foothill League championship to the Vikings in 2002 for

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the first time in 15 years.

Thursday, in a league match at the Burbank Tennis Center, those

memories served as motivation and incentive for Burbank, as it took

out revenge on Valencia with a 12-6 win.

The win avenged a pare of defeats to the Vikings last season. The

first -- a 9-9 tie the Vikings won on games, 82-77 -- April 11,

snapped Burbank’s consecutive match winning streak at 116, and ended

the Bulldogs’ 12-year reign without a loss. It was the fourth longest

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winning streak in state history.

The Vikings made it a sweep with a 10-8 win April 30 at the

Burbank Tennis Center.

“Losing to them last year is something I have thought about a lot

for a whole year,” said Lee, who plays No. 2 doubles. “I have been

dreaming about getting to play them again.

“We were definitely pumped for this match. I think losing the

league title last year has made us hungry to want to win it back.”

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That hunger might have made the difference for Burbank (8-4, 3-0

in league).

While the Bulldogs played the match with a sense of urgency,

Valencia took another approach to the contest.

“We just wanted to look at this like any other league match,”

Coach Anne Kellogg said. “We just approach it like we’re playing any

other league team, like Hart or Canyon. We are just excited about

playing.”

The Bulldogs served notice early that they were taking the contest

as more than just “any other league match.” In years past, the

Vikings (10-4, 3-1) have displayed a habit of showing up early at

Burbank’s home facility, and are usually already settled in when the

Bulldogs arrive.

“They did that last year,” Burbank Coach Paul McNiff said. “At our

own place, Valencia was here before us.

“But [Thursday], we made sure we were here first, and they were

able see us ready to go when they arrived.”

The victory bodes well for the Bulldogs in their quest to regain

the league title. Along with Burbank and Valencia, the other league

team that was thought to have a chance to vie for a league crown is

Hart. However Valencia easily defeated Hart on Tuesday, 15-3.

Despite playing down the importance of the contest, Kellogg did

shuffle her lineup a little to try and maximize her team’s chances.

Along with moving some players in doubles, Kellogg also moved the

Vikings’ usual No. 1 singles player, Kevin White, to the No. 3

position.

However, the changes didn’t help in singles -- especially against

Burbank’s top two players. No. 1 Haig Kassabian had little trouble

sweeping his sets, 6-0, 6-2, 6-0, and No. 2 Hovsep Gasamanian had an

even easier time, 6-0, 6-0, 6-1.

At No. 3 singles, David Chung went 0-6, 6-7(3), 1-2.

The Bulldogs also got a boost from their No, 2 doubles, as Lee and

Ted Kang teamed up to sweep, 6-4, 7-6(5), 6-1.

“I am real happy with the play of that doubles team,” McNiff said.

“I am also pleased with the way Haig and Hovsep came through, but

they are our two best players and that is kind of expected of them.”

At No. 1 doubles, James Chang and Ara Baghdararyan went, 4-6, 6-2,

6-4 and Varuzhan Sarkisyan and Alex Dawoodian went, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6(2).

In the wake of his Bulldogs’ fine performance against Valencia,

McNiff is quick to point out the teams still have to play one more

time April 29 at Valencia.

“It may have looked like we won by a good margin, but you look at

the scores and we won two tie-breakers, and if we don’t win those,

the score is 10-8,” he said.


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