Shara Surabi tried to ignore the pain in his legs, as his muscles
tensed and cramped as a result of a strenuous tennis match.
Taking part in the Western State Conference men’s singles
championships at Bakersfield College on Saturday, the Glendale
Community College sophomore limped his way through his semifinal
match against Ventura College’s Dimitri Verabyou.
Falling, 7-5, 6-3, in a grueling contest, the No. 1-seeded Surabi
never made it to the final.
But neither did Verabyou.
Verabyou, suffering from cramps himself, was so worn out from his
match against Surabi, that the freshman had to default the
championship because he was in no condition to play.
Surabi -- a Burbank High graduate -- has beaten up and battered
the majority of opponents he has faced this season as a standout for
the Vaqueros. With a powerful serve and an accomplished baseline
game, Surabi has emerged as the most dangerous opponent in the
conference, as well as one of the better community college players in
“Shara was up, 5-3, in the first set against Dimitri and he was
rolling along,” GCC men’s Coach Bob McKay said.
“But through the next four games, Dimitri made very few mistakes.
It wasn’t that Shara blew it, it just got to the point that there was
just no holes in Dimitri’s game.
“The match took a lot out of Shara, but it also took a lot out of
Dimitri, because he couldn’t walk after the match.”
A modest player with an even temper, Surabi is quick to credit
Verabyou on a fine effort.
“It was a very long, tough match,” Surabi said. “On some points,
the ball went over the net 30 or more times before one of us won the
“He played very smart and he kept me from playing my game. He
didn’t miss much.”
Although Surabi, 19, failed to win the singles title, he didn’t
come away from the conference competition empty-handed. He recovered
from his singles defeat to team up with freshman Gevork Kirakosian to
capture the doubles championship.
In the doubles final, the Vaquero duo downed Sean McCullough and
Sean Callaghan of Ventura, 1-6, 6-2, 6-3.
The win earned the GCC pair a place in Thursday’s Southern
California Regionals at the Barnes Tennis Center in San Diego.
However, before the regionals, Surabi and Kirakosian, along with
teammates Roland Nazarian -- a Burbank grad -- and Eric Ho, have been
taking part in the 103rd annual Ojai Valley Tennis Tournament that
To no one’s surprise, Surabi remains in the hunt in the men’s
community college draw, advancing to the quarterfinals at 8 a.m.
today following Friday’s 7-6, 6-2 victory against Mount San Antonio
College’s Ara Sarkissian.
Surabi (5 feet 7, 175 pounds) -- who has lost only one set in his
four matches at Ojai -- breezed through conference play in singles
undefeated (11-0), although he did not play Verabyou when GCC faced
Ventura. He did go 2-3 in nonconference matches, however, all three
of his losses came against players who are ranked in the top 20 in
“Shara can really play,” McKay said. “He hits the ball hard, but
he is also a grinder. And for a guy just 5-7, he pounds the ball well
over 100 miles an hour on his serve.
For his exploits, Surabi was honored Wednesday as the WSC Player
of the Year.
Tennis success isn’t a recently acquired trait for Surabi. Before
he landed at GCC, he was a standout as Burbank, helping maintain one
of the most storied area dynasties.
A 2001 graduate, Surabi helped the Bulldogs (12-2) capture their
14th straight Foothill League championship and continue a streak of
116 straight league victories his senior season.
While at Burbank, Surabi played three years for Clyde Richards, a
coach known for his no nonsense, hard-nosed approach to tennis.
Despite Richards’ tough methods, Surabi said his education under the
coach has helped him succeed as a player.
“He was a great coach,” Surabi said. “A lot of people didn’t like
him because he was very hard, but I loved it. I like to work hard and
I think it’s important to come on the court, work hard and be
“Coach Richards not only helped me with my skills, but he helped
me mentally and even in school, where he helped me with my math. I
owe him a lot.”
Next season, Surabi hopes to take his tennis game to a four-year
“Hopefully, I can play at a Division II, or maybe even a Division
I school,” he said. “But I am confident with my game right now and I
know I can play with a lot of the better players.”