Burbank High’s Haig Kassabian had history on his side Tuesday in the
Foothill League singles final at the Burbank Tennis Center.
Entering the championship match against Valencia’s Kevin White,
the Bulldog senior had not been beaten in 61 straight league contests
during a two-season span.
Kassabian had also never been defeated by White.
Using a strong baseline game and taking advantage of his
opponent’s mistakes at the net, Kassabian rolled to a 6-2, 6-3
victory to win his second straight title.
The top three singles players and doubles teams earn a spot in the
CIF Southern Section Individual Championships May 22.
“Haig is very patient and he constructs his shots,” Burbank Coach
Paul McNiff said. “He doesn’t play on emotion.”
Kassabian’s even temper was apparent against White. Whereas the
Valencia senior frequently yelled, threw his racquet and rocketed
balls into the net after missing shots, Kassabian hardly made a peep
all match. In fact, following every scoring shot, it was hard to tell
if the Bulldog senior won or lost the point.
“I don’t like to yell and do things like that when I’m playing,”
Kassabian said. “I just try to keep my anger to myself. It doesn’t do
me any good to get upset all the time.”
Along with the contrast in emotions, White and Kassabian brought
distinctly different styles to the match.
Kassabian used primarily a baseline game and relied a lot on his
passing shots. In contrast, White relied on a serve-and-volley game.
Unfortunately for White, some of his shots went into the net, or
were hit right back at Kassabian.
“He tried to play the same way against me during the season,”
Kassabian said. “But I beat him, 6-0.
"[Tuesday], when he came to the net, I just tried to put the ball
at his feet.”
The strategy worked perfectly, as White had no answer for
Kassabian’s powerful shot.
“Kevin is the only player in league who plays a serve-and-volley
game,” McNiff said. “Not too many players want to even attempt to
play that way.”
The Bulldog also attacked White on his serve, earning five service
breaks during the match.
Kassabian earned a trip to the final by defeating Hart’s Mike
Haywood, 6-0, 6-0, Ara Berlin of Saugus, 6-0, 6-1, and Hart’s Matthew
Taoatao, 6-1, 6-1.
It was almost an all-Burbank singles final, as Bulldog Housep
Gasamian made it to the semifinals. However, he was defeated by
White, 6-3, 6-3.
Gasamian defeated Valencia’s Allen Lachin, 6-0, 6-0 and Hart’s
Zach Canico, 6-2, 6-1, in the preliminaries Monday.
Gasamian was scheduled to compete in the third-place match,
however, he defaulted and took himself out of the event.
“I think he defaulted because he is physically and mentally
tired,” McNiff said. “That match with Kevin took a lot out of him.”
The only other local to win a singles match was Burroughs’ Chris
Moon, who defeated Albert Nguyen of Canyon, 6-4, 6-1, in an
opening-round match. Moon fell to White in the second round, 6-0,
In doubles, the championship was won by Nick Amico and J.J. Patino
of Valencia. The Viking duo defeated teammates David Foglesong and
Eddie Manio, 7-6(1), 6-4, to secure the title.
In a third-place match, Burroughs’ Andres Lamelas and Pheong Lam
defeated Burbank’s James Chang and Ara Baghdasaryan, 6-3, 6-4.
Chang and Baghdasaryan began the competition with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-1
win against Valencia’s Elvis Ky and David Lachin. They followed with
a 6-2, 6-4 victory against Hiran Patel and Pedro Castro of Hart, 6-2,
The Bulldog pair was defeated in the semifinals, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3,
against Foglesong and Manio.
For Lamelas and Lam, they defeated Norris Whitemore and Mike Ryan
of Hart, 6-2, 6-2, and Jess Guidroz and Lucas Guidroz of Canyon, 4-6,
6-2, 7-6(1), before falling to Amico and Patino, 6-2, 6-3.
“I think it’s been three or four years since we had anyone go to
CIF,” Burroughs Coach Roy Bernhardt said. “We had a very long dry
The Burroughs duo of Scott Lam and Wilson Tseng defeated Brent
Singley and Raj Khlsa of Canyon, 3-6, 7-5, 6-4, before losing to
Foglesong and Manio, 7-6(1), 6-4.
Along with being represented in the individual competition,
Burbank is also gearing up for the CIF Southern Section Division III
team playoffs, which begin May 17.
The Bulldogs tied Valencia for the Foothill League title, as
Burbank has won or shared the championship 14 of the past 16 seasons.
However, by virtue of a better head-to-head result against the
Vikings, Burbank will go into the postseason as the top team from the
In 2002, Valencia took the league crown away from Burbank, which
“We are hoping being the No. 1 team from the league will get us a
pretty good seeding,” McNiff said.
“I know Valencia had the No. 1 seeding last season and they
received a pretty good draw.”