Although Paul McNiff wasn’t the varsity coach, he is aware of some of
the problems the Burbank High girls’ tennis team went through last
Some of the Bulldogs didn’t get along, and that led to some
tension and animosity among the players.
“Over the summer, I bought the girls shirts T-shirts and the
message on the back says ‘consistency.’ But what I really wanted to
put on the back was ‘no drama, ' " McNiff said.
“Last season, there wee too many extracurricular, off-the-court
issues that had nothing to do with tennis. Those type of things
aren’t good for a team and the players are affected by it.”
With the main culprits of last season’s problems gone via
graduation, Burbank returning doubles player Kristine Patatanyan said
this year’s squad has a completely different attitude.
“We can already tell it’s not going to be anything like last
year.” she said. “This team gets along a lot better and there
shouldn’t be the same kinds of problems we had before.”
While Burbank and Burroughs will have their share of returning
players, it should be the Bulldogs who will be gunning for a Foothill
Not that the Indians won’t have talent. But Coach Roy Bernhardt
said his squad is probably a year or two away from being a real
Here is a look at how the teams are shaping up:
With most of his team returning, McNiff figures the squad will
turn out one of two ways this season -- good, or very good.
One of the factors that will influence Burbank’s success is the
status of its No. 1 singles player from a year ago, Lucy Youchkovets.
Youchkovets, a junior, was injured in a car accident following the
2002 season and didn’t work out with the team the entire summer.
Unaware of his player’s status, McNiff thought he had lost her for
the season. However, he said Youchkovets contacted him just days ago
and expressed her desire to play.
“She is a solid player and she has a spot on our team,” McNiff
said. “I’m just not sure if she is as physically fit as in previous
years. We will just have to see how she is.
“Lucy has earned all-league honors the last two years and she is a
player we could really use.”
Even if Youchkovets does come back in fighting shape, she could
get a challenge from freshman Mariann Khachatryan. Khachatryan --
whose father, Harout, is a successful and popular instructor at the
Burbank Tennis Center -- comes into high school play a seasoned
junior tournament player.
“Mariann has a lot of experience and she is used to being on the
court in pressure situations,” McNiff said. “She is extremely calm
and confident on the court.”
Khachatryan is ranked No. 12 in the Southern California Tennis
Assn. girls’ 14 division.
McNiff said he believes Khachatryan could have the talent to
topple defending league champion, junior Yasaman Sakhakorn of
The Bulldogs also have a fine returning singles player in Natalie
“With Lucy, we will have a very good 1-2-3 punch,” said McNiff,
whose team was 11-9 (6-4 in league) in 2002.
Along with having accomplished singles athletes, the Bulldogs
return almost their entire doubles corps.
Leading the way is Patatanyan, who will probably pair up with
junior Vera Affi for the program’s top doubles team.
Other doubles players who should make an impact are sisters
Christina Zapata -- a senior -- and Summer Zapata -- a junior -- and
junior Diane Grair.
Last season, under Coach Larry Lambert, the Bulldogs failed to win
a share of the league title for the first time in three seasons.
However this year, McNiff thinks his team should compete for a
“Hart and Valencia, who we both lost to twice last season, are
going to be very competitive,” he said. “I think we should have the
better doubles players. But it should be very close in doubles.”
With a 2-14 (0-10 in league) record in 2002, Bernhardt said he is
not expecting miracles from this year’s Indian squad.
“What we are trying to do here is promote tennis,” said Bernhardt,
whose teams won league titles in 1994, 1995 and 1996 and shared the
1999 crown with Burbank. “We are teaching players how to play so they
can play tennis the rest of their lives.
“If we happen to win a few matches along the way, that’s great.
But we aren’t going to be unrealistic about this season.”
Burroughs has been affected by the decision of three of last
year’s starters, who have decided not to play for various reasons.
That leaves the Indians with a group of mostly untested players.
“Maybe in a couple years, when we have all these freshmen and
sophomores come up, we should be a lot better,” assistant coach Dave
Stanfield said. “We should be better even next year.
“So it will just take a little time for us to improve.”
The Burroughs players realize there is nowhere to go but up in
league, as the team has posted a 1-19 record the past two seasons.
Helping the team on the road to improvement should be returning
No. 1 singles Pam DeVerya, a senior. Junior Jennie Eamnarangkool will
also play singles.
The Indians might get a boost in singles from freshman Stephany
Arroyane, who has just joined the team.
In doubles, senior Aileen Campbell and Ashley Desjardines, juniors
An Do, Teresa Williams and Eudina Peralta and sophomore Arpi
Dergalestian should give the team some depth.