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Girls’ Tennis Preview: Plenty to look forward to for trio of teams

Photo Gallery: Pacific League girls’ tennis semifinals and finals at Burroughs High School
Kristina Kirakosyan is a key returner this season for the Burbank High girls’ tennis team.
(Tim Berger / Staff Photographer)

A trio of girls’ tennis teams have varying expectations for the 2019 season.

Though Burbank High’s experience runs through its skilled singles player Kristina Kirakosyan, its talents are spread all around in the Bulldogs’ battle in the Pacific League.

Meanwhile, Burroughs will look to break out of its mold and make a push for the playoffs.

Providence will embark on uncharted territory with new coach Sherith Lewis, who will guide the program through the Prep League in the Pioneers’ first year competing against varsity contention in the league.

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Here’s a closer look at the teams.

BURBANK

The Bulldogs returning Kirakosyan, a senior, who will be surrounded by a younger squad that will try to fight for a CIF Southern Section Division II playoff berth against a highly competitive Pacific League.

The task isn’t too daunting for Burbank coach Loi Phan.

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“We’re going to be young, so it’s going to be interesting,” Phan said. “Again, everybody’s going to play for second, third or fourth. Number one is going to be locked away again because no one’s going to touch Arcadia. It’ll be interesting and it’ll be fun and tight. I think between second and third, it’s going to be tight.”

The Bulldogs finished fourth in the Pacific League last year with an 8-7 record. Burbank reached the first round of the Division II playoffs, where the Bulldogs fell to South Torrance, 15-3.

However, with Kirakosyan’s experience and an ample amount of young talent, Phan expects the team to battle against top-three contenders in Crescenta Valley and Glendale.

“It’s not a runaway,” Phan said. “It can be anybody. It’s going to be super close for number two and three. Everybody’s got a good team and they’re solid. The difference is going to be who might be sick, who’s lost a little bit and the match-ups.”

The Bulldogs graduated three players, one of them was four-year starter in Johana Faraj. Faraj and Kirakosyan teamed up in doubles to reach the Pacific League Tournament semifinals last year.

“Johana was a big loss because she was a four-year finalist for prelims in doubles, so losing her was big for us this year,” Phan said.

Among the freshmen Phan hexpects to contribute are Nairi Zeytounzian, who can occupy the final singles spot.

Burbank junior Siya Joshi will join Kirakosyan in the singles lineup, but Phan will determine the rest of the lineup as the season progresses, with three nonleague games to kick off the year.

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“They should expect good opponents,” said Kirakosyan of the newcomers. “Arcadia’s a good team and Crescenta Valley’s a good team — they have good players. [We] shouldn’t be afraid. They should be aggressive and not think about losing. Just be confident. I personally don’t like losing and everyone knows it here.”

Another key addition to the Bulldogs squad is sophomore sibling tandem Jenna and Leni Jabourian, who Phan looks to put in doubles play.

The Bulldogs will face South Pasadena, Flintridge Prep and Immaculate Heart prior to Pacific League action.

BURROUGHS

Indians coach Roy Bernhardt once again expects stiff competition against Pacific League opponents Arcadia, Crescenta Valley, Burbank and Glendale. Burroughs missed the playoffs last season with a fifth-place finish behind Glendale.

“This time of the season you never know,” Bernhardt said. “I hope we do better than last year. Last year was the first time we didn’t go to a playoff, so that was disappointing. But that’s the way it goes. Normally, we’re either in the middle of the league or above, but lately we’ve been in the middle and below.”

The Indians will be without senior Chloe Bookmeyer this year with her full commitment to softball, but Burroughs will return a handful of juniors and sophomores to help the team battle in the Pacific League.

Indians juniors Alice Weber and Elizabeth Fraser and sophomore pair Lauren Pieri and Isabella Harris-Bermudez come back for the Burroughs in hopes to lift the team to a playoff spot.

Photo Gallery: Glendale High vs. Burroughs in girls tennis
Burroughs High School girls tennis player Alice Weber returns the ball in game vs. Glendale High school player Farah Eskender, in away game at GHS in Glendale on Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)
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Bernhardt will also have a promising freshman pair in Kaitlyn Glaim and Elain Shane that could help bolster the squad.

“Somebody can look good on the court, but are they competitive,” Bernhardt said. “If they are competitive, they have a hard nose about winning. That’s hard to beat. ... I’m sure everybody has improved because they’re bigger, stronger and smarter.”

The singles and doubles lineups are still yet to be solidified since the returners have expressed a desire to play different positions.

Burroughs will start the season off in a Pacific League showdown against Glendale on Sept. 10.

PROVIDENCE

The Pioneers made the jump to the Prep League last season, but competed on the junior varsity level after a few nonleague games against varsity opponents.

Now in its fifth season as a program, Providence will fully compete on the varsity level with new coach Sherith Lewis at the helm.

Lewis, a Burbank native and 1976 Burroughs graduate, brings 45 years of tennis experience to the program. Though it is her first year coaching a high school program, Lewis is a private instructor and some of the players she has instructed play at Burbank and Burroughs.

“Providence is a small school and I’ve known Providence for a long time,” Lewis said. “I’ve known someone who’s gone here and it’s part of the Burbank community and I wanted to keep it in the city.”

It will be a season of growth for the Pioneers, with the singles and doubles lineups still being decided. Regardless, Lewis is impressed by the level of talent her team holds for the upcoming season, and in the future.

“In the first year, I don’t know what to expect,” Lewis said. “I love to teach as a coach. I love to be out there. I hope to groom the girls and teach the girls that don’t know how to play very well so that we can grow the program and become better tennis players.

“Even though they’re competing and it’s fun, it’s nice to win and to have success. Even if you don’t win, at least you played well.”

Among the singles rotation will be a juniors Olivia Robinson, Lena Haslinger, Sadie Shields and sophomore Ella Shenouda.

Providence’s only three seniors will be participating in doubles play, with long-time teammates Marie Suklunyan and Katherine Asaryan spearheading the squads. Pioneers senior Melanie Ruiz will also be among the doubles selection, with promising freshman Janika Amaril possibly making an appearance in both singles and doubles.


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