BURBANK — There was little time to spare for the Glendale High girls’ tennis doubles team of Celine Khachiki and Momo Guzman at the Pacific League Tournament at Burroughs High on Wednesday.
But with every winning point in the semifinmal, the No. 3-seeded pair surprised themselves more and more as they made their way to the league title match in the doubles bracket. But what awaited the Nitros pair was matchup against the top-seeded duo Mikaila Cheng and Cara Hung of Arcadia.
Meanwhile, in singles play on an opposite court, No. 2-seeded Burbank senior Kristina Kirakosyan battled back from a three-game deficit in the first set of her semifinal to win in straight sets and advance to her first league final. Awaiting the Bulldog in the title match was the No. 1 seed, Arcadia freshman Samantha Wang.
Unfortunately for the area trip, the top-seeded players went on to secure league titles, as Cheng and Hung won the doubles final against Guzman and Khachiki, 6-0, 6-1, and Wang took the singles crown with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Kirakosyan.
In a marathon effort from the Glendale duo, Guzman and Khachiki, who had played together as a doubles team once this season, prepared for three matches on the day after Monday’s second-round match was postponed due to poor air-quality from surrounding fires.
“It was difficult,” said Guzman of playing three matches as opposed to the normal two on the final day of the tournament. “I’m super tired.”
Guzman and Khachiki became the first Glendale doubles to advance to a league-title match under coach Tom Gossard after a 6-1, 6-4 semifinal victory over the No. 2 seed Michelle Dong and Jean Chen of Arcadia. The Glendale duo opened the day with an 8-4 second-round victory against No. 11 Jace Kwon and Grace Hong of Arcadia.
“They played well and they adjusted well,” Gossard said. “They beat two great doubles teams from Arcadia. Now they head to the CIF Southern Section Individuals Tournament. I couldn’t be happier for them, especially since it’s been the first time a Glendale team has appeared in the finals in forever. It’s been years.”
In the semifinal, The Nitros duo went up early with a four-game lead and won the opening set, 6-1. The two clinched a spot in the final when Khachiki’s return went down the left side of the court for a winner that gave the pair a 6-4 second-set victory.
“We know Arcadia is really challenging,” Khachiki said. “We wanted play our best to see what would happen. We kept collecting ourselves after each point and we communicated a lot. We just did what we knew how to do.”
With the win in doubles from Cheng and Hong, Arcadia has claimed the last four titles in doubles play after three consecutive championships from Michelle Deng and Lauren Ko.
The No. 1 Apaches duo defeated No. 4 seed Teleya Blunt and Dziyana Haiduk of Crescenta Valley, 6-1, 6-1, in the semifinals to reserve a spot in the doubles final.
“We played against their singles No. 1 and doubles No. 1 — best players,” said Guzman of the title matchup. “I’m proud for getting one game.”
Blunt and Haiduk fell to No. 2 Dong and Chen, 8-5, in the third-place doubles match.
Experiencing some congestion troubles, Kirakosyan fell behind against Chen, 5-2, in the first set of the singles semifinal. The senior, who reached the semifinals in doubles last year and singles play in 2017, stormed back to win in straight sets, 7-5, 6-1.
“I had no energy to play,” said Kirakosyan, who became Burbank’s first singles finalist since Lilit Vardanyan won back-to-back titles in 2014. “I don’t know what happened or how it happened. I just got back in. I wasn’t thinking about losing.”
In the singles final match against top-seed Wang, Kirakosyan fell behind early in the first set, 4-1. Again, the senior mounted a comeback to cut the set to a one-game deficit, but Wang went on complete the win in straight sets.
“It was a good comeback, but I knew she wasn’t feeling well this morning,” Burbank coach Loi Phan said. “But she had to play through it. I told her to just make it through the first round and I think she spent a lot, especially being down, 2-5. She came back, so that showed me a lot.
“Overall it was a good day. Again, she did what she was suppose to get to the CIF Individuals, so that will be fun for her.”
Wang defeated No. 5 Melika Mohammad of Crescenta Valley, 6-0, 6-0, in the semifinals.
In the singles third-place match, Mohammad fell to Chen, 8-1, to finish fourth in the tournament.
Mohammad won her second-round match with an 8-6 victory against No. 4 Micaela Arakaleyan of Hoover, who experienced dizziness after her first-round win due to Monday’s poor air quality.