PASADENA — Even though she didn't defend the doubles title she won with Sarah Ali at last year's Pacific League Tennis Tournament, Crescenta Valley High junior Karen Ataian still managed to walk away from the courts at Pasadena High a champion once again, after upsetting unbeaten Francis Dean of Arcadia for this year's singles title on Wednesday.
But Ataian's presence in the singles bracket, as well as the graduation of Ali, meant there would be a new doubles champion crowned.
Burbank's No. 1 duo of Ashley Basco and Meredy Gharabegi set the initial goal of making it to the finals this season after being eliminated in the semis last season and, once they accomplished that, the second-seeded Bulldogs tandem took aim at the title against Arcadia's Elizabeth Liev and Nadia Pacheco-Amaro.
Basco and Gharabegi fell short of the championship, 6-3, 6-3, but were happy about reaching their goal of making the finals, which automatically qualified them for the CIF individuals Tournament.
"I'm happy that we did better than last year," Basco said. "I'm totally looking forward to [CIF]. That was my goal this whole entire season."
Basco and Gharabegi made a go at forcing a tiebreaker third set, taking a 3-2 lead in the second set before Pacheco-Amaro and Live made a finishing push to seal the win.
"It was all unforced errors," Gharabegi said. "I think that sums up what was happening."
Added Basco: "We started late putting together games, we should have started earlier."
Burbank Coach Lio Phan said he was proud of Basco and Gharabegi for reaching their season goal and putting up a good effort in the finals.
"We're trying to improve and I said this year, let's try to get to the finals, and that's what they did," Phan said. "They played a very good team, it's not like they were playing bad. The better team won."
In order to reach the final, Basco and Gharabegi had to get past the third-seeded Crescenta Valley duo of Jackie Dilanchian and Viktoriya Shumakova, which they did, 6-4, 7-5.
"I told them, these girls are going to try and outhit you, so lets' not play that game.," Phan said. "I told them just try to get three or four balls in and see what happens and sure enough [Dilanchian and Shumakova] were pushing it more and hitting a lot more balls out.
They gave us a lot of freebie points, but our girls battled, they battled back and it was back and forth. …It was a good day for them."
Burroughs senior Kathy Henry was ousted by the top-seeded Dean, 6-1, 6-0, in the semifinals. She then fell to Crescenta Valley's Emily Borkowski, 8-3, in the third-place match.