BURBANK — Both Glendale High boys’ tennis Coach Bob Davidson and Burbank Coach Loi Phan were banking on a tight match when the squads met Thursday in a Pacific League contest.
However, neither could have predicted just how close the match would be.
The Nitros and Bulldogs were tied after the first of three rounds of play. The score remained knotted after the second round, and when all 18 sets were finished in regulation, the score stood at 9-9. That forced the contest to be decided by games, but when they were ultimately added up, Burbank and Glendale were still deadlocked, 81-81.
The match would ultimately be decided by a rare super tie-breaker, requiring all three singles players and doubles squads to take part in an additional three sets with tie-break scoring.
In the super tie-breaker, the Bulldogs won six of nine sets in singles to finally win the marathon, 10-8.
“We knew it was going to be close, but not this close,” said Burbank Coach Loi Phan, whose team not only opened league play against the Nitros but also competed in its first match of the season. “I told the guys that every game was going to be important in this one.
“We worked on tie-breakers during the last couple of practices, but not these kinds of tie-breakers.”
The loss marks the second straight to begin the Pacific League campaign for Glendale (1-2, 0-2 in league), which fell to Crescenta Valley, 10-8, on Tuesday.
“This was an important match for us,” Davidson said. “With that loss to CV and to [lose] against Burbank, that’s tough for us to start 0-2.”
In the super tie-breaker, two Bulldogs singles players were able to notch the only sweeps of the extra sets. While No. 1 Clayton Pauff went, 7-4, 7-1, 7-0, No. 3 Kevin Orellana won, 8-6, 7-3, 7-1.
Pauff (6-3, 6-4, 6-0) and Orellana (7-6 (8-6), 6-1, 6-1, also paced Burbank with sweeps during the first three rounds.
Being the first match of thee season, the Bulldogs looked shaky in the opening round.
“Because we hadn’t played before this season, we just didn’t find any rhythm early on,” Pauff said. “We were kind of all over the place.”
With the score tied at 3 after the first round, neither team could create any breathing room in the second round as things were knotted at 6.
“Our teams are a lot alike,” Davidson said of the matchup. “We both have some strong players, but neither of us have any depth.”
It looked as if the Bulldogs were going to win the match when they led, 9-8, with one set left in the third round. However, the No. 3 Nitros doubles team of David Casaburi and Davo Ismailian was able to pull out a thrilling 7-6 (7-5) victory against Keon Park and Danny Kaidbey to force the super tie-breaker.
Casaburi and Ismailian also won their other two sets in regulation, 6-4, 6-0. Glendale also received two wins from the No. 2 doubles team of Mher Krikor and Matt Davidian, 6-4, 5-7, 7-5.
Park and Kaidbey notched two set wins, 6-3, 7-5.
With Burroughs and Arcadia predicted to fight it out for the Pacific League championship, Phan thinks the Bulldogs, Glendale, Crescenta Valley and Hoover will be battling for the final two automatic playoff berths from the league.
“This was a huge match for us,” Phan said. “Even though it was the first match of the year for us, I told the guys it was going to probably be one of the most important. We are probably looking to try and get to the playoffs as the fourth team from the league, and if we lost [Thursday] that would pretty much have been it for our chances.”