PASADENA — What started as a seven-team tournament nearly ended as an all-Burbank city affair Wednesday afternoon at the Pacific League boys’ tennis finals at Pasadena High.
Burroughs and Burbank high placed competitors in the league’s singles and doubles finals with the Indians taking home each crown and the Bulldogs advancing two competitors to the CIF Southern Section Boys Individual Tennis Tournament.
While it may have seemed reasonable to think the Indians’ postseason fortunes were in shambles after the season-ending injury suffered in March to singles ace Garrett Auproux, the two-time reigning All-Area Singles Player of the Year, Burroughs proved resilient as sophomore Sawyer Patterson captured the singles championship and the squad of Michael Whelan and Calvin Fox captured the doubles crown.
“It was difficult when Garrett went down and it forced us to make some changes,” Burroughs Coach Roy Bernhardt said. “We had to move around some players and had to raise expectations of others.”
One such change came on the doubles side, where Bernhardt entered the combination of Whelan and Fox, who had only previously played three sets together, into the tournament.
The fourth-seeded duo rolled through two matches Monday before notching consecutive upsets in Wednesday’s semifinals and finals match, including a thrilling 5-7, 7-5, 10-6, victory over crosstown rivals Keon Park and Clayton Pauff of Burbank.
“We knew we didn’t play well in the first set and had to come back,” Fox said. “Midway through the second game, we knew we had to come back.”
After Park and Pauff led wire-to-wire in the first set for a 7-5 win, the Bulldogs took a quick 1-0 advantage in the second set. Yet, rather than falling behind, 4-1, as in the first set, Whelan and Fox battled back and alternated the lead until taking a 5-4 advantage after a Bulldogs error clinched a game.
The Burroughs duo then forced a deciding third set when Whelan laced a shot down the line for a victory.
In the final set, the Indians jumped out to a 4-1 advantage and continued to lead, 7-4, until the Bulldogs scored two points on a backhand from Park and an Indians smash into the net closed the deficit to 7-6.
From there, though, the Indians turned separation into victory by scoring the next four points en route to the 10-6 win.
“We just made mistakes and we lost the match. I don’t think you can say Burroughs won it,” Park said. “We beat ourselves today.”
Whelan and Fox earned advancement to the finals by besting teammates Kevin Hoang and Wen Yao Lin in the semifinals, 6-4.
The match was the last for Hoang and Lin, who took third by virtue of Arcadia’s doubles team forfeiting both its semifinal and consolation-round third-place matches due to illness.
The first forfeiture allowed Park and Pauff to advance to the finals.
As for stepping up, Patterson helped fill Auproux’s void Wednesday by capturing the singles championship after fending off a solid effort from Hoover’s Oleg Simonyan, 6-3, 6-4, in a battle between the top-two seeded players with clashing styles.
Patterson entered with a blistering serve and a powerful backhand, while Simonyan countered with a solid drop shot and a refined finesse game.
The differences were highlighted in a back-and-forth second set in which Simonyan took the opening game and each player rotated the lead until a tie at 4 was snapped by Patterson, who broke Simonyan’s serve and jumped ahead, 5-4, on a baseline winner.
Patterson then went up quickly, 30-0, in the next game before winning two possessions later on a cross-court smash.
“I wanted to do what I could to try to spread him out and use my slide and topspin,” Simonyan said. “He hits the ball really hard and I tried to slow him down.”
Patterson showed elements of frustration, though, including when the sophomore chucked his racket into the wall after Simonyan closed a 4-1 first-set deficit to 4-3.
“He’s definitely the second-best player in this tournament,” Patterson said of Simonyan. “I tried to drag him out of his comfort zone and attack him with shorter balls.”
Patterson reached the finals by defeating Hoover’s Emile Ohanyan in the day’s semifinal, 6-4, 6-2.
Patterson and the duos of Whelan and Fox and Park and Pauff all advanced to section play of the individual tennis tournament on May 23.
Burbank freshman Kevin Orellana, the third-seeded singles player, recovered from a 6-2, 5-7 (10-2) defeat to Simonyan in the day’s opening semifinal to defeat Ohanyan, 8-6, in the singles consolation third-place match, 8-6.
“It felt great to come back and win,” Orellana said. “I was a little tired after that first loss, but wanted to finish with a win.”