BURBANK — Things couldn’t have been any closer after the first two of three rounds of Thursday’s girls’ tennis match between league-leading Burbank High and Arcadia.
In a battle of the Pacific League’s top squads, the teams were tied in sets at 6 and in games at 51 headed into the final round.
Although the teams split the final six games to both finish with 9, the Apaches were able to claim the victory at Burbank by just two games, 9-9 (79-77).
The win by Arcadia (8-1, 10-1 in league) – ranked No. 8 in CIF Southern Section Division II – puts it into a tie with seventh-ranked Burbank (11-2, 8-1) for the league lead with four matches remaining.
Despite losing a close match, Bulldogs Coach Loi Phan was not disappointed. In fact, he was happy. That’s because with the 9-9 tie, Burbank still holds the tiebreaker against the Apaches after beating them in the teams’ first meeting Sept. 17, 10-8. If both teams run the table the rest of the way, Burbank will get the No. 1 seed for the playoffs from the league.
“Are you kidding me? I am very happy to go 9-9 this time around with them,” Burbank Coach Loi Phan said. “I was thinking about it all of last night and every way I figured it I couldn’t see us winning more than eight points. So, to be able to get nine is more than I expected.
“No team other than Arcadia and [Crescenta Valley] have ever won a Pacific League title. So, if we have to share it, as least we can say we are league champs.”
The Bulldogs are trying to win the program’s first championship since 2002, that coming in the old Foothill League.
If the Bulldogs do get the No. 1 seed, they might want to thank the doubles team of Veronica Mendoza and Gabrielle Markari. With Arcadia having already secured the win and leading, 9-8, late in the third, only the Bulldogs duo was left on the courts doing battle with Arcadia’s Firdaus Jahangir and Mintra Janopas. Mendoza and Markari were able to hold on for a 7-5 victory to give Burbank its ninth set win.
“That win was huge,” Phan said. “That right there probably got us the top seed in our league for the playoffs.”
Burbank benefited by sweeps from singles player Lilit Vardanyan, 6-0, 6-1, 6-4, and the doubles team of Meredy Gharabegi and Elizabeth Sanchez, 6-3, 6-1, 6-1.
Sanchez and Markari also won, 6-4, and singles player Nicole Merrit took one, 6-2.
“We came in pretty confident, and we just told each other to do their best,” Vardanyan said. “We really weren’t that nervous, we just wanted to play well.”
Arcadia played well in the early going of the match, jumping out to a 4-2 lead after the first round.
“The girls really wanted to win this won,” Arcadia Coach Bo Win Tin said. “After we lost to them the first time, the girls have been working out extra hard to be ready for this one.”
Burbank made up some ground in the second round, outscoring the Apaches, 4-2, to knot the score at 6.