Burbank tennis at home for first round of CIF playoffs

After gaining a piece of the Pacific League championship, the Burbank High girls' tennis team will now shoot for an extended playoff run.

The Bulldogs, who shared the league title with Arcadia, will turn to its talented singles trio of Lilit Vardanyan, Meredy Gharabegi and Nicole Merrit to advance past the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division II playoffs after the pairings were unveiled Monday.

Burbank (14-2, 11-1 in league) will host either Estancia (9-8) or La Palma Kennedy (7-7) at 2 p.m. Wednesday in a first-round match at Burbank. Estancia and Kennedy will meet at 2 p.m. Tuesday in a wild-card match.

Estancia went 6-4 to place third in the Orange Coast League. Kennedy finished 5-7 to take fourth in the Sierra League.

"I don't know much about either team, but we aren't going to take either one lightly," Burbank Coach Loi Phan said. "I know Estancia comes out of a tough league.

"It's been a long process for us and we are getting closer. It will be interesting to see how we do."

The Bulldogs, who won their first league championship since capturing the Foothill title in 2002, have won six matches in a row.

They have relied heavily throughout most of the season on Vardanyan, Gharabegi and Merrit to set the table.

Vardanyan became the first Bulldog to win a singles title since Marianna Khachatryn won a Foothill League championship in 2003. Gharabegi teamed up with teammate Elizabeth Sanchez to get to the Pacific League championship contest in doubles.

"I told our girls [at practice Monday] that it could come down to how we do in singles," said Phan, whose team suffered an 11-7 first-round defeat against Beverly Hills last season.

The winner of Burbank's match will face St. Margaret's or Diamond Bar in a second-round contest at 2 p.m. Friday. St. Margaret's and Diamond Bar took second in the Academy and Hacienda leagues, respectively.


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