Burbank singles player, doubles team get chance at CIF competition

For the girls' tennis players taking part in the CIF Southern Section Individual Tournament, there is always an element of the unknown.

That's because athletes who qualify for the tournament don't find out about their draw until they arrive on the morning of the event. One Burbank High singles player and one doubles team will likely experience that anticipation when they take part in the tournament Monday.

"It's really tough because you never know who you are going to face or what kind of seeding you're gonna get," Burbank Coach Loi Phan said. "You could get a tough first-round draw, like our doubles team did last year, or you could get a bye in the first round … you just never know. You just show up and then you find out."

Making their way to the competition will be junior singles player Lilit Vardanyan and the doubles team of seniors Elizabeth Sanchez and Meredy Gharabegi. While Vardanyan will play at Carpinteria High, the doubles will be at near-by Cate in Carpinteria.

Vardanyan, who will be making her first appearance in the event, won the Pacific League singles championship and has a sparkling 53-1 record, her only blemish coming with a loss to Hart's Natalia Munoz in a nonleague match.

Sanchez is also taking part in her first postseason tournament. However, Gharabegi is a veteran of the competition, playing in her fourth straight doubles event. The past three years, she qualified with teammate Ashley Basco. While Gharabegi played singles for most of the year for the Bulldogs, Sanchez was exclusively a doubles player. However, the two teamed up for the Pacific League Tournament, advancing to the championship match.

"Meredy has been there a lot, so she knows what to expect," Phan said. "I'm just hoping Elizabeth doesn't get too nervous with everything that's going on. And I know Lilit will be fine because she has the experience playing in USTA tournaments."

With her record, Phan expects Vardanyan to get a favorable seeding.

"She's 53-1 and I don't think there will be many players with a record that good," Phan said. "But from what I've been told, they do all the seedings by your USTA ranking. Lilit has a pretty good ranking, so she may have a good seed. But the doubles team hasn't played that much together, so they really don't have any kind of record."

The three players played instrumental roles in helping the Bulldogs notch a share of the Pacific League championship and their first title since 2003 as a member of the Foothill League. Burbank also advanced to the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division II playoffs, losing, 9-9 (71-70 in games), to St. Margaret's.

"Even though the rest of the girls on our team had their season end, they are still out there helping the girls who are still alive in CIF," Phan said. "Even the boys are out there playing against them to give them some competition."

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