Burbank's Vardanyan falls in quarterfinals of CIF tennis tournament

Burbank High tennis player Lilit Vardanyan had what her coach thought was a winnable draw Wednesday in the round of 16 at the CIF Southern Section Individual Tournament at Whittier Narrows Tennis Center in South El Monte.

However, what awaited the Bulldogs junior in the singles competition if Vardanyan were to get past her first match was the No. 1-seeded player in the tournament.

Vardanyan, who captured the Pacific League singles title, began her day by winning an up-and-down match against Jennifer Audra of Arlington, the No. 1 player from the Inland Valley League. The Bulldog won the first set, 6-3, but couldn't close out the contest and, as a result, lost the second set, 7-5. However, Vardanyan rebounded, taking the third set, 6-2, and earning herself a spot in the quarterfinals with the 6-3, 5-7, 6-2 win.

"That first matched lasted 2 hours and 45 minutes," Burbank Coach Loi Phan said. "It took a lot out of her. I could see she was tired."

After that hard-fought match, Vardanyan had to face top-seed Annika Ringblom from Peninsula, who won the Bay League championship.

Phan tried to help his player devise a plan to contend with the powerful Ringblom.

"I told Lilit that there's no way you're gonna outhit her," Phan said. "I told her she needed to try and slice her and hit drop shots as much as possible. She did a good job with the game plan and had some good shots, but the other girl was just too powerful. But even the [Peninsula] coach came over to us and said he thought Lilit did a good gob."

Despite the plan, Vardanyan was just no match for the seasoned senior, losing, 6-1, 6-1.

"She was a very good player," Vardanyan said. "I couldn't go with my plan 'A' so I had to go with my plan 'B.' I had some good points and some good shots, I just couldn't keep it up for the whole time. But I gave it my best."

Vardanyan advanced to the round of 16 after doing well in the opening rounds of the tournament Nov. 25 at Carpinteria High. After earning a bye in the first round, the Bulldog defeated No. 1 Cameron Patterson of Marlborough, the No. 1 player from the Sunshine League, 6-1, 6-1, before disposing of Kelsie Bryant of Carpinteria, the No. 1 player from the Frontier League, 6-3, 7-5.

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