Crescenta Valley High doubles players find success forged on bedrock of friendship

It was a pairing that might never have happened.

When Alexa Gregorian began her senior season for the Crescenta Valley High girls' tennis team, she came in as a successful singles player, advancing to the Pacific League tournament semifinals as a junior.

"I had played singles, so I just expected that I was going to be playing singles my senior year," Gregorian said. "I had always been a singles player and I liked playing singles."

Jackie Dilanchyan started her final season with the Falcons as a strong doubles competitor, having teamed up with partner Viktoriya Shumakova a year earlier to earn a spot in the league doubles semifinals.

"I had lost my partner [to graduation], so I had no idea who I was going to be paired up with for my last season," Dilanchyan said. "I just had to wait and see."

Being self-proclaimed "best friends" Dilanchyan and Gregorian had talked about how much fun it would be if the two of them teamed up to play doubles for the Falcons. However, they figured it would likely never take place.

But then Dilanchyan took the initiative.

"I went to our coach and told him that since I lost my doubles partner, and this being my senior year, and since he was looking for someone to get paired with me, why not have Alexa and I play together," Dilanchyan said. "We thought it would be a good idea and we would love to play together.

"At first he was totally against it. There was no way he was taking Alexa out of singles. So, I really tried to convince him that we would make a good team and that he should give it a try."

Crescenta Valley Coach Sam Hyun knew that Gregorian had the talent to stand alone as a singles player. So, as the season began, Gregorian was in the lineup as a singles player for the Falcons.

"Alexa has a lot of power, so I wasn't sure if Jackie was the right person to play with her," Hyun said. "But then Alexa came to me and told me that although she likes playing singles, she really wanted to play doubles with Jackie. So, I agreed to put them together and see what would happen."

The decision would pay off substantially, not only for the Falcons but for Dilanchyan and Gregorian. The formidable duo, on bedrock of friendship, turned in a successful season that included slicing through league competition, capturing a Pacific League doubles championship, earning a trip to the CIF Southern Section Individuals Tournament and notching a victory in the postseason individual event.

It is because of their success that Dilanchyan and Gregorian have been named the All-Area Doubles Team of the Year by the writers and editors of the Glendale News-Press, Burbank Leader and La Cañada Valley Sun.

With the opportunity in hand, Dilanchyan and Gregorian embarked on a successful senior campaign that would yield just two losses. The duo compiled a 37-2 overall record and had an impressive 32-1 record in Pacific League competition.

While their physical talents and competitiveness helpedfacilitate the pair's successful run, both admit it was their friendship that played a substantial part in that success.

"It really helped out us as a team that we were friends…that was really big for us," Gregorian said. "Just knowing her personality, I knew when I needed to pick her up and she knew when I needed to be picked up.

"It was nice to know that she had my back, not only on the tennis court, but in everything that we did. That's what's nice about having that friendship between us."

Said Dilanchyan: "Doubles is mainly based on communication, and when you're friends, it just makes it so much easier. For us, I think we were just so comfortable with one another. And if you criticize one another, you don't take it so personally because you're friends. It is also a lot of fun playing with someone who is your friend."

Hyun is convinced that the friendship Dilanchyan and Gregorian shared made them a tough team to defeat.

"Being close friends was very important for them," he said. "But also, their power levels are very much alike, and because of that they were a very good team.

"They liked to play what I called very aggressive play. Instead of just playing and waiting for a point, they attacked every point, they served hard and they used that to be successful. It is a do-or-die way to play, but it worked for them."

That style helped lead Dilanchyan and Gregorian to the Pacific League finals match Oct 30. In the contest, the Falcons took on the seasoned Burbank duo of Meredy Gharabegi and Elizabeth Sanchez. Despite a rocky start, the Crescenta Valley pair rallied to notch a 5-7, 6-4, 10-8 victory at Pasadena High.

Than it was on to the CIF Southern Section Individuals Tournament on Nov. 25 for Dilanchyan and Gregorian.

The two began the event with a 7-5, 6-4 victory against Bree Jensen and Reagan Mroz of Santa Ynez. However, the duo then suffered a 6-4, 6-1 defeat against Annette Sousa and Gabi Pereverziev of Righetti. Sousa and Pereverziev were the PAC-7 League champions.

"It was a great experience to even play in CIF as a team," Gregorian said. "It was further than we ever thought we would go. It was just nice for us both being seniors, to end the season with the success that we had. It was a lot of fun."

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