BURBANK — It was a successful showing for a group of local boys’ tennis players in the 2013 Pacific League Tournament.
A year ago, Burroughs High’s Sawyer Patterson defeated Hoover’s Oleg Simonyan, 6-3, 6-4, to take the singles title at the league final.
The Indians also received a league title from the doubles squad of Michael Whelan and Calvin Fox, which rebounded to notch a 5-7, 7-5, 10-6, victory against cross-town rivals Keon Park and Clayton Pauff of Burbank.
All five local players earned All-Area accolades. But of that group, only one returns for the 2014 campaign, and he is from Burroughs.
One big drawback for the teams this year is that the Pacific League season has been pushed up. In fact, the Indians and Bulldogs both opened the league campaign Tuesday, as neither had a chance to play any nonleague contests.
Here is a closer look at the squads.
When the Indians (13-1) lost their best player last season, senior Garrett Auproux, to an injury midway through the year, hopes for a league championship dimmed for the Indians. However, the team’s players rallied and the Indians captured the league title.
Leading the way was Patterson, a junior, who was undefeated in the regular season. Patterson finished 30-0 in regular-season singles matches and was 6-0 in doubles.
Patterson and Burroughs, however, lost in the first round of the playoffs after making the jump to Division I, falling to Marina, 10-8.
Patterson also did well in the CIF Southern Section Individual Tournament at the University of Redlands. He notched a 6-0, 6-0 win against David Gonzalez of Kaiser and then defeated Eric West of Shadow Hills, 6-1, 6-1. He was then defeated by Victor Brown of Ayala, 6-2, 6-2.
“Sawyer had a good season last year, and he looks even better this season,” Burroughs Coach Roy Bernhardt said. “He has improved since last season.”
One player who Bernhardt expected to return for the Indians was Fox, a senior. Fox played primarily singles last season, but was paired up in doubles for the league tournament. However, Fox said he will not play for Burroughs this season.
“Unfortunately yes. It was a tough decision, but it was a commitment that I would not be able to make this year,” Fox said via Twitter. “I do not want it to become a drama…I wish all our spring teams the very best this year.”
Hopefully filling in some of those vacated spots will be Logan Tran, a junior who will play singles, sophomore doubles player Peter Vu and senior An Hoang, who Bernhardt said can play both singles and doubles.
“We lost a whole lot of players from last year,” Bernhardt said. “We only have a few returning and the rest are [junior varsity] players. The players are working hard and we have some good ones in the bunch.”
In the race for the league championship, Bernhardt said he sees a lot of parity this season.
“I think the league should be a lot more even this season,” the coach said. “Arcadia will probably be good and Burbank will be knocking around with the top teams. But you also can’t count out Glendale, they usually have a good team as well.”
Coach Loi Phan, whose team placed fifth last season and didn’t make the playoffs, said the quick start of the season has him still trying to decide on a lineup.
“We have a lot of new guys, and it’s hard to see how they’ll do outside of a game situation,” he said. “It’s really tough right now because I’m still trying to see who is going to pair up with who in doubles. It just doesn’t give us a lot of time to figure things out.”
Phan said he has a solid returning singles player in sophomore Kevin Orellana. In last season’s league tournament, Orellana placed third.
The Bulldogs should also be bolstered by the addition of freshman Michael Kundibekian, who will also play singles. The third singles spot could go to junior Gore Badikyan.
“We are just going to have to see how it goes in doubles,” Phan said.
Phan said had Fox returned for Burroughs, the Indians would be the favorite to repeat as league champion. However, with the singles player not returning, Phan said things should open up.
“Oh yeah, that makes a big difference,” Phan said. “With Patterson and Fox, there’s six points right there. With Fox not there, that will make a little more wide open. With that, we could have a chance and things should be more even in league.”