NORTHWEST GLENDALE -- It was Sergy Vagramian, the Hoover High boys’
tennis team’s wisecracking No. 3 singles player, who sealed the deal
Thursday at the Fremont Tennis Center.
He made Anaheim Esperanza’s No. 1 singles player Marco Diaddezi miss
one last time, reached down for what was left of his Gatorade, and
flashed that familiar Cheshire cat grin at teammates.
Quite the subdued celebration for a group that was, with Vagramian’s
deciding 10th point, officially going to the CIF Southern Section
Division I final -- marking the possibility that these Tornadoes can
become the first Hoover team to win a title since the baseball team did
it in 1975.
“I think it’s huge,” said senior Eddie Choi, considered the quietest
member of the squad and half of its No. 2 doubles tandem.
“Before [in past years], we couldn’t even begin to imagine this.”
The 12-6 Hoover win meant also that these Tornadoes become the
school’s first boys’ tennis team to reach the final since 1931.
It also means the Coach Lynn Santamaria’s upstart squad has lived up
to lofty expectations.
“I have no words,” the 11th-year coach said. “We’ve reached this point
and we still have to play the final.
“But for the guys to reach this point is beyond words. We’ve been
blessed with some talented players, and one never knows if you’re able to
repeat something like this, so what we have is a moment, a memory that
will last the rest of their lives.”
Indeed, Santamaria’s squad will face Palos Verdes Peninsula, a 14-4
winner against Santa Monica on Thursday, in the championship Wednesday at
the Claremont Tennis Club.
There’s no doubt the Panthers will bring their aura with their
Seven times they’ve played in the championship. Twice they’ve won it,
most recently in 2000.
They’re led by senior Rylan Rizza, who’s ranked No. 18 in the USTA
18-and-under national rankings.
Hoover’s top player, Dylan Kim, is No. 205 in the same ranking --
though that’s somewhat deceptive, considering Kim, a recent immigrant
from South Korea, is still building his ranking.
Last season, Hoover (23-1) traveled to Peninsula’s vaunted courts for
a second-round match and was promptly escorted out of the playoffs, 14-4,
by a Panther team that would finish runner-up in CIF.
So, after cruising through this postseason, the Tornadoes have their
work cut out this time.
Especially considering that Peninsula swept its doubles sets Thursday
and that the Tornadoes won only three of the possible nine against
“We only got three,” Santamaria said. “But those points are huge when
you get to this level. Any points we get, we really need.”
The three wins were convincing: 6-3, 6-1, 6-1. And three of the losses
were tantalizingly narrow -- especially Choi and Hakop Tadevosian’s 7-6,
(7-5) defeat against the Aztec’s No. 1 duo of Vince Gonzalez and Andrew
Manson, the only tandem to sweep.
Hoover’s singles lineup did what it does: Win easy and provide the
basis for the team’s grandest hopes.
Kim, Sam Tadevosian and Vagramian have yet to drop a set in the
postseason. Kim allowed just his first games in a 6-2 win against
Esperanza’s Nick Smith.
“I thought we were going to win [Thursday],” Kim said.
"[Wednesday] it’s going to be more difficult, but we can win.”
Hoover 12, Esperanza 6
SINGLES -- D. Kim (H) def. Diaddezi, 6-0, def. Smith, 6-2, def. Ikuta,
6-0; S. Tadevosian (H) won, 6-2, 6-2, 6-2; Vagramian (H) won, 6-2, 6-2,
DOUBLES -- E. Kim/ Weber (H) lost to Gonzalez/Manson, 6-0, lost to
Chung/Woo, 6-3, lost to Aambauer/Teng, 6-2; H. Tadevosian/Choi (H) lost,
7-6, (7-5), won, 6-1, def. Rockmer/Judd, 6-3; Karapetian/J. Kim (H) lost,
6-4, 6-4, def. Aambauer/Teng, 6-1.
HOOVER’S ROAD TO THE FINAL
Hoover 18, Paramount 0
Hoover 18, Montebello Schurr 0
Hoover 14, Diamond Bar 4
Hoover 12, Anaheim Esperanza 6