Falcons' streak to be tested

From Staff Reports

Odds and ends from the local high school girls' tennis scene:

Putting the streak in perspective: Just how impressive is

Crescenta Valley's 46-match regular-season winning streak?

To put the streak -- which started after a Sept. 29, 1999 Pacific

League loss to Arcadia -- in perspective, the Falcons have nearly won

more matches since their 9-9 (76-73) loss than league rivals Glendale

and Hoover combined.

Since Sept. 29, 1999, the Tornadoes -- who had two wins when the

Falcons lost to the Apaches -- have won 25 matches.

Glendale has won 25 matches during that same span.

But CV's streak might be in jeopardy when it faces host Upland at

3:15 p.m. Tuesday.

The Highlanders advanced to the CIF Southern Section Division I

semifinals in 2001, before losing to eventual runner-up Dana Hills.

Three days later, the Falcons -- who disposed of North Hollywood,

14-3, in an intersectional showdown Friday to extend the streak,

which began Oct. 1, 1999 -- will play host to L.A. City Section

powerhouse Granada Hills at 3:15 p.m.

Granada Hills has reached the past four City Section finals,

winning two.

Singles party: Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy Coach Ron Zambrano

hasn't had competitive balance since he took over the program in

1999.

Since Zambrano's arrival, the Tologs have sported strong doubles

teams that have kept them competitive.

Now Zambrano's got a troika of singles players in Sarah Bartlett,

Charlotte Guy and Jennifer Iwata who could flourish the next two or

three seasons.

Following Monday's 13-5 nonleague victory against Hoover at the

Fremont Tennis Center, the trio improved to 25-2 in their sets.

There's strength in youth.

Guy and Bartlett, the Nos. 1 and 3 players, respectively, are

sophomores. Iwata's a junior who gained varsity experience last

season for the Tologs, who finished fourth in the Mission League and

missed the postseason.

Bartlett excelled last season on the school's junior varsity

team.

"When they were freshmen, you had to motivate them to continue to

play," said Zambrano, who is also the boys' tennis coach at St.

Francis High.

"Now they are natural singles players. In the past, we haven't had

this kind of talent in singles. We just want to keep motivating them

to get better."

The Tologs won their first three matches against Pasadena La

Salle, Flintridge Prep and Hoover and improved to 3-0 for the first

time under Zambrano. They'll try to make it four in a row in

Tuesday's nonleague match against Village Christian at El Cariso Park

in Sylmar.

The teacher 2, the pupil 0: Flintridge Sacred Heart's 15-3 victory

against intracity opponent Flintridge Prep on Sept. 13 was a little

bit more meaningful for Zambrano, who had the opportunity to coach

against his former player and current co-worker, first-year Rebel

mentor Andy Rojas.

Rojas -- who played under Zambrano for three years at St. Francis

before graduating in 1997 -- has worked with the Tolog coach giving

lessons at the Fremont Tennis Center twice a week for the past four

years, and took over the Flintridge Prep girls' program this fall

after coaching the boys' team for the first time in the spring.

Zambrano was the one primarily responsible for Rojas landing the

position at Flintridge Prep after he contacted Rebel Athletic

Director Alex Rivera once he learned of the opening.

"I have a lot of respect for Ron and we respect each other's

teams a great deal," Rojas said.

"When we play, it's more of a friendly match than an intense

competition. So much so that some of the girls exchanged phone

numbers to go and hit on the weekends."

Zambrano's St. Francis team beat Rojas' Flintridge Prep squad on

Feb. 26 by an identical 15-3 score, but the final outcomes aren't the

focal point of the duo's post-match conversation.

"I talk to Ron a lot about my team and how they're progressing,"

said Rojas, who helps Zambrano with private lessons Fridays and

Sundays.

"When we play against each other, we don't take advantage of what

we know. He trusts me and I trust him. For example, I'm taking back

all of his stuff to the Tennis Center because he had to leave right

after the match to go start the lesson."

Hopefully some of Zambrano's early success can rub off on Rojas,

whose squad is 1-4, 0-1 in Prep League following Friday's loss

against Rancho Palos Verdes Chadwick.

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