Nitros keep it together

LA CRESCENTA — With the absence of a key player that put it at an immediate disadvantage and a transportation glitch that delayed its arrival at Crescenta Valley High by almost an hour, the Glendale High boys’ tennis team started off on the wrong foot on Thursday.

But behind sweeps by their No. 3 doubles team of Nick Daka and Dongkoon Yoo and No. 1 singles player Ashot Papikian, the Nitros regained their balance in time to pull off a 10-8 Pacific League victory over the host Falcons.

“I was really glad we were able to get through some adversity and then really pull together as a team,” Glendale Coach Bob Davidson said. “I think the turning point of the whole match was when Nick and Dongkoon came back from 5-2 against their No. 1 [doubles] and won that set.

“That pumped up our whole team and that was really big for us.”

Daka and Yoo came back to post wins in five straight games to take a 7-5 win over Eric Khalarian and Marcus Barbosa in a pivotal set that gave Glendale its biggest lead of the day, 6-3.

Daka is one half of the reigning All-Area Doubles Team of the Year along with partner Mike Astorian, but Astorian was held out of Thursday’s match for unspecified reasons.

“Nick really showed a lot of poise and he wouldn’t quit today,” Davidson said. “He was very tough on all the key points.”

Crescenta Valley battled back to win four of the next five sets and even the score at 7 on a 6-4 win by Frank Sun and Jeremy Cho over Jeff Asano and Elliot Kim.

But Glendale’s No. 2 singles, Hovsep Oryjian, beat Falcons No. 1 Kenny Kim, 6-3, and Daka and Yoo clinched the win for the Nitros with a 7-5 victory over DJ Min and Jason Cheung.

Even if the Falcons had pulled even in sets at 9, they would have lost in a tiebreaker.

Despite the close finish, Crescenta Valley Coach Sara Wiggins still pointed to Daka and Yoo’s comeback win over Khalarian and Barbosa as the key to the match.

“They kind of found a weak spot in that team’s armor and it gave them momentum,” Wiggins said. “Not only did they win the set, but it kind of got their excitement up, the whole team got behind them. That hurt.”

Papikian swept, 6-0, 7-5, 6-4, for Glendale (5-1, 3-1 in league), which also got another 6-4 win from Oryjian.

No. 3 singles Dro Mahmoudi won a pair of sets, 6-4, 6-3, for Crescenta Valley (1-3, 1-2), which also got two doubles wins apiece from Khalarian and Barbosa and the No. 3 team of Sun and Cho.

“It was a disappointing loss,” Wiggins said. “We wanted to take advantage of their missing player and we didn’t do that. But the good news is that we were competitive anyhow and we were so close that we’re not out of reach for next time.”

The Nitros and Falcons will next meet at 3:15 p.m. on April 28 at Glendale.

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