GLENDALE — Never shy to voice an opinion, Crescenta Valley High girls’ tennis Coach Tom Gossard offered his take on the upcoming season Pacific League season.
“There will probably be five teams competing for four playoffs spots, and all of them will be competing for the league championship,” said Gossard, who piloted the Falcons to their ninth league crown since he took over the program in 1995. “Whoever is prepared to play can get the league championship.”
Sounds simple and reasonable for a team that’s won two undefeated league titles in a row.
Gossard would like to count on Crescenta Valley being among those vying for another league championship. Glendale might be among those in contention, as well. The Falcons and Nitros were the only local teams to qualify for the postseason last year.
After missing the postseason last year, Hoover, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy and Flintridge Prep will also look to make significant strides with revamped lineups.
The Falcons, who advanced to the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division II playoffs last year, should have plenty of talent. Junior singles player Erin LeVoir, who won her first individual league championship last season, will headline a deep Falcons lineup.
“I think everybody is enthusiastic and excited about wanting to have a good year,” Gossard said. “We should have a great mix back.
“Erin knows what she’s capable of doing. She’s an outstanding player who will continue to get better. She’s got to lead us in singles.”
The Falcons will also turn to the doubles team of seniors Ani Ebrahamian and Tenny Soleymani. They will be joined by doubles players Audri Pardo, Andrea Megerdichian, Hana Park and singles athletes Viktoriya Shumakova and Corineh Ghfafian.
Glendale, which also reached the second round of the Division II playoffs, should also figure to be one of the top teams in league with the return of senior singles players Sevana Zargarian and Samantha Sismundo. Zargarian and Sismundo teamed up to win their first league doubles championship last fall.
Veteran Glendale Coach Bob Davidson chose to put them back at singles, however, aiming to claim more points. Glendale will also bring back doubles player Adrine Babakhanyan, but lost doubles player Anaeis Gevorkian. Gevorkian, who along with Babakhanyan reached the league doubles final, transferred to Armenian General Benevolent Union.
“[Sismundo and Zargarian] won the doubles championship last year, but I expect them to be solid in singles,” said Davidson, whose team placed third in league last season. “We have enough returners back, and that can definitely make us a playoff team.
“With Anaeis, we would have been in contention to probably win league. Without her, we will try to finish as high as we can and make the playoffs. We have to find a best combination in doubles and make sure the team is balanced.”
Under Hoover Coach Julie Hoppe, the Tornadoes will look to improve after placing sixth in the Pacific League last season. The Tornadoes don’t have a lot of experience, but will return singles player Zar Chavdarian and doubles athletes Vy Nguyen and Stacy Rutherford.
They will be joined by freshman singles player Diana Karapetyan and doubles players Katherine Park and Julie Park.
“I’ll have a very young team,” Hoppe said. “The goal will be to get them a lot of playing time that can help most of them for next season, too.”
Flintridge Prep finished tied for third last season in the Prep League. The Rebels will have two coaches in Katie Hawkins and Ron Catano. Hawkins, who has coached the team the previous five seasons, will miss part of the season as she is expecting her first child. Catano coached Flintridge Prep’s boys’ team to the league championship last spring.
Sophomore singles player Kira Lee, who was the Prep League Singles Player of the Year a season ago, will likely be the top player for the Rebels, who will also have a pair of freshman singles players in Jenise Vargas and Abby Letts.
“I have high expectations in singles,” Hawkins said. “In doubles, it will take some rebuilding.”
Flintridge Sacred Heart, which finished sixth in the tough Mission League last season, will have a new coach. John Robb replaces Ron Zambrano, who coached the Tologs the previous 10 seasons.
The top players for Flintridge Sacred Heart figure to be singles players Emily Katz and Susie Mendoza and doubles athletes Monique Lind and Shaylyn Stanley.
“In looking at their scores the past couple of years, they have made some strides,” said Robb, who has coached high school tennis at Saugus, Granada Hills and Grant.
CHARLES RICH covers sports. He can be reached at (818) 637-3228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.