While not patrolling the tennis court, Oleg Simonyan has been busy elsewhere around Glendale seeking ways to improve his game.
In making an attempt to improve his footwork — something he relies on heavily during a match — the Hoover High senior boys' tennis singles player has taken to running and hiking in the town's surrounding hills.
"With tennis, it's mostly about footwork," said Simonyan, who will take part in the CIF Southern Section Individuals Tournament on Thursday at Andulka Park Tennis Center in Riverside. "You just find different ways to improve on it, so you are ready for your next match."
Simonyan advanced to the tournament after finishing runner-up in the Pacific League Tournament on May 1 at Pasadena High. Simonyan, who will make his second appearance in the tournament, suffered a 6-3, 6-4 defeat against Sawyer Patterson of Burroughs.
Simonyan, who helped Hoover finish third in league and advance to the CIF Southern Section Division I playoffs before falling to third-seeded Harvard-Westlake, enters Thursday's competition confident and having a better understanding of the tournament after taking part in it in 2011.
"I learned some things the last time around," said Simonyan, who had a first-round bye before falling to Chadwick's Maximilian Hawkins in the second round in his previous appearance. "I was nervous the last time because it was the first time I played.
"I've become a better player since. I know I just have to go out there and play my game and see what happens. You are going up against great players. I've been practicing every single day and I'm excited about going back."
Hoover Coach Julie Hoppe, a former All-Area Boys' Tennis Coach of the Year, said Simonyan comes into the tournament playing at a high-caliber level.
"He's playing his best tennis right now, so that's a big positive," Hoppe said. "At the Harvard-Westlake match, you could see him volleying and serving very well and moving around the court real well.
"If he can maximize all of that [Thursday], then I think he will be fine. With Oleg, he's never intimidated. He just loves tennis. If he has a great match, he's happy win or lose. If he loses, it's not the end of the world for him."
Check-in time is 11 a.m. and, as is customary, players learn of their draws shortly thereafter. Should they advance to the round of 16, it will take place on May 31 at Seal Beach Tennis Center. The semifinals and finals will take place June 1 at Seal Beach Tennis Center.
Joining Simonyan from the Pacific League will be Patterson and the doubles teams of Michael Whelan and Calvin Fox from Burroughs and Keon Park and Clayton Pauff of Burbank. Patterson, Whelan, Fox, Park and Pauff will compete at the University of Redlands site.